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.

Touchpoints: How a Village Church Reaches Out to the World

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Saugatuck and Douglas are sister cities — sibling villages, really — on Michigan’s West coast, arranged around a river harbor that flows into Lake Michigan. Our borders interlace to the degree that most residents and no tourists in this town have any idea when they are leaving one village to enter the other. The nearest communities that most people would recognize as cities are Chicago, around the bend of the lake, Grand Rapids to the north, Kalamazoo, east and south of us, and South Bend, over the Michigan border to the south. A majority of the people who own property here have summer and weekend places.

Why the geography lesson? Because it’s important in understanding how a Creation Justice Team at Douglas United Church of Christ has come to reach beyond these villages to the broader world. (Read more.)


With a Meal at the Heart of Worship, a Church Connects with Creation

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After graduating from Harvard Divinity School in 2014, Zach Kerzee received the support of the United Methodist Church to start a new church in Grafton, Massachusetts. The church centers its community life and worship around a meal shared at tables every Thursday evening. The food for the meal comes from an organic farm next door. Through this and other practices, the church has helped pioneer a unique and innovative approach to ministry. I interviewed Kerzee as part of a series of interviews with church leaders who are envisioning and bringing to life new ways of being church while having a notable emphasis on creation care and justice.  (Read more.)


The Climate March as an Empathy Test

A recent viral video explores the simple question, “What if Earth treated us the way we treat Earth?” Scenes show a young girl dressed in a planet Earth costume as she gives humans a dose of their own medicine. One man is forced to inhale car exhaust. A woman lounging in a pool has oil poured on her. Two men relaxing in a park have garbage dumped on them as the girl yells, “Biodegrade that, punks!” In a clever way, the video uses the humor of role reversal to instill empathy for our damaged and degraded planet. (Read more.)


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.


Contact Info

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