Proposed resolution seeks increased environmental advocacy

The resolution also calls on Justice and Witness Ministries – one of four Covenanted Ministries of the UCC – to establish an Environmental Steering Committee to oversee the development of such programs.
“We want to affirm and celebrate the very good work that the UCC has done through the years in naming and acting on the important issue of environmental justice. That has been a marvelous strong point of our denomination,” said Peter Sawtell, a member of the Rocky Mountain Conference’s Board of Directors at the time the resolution – titled “Call for Environmental Education and Action” – was drafted. “Our concern is that we have not been anywhere near as attentive to other pressing environmental problems that are somewhat less focused.”
In particular, Sawtell, who is the founder and executive director of Eco-Justice Ministries, a faith-based environmental agency housed at Washington Park UCC in Denver, said the issues of global climate change, sustainability and species extinction are especially pressing in the face of current environmental realities.
“The realities of some of these stresses of the earth are becoming very apparent, especially with climate change, the collapse of fisheries around the world and stresses on fresh water supplies,” Sawtell said. “This isn’t a save the bunnies emotional thing, it is a real struggle for the viability of the planet.”
Understanding the constraints already on members of the UCC’s national staff, Sawtell envisions the Environmental Steering Committee as being a multi-racial, multicultural and geographically diverse body that would cultivate resources from throughout the denomination and do the necessary networking within local churches and Conferences to, as he puts it, “keep some visibility alive for these very important issues.”
Already, Sawtell said, a steering committee is being shaped and, with the support of Justice and Witness Ministries, will have an information booth at General Synod and will present a workshop during Synod’s fourth day that will challenge participants to envision what the committee and a revitalized environmental network in the UCC can and should be doing.
If the resolution is passed in Atlanta, the General Synod will call on local congregations and Conferences to, among other things, agree to initiate programs to increase awareness about humanity’s interaction with the natural world and indigenous communities.
Local churches and Conferences will also be urged to create regular congregational and community venues for discussing environmental issues.
Justice and Witness Ministries, if the resolution is passed, would be called on to appoint a committee, develop policies to address the issues outlined in the resolution and to put a strategic plan in place by the end of the year to carry out those policies.

Categories: United Church of Christ News

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