The Pollinator: UCC Environmental Justice Blog

The Pollinator is a digital platform of the UCC for the sharing of ideas and inspiration. Its focus is the building of a faith-filled and faith-rooted movement for the care of creation.

Sign up to recieve the Pollinator newsletter to get regular updates from our UCC Minister for Environmental Justice, Rev. Brooks Berndt.

Lesson from Pope Francis: How to Frame Climate

FrancisBook.jpegWhat follows is an excerpt from Donna Schaper’s book I FRANCIS. In the book, Schaper professes her love for the pope through a series of letters.  For Schaper, one of the pope’s attractive qualities is his ability to frame climate change as a moral issue. (Read more.)


Our Deteriorating Space Environment: A Status Report

Stephen Hawking, the physicist and cosmologist, thinks it is a near certainty we will destroy our planet with nuclear war, genetically engineered viruses, or climate change. In order to survive, he says, our species must establish settlements on other planets or their moons. (Read more.)


The Many Paths that Lead to Creation Justice

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“Diversity” was the key word for “Creation Justice Pathways in North Carolina,” the interfaith, multifaceted summit cosponsored by the Creation Justice Network of the UCC’s Southern Conference and the North Carolina Council of Churches on March 24-26. (Read more.)


The Climate March as an Easter Plot Twist

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Easter has been described as one of the greatest plot twists of all time, and I have come to realize that the upcoming climate march can be seen as part of an Easter plot twist in the making. To understand this, one has to first take a step back and grasp how the biggest story of our time has unfolded until this point. (Read more.)


To Revolutionize the Church, Go Outdoors: An Interview with Stephen Blackmer

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The homepage for the Church of the Woods website offers a compelling combination of warm invitation and radical manifesto. On the hand, it is a church that expressly welcomes people of all faiths and backgrounds who are looking to connect with God. On the other hand, this is a church that seeks to provide that connection in a way that intentionally diverges from “regular” church. One immediately learns that this is “a new kind of church,” an outdoor church located on “106 acres of wild woods and wetlands.” The introductory paragraph declares, “In calling our woods a church, we are deliberately trying to crack open what it means to be ‘church.’” Instead of having a building that serves as “the bearer of sacredness,” the earth itself does this. (Read more.)


From the French Revolution, Inspiration for Churches Today?

Jean HuberCould church members meet their spiritual needs by adopting a practice that was common during the French revolution? In a new Guardian article on the rise in the United States of intimate, intellectual gatherings known as salons, a description of a salon started by Brad Canham in Minneapolis-St. Paul suburb stood out:


Lead Crisis Becomes Eviction Crisis

361px-New_Zealand_Sign_Assembly_-_Emergency.svg.pngThis past summer residents of the West Calumet Housing Complex in East Chicago, Indiana, were told that their homes were surrounded by high levels of lead and arsenic. Their mayor then ordered that these residents relocate. On April 1, 2017, 81 West Calumet families will face forcible eviction and placement in neighborhoods in which they would never choose to live due to fears over safety.


For Churches Addressing Climate Change, Learn from Marriage Equality

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Recently, Forbes magazine published an article that suggests the unique and powerful contribution that churches have to make in the struggle to rapidly address our climate. In an article entitled “How Gay Marriage Suggests a Strategy for Climate Change,” Jeff McMahon recounts how marriage equality seemed to be nowhere near the horizon of possibility in 2004, but then something started to happen. It became adopted state by state. Momentum gathered, and now it is the law of the land for the entire nation.


Background on Race and Climate

the-seas-are-rising.jpegThere has been an ongoing focus on race and the environment in the United States since the 1980s when United Church of Christ ministers helped give birth to the environmental justice movement and coined the use of the phrase “environmental racism.” In more recent years, environmental justice advocates have advanced some important discussions about race in relation to climate change. (Read more.)


Lessons from a 1,500-Square-Mile Lead Catastrophe

After a hundred years of mining contaminated the Coeur d’Alene River as well as nearby lakes and lands with lead, the Environmental Protection Agency in 1983 designated 21-square-miles of  Spring Valley as the Bunker Hill Mining and Metallurgical Complex Superfund site. The federal government was to fund the cleanup of one of the largest and most polluted places in the country. Mining had long polluted the area with lead, arsenic, cadmium, and zinc. In 2002, the site was expanded to cover all of the 1,500-square-mile Coeur d’Alene Basin that stretches across both Northern Idaho and Eastern Washington. It is now the largest lead superfund site in the nation.

BarbaraMiller.jpegTo this day, the lead poisoning of children remains an ongoing issue. In this interview, I spoke with Barbara Miller of the Silver Valley Community Resource Center which established a program called Children Run Better Unleaded to address this health crisis that spans decades. I wanted to learn more about SVCRC’s program as well as the situation she currently faces in seeking environmental justice. I also wanted to know if there were lessons for other parts of the country to learn in addressing lead poisoning. (Read more.)


Contact Info

Brooks Berndt
Minister for Environmental Justice
700 Prospect Ave
Cleveland, OH 44135
216-736-3722
berndtb@ucc.org