response: Jan./Feb. 2022

A Year of Just Energy for Georgia

North Georgia and South Georgia United Methodist Women team up for a statewide Just Energy for All campaign.

A Year of Just Energy for Georgia
"Choose life so that you and your descendants may live" (Deuteronomy 30:19).

In 2021, North Georgia and South Georgia Conference United Methodist Women came together to encourage Georgians to be a part of a movement for just energy for all. The conference organizations partnered with Georgia Interfaith Power and Light to develop a statewide campaign for sustainable energy. This collaboration was a first between the two conferences, and neither group had yet worked extensively with Georgia Interfaith Power and Light. With guidance from the United Methodist Women national office, what emerged was a mutually beneficial alliance that took advantage of the resources each partner brought to the campaign.

Although it might seem challenging to begin a statewide Just Energy for All campaign during a global pandemic, we successfully employed online video calls for our group planning, and we subsequently connected with United Methodist Women members across the state through three 90-minute virtual workshops. Moreover, we were able to extend the reach of our virtual workshops by making video recordings of the events available on our respective websites.

Learning about our call

The first workshop we offered was titled “What Our Faith Tells Us About Creation Care.” Faith-based partners helped participants understand our responsibility as stewards of God’s creation. The program opened with the United Methodist Social Principles and The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church reminding us of the goodness of God’s creation and humanity’s role in caring for the earth and its people. Then four Georgia women shared personal stories of why they care about creation. The topics covered included the hope offered by recycling and composting, the problem of large-scale monocropping in food production and the advantages of small-scale gardening, harm caused by pollutants and the ways communities of color and low-income neighborhoods are targeted for use and abuse of pollutants, and the psychological problems caused by environmental destruction and how the use of lament can help people address their ecological grief. At the close of the workshop, participants were invited to share what they were now inspired to do to care for creation.

The second workshop, “Stories of Just and Unjust Energy in Georgia,” focused on stories of those who have suffered the negative impacts of unjust energy-producing systems in Georgia. Georgia Interfaith Power and Light took the lead in developing this workshop, which began with consideration of the environmental and public health impacts of our current energy-generating sources. Women from three frontline communities directly impacted by the environmental and public health threats associated with coal ash storage, wood pellet production and construction of a nuclear energy plant shared their stories. At the end of the workshop, participants were challenged to connect with grassroots organizations, change their own behavior with regard to energy use and put faith into action by engaging their communities to address environmental and public health concerns in Georgia.

The third workshop, “Changing the Future: Just Energy for All,” explored clean energy options such as energy efficiency and solar as well as ways to advance clean energy as individuals and in their congregations. Participants were invited to explore Georgia Interfaith Power and Light’s Power Wise energy efficiency program and schedule one-on-one consultations to learn more about developing clean energy solutions for their congregations. Finally, advocates from the Coosa River Basin Initiative and Southern Environmental Law Center shared ways participants could join in their ongoing advocacy projects in Georgia.

Put faith in action

The two conferences are currently scheduling consultations to help local congregations develop a just energy action plan. Some congregations may choose to establish or revitalize a congregational green team. Georgia Interfaith Power and Light defines a green team as a group of three or more passionate individuals dedicated to advancing sustainability and environmental action. United Methodist Women members are being encouraged to take advantage of the free resources and 12 months of coaching Georgia Interfaith Power and Light provides for congregational green teams.

We are excited about our work so far, and we continue to learn more about what individuals and small groups of believers can do to make a difference both locally and globally. For those of you who have put off engaging in social action during the COVID-19 pandemic, we pray that you will take a leap of faith and explore how your United Methodist Women can find your own way to put your faith into action.  


Beverly Marshall-Goodell is a member of United Methodist Women at Smyrna First United Methodist Church in Smyrna, Georgia, and social action coordinator for the North Georgia Conference United Methodist Women.

Posted or updated: 1/3/2022 12:00:00 AM
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