The United Church of Christ and Environmental Justice
The United Church of Christ has been a leader in the environmental justice movement for more than 30 years. In 1982, the UCC’s Commission for Racial Justice accepted an invitation from Warren County, N.C., residents to oppose a PCB landfill in a predominantly black community. There, the terms “environmental racism” and “environmental justice” began to be used.
Environmental issues have spawned several dozen General Synod resolutions, addressing topics including farm workers’ rights, climate change, energy resources, toxic dumps, mountaintop removal mining, fossil fuel divestment, and more.
In 2013, the UCC became the first denomination to pass a resolution calling for divestment from fossil fuel companies, among other strategies, to confront climate change. This call aligns our investments with our values, while also revoking the moral license of corporations to continue practices that damage our climate and God’s creation.
In 2013, thousands of UCC members across the country participated in Mission 4/1 Earth, the UCC’s
50- day church-wide earth care initiative that took place from April 1 to May 19. Together as one church, UCC congregations generated nearly 615,000 earth-care hours, planted more than 140,000 trees worldwide, and wrote almost 53,000 environmental advocacy letters.
In March 2017, the UCC formed the largest faith contigent at the Standing Rock march in Washington, D.C. In April, the UCC again formed a large presence at the Climate March with over 200 participating. As the sign of the denomination’s growing climate advocacy, a partnership has been formed with 350.org, a leading climate organization cofounded by Bill McKibben. The green teams of churches are now being encouraged to become 350 affiliate groups. The UCC Environmental Justice program is also partnering with the Sierra Club and
Everyday Democracy in launching a community discussion guide entitled “Clean and Affordable Energy to Create More Livable Communities for All.”