- Oct 18-20 at Pilgrim Hills Camp in Ohio
- Nov 2-4 at Parkway UCC in Winston-Salem, NC
The UCC Centers for Environmental Justice are centers where participants can come from all over the U.S. and be immersed in a justice-centered response to climate change and environmental equity.
Originally founded at Pilgrim Firs Camp and Conference Center, the program has expanded to Silver Lake Conference Center in Connecticut and other training locations throughout the country. These trainings feature a curriculum designed for diverse participants to take what they learn and return to their home locations and communicate with knowlege of five core themes of environmental justice based on biblical and ethical principles:
Using video, discussions, and hands-on learning opportunities, each session will go far beyond the traditional “greening” of our congregations and communities to promote a transformational message. Upon registration, each participate will agree to teach this new approach to environmental justice at least twice in one year and will be given all the necessary tools to communicate with “the folks in the pew.”
This curriculum is Biblically based and centered on the deep issues of justice and the beloved community. It involves the learner in study, reflection, discussion, and hands-on learning opportunities, and can be tailored for weekly, weekend, and single-day learning opportunities.
Our History in the Struggle for Environmental Justice.
The United Church of Christ was an early leader in the cause of environmental justice and in the fight against environmental racism. We began with the protest against the establishment of a toxic waste dump in a predominantly Black community in North Carolina. Growing out of that event, the UCC Commission for Racial Justice conducted the now-famous 1987 statistical survey on "Toxic Waste and Race." The UCC sponsored two "People of Color Summit Meetings" and the first of those meetings generated what is now seen as the classic list of ethical norms for the environmental justice movement.
Through the years, the UCC has actively provided support to a variety of grassroots groups addressing specific instances of environmental racism such as hog farming in North Carolina, the environmental destruction from military activities in Vieques, Puerto Rico, and pollution along the Mexico-US border. The UCC’s emphasis on environmental racism has been strengthened by its relationship to our denomination’s strong stands and constituencies related to racial justice, a well-established "issue-based" action strategy, and advocacy methods similar to that used for other justice work within the UCC.
The UCC Network for Environmental and Economic Responsibility (NEER) was formed in the late 1980s and early 90s as a grassroots effort with a broad eco-justice agenda. NEER was active in promoting "Whole Earth Churches" on the model of "Just Peace Churches", and over 300 congregations made that declaration. NEER gathered a large delegation of UCC members to attend the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, and organized several regional conferences for education and leadership training.
In the new century, the UCC has continued its environmental and racial justice advocacy at the Centers for Education and Social Transformation. In 2007, the Energy and Environment Task Force presented a report to the General Synod to combine the strengths of our historic advocacy against environmental racism and the added advocacy for climate justice towards establishing the UCC Environmental Justice Center at Pilgrim Firs in Port Orchard, Washington.
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 Action This 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 Leadership 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. "
The United Church of Christ's Scholarship and Grant award system provides broad support, increased access and ease of use to a large, diverse pool of qualified candidates.
The streamlined Scholarship and Grant award system increases efficiency for applicants, recommenders and evaluators; establishes consistent practices; improves communication; and strengthens relationships with recipients.
Members in Discernment may apply for the Brown Endowment Scholarship and ONE other UCC Ministry Education Scholarship per year.
Our online Scholarship application process is safe, secure, and user-friendly!
Important dates to remember:
All online Scholarship application forms open on December 1 each year and close on March 1 of the following year at 5:00 p.m. Eastern time.
The online application form for The Genesis Fund, a program grant, opens on December 1 each year and closes on March 15 of the following year at 5:00 p.m. Eastern time.
Mailed, hand-delivered, shipped, emailed and faxed applications, references and transcripts will no longer be accepted or acknowledged.
Applications are not complete until we have received ALL required items within the online application, including transcripts and required recommendations from references. You are fully responsible for ensuring that ALL required items are received by the due date.
Applicants are advised to notify their references that they will receive an email request. The email will come from firstname.lastname@example.org.
When you submit your application, it will display as "Pending." Your application will not be "Submitted" until ALL required documents (transcripts, letters of reference, etc.) have been received. You will receive a confirmation email once all requested information has been received and the status of your application has been changed from "Pending" to "Submitted."
It is your responsibility to ensure that your application is complete and marked as "Submitted" by the due date.
Incomplete or late applications will not be considered.
