Pilgrim United Church of Christ is a Creation Justice Church in The United Church of Christ. This means as our covenant adopted by a unanimous vote of the congregation of April 2, 2023 states:
Creation Justice Churches - UCC
As members and friends of Pilgrim United Church of Christ in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, we unite in our desire and intention to do our part in healing God’s creation and working to bring environmental justice to those who suffer. We understand that degradation of the environment affects everyone and often the poor are impacted the most. Through education, advocacy and action we will strive to bring wholeness to a suffering planet and people. We will do our best to be good examples and teachers for the next generation, so they will learn to cherish God’s gift of life and continue the work we begin. May the Spirit of Love empower us.
During a rapidly changing climate, Pilgrim UCC is called to discern how we will respond. Churches and faith-based nonprofits are gifted with unique resources to help communities and individuals move from anger, anxiety, or denial to action. We can join others in the work of seeking justice and healing for a broken world.
I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t want our planet to be loved and cared for to prevent the extinction of all life on earth. But that’s not enough. As followers of the way of Jesus we need to do more. As a church we need to do more. As both members of our community and our families we need to do more. That’s what our decision to become a Creation Justice Church in the United Church of Christ is all about. We begin with the church which we consider the body of Christ. Literally the hands and feet of Jesus in the world. What would Jesus do to protect the planet? Would Jesus recycle? Would Jesus compost? Would Jesus lead the way by example? Would Jesus stop using single use plastics and start washing the dishes when need be? Yes, I do believe Jesus would do all of the above. Love radiates from the center of Jesus’ ministry and love motivates our various Just World Covenant Programs. Our Creation Justice Church designation challenges us to love the earth and each other, I dare say this covenant compels us to love the entire universe. This covenant proclaims an authentic and clear message that reveals who we are and what we believe in. This covenant is a tool that will help us to reach others who need to hear the unique and powerful gospel of love we proclaim, and we may just play a small part is saving the planet for future generations.
As one of the UCC’s eight Just World Covenant programs, Creation Justice Churches guides congregations in discerning how they can best embody a commitment to care for God’s creation. There are five big reasons why every church should want to be a Creation Justice Church:
- It’s our first calling! In the opening pages of Genesis, we learn that the first job that God gives to us humans is to care for God’s creation (Genesis 2:15).
- It’s what Jesus would do! The apostle Paul spells out how Jesus sought to put right the broken covenantal relationship between God and all of creation (Romans 8:20-24).
- Clean air, clean water—those are good things! If there is something that should bring together Christians in common cause, it is protecting the gifts of creation. Who doesn’t want clean air and water?
- It’s about justice! As Christians, we seek justice—to be in right relationship with God, our neighbors, and all of creation. From racial inequities to the ongoing legacy of colonialism, creation justice is deeply intertwined with multiple matters of justice. The current climate crisis gives matters of justice utmost urgency.
- It’s in our DNA! The UCC’s Commission for Racial Justice was the central organization in the watershed events of the environmental justice movement. It is one of the most significant parts of our denominational heritage, and every UCC church has the opportunity to continue this powerful legacy.
The Creation Justice Churches program is not a prescribed list of things to do but a process of discernment on how to best care for God’s creation. In its own way, each church will determine how to fulfill this primary calling. To assist in this process, the heart of the Creation Justice Churches program is a set of four discernment questions with four accompanying resource pages of ideas for what your congregation can do to embody creation justice. In order to give sufficient, but not overwhelming options, each resource page offers exactly five ideas. In fact, the process of applying to become a Creation Justice Church includes exactly five steps!
“The Creation Justice Churches program is so badly needed at this particular time in history. The Church has a special role to play in helping save the earth and its creatures from degradation and even destruction. This program sets the tone, leads the way forward, and joins with others in this movement.”
—David Andes, Member of Elon Community Church, Elon, North Carolina