With Young Adult Leadership, a Church Dives into Creation Justice
At Friedens UCC in Indianapolis, we thank God for the opportunity to serve with Sierra Nuckols, our Climate Justice Fellow, last fall. We are grateful to the National Setting of the United Church of Christ for providing the grant to make this possible for our congregation. Hosting a fellow gave our congregation an opportunity to begin to be intentional in understanding the difference between creation justice and creation care. Creation justice focused us not simply on tending to the natural world around us but also on addressing the issues of inequality that are intertwined with the harm down to the environment.
Sierra brought with her a deep commitment to food justice. She has worked to educate our congregation about it while involving us in partnerships with Bread for the World and Global Ministries. Sierra helped us connect with the intersections between many of the different forms of justice – racial justice, environmental justice, food justice, gender justice, health justice, and more. Sierra talked with teens and met with adults to discuss This Book is Antiracist by Tiffany Jewell. For our electronic newsletter, Sierra wrote weekly articles that introduced us to, or expanded our understanding of, food waste, composting, access to clean water, pollution, and climate change.
Sierra’s time with us also planted seeds for a community partnership through a grant with the city. This grant allowed us to connect with a nearby middle school to begin a program called Grow-Cook-Share. Students from this school came to our church campus to plant and tend a garden before then learning how to cook with produce from the garden. Sierra and her co-leader Leo, who is also a young adult in our congregation, hope to expand this program in the community in the near future. They may offer other related classes and workshops about such topics as plant-based cooking and eating as well as preserving food.
At our church, we will continue to work on the ministries of creation justice through study, prayer, and advocacy. We look forward to being part of the denominations’ offerings related to creation justice learning and advocacy. We also hope to further explore spiritual practices that help us recognize how we can recognize and confess the ways we miss the mark of loving God, neighbor, and creation. There are some fun opportunities we are exploring with the ministry organization Blue Theology as well as several other organizations.
All these possibilities help us live into our covenants to be an Open and Affirming, Just Peace, and Global Mission congregation. We are very appreciative of the United Church of Christ and the UCC’s commitment to justice and to partnering with the beautiful world God – our Primary Gardener and Tender of Life – has created and continues to create and restore. May we continue to follow Jesus who spent much time outdoors and who continues to lead us in ways of shalom, wholeness, and equity so that “justice rolls down like waters…” (Amos 5:24)
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