The UCC provides a wealth of Scholarships. They are worthy of your donations, as they ensure the future of our church. If a Scholarship does not exist that speaks to your particular passion, and you wish to create a Scholarship, please click here to view our Gift Acceptance Policy.
Local church leaders can take time to learn about congregation structures, current practices, and available resources in order to strengthen their work and their churches. The Leaders Box, a classic resource, provides guidance for many of the "nuts and bolts" of church life. The following list highlights resources for developing, discerning, supporting and uplifting the ministries of local churches.
Alban Institute weekly newsletters
Any Body, Everybody, Christ's Body (curriculum to help congregations become "A2A," Accessible to All)
Congregational Resource Guide (a joint project of the Alban Institute and the Indianapolis Center for the Study of Congregations)
Considering a New Church Covenant in the UCC (for non-UCC-affiliated churches, this booklet describes the process of mutual exploration between a congregation and a UCC Association when deciding whether to enter into a formal covenanted relationship)
Constitution and Bylaws, a suggested format
Education and spiritual formation
Justice Advocacy training
Manual on Church (a study of the covenantal relationship between congregations and Associations/Conferences)
Mission Discernment (an online resource for congregations to discern, articulate and grow in God's purpose)
Outdoor Ministries in the United Church of Christ
Pastoral Evaluation (recommended reading includes When Better Isn't Enough: Evaluation Tools for the 21st-Century Church by Jill M. Hudson, Holy Clarity: The Practice of Planning and Evaluation by Sarah B. Drummond, and Completing the Circle: Reviewing Ministries in the Congregation by David McMahill)
Scholarships for undergraduates or seminarians
Shared Ministry (for congregations considering a partnership in space, programming, staff, etc.: GEMS is particularly written for churches of different denominations, while Getting Together describes five different models of church collaboration)
Your Church, Deeper (seven ways to create and sustain deep community)
Your Church, Organized (five ways not to restructure, and what to do instead)
Your Church, Safer (resources for congregations developing covenants and practices to protect children and others who are vulnerable to abuse or mistreatment, including these ten steps toward reducing risk); the UCC Insurance Board also offers a SafeConduct abuse prevention program.
The Just Peace Church vision is a hallmark of United Church of Christ theological identity. For 30 years, the Just Peace Church pronouncement has inspired a grassroots movement of UCC congregations committed to corporately naming and boldly proclaiming a public identity as a justice-doing, peace-seeking church. The Just Peace pronouncement articulated the UCC position on war and peace distinct from other approaches such as crusade, pacifism, or “just war.” Grounded in UCC polity and covenantal theology, the position focuses attention on alleviating systemic injustice of all types using non-violence and calls us to offer the message, grounded in the hope of reconciliation in Jesus, that “Peace is possible.”
Justice and Witness Ministries is committed to a revitalized Just Peace Church movement and to empowering and resourcing congregations to create a stronger justice and peace witness. Now is the time to rekindle our commitment to Just Peace and make visible our longstanding witness to this approach. To do so, we will be working to update the list of Just Peace Churches in the UCC and will keep this site up to date with educational resources.
Does your church consider itself to be a Just Peace congregation? What is your church doing to live out its calling to be a Just Peace church? What does it mean to be a Just Peace Church in times like these? I hope you will take the time to update your church’s information on our site and offer your responses to these questions. Your energy and voice is needed to reinvigorate and shape the direction of our collective movement.
For more information contact email@example.com and join us in conversation via Facebook and Twitter @JustPeaceUCC.
Just Peace Updates
Just Peace Sunday - September 16, 2018
This year, Just Peace Sunday will focus on the theme “Wisdom Cries Out!” based on the lectionary passage, Proverbs 1:20-33. Worship, learning, and craft materials will be available online making connections between our witness as a Just Peace Church and our particular concern at this time for those migrants fleeing violence at our border. Join us in marking September 16th as Just Peace Sunday!
Nonviolent Direct Action and Just Peace
Nonviolent action and civil resistance is effective. Nonviolent approaches include protests and boycotts, non-cooperation and direct intervention (civil disobedience), and other creative campaigns. All of these techniques require significant spiritual and practical preparation and training to be effective. Learn more about how nonviolent direction actions relate to our history as a Just Peace Church and find resources.
