Michigan Interfaith Power & Light's Blog

Inspiration from the Past Powers Climate Action in Ann Arbor

First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Ann Arbor members Ruth Mohr and Sandy Simon present a Climate Hero Award to Ed Lynn in December 2022. Read more stories of Climate Heroes here.

When Don Levitt learned that over 50% of people in Washtenaw County "rarely or never" talked about the climate crisis (see the Yale Climate Opinion maps), he realized that he could do something to change that. 


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A Lighter, Brighter Portage UCC

With funds from Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), Michigan IPL offered a $500 gift to 3 houses of worship participating in our Energy Stewardship Webinar series.

Portage United Church of Christ (UCC) put this gift to work by replacing older, fluorescent tube lighting with bright, highly efficient LEDs! 

The Rev. Dr. Mary Kay Schueneman enjoys her brightly lit office at Portage UCC.

“I am so happy to have these new, bright LED lights in my office!  The previous lights had a yellow overcast that really dimmed the room; these have lightened my workspace. I’m also thankful that our congregation can be a part of faith communities’ efforts to care for our planet home. This is a small step, but a faithful one, and we hope it will continue us on our way.” – Rev. Dr. Mary Kay Schueneman

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Sacred Spaces: $1.1 million in energy efficiency improvements, 11 Congregations!

Michigan IPL to bring $1.1 million in energy efficiency improvements to 11 low-income congregations!  

The Sacred Spaces initiative is made possible by funds from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) and World Renew. We are excited to be working with EcoWorks Detroit as our technical partner.  

Even as we've seen a growing number of Michigan congregations install solar and take meaningful steps to be better stewards of Earth by reducing their energy waste, it's clear that many more communities need dollars and support to make these improvements. 

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2022 Year End Reflection

Earlier this year, I was mistaken for someone famous. 

A restaurant worker approached me as I waited for lunch: “I just want you to know… I’m such a huge fan," she said, looking at my very intensely. "I love your work." 

For a split second there, I sure did think: “Whoa! Michigan IPL is so much higher profile than I realized! How amazing that our good work is being seen by the public and that faithful climate action is on their radar…” 

Look at our beautiful Board! 

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I talked to my Grandson about Voting, Part 1

Train children in the right way and when old, they will not stray. -Proverbs 6:22, The Green Bible

Me, my grandson J, and my husband/J's grandfather. 

I’m blessed to have six grandchildren who I love and adore. Two of them are athletes who entered college this August with full scholarships! I’m very proud of all of their accomplishments and grateful they have parents who are raising them with the Christian values our family shares: kindness, justice, and right relationship with others. 


I spoke with J, my eldest grandson, recently, in an effort to understand what young people think about voting. 

As we discussed his first voting experience, J mentioned that he voted in the August Primary because his parents asked him to... But he really didn’t know what he was doing. 

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750 Reasons to Celebrate at Little Eden

Joel Faber, Little Eden Facilities Manager, holds a new LED on the porch of one of the campground's cabins.

With 10 utility bills coming in every month, the operating costs of Little Eden Camp, located on the shores of Portage Lake in Onekama MI were astronomical. Currently covering 45 acres, this historic camp began in 1944 with a small group of men from Ohio stepping out in faith to purchase the then 10-acre property. Since that time, Little Eden’s footprint has grown, and the camp’s utility demands have grown along with it. Today there are over 45 structures at Little Eden; four of these are over 100 years old.

Visitors to Little Eden can easily see the reason for the name, but unlike its namesake, this Eden requires a great deal of effort to maintain and flourish. Creation care is at the heart of camp operations. Over the years, the staff has been very intentional at taking cost-effective measures to make Little Eden more energy efficient whenever the opportunity arose, however operating costs remained high.

Camp Director Wayne Faber learned about rebates for lighting through an email he had received from Michigan IPL, which provided the inspiration to proceed with the more substantial project of retrofitting 4 ft fluorescent tube lighting with T-LEDs.

A small army of volunteers worked together to retrofit the fixtures and install high-efficiency LEDs purchased through the Consumers Energy Instant Discount program.

The result? The camp's lights are brighter and eighty percent (80%) of project cost was covered by the rebates, and the camp's utilities bills reflect the difference. As great as that was, Little Eden was just getting started.

“Our desire is to continue to care for God’s Creation by being better stewards with our electricity consumption, reducing our impact on our world and in turn, saving the camp money on utility bills.”

- Wayne Faber, Camp Director

When the opportunity for a free Energy Assessment with a Consumers Energy Assessor came up, Wayne was glad to participate. The assessment involved a walkthrough of the entire property and free replacement of over 750 incandescent bulbs with 9-watt LEDs. Without the need to cover the purchase cost of these bulbs, it’s easy to see that Little Eden saved over $3,000 on just the bulbs alone.


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General Motors is transitioning too slowly to electric vehicles – and at the cost of public health

In my hometown of Detroit, everything revolves around the automotive industry—the steel mills, the oil refinery, the plants that create the plastics and the parts to build our cars. Dubbed the "Motor City," the auto industry is woven into Detroit, for better – and for worse – to power American-made automobiles.

Raised as a lifelong Detroiter from zip code 48217, my roots connect back to the auto industry, too. Like many in my community, I worked in the auto industry as a tenured worker at General Motors (GM) for over 15 years.

