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.

Arming the Heavens

Professor Joan Johnson-Freese of the Naval War College says we are “arming the heavens.” During the Obama administration, she observes, the U.S. defense and national security establishments took an increasingly aggressive stance toward the use of space for military purposes. Today we are well down the road toward conflict and low Earth orbit has replaced Iran and the Korean Peninsula as the world’s most dangerous military flashpoint. (More.)

From Hurricanes to Creation Justice

This past year my congregation went through a process of deepening and enriching our understanding of faith as we intentionally reflected upon our relationship to God’s creation. Living and worshipping in St. Petersburg, Florida makes us keenly aware of the very real dangers that threaten not only our global home, but our coastal community here in the Tampa Bay area. (More.)

Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls

Sunday, May 5th, will mark the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls. The day was chosen to honor the memory of Hanna Harris, a young citizen of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe who went missing from her reservation in Montana in 2013. She was found murdered a few days later. (More.)

The Youth Climate Strike and Churches


On March 15th, as high school students around the world walked out of their classes as part of the youth climate strike inspired by the Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, I walked down the block to join the crowd gathered in downtown Cleveland. I had been in communication with one of the youth organizers all week, but it was not until that moment that I made the connection between the youth taking action and the history of the movement behind my own work as the Minister of Environmental Justice for the United Church of ChristThe birth of the environmental justice movement in 1982 owed a lot to children and youth, including at least one who skipped school. As Dollie Burwell, "the mother of the environmental justice movement," once explained, her ten-year-old daughter Kimberly had refused to go to school on the first day of a civil disobedience campaign that ultimately lasted six weeks.(More.)

A Church Considers the Meaning of Environmental Justice

To express our commitment to care for God’s creation, the Green Team at our church presented a Creation Justice Covenant to our governing body. We were surprised when two members were unsure why we included a paragraph about social justice and racism. As a predominantly white congregation in socially and religiously conservative Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, they did not appreciate that social justice issues were relevant for our church. After some discussion, the covenant did pass with the necessary votes but we were dumbfounded by that initial response. (More.)

The Three Great Loves and Clean Air

For me, the focus of the United Church of Christ on Three Great Loves hits home as I reflect upon how love of neighbors, love of children, and love of creation are intertwined for me. I live in Carlisle, Cumberland County, the transportation hub of the mid-Atlantic. We are plagued with fine particulate matter air pollution from the thousands of 18-wheelers passing through here daily. Our doctors claim increased numbers of respiratory disturbances in young children and at one time even placed a full-page ad in the local newspaper to draw attention to the problem. The Clean Air Board of Central Pennsylvania works with the Carlisle Area School District on a “flag program” to warn parents when levels of pollution are higher. Some children get no outdoor play on these days. (More.)


What the Environmental Movement Can Learn from Fundamentalists

In moments of passion and enthusiasm, one can gain a glimpse of future potentials—both positive and negative. Such was the case when the executive leadership of my faith denomination issued a statement shortly after the introduction into congress of a resolution in support of the Green New Deal. Our leadership praised the resolution as creating a unique opportunity for our country that was consistent with our own long held values. The overwhelming response to the statement and related advocacy actions was overwhelming positive, but it did spark some conversation in a few circles that reflected the potential for infighting among environmentalists over what was the best course of legislative action in addressing climate change. (More.)

Caring for Our Common Home: The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act

I am very concerned for the wellbeing of our planet. The time, effort, and money we provide maintaining and improving our physical homes should at least equal what we apply to our true gifted home, Earth. Climate change is real, the evidence proves it is happening: disappearing ice caps and melting glaciers leading to rising sea levels; extreme weather conditions resulting in larger hurricanes, wildfires and drought. All of this is happening because of our addiction to carbon. (More.)

Creation Justice: Where Are You Called to Serve?

In Genesis, we find that our first call as people of faith is to tend to God’s creation. In caring for this interconnected world in which we live, this call inevitably entails putting love into action for every living creature and for every economically or racially marginalized community that suffers from environmental harm. When it comes to how we discern this call in more specific terms, one will sometimes hear of “ladders of engagement.” The idea is that people start out with an activity that requires a low bar of commitment and then work their way upward to activities of increasing commitment. While this concept is helpful, history also suggests that sometimes people feel called to jump over rungs on the ladder to the place that they feel compelled to serve in that moment. There are no formulas for how God works in our lives. Look at this ladder of engagement to discern where you and your congregation belong in seeking to care for God’s creation. (More.)

Clean and Affordable Energy: Small Group Discussion Guides

Public dialogue and action are urgently needed for our society to confront the intertwined challenges of energy use, economic well-being, public health, and climate change. In partnership with the Sierra Club's Ready for 100 program and Everyday Democracy, the Environmental Ministry Program of the UCC has created a small group discussion guide for meeting these vital needs. (More.)