A Just Peace Handbook
In 2015, the 30th General Synod held in Cleveland, OH marked the UCC’s 30th anniversary as a Just Peace Church and called for a renewal of the UCC’s Just Peace witness. This booklet is intended to accompany this resolution and be a resource for all levels and areas of the church for further work and witness, especially to local congregations declaring or recommitting themselves as “Just Peace Churches.” This resource includes a summary of the historical and theological uniqueness of the Just Peace vision; the biblical and theological grounding for Just Peace values; and recommended steps for how to become a Just Peace Church. (Download.)
Interfaith Network on Drone Warfare
Shortly after 9/11, the U.S. began using armed drones, catching the attention of many people of faith and conscience concerned with Just Peace. The UCC has been part of an interfaith effort to raise awareness about this important issue through the Interfaith Network on Drone Warfare. Now is the time for for you and your congregation to learn more about this issue and speak out with your members of congress about this abuse of technology.
Find video and study resources here: https://interfaithdronenetwork.org/
Destroyers or Healers? A look at American Drone Warfare
“Lord I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only speak the word and my servant will be healed” - Matthew 8:5-13
During the Roman occupation, arguably no nation was more vile and threatening than the Romans who crucified thousands of innocent people for the sake of dominance. As a centurion in the Roman army the soldier in Matthew was directly responsible for reinforcing the idolatrous, oppressive, and murderous laws of the empire. By modern standards this centurion posed a clear and imminent threat to the Jewish people, but instead of calling in a heavenly strike against the centurion Jesus performed a distant healing. Such compassion from Jesus demonstrates that God’s policy is not that of a distant destroyer, but a distant healer. (Read more.)
Connect to the Just Peace Movement
Promoting a Just Peace in Palestine-Israel: A Guide for United Church of Christ Faith Leaders
To help local churches and conferences of the United Church of Christ live into the General Synod call to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, the UCC Palestine/Israel Network has introduced a new resource guide that will help church leaders and ecumenical partners implement the 2015 resolution. Learn more and download the resource.
A tribute by Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite on the Life and Witness of Glen H. Stassen
Glen H. Stassen, friend of Jesus and peacemaker, died on April 26, 2014. Glen was a well-known and beloved Christian Ethics professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, and one of the primary architects of the paradigm of Just Peacemaking, as can be seen in the video clip above from a forthcoming documentary on this crucial fourth paradigm beyond Pacifism, Just War and Crusade. (Read more.)
What You Need To Know
In 1982, the State of North Carolina chose a poor predominantly African American community for the placement of a toxic waste landfill to dispose of PCBs illegally dumped along the roadway of fourteen counties. Residents of Warren County, North Carolina enlisted the support of the United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice (CRJ) to engage in a campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience.
In response to this experience, and from others across the nation, the CRJ commissioned a study to examine what was perceived at the time to be the intentional placement of hazardous waste sites, landfills, incinerators, and polluting industries in communities inhabited mainly by African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Asians and Pacific Islanders, farm workers and the working poor. These groups were, and still are, particularly vulnerable because they are perceived as weak and passive citizens who will not fight back against the poisoning of their neighborhoods in fear that it may jeopardize jobs and economic survival.
In releasing the findings of the 1987 study written by Charles Lee, the Rev. Benjamin Chavis, CRJ Executive Director, referred to intentionally selecting communities of color for wastes disposal sites and polluting industrial facilities – essentially condemning them to contamination – as “environmental racism.” He called on the United Church of Christ to be a champion working for environmental justice across the nation and across the world.
Why Is Environmental Racism an Issue of Faith?
People of faith are called to care for all of our neighbors, regardless of their race, their income level, or their life circumstances. Jesus taught us this behavior in the parable of the Good Samaritan. He was also a student of the Hebrew Scriptures where he learned to “let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an everflowing stream.” Jesus did not discriminate or separate people into artificial groups, but rather declared that the Kingdom of God is available to all of God’s children.
Racism divides people and alienates them against each other based on ethnic origin or color, and environmental racism adds an additional degree of injustice upon people or communities. Since 1987, the environmental justice movement has been trying to address inequalities that are the result of human settlement, industrial contamination and unsustainable development. Through the Environmental Justice Office, the United Church of Christ seeks to educate congregations and communities and to assist groups in organizing, mobilizing and empowering themselves to take charge of their lives, their communities and their surroundings. We also seek to address the issues of power imbalances, political disfranchisement and lack of resources in order to facilitate the creation and maintenance of healthy, livable and sustainable communities.