Unbeknownst to me, as I played my small part in GM's success, my health was deteriorating both physically and mentally.

The dirty, gas-powered cars and trucks popularized by companies like GM pollute our air and greatly contribute to our growing climate crisis. In the United States, the transportation industry is the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, so it comes as no surprise that 48217 is the most toxic zip code in Michigan. Air pollution is not only a contributing factor to climate change; it is a national public health concern.

When I left GM, I didn't set out to be an environmental advocate. I had been earning a middle-class living, but despite my experience and years of work, at the time, there was little opportunity to grow as a Black woman in the auto industry. I had to continue working in the plants, and eventually I was forced to leave because of my health.

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Charging Forward with EV Stations

We wanted a visible sign of our commitment to addressing climate change, as well as to be able to play an active role in educating our community about the benefits of technology in addressing climate issues. -Steve Bertman, member of Temple B'nai Israel in Kalamazoo

As the Detroit Auto Show is in full swing, Electric Vehicles (EVs) are more and more at the forefront, showing us that the transition to EVs is also in full swing. With the tax credits in the Inflation Reduction Act that offer Americans incentives to purchase new and used electric vehicles, it is clear that Electric Vehicles are not only here to stay, but are beginning to make a major impact on the automotive industry, and hopefully, less impact on the climate.

Jennifer Odza, a member of Temple B'nai Israel (TBI) in Kalamazoo, charges her electric vehicle while at the synagogue.

And while a lack of charging stations has been one barrier to the expansion of electric vehicles here in Michigan, we are thankful to share that that does not need to be the case for much longer.

Houses of worship in Michigan are encouraged to investigate the option of an EV charging station for their own locations. The purchase and installation of a charging station was shown to be very achievable through the inspiring work of Temple B’nai Israel in Kalamazoo, recipients of a Cool Congregations award earlier this year. Steve Bertman, professor in the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at Western Michigan University, has helped paved the way for us to follow, through his experience at Temple B’nai Israel in Kalamazoo.

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Solar at Gesu Detroit: Made Possible by the Students

In 2018, Gesu Catholic School in Detroit installed a solar panel array on the roof that saves them thousands of dollars on their electric bills each year. How does an underfunded school with a 97-year old building manage to make that happen?

It started when Anita Sevier, Development Director at Gesu Catholic School in Detroit, gathered 10 elementary-school students to research solar power and enter the My Solar School Contest. Anita and the students’ story struck a chord, and by sharing their story, Gesu Detroit’s 6 acre campus is not only more sustainable to maintain cost-wise, but also for our planet.

“To get things done, talk to anyone who will listen. Tell your story.” – Anita Sevier, Development Director at Gesu Catholic School in Detroit

After raising money and awareness for solar panels, members of the Gesu Detroit Solar Club stand next to the new solar panels on the roof of the school. Courtesy of Anita Sevier/Gesu Detroit

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A New Dayenu Circle for Temple Beth Emeth is a New Chapter for Climate Action in the Community

In the spring of 2021, Cathy Marshall– former Michigan IPL Bookkeeper extraordinaire!– started a Dayenu Circle at Temple Beth Emeth (TBE) in Ann Arbor. Dayenu is a movement of American Jews confronting the climate crisis with spiritual audacity and bold political action. The newfound committee has made incredible strides educating individuals on how they can take action on climate change and we spoke with Cathy about her inspiration for starting the committee, and how the new group has been a powerhouse for change in the TBE community.

I feel fulfilled being part of this community. Our work strengthens our bond as temple members- we see each other and know each other and we feel like we're making progress on something together.” --Cathy Marshall

Pictured: Cathy Marshall and Rabbi Josh(left), and members of TBE's Dayenu Circle join Michigan IPL and the Exodus Alliance in protesting in front of Chase Bank to pressure them to divest from fossil fuels.

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Second Baptist Church of Detroit Overhauled Their Ventilation System to Protect Church-Goers During the Pandemic

After watching Michigan IPL’s webinar on building Covid-safety, Second Baptist Church of Detroit upgraded their ventilation system and safely opened their church to in-person services. We spoke with Bruce Jordan, a former trustee who served on the church’s Covid Safety committee about how his church protected church-goers and staff from the risk of catching Covid indoors, and, in doing so, provided a gift to the church community.

We are showing the congregation how much we care for their health. Basically, we are looking out for our Christian brothers and sisters.”
- Bruce Jordan, Former Trustee, Second Baptist Church of Detroit

Pictured: Rev. Lawrence W. Rodgers welcomes a new member to Second Baptist Church of Detroit.

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Working Together for a Brighter Future: Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church Brought their Community Together to Replace Inefficient Lights

Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids completed an inspiring volunteer-led project in 2020 to replace 518 fluorescent lights in their church with LEDs. We spoke with Mattew Huen, a member of the Operations Committee who helped spearhead the project about resiliency, action in the face of despair, and the power of community.

“We saw an opportunity and took advantage of it. Our church made lemons into lemonade.” - Matthew Huen. While church services were virtual during the 2020 lockdown, volunteers replaced old lights with LEDs.

Volunteers at Eastern Avenue CRC take advantage of an empty building by rewiring light fixture ballasts to prepare for new, energy-saving T-LEDs .

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