Top Black church leaders join in Green The Church campaign

African American congregations embrace clean energy, fight climate change

OAKLAND — The nation’s leading African American pastors are coming together with the U.S. Green Building Council to commit to tackling climate change and pollution as part of Green For All’s new campaign, Green The Church.

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The cross-denominational initiative aims to mobilize 1,000 Black churches — representing millions of congregants — in the fight for a clean energy economy, and to bring energy savings directly to church buildings and congregations. At a telephone press conference last Thursday, church leaders joined the U.S. Green Building Council’s Kimberly Lewis and Green For All’s Van Jones to call for climate leadership from the African American faith community.

“We aim to build power for change,” explained Green The Church Founder Ambrose Carroll. “No major movement in this nation has been successful without power and leadership of the Black church, from the fight for abolition with Frederick Douglass to the anti-lynching campaigns of the ’40s and ’50s, to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.

The Black church has always joined hands with other faith traditions and stood on the front lines as they did in Selma, Alabama, 50 years ago,” Carroll continued. “Likewise this must be true in the fight against climate change.”

Cutting pollution from church buildings, Carroll added, can make a difference. “We as a people may not own a lot of real estate in this nation, but we do own church buildings. All those buildings can be retrofitted for more efficient energy use.”

That’s exactly why the U.S. Green Building Council is partnering on the effort, according to USGBC’s Kimberly Lewis. “We share the belief that climate change provides a historic opportunity to create a more inclusive, stable, and prosperous society for everyone,” said Lewis.

Bishop J.W. Macklin of Glad Tidings Church of God in Christ explained that churches have a moral imperative to act on climate change. “The question that must be asked is ‘Who is our neighbor?’” Macklin said. “We have to identify our neighbor as the one who shouts for us, who needs us. Right now communities affected most are those who are being hit by climate change. They’re calling for our help.”

The Green The Church effort comes at a time when polluters are ratcheting up efforts to fight clean energy — including targeting Black lawmakers in an effort to turn them against solar power and other initiatives. In fact, Black congregants stand to benefit tremendously from the very policies these industry groups are fighting.

Reverend Otis Moss of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ noted that his congregation is already benefitting from generating its own solar power — and even providing free power to an elderly neighbor of the church. “We were saved by the Son and now we’re powered by the sun,” Moss said.

For more information on Green The Church, go to

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