The Thirtieth General Synod called on the congregations of the United Church of Christ to mark the Sunday preceding September 21 (which the United Nation recognizes as the “International Day of Prayer for Peace”) as Just Peace Sunday.
Observe Just Peace Sunday on September 15, 2019: The Earth Shall Mourn
Just Peace Sunday 2019 is a call for lament. It is a call to mourn in the face of crisis and catastrophe. Only through genuine mourning and repentance in the face of our complicity in environmental degradation, can we as a global population ever be catalyzed into action. We must join with the prophet in Jeremiah chapter 4 in calling for contrition and transformation for both our actions and ignorance that have led to such a watershed moment in history.
We now know that if we do not alter course, the Earth will be irreparably harmed through climate change, leading to an increase in loss of species, droughts, and natural disasters. We have defiled God’s creation, and sinned against future generations. We are called to join with the Earth itself in mourning this state of “de-creation” through extraction, xenophobia, and violence.
As Just Peace churches we are called to build “Just Peace with the Earth” and find intersections between God’s call to love God (the Creator) and our neighbor. One way to see these connections is to explore the UCC’s “3 Great Loves” (Love of Neighbor, Love of Children, and Love of Creation) as well as get engaged in the Environmental Ministries of the UCC. However you choose to mark Just Peace Sunday, take a moment to face, and mourn, our inaction. Together, let us follow the voices of indigenous peoples and our youth who are leading us toward a more just and peaceful connection with the Earth. God forgive us. God be with us.
Rev. Michael Neuroth
Read the Rev. Michael Neuroth's Getting to the Root where he shares insight into the theme of this Just Peace Sunday.
Observe Just Peace Sunday! Here are some resources to use in your congregation:
Sermon Seeds: The Earth Mourns - Download this "Sermon Seeds" for Just Peace Sunday inspired by Jeremiah 4:11-28 written by Rev. Dr. Sheila Harvey Guillaume, pastor of Union Congregational United Church of Christ in West Palm Beach, FL. Download this special "Sermon Seeds."
Reflection on Jeremiah 4: The Great Reveal - Download this reflection on Jeremiah 4 for Just Peace Sunday by Rev. Michael Mulberry, Senior Minister of Billings First Congregational Church in Billings, MT.
Sermon: "God's Decree" - Sermon on Jeremiah 2:4-13 by Rev. Loren McGrail, pastor at Irondequoit United Church of Christ in Rochester, NY. Download "God's Decree."
Worship Materials for the Climate Strike - Worship Materials for the Climate Strike writing for UU congregations. Download here.
Faith Resources for the US Climate Strike - Click here.
Other Worship Resources - Download a list of hymns for Just Peace Sunday.
More to come! - More resources will be posted as we get closer to Just Peace Sunday. If you are interested in contributing a prayer, litany, or sermon, please email Rev. Michael Neuroth.
Art Work for Just Peace Sunday
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Craft Activity for Youth and Children
Observe UCC Just Peace Sunday, church-wide, by giving your children a biblical look at Just Peace and making a craft with your church youth and children. These peace doves can be draped throughout your building in celebration of Just Peace Sunday and in observance of the International Peace Day (September 21). It will be a vivid witness to your congregation's commitment to peace.
Children from all over the world fold paper cranes each year as symbols of hope and peace. These cranes are in memory of the story of Sadako Sasaki who died of radiation induced leukemia in 1955, but not after inspiring the world through her folded cranes. Read Sadako’s story here. In folding, we echo Sadako’s hope for the world: This is our cry, This is our prayer, Peace in the world.
This year, we will be folding Peace Doves which are as symbols of hope, peace, transformation, endurance, and life. These doves will also highlight our new Just Peace logo that includes a purple dove. See if you can find purple origami paper at a craft story near you or online, and refer to these instruction for how to fold
- Download the Peace Doves activity here.
- While your children are crafting consider inviting them to sing along with music about peacemaking.
