The UCC’s Creation Justice Church program assists congregations in making the ministry of environmental justice an integral strand in the DNA of their faith community. A congregation can be designated as a Creation Justice Church by taking these six steps:
Step One: Create or Designate the Group Which Will Be Your Driving Force
Many green church programs place an emphasis on creating a green team. That is an appropriate step for a lot of congregations, and the UCC offers its tips for starting a green team. In some churches, however, it might be advisable for the governing council or the social justice committee to drive the process of becoming a Creation Justice Church.
Step Two: Discern and Implement Ways to “Grow Green”
The intent of the Creation Justice Church program is not to be rigidly prescriptive but instead to assist churches in developing creative and ambitious aspirations that are well-suited for each congregation’s particular context as it seeks to stretch itself and “grow green.” To support congregations in their own processes of discernment and implementation, the Creation Justice Church program offers guiding questions to consider along with resource pages that are full of ideas for what can be done. Congregations around the country have gifted to us best practices that might add to what your church is already doing. The questions and resources are grouped according to “The Four Dimensions of a Creation Justice Church:”
- Theology and Worship
Resource: Seven Ways to Jump Start the Greening of Your Church’s Theology and Worship
Questions to Consider: How can your congregation intentionally reflect upon God in relationship to caring for creation? How can it bring theological understandings of creation care and justice into its services of worship?
- Institutional Life and Practice
Resource: Doing a Green Church Inventory, Evaluation, and Action Plan
Questions to Consider: How can your congregation integrate care for creation into the life and work of its ministry teams, committees, and governing council? How can your congregation embody care for creation through its building and land use policies and practices?
- Circles of Awareness and Advocacy
Resource: Six Ways to Expand Your Circle of Awareness and Advocacy
Questions to Consider: With particular attention to socioeconomic factors such as race, class, and global inequality, how can your congregation research and inform itself about environmental justice issues at the local, state, national, and/or global levels? How can this awareness correspond to congregational advocacy and action?
- Connections to a Broader Movement
Resource: Five Ways to Connect to a Broader Movement
Questions to Consider: Within the UCC, what are the ways in which your church can connect with others, whether it is through a conference task force, a UCC campground, the UCC’s environmental justice newsletter, or other points of contact? Outside of the UCC, what are the ways in which your church can connect with interfaith, ecumenical, or secular partners engaged in environmental justice work?
Step Three: Draft a Creation Justice Covenant
In the UCC, the most solemn and sacred commitment one can make is that of a covenant. It marks a serious promise to God on the part of a congregation. A covenant also entails a promise among congregants to each other as they seek “to walk together in all God’s ways” (Constitution of the United Church of Christ). After a prayerful process of discernment, those who have been leading the church in seeking designation will draft a Creation Justice Covenant to be presented to either the congregation or the governing council for a vote. There are no requirements for how it is to be written but one can read a sample covenant to begin the process of generating ideas for what should be included.
Step Four: Vote to Adopt the Creation Justice Covenant and Become a Creation Justice Church
The Creation Justice Covenant and the decision to become a Creation Justice Church need to be ratified by either a congregational vote or the vote of the church’s governing body. A congregational vote is recommended because it ensures greater ownership and participation on the part of the congregation as a whole.
Step Five: Submit an Application
To become designated, one must simply complete this form which is based on the guiding questions listed earlier for the four dimensions of a Creation Justice Church. To submit the form:
- Fill out and submit the application online.
- Download application. The hard copy can be emailed to the UCC Environmental Justice Program or mailed to:
Environmental Justice Program
United Church of Christ
700 Prospect Avenue East
Cleveland, OH 44115
Step Six: Keep It Up!
Once a church is recognized as a Creation Justice Church, it is the responsibility of that church to maintain environmental justice as a core part of its DNA. While it is not required, it is recommended that each church revisit the four dimensions of a Creation Justice Church on an annual basis in order to measure and evaluate its progress.