Climate Action Assembly takes deep dive into plastics, electrification, climate hope

The United Church of Christ Council for Climate Justice launched its first in a series of Climate Action Assemblies as it works to support a number of resolutions that were passed at the 2023 General Synold in Indianapolis.

The March 6 assembly provided updates on the three endeavors launched for this year: the Freedom from Plastics Campaign, the Electrification Checklist Initiative, and the Vote for Climate Hope Campaign. There were about 50 people in attendance, while nearly 200 were registered for the event. 

After an opening introduction and prayer from the Rev. Brooks Berndt, minister for environmental justice, an update on each initiative was given.

Forming alliances and getting things done

The first came from Rev. Rob Grabill, associate pastor of The Church of Christ at Dartmouth College. He was one of the sponsors of the “Free from Plastics Pollution Resolution,” which calls for “strategies and actions to mitigate plastic pollution,” including education on the toxicity of microplastics and organizing “Zero Waste” initiatives and similar activities on local, regional, and national levels to draw attention to the impact of plastics.   

Grabill said it’s important that members of the UCC form alliances with other environmental groups to get things done. “This is something that is ongoing, and we are hoping to match up individuals from UCC churches across the country to provide witness and testimony to [environmental] bills in New York, Illinois, and some of these other states.”

He went on to say that opposing single-use plastics is a social justice issue — one that will be addressed specifically at the second annual UCC Earth Summit coming up on Earth Day, April 20.  

Bill McKibben will deliver the keynote address at the UCC Earth Summit.

Electrification checklists for congregations

Dwight Wagenus, chair of the board of Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light, gave an update on the Electrification Checklist Initiative. This came out of the “Urging Planning for and Implementing Electrification Resolution,” which aimed to encourage new energy by electrification as one of the ways UCC churches and individuals can “protect all of God’s creation” from climate changing emissions.  

Wagenus said two checklists have been prepared for use by UCC members — one for congregations, and one for individual homes.

“We have set a goal for the national task force to reach out to every conference by mid-March, and we’re going to meet that,” he declared. “We also have a goal to establish a program for each conference to reach out to a percentage of their congregations on electrification.”

An information exchange forum will also be set up in the future.  

Encouraging the younger generation

Sue Mueller, UCC lead of the Climate Hope Campaign, shared that this member-driven initiative is rooted in our strong commitment to climate action. Promoting the Vote for Climate Hope card campaign, Mueller said this contest addresses the urgent climate crisis.

“The contest engages the younger generation in climate activism,” she said. “And it encourages reflection on hopes for the environment. It also provides an easy entry point for congregations to get involved.” 

More to come

The Council for Climate Justice plans to continue hosting Climate Action Assemblies every two months during 2024 to focus efforts and collaboration around these ongoing initiatives. The next one will take place on May 1, at 1 p.m. Eastern.

Berndt was pleased with how this one came together. “Climate Action Assemblies are the body of Christ in motion. When we connect with a common purpose, our potential becomes exponential. We become more effective as agents of change in the prophetic tradition. This gives me hope and energy as we continue to move forward.”

During this assembly, Berndt announced that Sharon Lavigne, one of the winners of the Goldman Award — also known as the “Green Nobel Prize” – will be a speaker at April’s Earth Day Summit. It will also include environmentalist Bill McKibben delivering the annual Jim Antal Keynote Address. 

Additionally, a webinar addressing the plastics crisis will take place on April 10, ahead of the summit, so that those interested can learn more about it. In the webinar, author Derrick Weston will discuss his resource, Plastic Jesus: Real Faith in a Synthetic World.

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Categories: United Church of Christ News

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