Faith in Place

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Faith in Place
Founded 1999
Founder Reverend Clare Butterfield
Area served
Product Green Teams and Energy & Climate and Sustainable Land & Food and Advocacy
Key people
Reverend Brian Sauder, President & Executive Director
Slogan Faithful People Caring for the Earth
Mission Faith in Place inspires religious people diverse faiths to better care of the Earth through education, connection, and advocacy.
Website Faith in Place

Since 1999, Faith in Place has worked with over 1,000 houses of worship throughout Illinois to protect our common land, water, and air. With outreach staff working across the state and offices located in Chicago, Lake County, and Central Illinois, Faith in Place inspires faithful people to care for the Earth through our four program areas: Energy & Climate Change, Sustainable Food & Land Use, Water Preservation, and Advocacy.


Faith in Place began in 1999 as a project of the Center for Neighborhood Technology. Our goal was to gather religious leaders in the Chicago region in dialogue, prayer, and action on issues of environmental sustainability.

Initially, we worked in seven Chicago locations. In time, our work in the seven communities evolved into a region-wide approach. As communities of faith throughout Illinois began requesting our help, we began to welcome participation more widely. Faith in Place incorporated as an independent organization in late 2003 and moved to our own offices in late 2004. Later that year Faith in Place joined efforts with a national organization by becoming the proud Illinois affiliate of Interfaith Power & Light (IPL).

As public consciousness about environmental issues and climate change grew in the early 2000s, religious communities increasingly expressed interest in taking action for better Earth care. Faith in Place continued partnering with more faith communities and inspired projects on a variety of scales, from installing rain barrels, to planting community gardens, to changing light bulbs, to becoming solar-powered houses of worship, and everything in between! We also started our popular summer program to involve youth, particularly young African Americans and Latino/as, in energy conservation and exploration of Cook County nature preserves.

Realizing that the actions of faithful individuals and houses of worship alone were insufficient to bring about the significant changes needed at the scale of the crises facing our planet, Faith in Place forayed into the realm of policy advocacy. Our first annual trip to Springfield for Advocacy Day was held in 2007 and continues to grow every year.

By 2009, we had expanded greatly as an organization and moved our offices to a more centralized location downtown. In 2010, Brian Sauder, a seminarian with an environmental sciences degree helped start an inter-faith vegetable garden with a Mosque and Mennonite church in Urbana. His actions caught the attention of staff in the Chicago office who were seeking to expand outreach to the Central Illinois region, and joined him in launching the Central Illinois office. Brian became our Policy Director and was instrumental in leading several initiatives for statewide environmental legislation.

After fourteen years of dedicated service to the organization, Faith in Place’s founder and longtime Executive Director, Rev. Dr. Clare Butterfield, transitioned to important philanthropic work. She turned Faith in Place over to the capable and trusted hands of board member Henrietta Saunders to lead the leadership transition in autumn 2013.

Rev. Brian Sauder became the Executive Director of Faith in Place in June 2014. We continue to expand our outreach to people of faith across Illinois by increasing staff to connect with communities in Lake County, Central Illinois and Southeastern Illinois. In addition, we continue working with geographically, racially, and socio-economically diverse houses of worship, emphasizing the Green Team approach to encourage people to take meaningful action with their faith communities.

As we look to the future, we are always excited to meet new faces and engage more people of faith on the path to better Earth care. We also hope to continue inspiring faith partners with whom we have lasting relationships, and challenge each other to deepen our shared commitment to protecting our common land, water, and air for future generations!

Activities and projects[edit]

Faith in Place’s four program areas – Energy & Climate Change, Sustainable Food & Land Use, Water Preservation, and Advocacy – educate, connect, and inspire people of faith to work towards a sustainable future.