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.

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Must We Perish?: Infrastructure and Climate Change


The Fourth in a Series on Infrastructure Justice

In the poetic lyricism of the King James Bible, Proverbs 29:18 tells us, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” The urgent truth and relevance of that statement is perhaps nowhere more visible than the question of how our nation envisions its future with regard to infrastructure and climate change. Yet, I suspect that statement would seem dubious to some for the simple reason that no one seems to be discussing it. Op-ed pages, television newcasts, and political stump speeches have little to nothing to say on the subject. For this reason, let me make the case as direct and as plain as I can in five points. (Read more.)

Stop Being an Individual

sawtell.jpegBill McKibben -- one of the most prominent and inspiring leaders of the climate justice movement -- gets a lot of questions. One of those questions, apparently, comes up pretty often, and he has developed a short and surprising response.

Q: "What is the best thing an individual can do for the climate?"
A: "Stop being an individual."

(Read more.)

Race and the Miner’s Canary Revisited: Water Injustice in the US

flint_water_tower_350.jpgThe Third in a Series on Infrastructure Justice

Some years ago, legal scholars Lani Guinier and Gerald Torres turned the plight of the miner’s canary into a parable for race in the United States. As the parable goes, miners would carry canaries with them into the mine to serve as a warning signal. When dangerous levels of gas filled the air, the canary’s respiratory system would become distressed and cause the canary to collapse as an alert to the miners. Guinier and Torres argued that “those who are racially marginalized are like the miner’s canary: their distress is the first sign of a danger that threatens us all.” As with almost every environmental crisis, the parable of the miner’s canary is readily applicable to the current state of our nation’s water infrastructure. (Read more.)

An Introduction to Season of Creation: A Liturgical Earthcare Practice

Season_of_Creation.jpegPart of an ongoing series on best practices for Creation Justice Churches.

Among the liturgical seasons celebrated at my church in North Hollywood is the Season of Creation. For those unfamiliar with this liturgical season, it starts on September 1st which Eastern Orthodox Patriarch Dimitri designated as a day of prayer for creation, and it ends on October 4th, the celebration of Francis of Assisi. In 2007, the Third European Ecumenical Assembly adopted this period to celebrate creation. The following year the world Council of Churches called for the observation for the Season of Creation. It is now celebrated by a number of Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox churches as an addition to the ordinary time of the lectionary schedule which begins after Pentecost and ends with Advent. Each year new churches add the Season of Creation to spice up ordinary time. It brings a freshness to the lectionary cycle of readings and our churches. (Read more.)

Saving Outer Space


Before General Synod approved a resolution urging responsible stewardship of the outer space environment at its 2015 meeting in Cleveland, a young aerospace engineer and UCC member explained to delegates why she supported the measure. Space debris is the biggest problem her profession faces, she said, but nobody else is talking about it. The church needs to help engineers and scientists put it on the public agenda. Read more.

What Is Creation Justice and Why Does It Rock?

creation_justice_churches_logo_overlay.jpgFor many, “creation justice” might be a new and unusual concept. Why not speak of environmental justice or green justice? However, this biblically rooted concept has powerful meanings related to our faith. It also transcends some of the limitations of past language in describing one of the most important ministries Christians can undertake today. Read more.

Climate Change from an International Perspective: An Interview with Dan Spencer

DanHeadshotPines_9976_2x2.jpgDan Spencer is a professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Montana. Spencer is an ordained clergy member of the United Church of Christ and has Ph.D. in environmental ethics from Union Theological Seminary in New York. Spencer’s insights into climate change from an international perspective are evident in this interview conducted by Brooks Berndt, the Environmental Justice Minister for the United Church of Christ. (Read more.)

A Bright Idea Spreads: UCC Conference Gives LED Bulbs to Food Bank Clients


More than 160 new LED light bulbs were brought by visitors and delegates to the UCC’s Penn Central Conference Annual Meeting this June as part of a mission project called “Bright Idea.” These light bulbs were then donated to a food bank in each of the conference’s eight associations. The food banks distributed the bulbs to low income clients.  The clients were asked to replace their most used incandescent light bulb with the LED bulb received. (Read more.)

Not a Sexy Problem, but a Scary One

The Second in a Series on Infrastructure Justice

Brooks-Berndt.jpgTry a new experiment today: Every time you use the water faucet, every time you make use of a bathroom, every time you drive down a street or highway, every time you turn on a light switch or simply use electricity (like you are right now with your computer)—every time you do any of these things—say to yourself, “Thank you, Infrastructure!” If you faithfully adhere to this practice of gratitude today, I am willing to bet that you will soon be saying, “Thank you, Infrastructure” more than you say “Thank you, God” or “Thank you, Jesus.” The point of this exercise is not to claim that “infrastructure” should be elevated to the status of deity. The point is to recognize just how important this vastly under-appreciated and taken-for-granted dimension of our everyday life is. (Read more.)

Transforming Minds: Report on Environmental Justice Retreat for Youth of Color


Last month, eleven youth and three counselors joined me for the 3rd Annual Environmental Justice For All! Retreat at Silver Lake Conference Center in Connecticut. The retreat continued its tradition of providing an extravagant welcome to youth of color in recognition that communities of color (and low income communities) bear a disproportionate burden of environmental degradation as a result of industry and government policies. The retreat provided the opportunity for youth of color to lead the conversation and expand their knowledge of issues affecting vulnerable communities locally and around the world. (Read more.)