A new collaborative endeavor of youth from the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) has been launched. As part of this endeavor, youth groups from across the country will adopt a specific month during which they will create social media posts that raise awareness about climate change and encourage action. As a result of a recent name contest, the name of this joint denominational project is Generation Green.
A youth named Erin Root from Immanuel United Church of Christ in Latimer, Iowa submitted the name and won by a vote of her peers. Root describes herself as passionate about addressing climate change. About her submission, Root shares, “I chose ‘Generation Green,’ because I feel like this generation can make a difference in the climate and how it’s affecting our Earth.”
The primary social media platform used by Generation Green will be Instagram due to its popularity among youth. People of all ages, however, are encouraged to follow Generation Green and share its posts.
The youth group of United Church of Chapel Hill is the first to participate in the project. Recently, the church’s youth group posted its first photos. The pictures were taken during a recent prayer vigil that began at the church but ended at a Duke Energy power station near the church. The Duke Energy company bears responsibility for coal ash contamination connected to its coal plants and removal sites. Members of the Southern Conference of the UCC has been active in addressing this issue after learning that 400 families throughout the state had been issued “Do Not Drink” orders by the NC Department of Environmental Quality as a result of toxins from Duke Energy’s coal ash ponds.
The Rev. Jenny Shultz and the Rev. Susan Steinberg of United Church of Chapel Hill authored the liturgy that was used for the prayer vigil. The liturgy called attention to the 14 coal plants in the state with 63 ash impoundments which hold an estimated 12,235,344,639 gallons of coal ash spanning 2,345 acres. The prayer vigil concluded with the youth holding white poster boards the names of 13 North Carolina communities affected by coal ash contamination.
The vigil quoted the works of environmental theologians such as Thomas Berry and Matthew Fox. Participants in the vigil were urged not to be “cogs in a machine” but to instead live with a consciousness and a creativity that honors creation. As the vigil concluded, the Rev. Jenny Shultz asserted that those gathered came not to condemn or scapegoat the particular transgressions of anyone. She declared, “Instead, we are gathered here to reconnect with all of Creation in this Great Work, to claim our hope that is in God, that is within each of us and shared among us.”
Youth groups that would like to participate in Generation Green should contact Environmental Justice Minister Brooks Berndt.