United Church of Christ

Getting to Know Brooks Berndt, the UCC's Environmental Justice Minister

BerndtHeadshot.pngBefore becoming the UCC Minister for Environmental Justice in 2015, Berndt served for eight years as the pastor of First Congregational UCC in Vancouver, Washington. While there, he became active in various environmental campaigns including a successful effort to transition the state of Washington away from its only coal plant as well as an ultimately successful campaign to prevent the establishment of the largest oil terminal in the country in Vancouver.

During his time as pastor, Berndt published his first book Sounding the Trumpet: How Churches Can Answer God’s Call to Justice. It was co-authored with the Rev. Dr. J. Alfred Smith, Sr., a prophetic pastor at Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland, California. Scholar Cornel West described the book as "a masterpiece…full of deep spiritual truths."

Berndt's book reflects on the beginning of what became an innovative social justice ministry at his church. From 2011 onward, the church conducted year-long social action campaigns that brought together members for a common purpose and a climactic public witness. Examples of witness included a 116-mile march to the state capitol for marriage equality and a bi-partisan 24-hour fast of legislators and church members to prevent cuts to programs that served hungry children.

Berndt's second book Cathedral on Fire!: A Church Handbook for the Climate Crisis will be published in late March of 2020. In the book, Berndt focuses our attention on the unique and vitally needed gifts that churches can offer to the climate movement. He writes with poetic passion but also with an eye toward the practical in offering field-tested actions for congregations to take.

Invite Berndt to Preach or Lead a Workshop

Sign Up to Receive The Pollinator: The UCC Environmental Justice Newsletter

Commentaries Written by Berndt

The Climate March as an Easter Plot Twist

For Churches Addressing Climate Change, Learn from Marriage Equality

Standing Rock and the Four Stages of Moral Maturation

That "Adorable" Special Interest Group: Children

Race and the Miner’s Canary Revisited: Water Injustice in the US

Flint’s Water Crisis: A Story of Racial Injustice

What Is Creation Justice and Why Does It Rock?

Not a Sexy Problem, but a Scary One: Infrastructure Justice

In Praise of House Parties

The UCC’s First Creation Justice Church

California’s Dirty Secret Comes to Light: Environmental Racism Meets “Black Lungs Matter

A Pope and a Prophet: Desmond Tutu as a Champion for Climate Justice

Video Featuring Berndt