In the conclusions of the landmark report Toxic Wastes and Race at Twenty 1987-2007, you will read that “people of color are found to be more concentrated around hazardous waste facilities than previously shown.” You will see that race matters. Place matters too. Unequal protection places communities of color at special risk. And polluting industries still follow the path of least resistance.
Climate change and global warming bring an additional peril to communities of color or poor communities all over the world. Many who live near the coasts or in lower-lying areas will be the first to feel the effects of rising temperatures and oceans. They will not have the resources to make choices that others can make and may lose their homes and their livelihoods and will be displaced as environmental refugees. Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf coast in 2005 was one of the most dramatic examples of what may occur in the future, as those who had no transportation or means of escaping the rising waters became refugees in their own city.
What You Can Do
The environmental justice movement is as much concerned about the environment as any of the traditional environmental groups. There is only one environment. The environmental justice movement is concerned about wetlands, birds and wilderness areas. It is also concerned, however, about urban habitats, about reservations, about the things that are happening on the US Mexican border, about children poisoned by lead in their own homes and about children playing in contaminated parks and playgrounds. The UCC is committed to keep bringing these issues to the attention of environmental groups, communities of faith, and the broader society. Here are a few suggestions about how you can become more aware of environmental racism and work for environmental justice:
- Organize a group from your faith community to take a tour of your city and map the neighborhoods, commercial areas, industrial sites, and environmental hazards. Get familiar with zoning laws and urban planning, and see if your community practices any forms of environmental racism.
- Organize a study group in your congregation that looks at the historic and current forms of environmental racism. Understand that discrimination is not always obvious and that it is present in social structures and local customs as much as it is present in individuals or organizations.
- Attend an Environmental Justice workshop sponsored by the UCC and take what you have learned back to your community.
- Join and support national or local organizations that seek to address environmental racism. If you belong to an organization that works to enhance the environment, help to make its members more aware of the issues and effects of environmental racism.
Links and Resources
What does Our Church’s Wider Mission Support?
Great for new board and mission committee members! This resource highlights work being done in the national setting which is supported by Our Church’s Wider Mission. Print and post for church bulletin boards, use in newsletters or on websites. Also great for stewardship and mission committees!
OCWM Brochure - Great for church members and church leaders. Order copies. Free.
OCWM Infographic – Great tool to share at Annual Meetings and Churches. Order copies. Free.
OCWM Video - Great for use to communicate the ministry and mission supported by gifts to Our Church’s Wider Mission Basic Support!
OCWM Bulletin Inserts Great for use in the Sunday bulletins, at board or committee meetings or to focus a mission group discussion. Explore what we do together in the Conference and national ministries as one church:
"We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late." - Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
What You Need To Know
For as long as the earth has existed, the sun's rays have provided warmth that gives us seasons, weather patterns, and a predictable climate. Periodically, the earth has warmed or cooled, but the global warming patterns experienced in the last 250 years are the result of human activity directly related to the burning of fossil fuels. Beginning with the industrial revolution in the late 1700's, coal and oil have provided the energy to build the modern economy.
However, the side effects of burning fossil fuels have proven to be more harmful than we ever knew, because that process releases chemicals into the air we breathe and into the upper atmosphere. Those chemicals like carbon dioxide act like a blanket over the earth and prevent heat from escaping in a normal way. As the activities and energy consumption of an industrial civilization have increased, trapped heat has risen to the point where entire natural systems are changing.
The problems of climate change and global warming are confirmed and well-documented by the scientific community. Reputable scientific organizations that reflect the consensus among leading scientists about this urgent problem include:
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
- Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS)
- National Academies of Science (NAS)
- Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change
- American Geophysical Union (AGU)
- American Meteorological Society (AMS)
- Climate Change Research Center (CCRC)
- American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
Before the industrial revolution, the historic level of carbon dioxide was roughly 275 parts per million. We are currently raising that level at two parts per million annually to the level of approximately 390 parts per million in 2010. Even if we changed our fossil-fuel based economy immediately, the affects of current global warming will continue to heat the planet. In addition, there are feedback loops that may accelerate global warming. For instance, white ice reflects heat whereas darker ocean absorbs heat; as some ice melts, more ocean is exposed and the ice melts faster because the surrounding ocean is warmer.
