Environmental Justice Issues & Resources

Toxic Wast & Race at 20

The Toxic Wastes and Race and Toxic Wastes and Race at Twenty reports are the landmark study and follow-up study that demonstrated a direct correlation between the placement of toxic waste facilities and communities of poverty and/or color. This first report was the ground breaking study from which the term “environmental racism” was coined. Today, legislation and court cases refer to this term when addressing environmental issues of race and discrimination. Hard copies of both reports may be ordered from United Church of Christ Resources. Cost is free plus shipping & handling. Order the complete set through the UCC Store at 800.537.3394.

The Toxic Wastes and Race at Twenty is available in Printable PDF form below:

Complete Report
Contents and Summary
Chapter 1: Environmental Justice in the Twenty First Century
Chapter 2: Environmental Justice Timeline/Milestones 1987-2007
Chapter 3: Racial and Socioeconomic Disparities in the Distribution of Environmental Hazards
Chapter 4: A Current Appraisal of Toxic Wastes and Race in the United States – 2007
Chapter 5: Impact of the Toxic Wastes and Race on the EJ Movement
Chapter 6: Wrong Complexion for Protection
Chapter 7: The “Poster Child” for Environmental Racism in 2007: Dickson, Tennessee
Chapter 8: Conclusions and Recommendations

General Synod Witness

UCC Policy Statements Voted by General Synods dealing with environmental and energy issues with the most recent resolutions first. Where possible, the full text of the resolution has been linked.

General Synod 30 — 2015

Responsible Stewardship of the Outer Space Environment
This resolution summons the wider church to broaden its environmental perspective to include outer space.

General Synod 29 — 2013

Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining in Appalachia

General Synod 28 — 2011

A Resolution for Mindful and Faithful Eating
The resolution evaluates ways in which our dietary choices can have profound implications on the environment, as well as on human well-being and animal welfare. Encouraging Christians to explore and discuss how food choices can accord Chistian values and beliefs, the resolution calls for development and utilization of an education curriculum addressing issues related to food choices.

General Synod 27 — 2009

On the Urgency for Action on Climate Change
The Executive Council recommends referral of the resolution, “On the Urgency for Action on Climate Change,” submitted by the Connecticut Conference, to the implementing bodies named in “A Resolution on Climate Change” as voted by the Twenty-Sixth General Synod (07-GS-16). 

Earthwise Congregation: On Mediating Climate Change
The Executive Council recommends referral of the resolution, “Earthwise Congregation: On Mediating Climate Change,” submitted by the Minnesota Conference, to the implementing bodies named in “A Resolution on Climate Change” as voted by the Twenty-Sixth General Synod (07-GS-16).

Calling on President Barack Obama to Revisit and Re-negotiate a More Humane, Democratic, and Ecologically Sound Version of the North American Free Trade Agreement

General Synod 26   —   2007

Regarding the Tar Creek Superfund Site

Climate Change
This resolution updates and strengthens the 1999 resolution on global warming. It calls for responsible stewardship of God’s creation, firm leadership by governments and business, energy conservation and urges all segments of the United Church of Christ to address global warming.

General Synod 25   —   2005

Call for Environmental Education and Action
This Resolution calls on all expressions of the United Church of Christ to implement programs for education and action to address issues of environmental protection, environmental justice and sustainable development. It establishes an Environmental Steering Committee to implement this Resolution in close coordination with Justice and Witness Ministries.

Resolution on Supporting Congregations and Providing Guidance for Leadership 
This resolution is offered to initiate exploration by the United Church of Christ of the role of the Church in meeting economic, ecological, and consequent spiritual challenges associated with predicted declines in future oil and natural gas supplies. The UCC is asked to begin a long term program to support faith based actions to create conditions that will foster a movement to sustainable conditions at the individual church, conference, UCC, and broader societal levels.

For the Common Good

General Synod 24   —   2003

Support for Citizens of Calhoun County, Alabama
Calls on the US Defense Department to halt the planned incineration of chemical weapons at the Army depot near Anniston, Alabama, and calls for better decision-making processes and better technologies at all chemical weapons stockpile sites.

