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Gratitude on the Creation Care Covenant Vote from the Environmental Ministry Team

For two years our church's Environmental Ministry Team and other church members have been studying what it means to become a UCC-designated Creation Justice Church a faith-forward program launched by the UCC in 2016. We've presented educational material about Creation Care and Creation Justice through communications with our church committees and leaders through our newsletters speakers movies book studies and programs that raise consciousness about Creation Justice.

by The Rev. Nancy Leckerling on February 17, 2021

Gratitude on the Creation Care Covenant Vote from the Environmental Ministry Team: 

For two years our church's Environmental Ministry Team and other church members have been studying what it means to become a UCC-designated Creation Justice Church a faith-forward program launched by the UCC in 2016. We've presented educational material about Creation Care and Creation Justice through communications with our church committees and leaders through our newsletters speakers movies book studies and programs that raise consciousness about Creation Justice.

People ask what Creation Justice (CJ) churches do: they address climate change and try to integrate care for Creation into the life of the church through worship education and through building and land use policies they install solar panels to generate electricity and save money they reduce solid waste and the use of plastics styrofoam and other non-compostable materials they look for ways to recycle reuse and repurpose  they become UCC-designated Green Houses of Worship they create organic gardens to reduce grassy areas and conserve water for gardens that providefood for food banks and needy families they invest their church financial resources in Socially Responsible Investments they join a larger networkof congregations and a larger movement to promote Creation Justicethey engage in critical thinking about the socioeconomic dimensions of environmental justice such as race class and global inequality they study the social justice impacts of environmental degradation on poor and indigenous communities and communities of color because CJ churches regard environmental consciousness and social justice as intimately intertwinedand they participate in marches and advocacy days and write to and visit Legislators at our State Capitol in Hartford and at the Capitol in Washington DC to share their faith-driven beliefs about Creation justice and  Creation care.      

We here at First Church have done all of the above thanks to so many helping hands and caring hearts in our church family! That's not to say weare finished with looking for new ways to care for God's Creation or for seeking justice for the oppressed and for those who have suffered from environmental racism at local state and national levels. We have accomplished what we have to-date not just as the EMT and current members but standing on the shoulders of people like Ray Jones Bob Leete Letty Russell Clyde and Betsy Work Bob Raines and Cynthia Hirni and other past and present justice advocates and recently in concert with these church groups: Peace Affirmation and Justice Finance Immigration Business Trustees Christian Education Community and Global Justice the Church Council and with Ginger Jake Mark Judi and Penelope and all of the church staff.

We are grateful for all of their inspiration participation and support and for yours Sunday at the online Annual Meetingas we voted on and passed our Creation Justice Church Covenant. Our congregation is now allied with the Southern New England UCC Environmental Ministries Team and has participated in their Creation Care initiatives. Our church also partners with the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters Save the Sound 350CT.org and the Interreligious Eco-Justice Network (IREJN) now known as CT Interfaith Power and Light.      

Alas we now have in our church a Creation Justice Covenant a sacred act which articulates our church's core values beliefs and obligations to God our Creator and to all God's Creation. This covenant doesn't negate or castoff our church's historic Salem covenant but amplifies it and is a sign that Creation care and Creation Justice will be an integral strand in our church's DNA going forward. Crafted by several people in our church and with God's grace the covenant is a signal to young and old rich and poor white black and brown  people to Guilford to CT to the UCC in Cleveland and to others beyond that we espouse the truth of our interconnectedness and the movement toward a right relationship with all of God's Creation. To be a Creation Justice (CJ) church indicates our commitment to not only heal tend and restore God's Creation but to ensure the protection of God's planet and of God's people fromexploitation and injustice. To be a CJ church is to foster a deeper sense of the awe of Creation and of Creation connection- connection to God to each other to our brothers and sisters beyond our church to all creatures of the Earth and to the generations to come. We welcome anyone in our church family to join us in this important "mission work".      

Thank you to all who were present to take part in this historic vote!  Now that we have voted on the Covenant Ginger and I will complete the application to become a CJ church and send it with a copy of our signed and dated covenant to the UCC in Cleveland. Then we'll wait for what I hope will be good news. If approved we'll be the first UCC church in CT to receive this designation so please say a little prayer that we can be a "light"  to other houses of worshipgoing forward on this path. May God continue to bless us and all of Creation.

With gratitude and hope,
Rev. Nancy Leckerling Co-Chair Environmental Ministry Team

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