A Church Takes Climate Action (in Spite of the Pandemic)
Washington Park UCC in Denver, Colorado, has a long history of engagement with social and environmental justice work. So it seemed only natural for the church to continue in this tradition, by voting to take on the UCC’s Council for Climate Justice’s Kairos Call to Action which was issued at the start of 2020 and urged churches to engage in an all out ten-year mobilization to address climate and inequality.
We formed a “Kairos Call to Action Working Group,” and got to work writing an Eco-Constitution that outlined our beliefs, commitments, and areas for action. This Eco-Constitution was affirmed by vote of the congregation in June 2020.
We created the Eco-Constitution because we believe it is important to frame our actions, to understand why we do what we do, and to claim our beliefs. We affirm that we operate out of the frame that strives to move from human-centered theology and practice, and towards responsible membership in Earth Community.
We planned and implemented several activities centered in three areas:
- Awareness – We led a book study of Brooks Berndt’s “Cathedral on Fire”, and hosted a viewing and conversation on the documentary film “The Story of Plastic,” all via Zoom.
- Reflection/Ritual – We implemented “Kairos Moments” in our Zoom services of worship, where we spent a few moments imparting information about projects and programs that are doing good work in caring for Creation. Other Kairos Moments included general reflections on such things as the importance of community in helping us lament Creation’s devastation and to face hard truths. We also included informational blurbs in our monthly church newsletter.
- Action/Connection – Church members participated in various climate actions in downtown Denver. Our church has installed solar panels on our roof. We helped create and have participated actively in a Climate Justice team for the Rocky Mountain Conference in collaboration with our Conference’s camp and conference center, LaForet.
Future plans include:
- Plans for a community garden/native plantings project, which would also donate fresh produce to our food pantry.
- Transforming our Kairos Moments into Kairos Rituals, to be offered twice a month in our Sunday service. They will have a “Yes/And” format, for example: Yes, we lament species going extinct, And,we celebrate with hope, as groups work tirelessly to bring species back from extinction.
- We are planning a “Kairos Wall” in our church building, which would include artwork, information, resources, and celebration of what our church folk and others are doing. We are not meeting in person yet, but hope to have it started by the time we meet together again.
The Rev. Allyson Sawtell is a member of Washington Park UCC in Denver, Colorado, and serves as the convener of their Kairos Working Group.