The UCC as a Green Denomination Full of Potential
The findings of a recent survey indicate that the UCC is a notably green denomination with enormous potential to become even greener. The survey by EcoAmerica of 439 self-selected UCC members—both laity and clergy—found levels of climate concern and action that were notably greater than the broader population in the United States. Members of the UCC, for instance, were “very concerned” about climate change at rates nearly double the national average. Such statistics mirror what is happening in our churches. Nearly 9 in 10 of those surveyed in the UCC are hearing about climate change from their faith leaders compared to 1 out of 10 nationally.
Of significance, UCC respondents regard climate change through a socially conscious lens: 83% understand climate change will particularly harm communities of color, 88% understand climate change will particularly harm low income households, and 92% understand climate change will particularly harm future generations.
With the 2019 UCC General Synod resolution that endorsed the Green New Deal, it should come as no surprise that UCC members support Green New Deal-style solutions:
- 95% want to speed up the transition to clean energy sources like wind and solar
- 94% want job training and support for communities in transitioning to a new green economy
- 91% want to move away from energy sources like oil, coal, and natural gas
The survey revealed a strong desire for climate actions that can be taken within the walls and properties of churches. A majority of respondents want to see their churches conserving energy, providing educational opportunities, and participating in carbon-conscious landscaping—the use of vegetation on church grounds to pull carbon out of the air. Carbon conscious landscaping was the most desired action among those listed, and respondents indicated that this could be an area of potential growth in action. The survey found that 56% wanted to see carbon-conscious landscaping at their church, while 36% of respondents reported that their church was currently doing this.
UCC members are frequently ready to take climate action in ways that extend beyond the physical property of the church and in ways that sometimes require notable degrees of commitment:
- 70% want to encourage others to vote their values in caring for creation
- 55% are interested in attending a protest march
- 37% are interested in joining with others in an act of civil disobedience
The survey suggests one crucial matter of importance when it comes to the ability of churches to translate the desire to act into actual action. While 84% of respondents were very concerned about climate change, only 27% believed that those around them are very concerned. This suggests that members often feel alone in their concern. The potential for action is clearly present once members find others in their congregation with whom they can join in common cause.
Annual Statistical Snapshot of Church Environmental Commitments
- 179 have a green church certification or designation such as the UCC’s Creation Justice Church program or programs run by conferences or organizations such as Earth Ministry and GreenFaith (list of churches)
- 137 have divested from fossil fuels (list of churches)
- 111 have community gardens (list of churches)
- 98 have solar panels (list of churches)
- 74 have green teams