Environmental Ministries

Environmental Ministries


Environmental Justice Updates

Earth Day Sunday
In 2017 Earth Day is on April 22nd. UCC churches are urged to celebrate Earth Day Sunday near this date. In 2017, either April 23rd might make a good Earth Day Sunday. You may also choose another date, any time of year, that works for your church. This year, with the help of Creation Justice Ministries we are exploring the theme - Environmental Justice with Indigenous People. Learn more.

Climate MarchClimate March in DC on April 29th
The UCC Council for Climate Justice along with Justice and Witness Ministries are official co-sponsors of the climate march in Washington, DC. This march is being organized by the People's Climate Movement which spearheaded the 2014 march in New York City that had 400,000 in attendance. Let us know if you are planning to come, so we can coordinate a strong UCC presence at the march.

Stand with Standing Rock
The struggle of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation and its allied water protectors against the Dakota Access Pipeline has become one of the most significant causes of our time. Construction of the pipeline has brought to the forefront a host of issues that include the trampling of indigenous rights and treaties, the desecration of sacred lands, the endangerment of the Missouri River, the building of fossil fuel infrastructure that would accelerate climate change, and the militarized response of law enforcement to peaceful acts.

Upcoming Environmental Justice Training Workshops

  • Pilgrim Point Camp in Minnesota, May 24-26 - Learn more and register.
  • More information coming soon for workshops at Asheville, NC (Oct 4-6); and Templed Hills Camp in Ohio (Oct 18-20).

Commentary: In Praise of House Parties
The first environmental gathering I ever attended was a house party. The plan was to watch a live video stream of a conversation with the environmental justice advocate Van Jones. As it turned out, technical difficulties prevented us from tuning in, but that was not all bad. Instead of watching a conversation, we had a conversation. We talked to each other. I can recall learning about a plan for a local public school to replace its oil-burning boiler from 1917 with a solar-powered geothermal heat pump. This pump would then power the water heaters and air conditioners for every home within 38 blocks. The idea was to create a carbon free grid for an entire neighborhood. Without that house party, such a possibility would certainly never have occurred to me. (Read more.)

"Other Flints"—Environmental Injustice in North Carolina
In February, I met with Brooks Berndt, the UCC’s Minister for Environmental Justice, to discuss a proposal for an eco-justice ministries network within the UCC’s Southern Conference. During our conversation, the tragedy of the Flint, Michigan, water crisis arose, and Berndt made the comment that numerous "other Flints" are occurring across our country at this moment with their own terrible consequences. His words turned out to be prophetic. (Read more.)

Climate Change Documentary Could Change the Church
Church groups can now screen Naomi Klein's climate change movie “This Changes Everything.” The UCC has provided faith-oriented discussion questions and resources for screenings. Klein says that if climate change is taken seriously, it will change everything. Could it even change the church? Download Resource.

Why should people of faith care about the environment?

God's Gift and Call To Us

As people of faith, we look to the scriptures for guidance for the choices we make in our lives. Genesis 1 says that when God created the heavens and the earth, God saw that everything was "very good." We learn in Genesis 2 that as humankind has the freedom to make moral choices, and that each of us lives with the responsibility for our personal actions or inactions. With the freedom of God's gift, the prophet Micah guides us towards moral and responsible lifestyle choices: we are to do justice, love kindness and mercy, and walk humbly with our God [Mic.6:6-8].

Our Response To God

We understand scriptures compel us to act on our faith grounded in wonder, reverence, love, and respect for all of God's creation. But clearly, God's creation is groaning under the burden of injustice, greed, and arrogance. Our choices have resulted in vanishing and degraded farmland, air unfit to breathe and water unfit to drink, unsustainable energy processes and consumption, and the perilous immediate and long-term worldwide consequences of global warming and climate change. Poor communities and communities of color will disproportionately suffer the unjust consequences of our choices. And now, we realize more every day that our choices threaten the voiceless natural systems that sustain all of life itself.

Our Choices Now

When confronted with environmental responsibility, people of faith now face an additional choice: to live in despair or to live with hope. We in the United Church of Christ are called to live with hope. We are called to go beyond lifestyle adjustment. We are called to spiritual and lifestyle transformation based on justice and reverence for all of God's creatures and creation. We are called by Jesus to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. With God's grace, we invite individuals to transform their lives and their communities to become hopeful, restorative, and just.

We invite you to tell others of your concern and to work in your congregation for environmental justice. We invite you to sign up to attend a workshop or retreat that will expand your awareness and deepen your faith.

Contact Info

Brooks Berndt
Minister for Environmental Justice
700 Prospect Ave
Cleveland, OH 44135