United Church of Christ

The Pollinator is a digital platform of the UCC for the sharing of ideas and inspiration. Its focus is the building of a faith-filled and faith-rooted movement for the care of creation.

Sign up to recieve the Pollinator newsletter to get regular updates from our UCC Minister for Environmental Justice, Rev. Brooks Berndt.

Permaculture as a Climate Resilience Strategy

When the UCC's Council for Climate Justice issued "A Kairos Call to Action: 10-Years of Church Mobilization on Climate and Inequality," a number of strategies for congregations to investigate and pursue are listed in seeking to “cultivate gardens, landscapes, and appetites in the struggle for justice.” One of the strategies for capturing carbon through the church’s landscape is “permaculture gardening.”  “Permaculture” is a word that can baffle or sound off-putting. The word comes from “permanent” and “culture,” suggesting we are on a journey to recover ancient practices of living with one another and creation rather than in exploitation for short- term gain. (More.)


Digital Potluck: A Holiday Recipe

When I was a kid in South Carolina, Thanksgiving and Christmas included meals to look forward to. I get them mixed up in my memories — like, Mother swears we never had ambrosia at Thanksgiving, only at Christmas — but I certainly remember the sights and smells of preparation and consumption. The thing was, though, those special meals began at dinner. A main course, multiple vegetable dishes, things involving cranberries and green beans and elbow macaroni. Which meant we had to wait through the entire day. A whole day of waiting! On Christmas, we would have a bowl of cereal for breakfast, or maybe a plate of grits, but because we had candy from our stockings, we could feel the specialness of the day regardless. Thanksgiving, alas, offered no such mitigation. (Read more for this Roasted Asparagus Quiche recipe.)

Time to Again Support the Carbon Dividend Act

In June 2019, the General Synod of the United Church of Christ voted in favor of a resolution to support House bill H.R. 763, the “Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019.”  The volunteer-driven Citizen's Climate Lobby (CCL) created a website providing information about the act, and an article in the Pollinator called on UCC churches to act. (More.)

Healthy Eating

The old adage, “You are what you eat,” is orthodoxy now among health food advocates, but always worth repeating to remind ourselves of how vital healthy eating is for our well-being and the well-being of the planet. It is especially important now as we witness the ravages of the current COVID-19 pandemic. Many diseases contracted by adults later in life can be attributed to poor diets when those adults were young and growing when the body’s building blocks were put in place. A strong immune system is dependent on good nutrition throughout a person’s lifespan, but especially in the early developmental stages of life. A good diet consists of eating fresh fruit and vegetables, preferably organic, and consuming less, or avoiding all together, processed foods with their high content of sugar, fat, and salt. Shopping at health food stores and farmers’ markets, or foraging the perimeter of big chain supermarkets where fresh produce is shelved are ways to access healthy food. Unfortunately, our food system is structured to make it more difficult for people from low-income neighborhoods and communities of color to access or grow healthy food. The racial and economic disparities witnessed now with COVID-19 were long in the making as a result of such pre-existing inequalities. (More.)

Kiss the Ground: Documentary Review

At the beginning of this Netflix documentary, the famous actor Woody Harrelson makes the following statement summarizing where we are at this moment in history: “Earth, it’s a great place to live, but when it comes to the future of our small planet, there is so much bad news about our planet, it is overwhelming. The fear that we are headed for a cliff puts most of us into a state of paralysis. But what if there was another path? This is the story of a simple solution, a way to heal our planet. In fact, the solution I am talking about is right under our feet, and it is as old as dirt.” And so, with these words, Harrelson immediately draws us into “Kiss the Ground,” a documentary focusing on growing our food in a way that builds and protects our precious soil and also draws back into the ground the carbon dioxide that is causing climate change. (More.)

Use What You Got

There is a Bantu & Lamba Proverb that says, “What one won’t eat by itself, one will eat when mixed with other food.” My Grand momma Neda B used to make a dish called goulash. Goulash is this stew or soup that consists of meat, vegetables, and spices. Neda B made hers a little different because this soup was made with all the leftovers that she would have in her refrigerator. She would have all kinds of vegetables and meats. Sorry to my vegans and vegetarians but stay with me. You would see beef, chicken, pork. You would also see an assortment of vegetables. You would see beans, celery, carrots, tomatoes, etc. etc. All this deliciousness in one pot. You could clearly tell the distinct differences because nothing was blended. Each thing had its own characteristic and individual taste. I realize that this description may be off putting, however once I had a spoonful of this deliciousness, I would appreciate every other spoonful until it was all gone. When it was all gone, I would experience a sudden sense of loss. Then, I remembered that the pot was still on the stove and I could go back and get some more. (More.)


Digital Potluck: Butternut Soup

A few years ago, I started weekly soup suppers in the fall and winter months. We’d gather—friends, neighbors, family—for a simple meal of soup and connection. Many weeks we would have extra soup to send home or deliver to someone who couldn’t make it. This year was different. I moved and then there was the pandemic. When I looked ahead to this fall, what I imagined missing most was this gathering time around soup. So a few weeks ago, I started a Zoom soup supper where we “meet,” check-in, and cook together before sharing in a virtual meal time. What follows is the recipe that has been a favorite. It’s easy, flexible, vegan, and delicious. (More.)

Digital Potluck: Crispy Potatoes with Vegan Nacho Sauce

While I am not officially a vegan, I have been on the hunt for vegan recipes my family will love as I strive to eat plant-rich meals that are not only good for my body but are also good for the planet. Because I am far from being a professional chef or baker, I look for recipes that are hard to get wrong or still taste good even when you do get them wrong. A couple of my recent kitchen experiments illustrate my approach in action. First, I endeavored to make "Crispy Potatoes with Vegan Nacho Sauce." Despite my best efforts, the resulting sauce was granular in appearance and looked nothing like the smooth sauce pictured next to the recipe. Nevertheless, the dish was a huge hit with my family. That's an enormous accomplishment when considering the highly discriminating taste buds of my five- and eight-year-old daughters. (More.)

Ten Ways to Mobilize

In recognition of the urgent need to address the intertwined crisis of climate and inequality, the UCC Council for Climate Justice has defined the next ten years as kairos window of divine opportunity in which people of faith are called to an all-out mobilization of their gifts and resources. Here are ten ways churches can mobilize: (More.)

Digital Potluck: Plant-Lover's Pizza

After the first month of pandemic living, I became obsessed with trying to re-create from home my favorite childhood pizza: a stuffed pizza loaded with almost an inch of mozzarella cheese and a layer of pepperoni. This pizza is full of comfort and nostalgia for me, but to be honest, it is not particularly healthy for me or the planet. Researchers tell us that what is good for our bodies is also good for the planet, and this means having a plant rich-diet. Thus, I set out this past weekend to create a good tasting Plant Lover's Pizza. (More.)

Latest UCC News

UCC pastor: We need Advent more than ever Commentary: The Gender-Based Violence Pandemic