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Environmental Justice Center at Chestnut Hill United Church

Mission Statement

The Environmental Justice Center at Chestnut Hill United Church is an inter-religious coalition sponsored by the Chestnut Hill United Church of Philadelphia. The Center encourages congregations to address environmental issues by providing education, support, and guidance to interested faith communities.

The Center sponsors public lectures; Earth-based celebrations such as Sukkot, the Feast Day of St. Francis, Solstice festivals, and other activities that promote connection and healing between people and the Earth. We provide consulting services to congregations and other faith-based congregations on issues such as sustainability, recycling, and renewable energy. Under the guidance of the Center, the Chestnut Hill United Church now purchases 100 percent renewable electricity, providing a model for other houses of worship to do the same.

The Center has been a prominent voice speaking out against suburban sprawl from a religious perspective. Working with 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania, we published a pamphlet entitled, “The Costs of Sprawl: A Spiritual Perspective,” and have made educational presentations about sprawl to houses of worship in Southeastern Pennsylvania, an area seriously affected by sprawl.

In addition to our regional and domestic work, the Center has helped an indigenous tribe in the Philippines, the Mandayans, reclaim some of its ancestral land from multinational corporations by securing a twenty-five-acre refuge on their homeland.


Current Programs

Our focus at the Center since 2004 has been global warming – educating congregations and people of faith about the problem, and providing ways for them to respond. Our ongoing project, The Pennsylvania Interfaith Climate Change Campaign, is cosponsored by the Pennsylvania Council of Churches.

Pennsylvania is a huge contributor to global warming:

  • Our state creates more global warming pollution than 101 developing countries combined.
  • We create one percent of the world’s total global warming pollution.
  • Pennsylvania is the third worst state, trailing only Texas and California, both of whom have far larger populations than we do.

And the problem has already arrived: Our winters in the Northeastern U.S. are already four degrees warmer on average than they were in 1970.

The Pa. Interfaith Climate Change Campaign provides numerous resources to congregations:

  • We are available for speaking engagements. We can provide sermons, lead adult study groups, meet with property committees to discuss the “greening “of  houses of worship, and lead multi-session workshops for family groups.
  • We can help individuals or congregations engage in the process of influencing public policy. We can help you learn how to contact legislators,  write letters to the editor, and otherwise effectively engage in public discourse. Here at the Center, we believe that “the voice of the faithful” have an important role in seeking justice at many levels and in many ways. We’d love to help you and your congregation assume a leadership role in sustaining God’s world.
  • We can help answer your questions on sustainability or direct you to other helpful resources.

Get Involved! Contact the EJC or the PA Interfaith Climate Change Campaign


Contact: Joy Bergey