For years, justice-themed buttons that one can pin on one's shirt, hat, or backpack have been a special part of General Synod culture in the United Church of Christ. It has been an important way to make known to others some of the most vital values and causes that one holds. Long after General Synod is over these buttons can also be a reminder of important moments in denominational history such as the passing of the resolution in support of marriage equality. As the UCC's Minister for Environmental Justice, the Rev. Dr. Brooks Berndt has loved this part of church culture while also wishing that it could be more ecologically friendly. What happens when some may wish to latter discard old buttons—buttons that might still be highly valued by others? To address the conundrum of how to support justice-causes in a way that is just to the environment, he has the launched "The Next R Button Shop," so that those attending General Synod can donate, trade, and collect used buttons.
In case you are wondering what the title means, it refers to the common environmental promotion of the three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. In this case, the next "r" is "rebel" in celebration of the justice theme of the buttons being reused. "In the past, I felt torn about whether to order buttons that lift up important causes like Standing Rock and sacredness of water," said Berndt. "Now, I can order buttons and know that they will perpetually have an opportunity for new life. In fact, 'resurrection' could be another 'r' associated with this button shop."
Those attending General Synod are encouraged to bring any "vintage" justice buttons that they no longer want, so that they can be donated to "The Next R Button Shop." The shop will be located at the exhibit hall booth for the UCC's Environmental Justice Ministry.