- Consider sending pictures, or the actual doves, to your state and national leaders as an act of advocacy. And please send us the pictures so that we can share them with UCC congregations across the country! Post them on Twitter and tag @JustPeaceUCC or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Peace Dove Craft was created by Tirsana Paudel, a recent graduate of Bryn Mawr College. Tirsana is committed to peacemaking and uses her artistic gifts to raise awareness about the need for peace with justice.
Get Involved in Creation Justice Ministry!
Check out this page written by Rev. Brooks Berndt on how to be engaged in Creation Justice Ministry that lifts up 10 ways to climb the ladder of engagement.
Advocate for Just Peace with the Earth
At General Synod 32, the United Church of Christ became the first U.S. Christian body to endorse the Green New Deal, a congressional resolution seeking to address the climate crisis. This endorsement affirms our belief as people of faith and conscience; we are called to care for this world that is the Lord’s.
“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for God founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.” Psalm 24:1-2
Last year, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that an increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius over the next 12 years could have irreversible catastrophic effects on our world. Now more than ever before, we have a moral duty to uphold our call to care for creation.
Our faith calls us to be prophetic voices, responding to injustice with a vision of how our world can be more loving, healthy and equitable. As we celebrate Just Peace Sunday, call on Congress to address the urgency of the climate crisis by passing legislation that follows the following principles:
- Truth and science: Solutions that are in line with scientific consensus on global warming and that respond with the needed urgency and thoroughness.
- Restoration and renewal: Economic and environmental revitalization that includes job programs, skills training, education, investment in a clean energy economy and just transition for both urban and rural areas.
- Compassion and fairness: Just treatment for all including workers and communities most dependent on fossil fuel energy.
- Interdependence across boundaries: Sacred dialogue across political, geographic, racial and cultural boundaries.
Download the Just Peace Handbook
In 2015, the 30th General Synod held in Cleveland, OH marked the UCC’s 30th anniversary as a Just Peace Church and called for a renewal of the UCC’s Just Peace witness. This booklet is intended to accompany this resolution and be a resource for all levels and areas of the church for further work and witness, especially to local congregations declaring or recommitting themselves as “Just Peace Churches.” This resource includes a summary of the historical and theological uniqueness of the Just Peace vision; the biblical and theological grounding for Just Peace values; and recommended steps for how to become a Just Peace Church. (Download.)
Background information and links on environmental justice:
Just Peace with the Earth
In October 2017, the World Council of Churches held a conference in Iceland under the theme “Just Peace with the Earth”. This conference called on the church to advance environmental sustainability. In the final message of gathering, participants reflected on the vision of human flourishing depicted in St. John’s book of Revelation (22:2). This image can offer hope to us today, even amidst the climate and other emergencies we face. As people of the cross, we believe that God has not forsaken us but is instead calling us to turn from our destructive ways and join in the act of creating all things new.
“On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.” Revelation 22:2
What is the crisis?
- We Have 12 Years to limit climate change catastrophe, warns UN
- True Climate Justice is Impossible without Racial and Economic Justice
- One Million Species at Risk of Extinction, UN report warns
- Artic Ice is Crashing, and That’s Bad News for Everyone
- Pray and protect: faith saves forests of Cambodia
- The Green New Deal Picks up Major Christian Endorsements
- Pope Francis declares ‘climate emergency’ and urges action
- Overwhelmed by climate change? Here’s what you can do (Including becoming involved in UCC Environmental Justice Ministries!)
What is Just Peace?
Just Peace is not a destination, but a path requiring awareness and constant vigilance to resolve existing and developing conflict in ourselves, our families, our communities, our institutions, and our world. This path requires non-violence when possible and even when impossible to engage in love and restraint. Just Peace envisions a renewed, vibrant, diverse, and sustainable world free of violence.
Just Peace is grounded in God's activity in creation; God’s covenant patience and provision in the wilderness; in the reconciling activity of Jesus Christ; in the presence of the Holy Spirit; and in the community of reconciliation. Shalom is the vision that pulls all creation toward a time when weapons are made into ploughs and all creatures lie down together without fear; where all have their own vine, fig tree, and dwell secure from want. As Christians, we offer this conviction to the world: Peace is possible!