General Synod 23   —   2001

Call For Staffing to Address EcoJustice Concerns 
This resolution urges each of the four Covenanted Ministries of the United Church of Christ to designate staff to deal with ecojustice issues and themes and to work cooperatively with the other ministries to ensure that the spiritual, theological, moral. and social dimensions of ecojustice are addressed across the life of the whole church.

A Christian Response to Development in Genetic Technology
Calls on the Church to adopt an attached “Message” as a position statement on developments in genetic technology, to educate church members about these developments so that they can make informed judgments on the use of such technology, and to work for an amendment to the Constitution of the United States on privacy because of the importance of privacy in the use of the new technology.

To End the Presence of the United States Navy in the Municipality of Vieques, Puerto Rico
Since 1941, Vieques, an island muncipality of Puerto Rico, three-fourths of which is occupied by the United States Navy, has been used for military exercises and arial bombardment, this destroying the environment, ecology, health, and life of its people. … [Urges] the United Church of Christ to strengthen its suppor on behalf of the cessation of the presence of the United States Navy in the Municipality of Vieques, Puerto Rico.

General Synod 22   —   1999

Border Justice Issues
Expresses concern about the issue of U.S.-Mexico border justice and condemns the unjust treatment and harassment of Latino/Latina/Hispanic persons at the border and away from it; resolves that it is time for a complete transformation and revolution in our minds, hearts, political will and our bodies, calling for learning theology from those at the margin; contacting and collaborating with groups in other countries; and giving our time, talents and treasures to end human rights abuses against immigrants, stopping environmental racism, supporting justice organizations, lobbying governments and dialoguing with business owners near the border. Thanks to local churches that have been working on these issues, invites other bodies to do so and names Conferences and national expressions to report to the Twenty-third General Synod.

Global Warming
Recognizes the dangers of global warming and our biblical mandate as stewards of God’s creation; affirms the greater responsibility of industrial nations, especially the U.S., toreduce greenhouse gas emissions; encourages local churches, Conferences and national agencies to educate and advocate for ratification of the Kyoto Climate Change Treaty and to address their own lifestyles; urges all members to contact their U.S. senators affirming the need to ratify the treaty; urges governmental representatives to support legislation that regulates and resuces pollution and provides alternatives to burning fossil fuels; calls on OCIS and UCBHM and its successors to keep global warming as a high priority.

U.S. Atomic Testing in the Marshall Islands
Calls on UCBWM and its successor ro work closely with the Marshallese people, our ecumenical partners, and OCIS and its successor to bring about an official apology and full redress for health and environmental results from U.S. nuclear testing, including all necessary funding from the U.S. Government.

General Synod 21   —   1997

Cloning of Mammalian Species
Expresses concern about the ethical implications associated with the ability to clone non-human mammalian species and the potential ability to clone humans; calls on appropriate UCC bodies to provide leadership and educational resources for the denomination so that the whole church might better understand the science of cloning and ethical issues at stake and be better prepared to take personal and corporate stands.

Withdrawal of U.S. Bases from Okinawa
Urges the U.S. government to implement immediately a phased removal of all U.S. military bases and personnel from Okinawa and a clean-up of remaining environmental pollutants.

General Synod 20   —   1995

Covenant for the Future Regarding Hunger in the U.S.
Requests that the UCC Hunger Action Office issue “A Call to a Covenant for the Future” to all UCC churches affirming the direct service outreach of congregations, identifying the growing need for a program like the Hunger Action ministry, calling for prayer and worship emphasis on the problems of hunger and poverty, raising the issue of lifestyle and consumption, calling for public action to prevent hunger, calling for financial support of the Hunger Action Fund, and inviting congregations to share information about thier hunger action ministry with the Hunger Action Office.

U.S. Obligation to Clean Up Hazardous Waste and Toxic Contamination at Former Military Bases in the Philippines
Stands in solidarity with the United Church of Christ in the Philippines and requests that OCIS, UCBWM and CRJ demonstrate this solidarity through education, advocacy and direct action to demand the U.S. government remove military hazardous waste and toxic contamination in the Philippines; the UCC in all its settings demonstrate this solidarity through prayer, education, advocacy and direct action, and the UCC President communicate this to the appropriate U.S. Government agencies, the United Church of Christ in the Philippines and other ecumenical organizations.

