This March, during Women’s History Month, we are highlighting four Community Superstars. These incredible women are local leaders in North Carolina who have been doing amazing work in their communities and with the North Carolina Council of Churches.
Our second Community Superstar during Women’s History Month is Penny Hooper, Leadership Council Chair of NC Interfaith Power & Light (A campaign of the NC Council of Churches Eco-Justice Connection) and dedicated activist to climate justice.
How many of you saw the film “An Inconvenient Truth” in 2006? Al Gore’s presentation in that documentary about the serious challenges facing us with climate change was shown at the Unitarian Coastal Fellowship in Morehead City that year by North Carolina Interfaith Power and Light (NCIPL). It was Penny Hooper’s first introduction to NCIPL which is under the umbrella of the North Carolina Council of Churches. Penny had been an active environmentalist since the first Earth Day in 1970, and taught Biology for 16 years at Carteret Community College. All the science background and interest from the young people in her classes had not seemed to “move the needle” much on doing what needed to be done to protect Mother Earth according to Al Gore.
So, Penny added a new dimension to her activism using her faith and heart rather than her head, to challenge people to fulfill their moral responsibility to “be good stewards of God’s Creation and all living things” by her continuous involvement with NCIPL since that time. She did not leave behind her secular activist calling, but instead, combined the two approaches to attempt to have maximum impact at a local and state level on climate change and environmental justice issues.
She served as NCIPL Leadership Council Chair and on the Advisory Council over the last 16 years. In addition, she is also the Conservation Chair of her local Croatan Sierra Club Group which she helped organize in 2016, founder and still active participant, of the Green Sanctuary Committee of her church since 2005, and a member of several other local, state, and national environmental organizations including the US Climate Action Network and the Southeastern Climate and Energy Network.
Her areas of interest include campaigns on the coast of NC against offshore oil drilling and in favor of renewable energy resources like offshore wind and solar farms. Even before the Black Lives Matter movement and the murder of George Floyd, she recognized that working on anti-racism and justice issues is also a big part of our moral responsibility and directly related to the health of our environment.
We are grateful to Penny Hooper for her lifelong commitment to climate justice and to her dedication to the social justice work of the Council.