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Rev. Clare Butterfield and Shireen Pishdadi, Faith in Place
At first glance, the two women could not be more different: the Reverend Clare Butterfield (right), a Unitarian Universalist minister, small and fair, and Shireen Pishdadi, a young Muslim woman, tall and dark, her head wrapped in a black hijab. Yet by building on those seeming differences, Butterfield, 46, and Pishdadi, 35, and their colleagues at the interdenominational organization Faith in Place have persuaded 200 Illinois congregations representing people of all colors and faiths-Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Unitarian, and Zoroastrian-to pledge stewardship of the earth.
This past fall, Resurrection Lutheran Church in Lake View installed solar panels that will heat water. The Unitarian Church of Evanston is raising funds for a geothermal heating-and-cooling system, while its neighbor, the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation, is building the nation’s first certified green synagogue-despite the additional cost of $650,000. To support sustainable agriculture, Faith in Place has started a Taqwa Eco-Food cooperative-in Arabic, “taqwa” means “God consciousness"-to produce organic meats that also satisfy Islamic dietary requirements. Nurtured by the efforts of Pishdadi, the organization has opened up further relationships with the Muslim community.
“To get the scale of change that we need, we have to be motivated not just by economics, but by morality,” says Butterfield, the West Side group’s cofounder and director. “And I don’t know where that comes from if it doesn’t come from the religious community.”
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