General Synod 19   —   1993

Environmental Racism in East St. Louis, Illinois
Calls on CRJ to conduct a study and produce a report on the environmental conditions in East St. Louis; in conjunction with the President of the UCC to bear witness to the conditions there as a symbol of environmental racism in urban America; bring the issue to the attention of relevant federal, state and local governments for proper redress; work with UCC related health care institutions to address environmental health problems of East St. Louis, and work with its couterpart in the DOC to address environmental injustice there.

International Fair Trade
Concludes that the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) among Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. is inadequate in protecting workers rights, the environment and health and safety standards for workers and in compensatory support for those it displaces; that its investment and taxation provisions will encourage the concentration of land holdings and production in the hands of a few individuals and transnational corporations; calls on the Congress and our administration to reject NAFTA; calls on all UCC churches, committees and offices to initiate programs of praer, study and action to inform members and encourage them to contact their elected officials.

Respect for Animals
Commends to members and congregations the consideration of our place among all God’s living creatures and invites them to evaluate human use of animals and the resulting effects on animals; asks Conferences, Associations and congregations to gather educational and theological materials on the place of animals and to share the information with the assistance of OCIS.

UN Conference on Population and Development
Commends to the UCC engagement with the issues of population and development and calls for study of issues in multicultural settings; distribution of supportive documents to Conference resource centers; active support for literacy education, health care, family planning and women’s rights; public articulation of findings; commissioning of a racially and culturally diverse UCC delegation of at least 50% women to preparatory meetings for the UN Conference on Population and Development to be held in Cairo, Egypt, September 5-13, 1994; and prayers for reconciliation.

General Synod 18   —   1991

For Sustainable Community
In Micah 6:8, the prophet calls us to “walk humbly with our God”; in Matthew 5:6 the Apostle tells us that Jesus proclaims that those who “thirst for righteousness” will be filled, and the author of Job has reminded us in Job 12:7-8 to “speak to the Earth and it shall teach”. The stratospheric ozone, our climate, our forests, the whole earth and the people of Bosnia, Somalia, Sudan, and all of God’s creatures are now crying out under growing a burden of “Koyaaniskatsi”, which means life out of balance in the language of the Hopi people.   …   These are the most serious problems facing the world today and they arise from lifestyles of ever expanding consumption and production. These lifestyles create and perpetuate gross inequalities between and within peoples and they exhaust and contaminate the complex and beautiful web of life sustaining systems which our God has created. The compulsions to live such lifestyles arise from deep and abiding spiritual deficits.

Support of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED)
Includes call to consider ways to raise UCC awareness of the spiritual dimensions of the environmental crisis; calls for development of programs to heal the earth.

Justice in the Maquiladoras
Includes condemnation of the exploitation of the environment in Maquiladoras plants by U.S. and other transnational corporations and any so-called “Free Trade” agreement that fails to address environmental standards.

General Synod 17   —   1989

Environment, Solid Waste and Ecologically Sound Lifestyle
Urges an ecologically sound lifestyle as a high priority, especially with regard to solid waste; urges UCC to refrain from all use of disposable plastic products and to recycle solid waste whenever possible; calls upon appropriate UCC Instrumentalities to develop educational resources for reducing, reusing or recycling solid waste, and to direct lobbying efforts toward eliminating those competitive attitudes and behaviors that encourage destructive and wasteful lifestyles.

Pronouncement on The Church and Genetic Engineering

General Synod 16   —   1987

Integrity of Creation, Justice and Peace
Includes call for an end to economic exploitation and the creation of a sustainable environment that balances full human development with the protection of the eco-system.

The Church and Genetic Engineering

General Synod 15   —   1985

Twentieth Anniversary of the Commission on Religion in Appalachia (CORA)
Includes call for development of plans and strategies to address Appalachian issues such as land usage and environmental concerns.

General Synod 14   —   1983

Pronouncement: Toxic and Hazarardous Waste
Calls on the church to expand its involvement in the ecological crisis and the empowerment needs of those who live in life-threatening situations. Accompanying Proposal for Action calls on church to assist in organizing politically disempowered communities to prevent them from becoming dump sites for toxic and hazardous waste; affirms stewardship of our natural resources; urges that all toxic chemical compounds be chemically modified before disposal; calls on U.S. Government to enforce legislation regarding toxic and hazardous waste and other pollution.

