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Illinois - Chicago

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50 Clergy in support of of the Chicago Clean & Affordable Buildings Ordinance
This letter was published on june x, 2024 and signed by 50 clergy in the chicago area.

To Members of the Chicago City Council and Mayor Brandon Johnson,

As we close the books on another winter in Chicago—a season marked not only by cold temperatures but also by the chilling reality of increased gas prices across Illinois—we, a collective of clergy representing diverse faith traditions, feel compelled to address a pressing issue that deeply impacts our communities: The crisis of gas affordability and its disproportionate burden on Black and Brown households.

In our roles as spiritual leaders across Chicago's neighborhoods, we understand that the challenge of gas affordability extends beyond mere economics. It is fundamentally a matter of social justice that demands our unwavering attention and action as people of faith.

Illinois currently leads the nation in gas shutoffs, with Black and brown households facing disconnection at twice the rate of their white counterparts. Shockingly, nearly one in five consumers in Chicago are struggling to keep up with their gas bills. In specific predominantly Black and Brown zip codes, this figure skyrockets to nearly 50 percent.

But the crisis does not end with affordability alone. We know that burning gas in our homes for heating and cooking poses grave health risks. Dangerous air pollutants generated by fossil fuel combustion exacerbate asthma in children and expose residents to cancer-causing agents like benzene. These health risks are disproportionately borne by vulnerable populations, making residential gas combustion the most racially inequitable form of pollution exposure, with people of color experiencing 41% more exposure than their white counterparts.

Simply put, the cost of gas—to our health, safety, environment, and our communities' economic security—is too high.

This problem was not created, nor will it be solved overnight. Effectively and equitably transitioning away from this unjust and harmful system will require deliberate action from leaders who are willing to challenge the vested interests that profit from the status quo.

The Clean and Affordable Buildings Ordinance (CABO) is a meaningful first step toward a more sustainable and equitable future for the city of Chicago. To move forward equitably, however, we must begin this process now. Every new gas-dependent building increases the city's reliance on outmoded gas infrastructure, compounding the costs of future upgrades. This will force the city to spend resources updating new buildings, rather than helping the neighborhoods make necessary retrofits to make all of our homes and workplaces safe.

Additionally, beginning the transition away from natural gas in earnest is a way to reinvest in many communities that have long been marginalized. The electrification of buildings will create quality employment opportunities for our current workforce and open doors to thousands of new jobs. These opportunities can and should be leveraged to uplift the communities throughout Chicago that bear the brunt of long-term disinvestment—violence, poverty, and mass incarceration. By investing in a clean future for Chicago's buildings, we can simultaneously invest in the economic well-being of Chicago's people.

We urge our leaders to act with steadfast courage and compassion and pass the Clean & Affordable Buildings Ordinance to help us build communities across Chicago where all our neighbors can breathe freely and thrive.

Clergy that Signed the Letter

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Below are the names of the faith leaders that signed this letter in support of CABO. 

Pastor Scott Onqué
St Luke Missionary Baptist Church
Rev. Brian Sauder
Faith in Place Action Fund
Mr. David Cherry
Leaders Network
Rev. Dr. Beth Brown
Lincoln Park Presbyterian Church
Pastor Stephen Thurston II
New Covenant Baptist Church
Rev. Barbara Rossing
Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
Sandra Florentino
Trinity United Church of Christ
Rev. Erik Christensen
Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
The Rev. Kara Wagner Sherer
St. John's Episcopal Church
Fr. Larry Dowling
St. Simon of Cyrene Catholic Parish
Rev. C.J. Hawking
Euclid Ave. United Methodist Church
Rev. Scott Aaseng
Unitarian Universalist Advocacy Network of Illinois
Rabbi Seth M. Limmer
Open Judaism
Rev. Michael Pfleger
Faith Community of St. Sabina
Rev. Julian DeShazier
University Church Chicago
Rev. Dr. Joseph M. Coney
Greater Pleasant Green Missionary Baptist Church
Rev. Dr. T. D. Hughes
Third Baptist Church of Chicago
Rev. Dr. Jarvis Hansen
New Nazareth M.B. Church
Rev. Ben Davis
St John Baptist Church
Rev. Dr. Larue Kidd
True Light Church Baptist
Rev. Michael Jones 1
St Titus One M.B. Church
Rev. Dr. Keith McGee
Messiah Temple Baptist Church
Rev. Walter Turner
Spiritual Light Baptist Church
Rev. Dr. Carsie E. Barnes III
Antioch South M.B. Church
Rev. Dr. Roosevelt Walker
New Memorial M.B. Church
Rev. Dr. Reginald E. Bachus
The Friendship Baptist
Rev. Dr. Alvin Love
Lilydale First Baptist Church
Rev. Dr. Robert Jones
Mt Carmel Baptist Church
Rev. Dr. Otis Moss
Trinity United Church of Christ
Rev. Jessie Lee
Greater Shiloh M.B. Church
Rev. David Watkins, III
Greater Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church
Pastor Michael Neal
Glorious Light Church
Rev. Nancy Goede
Augustana Lutheran Church
Rev. Dr. Craig M. Jenkins
Beth Eden Baptist Church
Rev. Sarah Lusche
Hyde Park Union Church
Rev. Veronica M Johnson
Hyde Park Union Church
Sis. Eleanor Thornton
St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church
Rev. Kara Wagner Sherer
APC MORGAN PARK
Rev. Dr. Ira J. Acree
Greater St. John Bible Church
Rev. Cindy Shepherd
Presbytery of Southeastern Illinois
Dr. James C. Boyd
Paradise Missionary Baptist Church
Seminarian Kylee Bestenlehner
ELCA
Min. Vergia Haynes
Hometown Christian Church
Erik Boss
ELCA
Pastor Lajuan Whitfield
New Life Holiness Church
Pastor Bill Ellis
APC MORGAN PARK
Pastor Marshall Hatch
New Mount Pilgrim Church
Sr. Julia Walsh, FSPA
Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration
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