The United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries has long been a leader in the Environmental Justice movement. In 1982 the UCC Commission for Racial Justice (CRJ) responded to an invitation from Warren County, NC residents to help oppose a PCB disposal landfill in people of color communities. There the terms "environmental racism" and "environmental justice" began to be used. In 1987 under the leadership of Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, CRJ produced the landmark Toxic Wastes and Race report conducted by Charles Lee. It was followed in 2007 by Toxic Wastes and Race at Twenty, commissioned by Justice and Witness Ministries and conducted by Dr. Robert D. Bullard et al.
Women in the environmental justice movement: See Crowning Women on the Environmental Justice Resource Center.
Our work is guided by the resoultions of the UCC General Synod. Below find the resolutions that shape our denominational work on environmental justice.
2009 Twenty-seventh General Synod--Grand Rapids
- On the Urgency for Action on Climate Change - Resolution of Witness. The Executive Council recommends referral of the resolution, "On the Urgency for Action on Climate Change," submitted by the Connecticut Conference, to the implementing bodies named in "A Resolution on Climate Change" as voted by the Twenty-Sixth General Synod (07-GS-16).
- Earthwise Congregation: On Mediating Climate Change - Prudential Resolution. The Executive Council recommends referral of the resolution, "Earthwise Congregation: On Mediating Climate Change," submitted by the Minnesota Conference, to the implementing bodies named in "A Resolution on Climate Change" as voted by the Twenty-Sixth General Synod (07-GS-16).
2007 Twenty-Sixth General Synod in Hartford
2005 Twenty-Fifth General Synod in Atlanta
- Call for Environmental Education and ActionThis Resolution calls on all expressions of the United Church of Christ to implement programs for education and action to address issues of environmental protection, environmental justice and sustainable development. It establishes an Environmental Steering Committee to implement this Resolution in close coordination with Justice and Witness Ministries.
- Resolution on Supporting Congregations and Providing Guidance for Stewardship This resolution is offered to initiate exploration by the United Church of Christ of the role of the Church in meeting economic, ecological, and consequent spiritual challenges associated with predicted declines in future oil and natural gas supplies. The UCC is asked to begin a long term program to support faith based actions to create conditions that will foster a movement to sustainable conditions at the individual church, conference, UCC, and broader societal levels.
2001 Twenty-third General Synod
- Call For Staffing to Address EcoJustice Concerns This resolution urges each of the four Covenanted Ministries of the United Church of Christ to designate staff to deal with ecojustice issues and themes and to work cooperatively with the other ministries to ensure that the spiritual, theological, moral. and social dimensions of ecojustice are addressed across the life of the whole church.
Formed in 2005 from a combination of two prudential resolutions Call for Environmental Education and Action and Resolution on Supporting Congregations and Providing Guidance for Stewardship of God's Creation During the Coming Period of Declining Fossil Fuels at General Synod 25 in Atlanta, the Environmental and Energy Task Force (EETF) operates through Justice and Witness Ministries (JWM) to help provide resources, networking and guidance for environmental programming in the congregations and conferences of the United Church of Christ
EETF has issued The United Church of Christ: Toward a National Environmental Focus. Its subcommittee, the Energy and Climate Work Group, has issued The next 50 years: sustaining our faith and promoting Peace and justice while using resources wisely to care for creation. Both were reports prepared for General Synod 26 in Hartford in 2007.
In February 2009 a covenant was written between JWM and EETF's Organizing Work Group to further define the partnership of this dedicated team of individuals—environmental leaders across the nation—with the traditional environmental justice work of JWM.
The Collegium of Officers issued a Pastoral Letter on Faith and Environment "And Indeed it is very Good" in April 2008 which invites us to offer prayer for care of the earth, and opens our hearts to seek compassionate actions that can be taken to alleviate the suffering of our fellow children (and creatures) of God. "
700 Prospect in Cleveland is the home of the national offices of the United Church of Christ; the building is known as the Church House. A committee, now known as the GreenHouse group, has formed and moved forward together—bringing the foci of their own ministries—in their interest to Green the House, so to speak.
The Collegium of Officers issued a Pastoral Letter on Faith and Environment "And Indeed it is very Good" in April 2008 which invites us to offer prayer for care of the earth, and opens our hearts to seek compassionate actions that can be taken to alleviate the suffering of our fellow children (and creatures) of God.
Remembering that all matters of environment, climate change and energy stewardship are also matters of environmental justice, all covenanted ministries reflect the United Church of Christ's concern for our neighbor as we take steps to reverse these injustices.
Justice and Witness Ministries (JWM) recognizes and educates on the environmentally-related topics of environmental racism, toxic waste, unequal access to water, globalization and poverty. JWM raises concerns that morally demand that we pay attention to the affects of our actions on human population as well as harm to all the earth's creatures as a result of climate change and disregard for the amounts of energy we consume.The personal actions taken in stewardship of resources and energy are just acts.
Wider Church Ministries knows first-hand the effects of environmental neglect to world communities. Global Advocacy, One Great Hour of Sharing, National Disaster Ministries and our ministerial partners in the field know that a good portion of the catastrophes being faced in the world are climate change related. There is an eagerness to do our individual parts at the House to help alleviate world wide suffering brought on by climate change.
Local Church Ministries (LCM) provides churches and conference/associations resources to inform their members and inspire them to action, including worship resources (seasonal celebrations like Ordinary Time: The Green Season and prayers for Earth Day), educational resources, and practical suggestions about how to make our congregations (and homes) green. In partnership with The Cornerstone Fund—which offers Eco-loans and workshops about ways to green your building—and the Church Building and Loan Fund (CBLF)—which provides resources to Conferences and local churches to help make their buildings green, LCM's stewardship ministry assists churches in caring for God's creation and practicing good financial stewardship in the process. CBLF has provided each resource center in the United Church of Christ with its own copy of "Kilowatt Ours," an excellent film for congregational use.
The Office of General Ministries (OGM) takes into consideration recycling and energy savings and the use of electronic communication, as well as encouraging fair-trade purchasing and efficient office practices—less printing, more recycling; smart use of energy—turning off lights and computers when not in use; and less trash receptacles—therefore fewer plastic bags replaced daily.
Working together to present the larger picture of environmental concern the GreenHouse group aims to set an example of action for all settings of the UCC by Greening the House.
Ms. Meighan Pritchard
Minister for Environmental Justice
United Church of Christ
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44115