Christian Environmental Stewardship
As a covenantal people we understand that we have responsibility as well as privilege. Therefore, to understand the world as God’s creation is to understand our responsibility as God’s stewards, and our accountability to God as tenants. This means that faithful human action is always aware of the nature of creation seeking to enhance and not to destroy what has been so richly provided. This means that what humankind produces should be in harmony with the laws that govern the natural order.   Christ pictures the importance of the faithful steward “whom the master will set over his household to give them their portion of food at the proper time,” and also, the punishment for the steward who knows the master’s will but does not act accordingly. (Luke 12:41ff)

Concern About the Moral and Ethical Implications of Genetic Engineering

General Synod 12   —   1979

Pronouncement: Energy – Policy and Program
Sets policy guidelines in dealing with energy issues: emphasis on conservation, including tax incentives, building code revisions, changes in patterns of development, and economic incentives for recycling; development of alternative renewable energy sources and elimination of subsidies for fossil and nuclear fuel resources; examination of energy distribution proposals and reduction of reliance on imported fuel; calls for reduction of energy usage throughout the church; recommends investment in renewable energy sources; calls for UCBHM monitored program of energy conservation.

Leadership Initiative and the Gasoline Shortage and Potential Violence
Calls for ecumenical initiative in setting meetings with representatives of a variety of groups to discuss publicly the gasoline shortage and its long-range consequences.

General Synod 11   —   1977

Christian Life Style and Ecology Report
The limits of energy supplies remind us theologically of our finitude. We are finite creatures standing in a finite physical world before an infinite God. We should also understand the judgment of God on our profligate use of precious resources. In assessing the energy issue we should be guided by certain concerns or values that belong to our faith as Christians: the stewardship of creation, distributive justice, and solidarity in the human community. In the response of faith to the grace of God, we experience both the freedom and the necessity to accept tasks of creativity and responsible dominion which have been entrusted to us. As we proceed with these tasks of caring about and taking care of the whole created order, we need to hold fast and appreciate the resources that the Christian faith provides: a realism about the depth and subtlety of human sin whereby stewardship and dominion are distorted; and a radical goodwill toward all people and the hope that our human efforts are worthwhile because they do tie in with God’s “new thing,” whereby God gives the Kingdom and offers possibilities for the renewal of life. [Some sort of statement came out of this work, work from the Special Committee on Christian Life Style and Ecology (established from the 10th Synod).]

The Domestic Impact of Energy Resource Development
Affirms continuing concern for Christina life style and ecology and a ministry to people affected by energy development; encourages legislation to protect agricultural land from impact of energy development; challenges church and society to deepen sensitivity to environmental and agricultural costs of our present lifestyle.

Nuclear Energy
Recommends a moratorium on continued construction in nuclear energy plants; affirms efforts of government and industry to develop and commercialize solar, wind and geothermal energy sources.

Report on Racial and Economic Justice
Includes request to World Council of Churches to develop a strategy for the creation of an enforceable international law to protect, enhance and develop the total planetary environment.

General Synod 10   —   1975

Christian Life Style and Ecology Proposal
As Christians we are called to be responsible custodians of the natural order and prophetic witnesses for social justice. We profess our loyalty to a God of history who is also the Creator of the universe. The biblical image of shalom captures that unity between nature and history. Shalom means wholeness, integrity, social justice and reconciliation. These are the biblical motifs that inform our understanding of Christian life style and ecology.

The current worldwide economic crisis challenges old assumptions about the unity between nature and history and confronts many of us with new life style possibilities. The present economic climate in the United States, characterized by galloping inflation and high unemployment, has caused severe problems for the poor, the aged and the handicapped, and to a lesser but significant degree, the middle class. Furthermore, the economic climate has led to attempts to turn back the clock on environmental quality and occupational health and safety. Internationally, the poorer nations are being crushed by global economic forces. These are the realities that provide the setting for our discussion.

Overture on the Bicentennial with an Affirmation of Human Interdependence
Includes a call for the elimination of world ills such as the misuse of world resources.

General Synod 2   —   1959

Call to Christian Action in Society
Includes call for conservation and development of the Earth’s resources for the benefit of all people now and in the future.