United Church of Christ

Devotional Subject: Environment

Calling climate change an emergency, representatives of Christianity and other world religions will gather in New York City Sept. 24 to create an action plan for faith communities. Four United Church of Christ leaders will be there.


Resources are available to help UCC members and churches act on recent General Synod resolutions on climate justice: two videos of encouragement from famous scientists, plus ways to take action to support concrete solutions.


It won't be the first time Harold Beer has steered clear of fossil fuels on his way to a United Church of Christ General Synod. He biked to Synods twice. This time Beer and his wife, Marcia, UCC members from Michigan, will put in at Muskegon and sail their 27-floot sloop across Lake Michigan to to the 2019 Synod, meeting in Milwaukee June 21-25.


The church and the world will hear from more young "climate prophets" if the United Church of Christ receives a United Nations prize for which it has been nominated.


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In February, I met with Brooks Berndt, the UCC’s Minister for Environmental Justice, to discuss a proposal for an eco-justice ministries network within the UCC’s Southern Conference. During our conversation, the tragedy of the Flint, Michigan, water crisis arose, and Berndt made the comment that numerous “other Flints” are occurring across our country at this moment with their own terrible consequences.

His words turned out to be prophetic. (Read more.)


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A few days ago the grassroots leadership in Flint began circulating the following list of demands following the ongoing crisis in the city:

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As people of faith who want act in solidarity with the community in Flint, what can we do? Here are three ways to get involved:

1) Call President Obama to request an increase in federal funding directed to Flint that would allow for the replacement of the city’s water infrastructure. Call 202-456-1111.

2) Donate to the UCC Emergency USA Fund. You can choose to designate your contribution to Flint.

3) Share articles that highlight the role of systemic racism in the Flint water crisis:


On the anniversary of the United Church of Christ's historic vote to take action to lessen the impact of fossil fuels on climate change, United Church Funds announced the launch date of a new fossil-fuel-free investment fund. The Beyond Fossil Fuels Fund is a domestic core equity fund that will be free of investments in U.S. companies extracting or producing fossil fuels, and is targeted to open for investment on Oct. 1, 2014.

"Our staff has worked hard this year since General Synod to identify appropriate investment options and managers for this fund," said Donald G. Hart, president of UCF. "Our final manager selection will be based on total investment commitments from current and new investors."

The UCC became the first mainline religious denomination to vote to move toward divestment from fossil fuel companies as one strategy to combat climate change on July 1, 2013, at General Synod 29 in Long Beach, Calif. The resolution calls for enhanced shareholder engagement in fossil fuel companies, an intensive search for fossil-fuel-free investment vehicles, and the identification of "best in class" fossil fuel companies by General Synod 30, taking place June 26-30, 2015.

Since the resolution's passage, UCF and The Pension Boards of the UCC, the denomination's main investment vehicles, have been actively engaged in various levels of shareholder activism, using the process of shareholder engagement to work toward the goals of the UCC resolution. The Beyond Fossil Fuels Fund is another step toward meeting those goals, which the Rev. Geoffrey Black, UCC general minister and president, says is a realization of the UCC's act of prophetic witness on climate.

"As stewards of God's creation, we must continue to grow in our commitment to initiatives like this if we are to have a sustainable future on earth," said Black. "The United Church of Christ's support of this fund will make it possible for others to follow."

With a commitment of $10 million in seed money from the United Church of Christ Board's Investment and Endowment Committee, UCF will be able to offer a fund based on the S&P 500 index, free of fossil fuel companies and inclusive of UCF's traditional set of exclusionary screens, which eliminate companies that conflict with the values of the investor. However, UCF's preferred outcome would require a total commitment of at least $20 million, with which UCF would be able to offer an enhanced index fund that provides an opportunity for higher investment returns.

Investors who are interested in shifting part or all of their domestic core equity allocation to the Beyond Fossil Fuels Fund can visit the fund's website or send an email to BFFfund@ucfunds.org to receive a call from a UCF staff member. After Aug. 31, 2014, UCF will make a determination on fund style and manager based on investor commitments to the new fund.

"We, who are dedicated to protecting our planet, appreciate UCF's fidelity in fulfilling the commitment they made at General Synod," said the Rev. Jim Antal, conference minister of the Massachusetts Conference of the UCC who spearheaded the UCC's resolution to move toward divestment. "I urge UCC churches and conferences to prayerfully consider an investment in this fund."