On June 6th, the Annual Meeting of the UCC's Wisconsin Conference voted that their congregations and members would covenant with one another as they made a full commitment to the Kairos Call to Action—a call issued by the UCC's Council for Climate Justice for an all-out mobilization of churches to address climate and inequality. What follows are the adapted remarks of the Rev. John Helt before the vote: (Read...)
"Another man was lynched today" posts filled my timeline once again. Another African descended human is dead at the hands of injustice, intolerance, and indifference. Another life has been hastened to the ancestors at the hand of white supremacy. (More.)
A few weeks ago I attended a community meeting as my home state of Ohio prepared for a vote-by-mail election after having postponed the originally scheduled election due to the coronavirus. While this particular election was important, the discussion at the meeting ultimately served as a wake-up call for November’s election. What we realized in talking about the likely level of low voter participation was the high level of confusion and general lack of awareness among voters with regard to when and how to vote. One of our members had pulled a public record of who had requested a vote-by-mail ballot. In doing so, she discovered that even mayors and prominent local elected officials had not yet requested a ballot. If they did not do so within the next 24-hours, it seemed likely that they would not be able to vote in time for their vote to be counted. Elected officials almost always vote, so this was particularly concerning. Perhaps, they were just like many of our friends who were either confused, unaware, or simply over-burdened with pandemic life when it came to voting. (More.)
The following remarks were offered as part of a webinar panel on the coronavirus and the climate crisis. The remarks were entitled "Parishioner’s Perspective on the Connection between the Coronavirus and Climate Change."
Through my work with Interfaith Power and Light which is under the umbrella of the NC Council of Churches and the Green Sanctuary movement in the Unitarian Universalist Association, I have seen the response of folks in the pews to good leadership from the pulpits on Climate Change. I must confess that I am sorry to not see more of it from ALL denominations, although I think we are moving in that direction thanks to Pope Francis’ Encyclical nearly 5 years ago and many other writings by clergy like those represented on this panel. I would also like to see more Eco theology taught in all the seminaries, but that is for another discussion. (More.)
As a resource for congregations, William Bross and the Rev. Cheryl Frank have authored a play addressing the climate crisis. The play was written to be performed during a worship service in place of the sermon. It is based on the 2019 Climate Strike March in New York City and the reaction of a family watching the march from the father’s office window. The father is not certain that climate change is a real problem, but his wife and two daughters are determined to make him a believer. It would be ideal if all cast members were high school students, but adults can perform the roles of the father and mother. The play is 20 to 25 minutes long. It can, if needed, be shortened by eliminating the first scene. If possible, the play should be followed by a time of discussion after the worship service. Download the play now!
Despite a brief "North Carolina blizzard" earlier that morning, on Saturday, February 29th, about 50 people from within and beyond the Southern Conference of the United Church of Christ gathered at 9 am at Elon Community UCC for "Biscuits and Popcorn: A Climate Mobilization Film Festival." The film festival was the response of the SOC's Creation Justice Network to the national UCC Council for Climate Justice's Kairos Call to Action. The Creation Justice Network wanted to find a creative way to engage the conference's congregations—and other denominations as well—in developing 10-year mobilization plans to address both climate and inequality. (More.)
Extinction Rebellion NYC is forming affinity groups with members of the United Church of Christ. These groups will be self-organized using resources and trainings provided by Extinction Rebellion NYC. Opportunities will exist for UCC communities to address the climate crisis by participating in non-violent civil disobedience actions within their own communities and in other cities around the country. The collaboration between XR NYC and the UCC will begin with this Heading For Extinction (And What We Can Do About It) presentation led by William Beckler, a founding member of XR NYC and former church and labor organizer. This talk includes an overview of the current science of climate change, information about the effectiveness of direct action, and reflections on the role of faith communities in the intersections of social justice and creation stewardship. Learn how to join the call...
Sermon Scripture: Job 12:7-10; Romans 8:18-25
(A verse from a hymn I learned as a child…)
Our God has made this world. O let us ne’er forget that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet. God trusts us with this world, to keep it clean and fair. All earth and trees, the skies and seas, God’s creatures everywhere.
What a lovely affirmation and commentary on the words of scripture we just heard read: The whole creation waits with eager longing… in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay… [and] In the hand of the Creator is the life of every living thing and the breath of every human being. (More.)
Cathedral on Fire!: A Church Handbook for the Climate Crisis is a forthcoming book by Brooks Berndt that will be available from UCC Resources this March.
The urgency of the climate crisis requires that we act as if our cathedrals and churches are on fire. Indeed, God’s creation can be seen as one grand cathedral on fire with burning forests and rising temperatures. Amid this dire situation, Brooks Berndt focuses our attention on the unique and vitally needed gifts that churches can offer. He writes with poetic passion but also with an eye toward the practical as every chapter ends with suggested, field-tested actions. The book is designed so that church book groups can discuss one chapter a week from Earth Sunday (April 19th) to Pentecost (May 31st). With the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in 2020, the book provides the perfect opportunity to inform and inspire church members to act. (More.)
For several years, I have viewed environmental organizations as spiritual communities, whose spiritual practice is environmental activity and/or Earthcare. I have listened to webinar presenters from environmental groups, and I have found deep faith commitments comparable to my own which were nurtured in a hybrid Buddhist Christian spirituality. When I have suggested to interfaith groups that we might include environmental activists at the table, they have rejected such proposals. What I propose here is an inclusive shift in our thinking about spirituality in striving for a new ecumenism. (More.)