The Atlanta church where Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., has served as pastor for nearly 20 years received key funding from the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) shortly after he campaigned for Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid in 2016.
The CGI announced in June 2016 that it would award a one-year $550,000 grant to Ebenezer Baptist Church, the place of worship where Warnock continues to serve as senior pastor. The Creation Care Education and Energy Stewardship Initiative was designed to improve the church’s energy efficiency and lower its emissions while making it an example of “resource stewardship” to the community, according to the announcement.
“The world faces the significant challenge of climate change due to greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels, and burning of coal is a major contributor to those emissions,” the CGI announcement stated. “Using energy more efficiently, reducing coal use, and increasing renewable energy will help to reduce emissions and mitigate climate change.”
“As people of faith, the principles of stewardship, justice, community of life, and awe inform our call to care for creation,” it continued. “The Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church has a recognized and highly active creation care ministry in which the church works with its many congregants to learn and teach strategies for stewarding resources and caring for God’s creation.”
As part of the program, Ebenezer Baptist Church partnered with BlocPower, Green Faith, the Center for Sustainable Communities and the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance. The groups were part of the plan to audit the church’s worship, educational and community facilities, recommend energy savings methods and propose solar generation methods by the end of 2016.
Warnock praised the grant, saying that, while climate change impacted all people, it “disproportionately impacts poor, marginalized, black and brown communities,” local outlet WABE reported. And former President Bill Clinton — who founded CGI in 2005 as an arm of the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation — personally commended the project shortly after the grant was announced.
“Through this partnership, BlocPower will conduct a comprehensive energy audit of the church properties, recommending energy savings and solar generation measures,” Clinton wrote in a blog post on June 16, 2016.
“In support of the building upgrades, Ebenezer will also partner with Green Faith to design an educational program emphasizing how congregants can implement energy efficiency at home,” he continued. “This will deliver both environmental and economic benefits to Atlanta residents.”
But the half a million dollar grant came after Warnock campaigned heavily in support of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton’s wife. Clinton unsuccessfully ran for president in 2016.
In 2015, the Progressive National Baptist Convention, a group of which Warnock was a senior member, endorsed voter registration policies for which the Clinton campaign had advocated. Months after the organization made the announcement, Warnock told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Clinton had “done a great job addressing the issues that concern the African-American community.”
Then, shortly before the Democratic primaries began in early 2016, Warnock was one of 28 high-profile Black pastors from across the country to officially endorse Clinton’s presidential bid, the Daily Beast reported at the time. The Clinton campaign touted Warnock’s endorsement in an official release.
In July 2016, one month after the CGI announced its funding for Ebenezer Baptist Church, Warnock appeared in multiple interviews on CNN that described him as a “Hillary Clinton supporter.”
“Public policy has real consequences. So, I was glad to hear Ms. Clinton say that we need more love and kindness,” Warnock said in one of the interviews on July 9, 2016. “I think that is the appropriate response from a presidential candidate because justice is what love looks like in public.”
Meanwhile, Warnock has since been elected to represent Georgia in the Senate, but he is now facing a tight re-election race against GOP candidate Herschel Walker. Last week, Warnock edged Walker by about 35,000 votes during the midterm election.
However, since neither candidate received 50% of the vote, the election proceeded to a runoff that will be held in early December.
The CGI, Warnock’s campaign and Ebenezer Baptist Church didn’t respond to requests for comment.