Faith in Place is a fifteen-year-old nonprofit with a long history of inspiring positive environmental behavior change in partnership with religious congregations. Faith in Place was founded in 1999 (incorporated in 2004) in Chicago, where most our staff and the majority of our outreach continues to happen. We also have offices in Champaign, Litchfield, and Waukegan, IL, where outreach staff interact with diverse congregations in those geographic areas. As a result, Faith in Place has partnered with more than 1,000 congregations of all faiths throughout Illinois - Baha'i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, and Zoroastrian - to educate, connect, and advocate around the teachings of faith for living out practices of better earth care.
Faith in Place's mission is to inspire people of diverse faiths to care for the earth through connection, education, and advocacy.
The mission of Faith in Place is implemented through four program areas at partner congregations: 1) energy and climate change; 2) water preservation; 3) sustainable land use; and, 4) environmental advocacy.
Goals in each program area are accomplished by outreach staff. Outreach staff are effective because they are hired from the local community (and therefore trusted allies in the community) and appropriately trained. Outreach staff are conversant with faith traditions and faith life, and they have the unique ability to offer a wide range of resources from within our program areas to the local congregation and congregants. Staff meet the congregation where their initial enthusiasm resides, and work to move them up the ladder of engagement of Faith in Place’s programs. Because of these factors Faith in Place brings long-lasting value (and therefore a long-lasting relationships) across a spectrum of environmental programs when we work with a congregation.
Outreach staff use an organizing model when they engage with local congregations, known as the Green Team Model. Two or three members of the congregation are identified to start a Green Team. These individuals connect their congregation's faith to better earth care, take account of what the congregation has accomplished in the past, and work with Faith in Place to do educational programming that leads to taking action. Starting small, advertising, doing projects, celebrating, and then repeating by taking on a slightly larger program project is the way the Green Teams build positive momentum towards large scale positive environmental behavior change over time. Faith in Place's staff help the local Green Team learn, implement projects and then share each Green Team's accomplishments with Faith in Place's network of more than 1,000 congregations across Illinois, connecting congregations together in shared work. This education leads to connection that inspires people and congregations in our network to take further positive environmental action.
Interns have the opportunity to see how a non-profit functions from the inside by working with staff on all aspects of non-profit management from staff supervision to strategic planning to grant writing. They also will provide program assistance on congregational outreach and education, giving talks at congregations that wish to start a new green team, working with our winter farmers market program, helping with youth efforts such as our youth weatherization program and summer youth ambassador energy conservation effort, and more. If the intern has a particular interest in some area of our work (a focus on a particular group, an interest in energy work or local agriculture) we will make sure they get the opportunity to contribute to that effort.
Our offices are downtown on Lake Street between Wabash and Michigan, and easily accessible from the Green Line or one of the Hyde Park buses. Work will often take the intern to area congregations, but if transit isn't possible, we also have an I-Go membership that can be used by staff if a car is needed.
Rev. Brian Sauder will be the field site supervisor for seminary students. He has an M.A. in Religion from Urbana Theological Seminary and an MBA from the University of Illinois. Brian is licensed towards ordination by the Mennonite Church USA. Rev. Sauder is attentive as a site supervisor for future ministers to formation as a minister and understanding non-traditional settings such as non-profit work as true ministries, including pastoral aspects.