United Church of Christ

Environmental Justice Trainings

How can people of faith work for environmental justice for all? How can we create Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Beloved Community--one that is sustainable, healthy, and inclusive? This “train the trainer” workshop will explore these questions with the goal of empowering conversation and actions around environmental justice that will continue far beyond the initial workshop. In addition to discussing issues and viewing the film Renewal, participants will take a field trip to learn more in-depth about environmental justice issues specific to their setting. Open to adults from college through retirement.

Upcoming Trainings:

Others to be announced. In the meantime, you can schedule you're own! Trainings promote both personal and community transformation and equip participants to lead workshops in their home communities. For more information, contact Rev. Meighan Pritchard, Minister for Environmental Justice, at pritchardm@ucc.org.

Customize Your Own Training

Learn more about our recent training in Florida:

The UCC Environmental Justice team hosted a retreat for 12 participants at Silver Springs Christian Church conference center at the request of the Florida Conference. The group took a field trip to Silver Springs State Park to learn about water issues. The discussion explored the overdrawing of water from the Floridan Aquifer, which can reduce water flow in the springs and could lead to problems with sinkholes. The participants also learned that nitrates from cattle ranches, lawn fertilizer, and leaking septic systems get into the aquifer and create algae blooms that are detrimental to the health of the ecosystem.

Customize a retreat to explore what's happening in your community.

Working with Meighan Pritchard, UCC minister for Environmental Justice, you can build experiences into your training to reflect the environmental challenges unique to your location in the country, honing in on problems in the local community. Each retreat includes a field trip; the content of the field trip varies depending on location. During the Florida retreat, a local Presbyterian pastor, Bruce Seaman, and his son Ray met with the group to examine some of the political ramifications of decisions about water management for new development. How you design it is up to you.

Following the retreat participants are encouraged to keep in touch with each other, support each other, spread information, and become resources for each other.

After the Florida retreat the Rev. Sarah Lund, Regional Minister of the Western Region, Florida UCC created a Facebook page for Environmental Justice Retreats. All participants of previous and future EJ retreats will be invited to join this page in order to create a real network for environmental justice work in the UCC.

Read comments from the most recent training evaluations:

"Well worth the time and expense to come--so re-energizing! Thank you."

"Great material--easy to implement. I look forward to using this material! Thanks so much!"

"I came to this workshop looking for a way forward amid divergent worldviews and I leave with the support of fellow seekers and materials and ideas to implement. I had a great time! Thank you for making this possible."

"The training was very well done... serious conversation, yet balanced to allow for group cohesion and dialogue. I look forward to doing this training at my home church. Thanks!"

Sample Workshop Schedule

Weekend workshops begin on Day 1 at 5:00 p.m. and continue through Day 2 at noon with a “head and heart” focus on the five core themes listed above. On the afternoon of Day 2, the group of about 15 will travel in the local area to observe and experience how communities and individuals are impacted by both environmental destruction and environmental restoration, returning in the evening to discuss how to develop inclusive community-based strategies and responses. On the morning of Day 3, the group will gather to address how partners in Creation can work through the issues of environmental despair and lead lives based on hope. The final session will help participants develop strategies on how to bring what they have learned to their local community. Day 3 will conclude at noon to allow participants to return to their home communities. Sample schedule below:

Day 1  
5:00 – 6:15 pm  Arrival, room check-in, and dinner
6:15 – 6:45 pm Introduction of process, setting, and opening devotional
7:45 – 8:00 pm   Break
8:00 – 9:00 pm  Core Value Session 2: Humility
9:00 pm Social time and rest time
Day 2  
7:30 – 8:15 am Breakfast
8:15 – 8:30 am Morning Devotional
8:30 – 9:30 am Core Value Session 3: Responsibility
9:30 – 9:45 am Break
9:45 – 10:45 am Core Value Session 4: Justice
10:45 – 11:00 am Break
11:00 – 12:00 am Core Value Session 5: Community
Noon – 12:45 pm Lunch
12:45 – 6:00 pm Hands-On EJ Project
6:00 – 7:00 pm Dinner
7:00 – 7:45 pm Observations, Conclusions, and Actions on Environmental Justice
7:45 – 9:00 pm Telling the Story of Environmental Justice Exercise
Day 3  
7:30 -8:15 am Breakfast
8:15 – 8:30 am Morning Devotional
8:30 – 10:30 am Bringing Environmental Justice to Your Home Community
10:30 – 10:45 am Break
10:45 – 11:45 am Living with Environmental Despair
11:45 – noon Evaluations
Noon Lunch and rides to the airport