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.

The Immediate Threats to Scientific Advancement in the United States

On the website of The Washington Post on January 31, Chris Mooney posted an article titled, “A new battle over politics and science could be brewing. And scientists are ready for it.” A day earlier, ProPublica posted an article about President Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, with the alarming headline, “DeVos’ Code Words for Creationism Offshoot Raise Concerns About ‘Junk Science’.”

If anyone had any doubt that the current administration is at the very least skeptical of science, if not opposed to it nearly completely, these two headlines should speak a powerful truth: unless the results of scientific inquiry can be monetized immediately, or those results do not threaten the money-making industries of the oligarchy, this administration has little to no interest in continuing the scientific inquiry and exploration that has been the bedrock of American ingenuity for nearly four centuries. The two-pronged approach in evidence muzzles scientists and suspends or caps funding, particularly for government projects (or so current events indicate) while also curtailing the accuracy of science education across elementary and secondary schools, which could leave high school graduates with a substantial scientific knowledge deficit and make it harder for those educated in America to continue in the hard sciences at the college level. Our hope of reversing global climate change and all its attendant problems across the fields of science hinges on funding research, building scientifically sound industries, and teaching our children and youth well so they can continue the work for their generation and their children’s, as well. (Read more.)

Confronting with Courage the One Who Sees Only ‘Carnage’ - Making God’s Work Our Own


This is the moment for which we have been called.  How fitting that every four years, the Inauguration of the American President is surrounded by the season of Epiphany – when the truth of Gospel is revealed to the world. (Read more.)

Trump Administration to Scrap NASA’s Role in Climate Research


In 2017, it’s not just space debris that threatens satellites monitoring climate change. It’s also anti-science politics.

Read more.

Creation Justice and Church 3.0: An Interview with Cyndy Ash

Cyndy.jpegProgressive Christian leaders such as Cameron Trimble and John Dorhauer have been leading a discussion about the historical trajectory of churches and what the future holds as the body of Christ evolves. In his book Beyond Resistance: The Institutional Church Meets the Postmodern World, Dorhauer summarizes the conceptual framework proposed by Trimble by describing the pre-Reformation Church as Church 1.0, the post-Reformation Church as Church 2.0, and “whatever is emerging as Church 3.0.” Through a series of interviews, my goal is to bring into this conversation the voices of those who are envisioning and bringing to life Church 3.0 with a notable emphasis on creation care and justice.

My first interview in this series is with Cyndy Ash who owns a five acre organic produce and livestock farm in central Illinois called Jubilee. In April, Jubilee Farms will also become a worshipping community. It will then become the second farm church in the country after one established by the Presbyterian Church (USA) in Durham, North Carolina. (Read more.)

Trump, a Fascist? Let’s Dig Deeper


For some, it has become almost fashionable to call Donald Trump a “fascist.” While I believe Trump steals from the fascist playbook as a messianic aspirer mobilizing the malevolent passions of isms and phobias, I tend to shy away from applying the label myself. I would agree with the Mussolini biographer and Oxford historian Richard Bosworth who argues that “fascism” has become a kind of “boo” word. It evokes the worst of horrors while precluding any substantive analysis of Trump and the present state of our nation. While I have no desire to engage in a full-blown debate over the term’s usage, there is one argument against its use that I find interesting because of its implications for how progressive Christians engage the Trump administration. (Read more.)

The Plastic Problem: A Growing Threat to Marine Life


In teaching a group of curious middle schoolers this past summer at the Isles of Shoals, New Hampshire, I asked the campers to guess the biodegradation time for the various marine debris that I had gathered.  I then revealed the following estimations: 10-20 years for a plastic bag, 50 years for a foam cup, 450 years for a plastic bottle, and 600 years for monofilament line. I explained that plastic debris never truly breaks down completely, but rather fragments into smaller and smaller pieces.  As I displayed plastic bags, a golf ball, plastic shards, and duct tape, I revealed that they were all found in the gut of a gray whale beached in Washington.  We discussed why the whale ingested these items.  We considered how many sea turtles mistake plastic bags for jellyfish and how seabirds often select brightly covered plastic fragments and pellets and feed them to their chicks.  I explained that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and other gyres collecting plastics are like a growing soup of marine debris, and while it’s nearly impossible to clean up, slowing our rate of plastic pollution is critical. (Read more.)

Was 2016 the Year of Environmental Justice?

Rev. Berndt holding a \Was 2016 the year of environmental justice? Or, was it just the beginning? As an analysis by Media Matters points out, the Flint water crisis did not receive substantial coverage in the national mainstream media until the Governor of Michigan declared a State of Emergency for Flint on January 5, 2016. This event marked the beginning of a year in which environmental justice, with its central concern for race, has received national attention unlike in any previous year. For just one example, consider that two months after the State of Emergency was declared, a Democratic Presidential debate was held in Flint. The candidates competed to see who would be the greater environmental justice champion for a city devastated by lead poisoning. (Read more.)

Excerpt from God Is Green

God Is GreenPastor and theologian Robert Shore-Goss has just published a new book entitled God Is Green: An Eco-Spirituality of Incarnate Compassion. Check out this excerpt from it.

The Fierce Love of Standing Rock(s)

Rev. Rob MarkWhat follows is an excerpt from a longer reflection by the Rev. Rob Mark of Church of the Covenant in Boston. In this reflection, Mark speaks of his visit to the Oceti Sakowin camp in Standing Rock as part of an in which over 500 clergy arrived to join in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Nation and the allied Water Protectors who are opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline. (Read more.)

Christmas Gift Book Recommendations

Last month I posed to readers of The Pollinator the following questions: If you were to give a book related to environmental justice as a Christmas present, which book would it be? What is the one creation-loving book that you would want others to read more than anything else?” In response, I received the following thoughtful and informative responses.