While the United Church of Christ's upcoming Mission 4/1 Earth campaign will promote 50 days of earth care, the denomination's commitment to environmental sustainability is everlasting and will be put into action at General Synod 2013. Four of the 15 resolutions to be proposed at this summer's event call for ongoing, permanent changes for the UCC that will lessen the environmental footprint of its congregations and members, and help make the world a more sustainable place.
"The message this is sending is that we are accountable for our actions and our inactions as well, and that it's really time for us to be specific about our lifestyles and the impact of our choices on other communities," said Jim Deming, UCC minister for environmental justice.
The UCC's Minnesota Conference submitted a resolution urging all segments of the denomination to respond to global warming and to acknowledge that the building sector, including all UCC churches, are the largest contributing factor to climate change. The resolution calls for UCC congregations to take steps toward carbon neutrality, and to encourage their members to implement the same standards at home.
"The current scientific opinion on climate change, supported by a wide body of evidence, is that the earth is warming and that there is near certainty that the actions of humans are complicit through activities including deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels," the resolution states. "Entire countries have pledged to become carbon neutral…illustrating the widespread belief that it is within our moral duty and economic best interest to address and mitigate climate change with the goal of becoming a carbon-neutral society."
A resolution from the Central Atlantic Conference is urging the UCC to work to bring an end to mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia and to encourage the use of clean, renewable energy. The resolution asks that UCC congregations determine where their electricity comes from and to work to find another source if it comes from coal extracted using mountaintop removal. It also calls for UCC Justice and Witness Ministries to provide associations, conferences and congregations with information and direction on how to put an end to mountaintop removal mining and to encourage the Obama Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency to also take steps to end the process.
"Mountaintop removal coal mining devastates communities and the environment," the resolution states. "We cannot move from one destructive source of energy to another for this region. Clean energy is the answer for Appalachia."
The Massachusetts, Southwest, New York and Central Atlantic Conferences are calling for the UCC and its affiliates to divest from fossil fuel companies. Part of a world-wide movement, the resolution seeks to "inspire and accelerate an unswerving commitment – as stated in the UCC's Core Purpose – to ‘the co-creation of a just and sustainable world as made manifest in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.'" The resolution asks for the UCC and its members to immediately stop any new investments in fossil fuel companies and ensure that any existing investments are dissolved within five years.
"The realities of climate change require prophetic and strategic action by people of faith seeking to be faithful to the everlasting covenant God has made with us, with every living creature, and with all future generations," the resolution states. "If fossil fuel companies simply fulfill their purpose, the earth will become inhospitable to life as we know it."
Lastly, a resolution put forth by the Connecticut Conference, the Pacific Northwest Conference, the Ohio Conference and the Litchfield North Association of the Connecticut Conference calls for support of the UCC's Outdoor Ministries and the Outdoor Ministry Association. According to the resolution, "the UCC's Outdoor Ministry camp programs are a vital complement and extension of the Christian education mission of the local and wider church, a chance to embrace diversity and deepen understanding, and an opportunity for youth and all ages to fall in love with God's creation."
General Synod 2013 will take place June 28-July 2 in Long Beach, Calif. For a full list of the General Synod 2013 resolutions or for more event information, visit ucc.org/synod.