Several people from different church denominations attended the event, sponsored by Tennessee Interfaith Power and Light (TIPL), an organization that promotes sustainable energy use among faith communities. According to its website, TIPL is part of a growing national movement of state affiliates, supporting congregations and other partner organizations through leadership development, developing and providing written and electronic resources, and building a network of concerned, committed people throughout the state.
Besides a candlelight vigil, Sunday’s event featured songs, prayers, meditation and a message from Adrienne Schwarte, an associate professor of design at Maryville College who is heavily involved in sustainability issues on campus.
“What we’ve been doing is having all these climate vigils and we’ve been gathering people of other faiths communities together,” said Ginny Ayers, who serves on TIPL’s steering committee and coordinator of Sunday’s event. “There have been several in East Tennessee, including Knoxville, Crossville, Nashville and Chattanooga, but this is our first one in Maryville. We’ve gathered people and put the word out.”
Gene Burr, a member of Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville who serves on the church’s environmental committee, said the vigil is part of the efforts for TIPL to create more awareness and understanding of climate change and what the implications are for the world.
“This is one way of drawing attention to that effort,” Burr said. “We did one of these last fall in Knoxville at Market Square. When Ginny organized this one in Maryville, she thought Greenbelt Park would be a good location for it. It’s kind of a quiet, effective way of drawing attention to something we should all be concerned about.” Burr said his church has reinstalled 117 solar panels on its roof as part of reducing their carbon footprint.
“We want to do is encourage individuals and faith communities to join in membership. They are just committing to something — there are no dues or anything like that. They’re just committing to dealing with climate change issues.”