Giving Tuesday donors give $60K gift of climate hope
United Church of Christ donors gave more than $60,000 for climate justice to mark Giving Tuesday this year.
This generosity during the one-day campaign Nov. 28 will support several UCC Environmental Justice Ministries initiatives in 2024: summer fellowships, the annual Earth Day Summit and the Climate Hope campaign.
“We are grateful for the donors who supported this year’s Giving Tuesday fundraising for climate justice,” said the Rev. Kent Siladi, UCC director of philanthropy. “This is the second of a five-year invitation for donors to support our work to address this critical issue of our time. This year we raised $60,000, which is $11,000 more than last year.”
That $60,000 will translate into grants for churches and other UCC institutions to have youth and young adult summer fellows, as well as support a lead organizer for the Climate Hope campaign and the program for the special Earth Day event, according to the Rev. Brooks Berndt, UCC minister for environmental justice.
“Ultimately, the gifts build the leadership capacity of the United Church of Christ in working for justice,” Berndt said. “We place particular emphasis on supporting our youth and young adult leaders. The younger generation has been the leading force in driving change as we face the climate crisis, and we have the unique opportunity to support their leadership within an intergenerational context.
“With this next generation of leaders, I see the future I want for our denomination and our world.”
Continuing Climate Hope
Berndt noted that 2024’s Earth Day Summit — just the second iteration of this now annual event — will include a keynote from author and activist Bill McKibben, a panel of grassroots leaders, presentation of the Dollie Burwell Prophetic Action Award, a reveal of the next Climate Hope Art Contest winner and recognition of environmental ministries at a variety of UCC churches.
Last year, Environmental Justice Ministries took up a theme of “Climate Hope.” That’s going to continue through next summer and into the 2024 elections, Berndt explained.
“We realize how important it is to create opportunities to actualize and embody hope in the face of circumstances that can so easily feel overwhelming,” he said. “The United Church of Christ is member-driven, so we listened to our local leaders in determining our focus for the coming year. There is an urgent need to have elected officials who will pass legislation that matches the scale of the crisis. To make this happen, we will need to not only vote our values but also invite others to vote their values as well.”
The Climate Hope lead organizer, supported by Giving Tuesday donations, will help coordinate with youth, young adults and church leaders of all ages to collect voter pledge cards, Berndt said.
“We will be calling the campaign ‘Vote for Climate Hope,’” he added. “This will also be the theme of our art contest.”
To commemorate the focus of this year’s Giving Tuesday, the UCC hosted a Creation Justice webinar discussion, “You Can’t Stop Justice,” featuring UCC minister and environmental justice pioneer Rev. Benjamin Chavis and Tennessee activist and state Rep. Justin J. Pearson, one of the “Tennessee Three” expelled by the state’s House earlier this year.
The two leaders spoke about their experiences giving public witness to justice movements, highlighting why donations can help support those movements.
Though Giving Tuesday has passed, it’s not too late to support the UCC’s environmental justice work, says Siladi.
Gifts for this cause can still be made here.
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