The fact is that our planet and the natural systems that sustain life are changing due to global warming. With hotter weather, we get more evaporation and more moisture into the air. The consequence is that we have more extreme weather events; when it rains, it is more likely to flood. When a hurricane passes over warmer water, it is more likely to strengthen. Normal rainfall patterns are changing around the earth and humans and animals are having to adjust their behavior, their reproductive patterns, where they live, and their sources for food.
Why Is Global Warming An Issue Of Faith?
People of faith are beginning to realize that global warming and climate change are issues of environmental justice. For humans, those who are poor or unable to adjust will be the first to feel the effects of a warming planet; many will lose their homes to rising seas and be unable to grow food for their families. The scientific predictions are that as ice melts on Antarctica and Greenland, sea levels will rise as much as four feet, thus displacing millions of persons who live and work and grow food near the coasts. Low-lying countries such as Bangladesh will lose most fo their land mass, islands in the Pacific will disappear, and coastal marshes such as The Everglades in South Florida will be under sea water. For plants and animals, global warming means that many will not adjust in time and will become extinct, thus reducing the diversity and beauty of God's natural creation.
Developed countries such as the United States consume a disproportionate amount of the earth's resources and produce a disproportionate amount of carbon. In the U.S., 5% of the world's population consumes 25% of the earth's resources, thus contributing a disproportionate amount to global warming. It is an issue of injustice between those who "have" and those who "have not."
What Can You Do?
- Calculate the carbon footprint of your family and your congregation to determine a baseline for energy savings.
- Home: turn the thermostat down in winter and up in summer, insulate, get only the appliances you need and make them energy efficient, buy a smaller home or rent a smaller apartment, shade your windows, dry your clothes on the line.
- Transportation: ride a bike or walk more and drive less, purchase fuel-efficient and smaller vehicles, commute by public transportation, limit flying.
- Food: grow a garden for vegetables and herbs, support your local farmers through a CSA, limit packaging and waste, start a compost pile.
- Yard: plant native perennials rather than grass to limit mowing, buy an electric mower if you need to cut grass, recycle leaves and yard waste, plant trees for shade and heat reduction, start a worm farm, compost for soil enrichment.
- Education: explore websites and community resources for more ways to save energy and cut your carbon footprint, join our congregational "Green Team" to plan for action.
- Advocacy: write or call your elected officials at every level to inform them that global warming is an issue of faith and justice and that public policy decisions to address global warming are essential.
Links and Resources
Take the UCC Environmental Justice Quiz!
1. Did you know that UCC ministers coined the phrase “environmental racism” and played a leading role in giving birth to the environmental justice movement in the 1980s?
During a six week campaign of civil disobedience in 1982, a movement was born that made national headlines and introduced the world to the issue of environmental racism. Learn more about this inspiring movement in which the UCC became the driving organizational force.
2. Did you know that the UCC has formed a special partnership with a leading climate organization called 350.org, so that church green teams are now becoming 350 affiliates?
Members of the United Church of Christ have often worked with 350.org in the pursuit of justice and shared goals. This informal, longstanding relationship is now being deepened through a pilot endeavor that encourages and invites UCC green teams to affiliate with 350. Read about this exciting undertaking.
3. Did you know that in places like Flint and Standing Rock the UCC has been actively involved in standing alongside those struggling for justice?
Solidarity is one form that love takes in the ministry of environmental justice. The goal is to find ways that local churches and members can actively support others who are facing environmental injustices. Read more about this important part of our work together.
4. Did you know that the UCC is building a powerful environmental network that stays connected through a blog and e-newsletter called The Pollinator?
The Pollinator is a digital platform of the UCC for the sharing of ideas and inspiration, so that we might become more fruitful in the pursuit of environmental justice. Its focus is the building of a faith-filled and faith-rooted movement for the care of creation. Read the Pollinator blog and sign-up for its newsletter.
5. Did you know that UCC churches are deepening and expanding their commitment to the environment by becoming Creation Justice Churches?
Whether it is taking on climate change or addressing the lead poisoning of children, environmental justice ministries could not have a higher purpose or calling than they do now. Join the movement and become a Creation Justice Church. Learn about the six steps for doing just that.
6. Did you know that the UCC trains people around the country to become environmental justice advocates?
We do Environmental Justice Training Workshops. Request one in your area.