A note from your SNEUCC Bridge Conference Ministers:
This year marks the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. And for the first time since that date we have seen evidence of significantly cleaner air and water. From photographs to satellite imagery our planet is breathing a little easier. However, this is due to a pandemic which is keeping us home. There are less cars on the roads and some of our manufacturing is on temporary shut down. We are, of course, anxious and so ready to see an end to the pandemic. And yet, one of its lessons is the impact of behavior change. A cleaner and sustainable earth is possible.
Your Bridge Conference Ministers commend to you two articles. One is written by Rev. Jessica McArdle on behalf of our Conference’s Environmental Ministries Task Team. You can read it below. The other is written by Rev Dr Jim Antal, former Conference minister of the historic Mass Conference and Special Advisor on Climate Justice to UCC General Minister and President. You can read Jim's blog here. In addition, the Task Team has put together a great list of suggestions for actions you and your church can take on this 50th anniversary. You can find those here.
Don Remick, Kent Siladi, and Marilyn Kendrix, Bridge Conference Ministers
Greetings and peace to you in this Season of Eastertide:
To the Congregations of the Southern New England Conference, UCC Re: The 50th Anniversary of Earth Day and the Challenges Before Us
In crafting this letter, we lift up each of you during this difficult and isolating time. In the past, communities of faith such as ours have reached out personally to one another for clarity, assurance and comfort in times of upheaval, sorrow and difficulty. But this season is starkly different.
Yet scripture does attest that God-in-Christ is particularly revealed - and thereby, made real - when suffering, fear and uncertainty is acute. Scripture teaches us that it was after Jesus’ death AND when it appeared that his movement was finished, that a pivotal encounter took place on the Road to Emmaus. Jesus’ followers, in encountering one whom they thought a mere stranger, later saw him revealed and thereby made real, when the Risen One was disclosed in the taking, blessing and breaking of bread.
Is it coincidental then that the Fiftieth Anniversary of Earth Day is commemorated in the midst of a devasting pandemic?Or could it be that the suffering this pandemic has unleashed: the loss of countless lives, its devastating impact to the economy and people’s security – asks us to perceive anew how God may be ministering to us in the wake of this crisis?
Imagine if the heroic response of those currently on the front lines: first-responders, physicians, nurses, pastors, chaplains, grocery clerks, cleaning crews and delivery personnel – are not alone in their endeavors but continue to be supported by those on the environmental front whose long-term mission also protects and preserves public health and welfare. Imagine if these collective acts of solidarity with the human family and all of God’s creation, is "the yeast that makes life rise,” and thereby, is the bread of life.
As we prepare to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, we commend to you these following online resources by pastors, worship leaders, environmental activists and public theologians, made available in this time of social distancing:
- Missioner for Creation Care for both the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts and the Southern New England Conference, UCC, Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, will be speaking at the Washington DC Cathedral on Sunday, at 11:15 AM on April 19, Livestream Here.
- For Earth Day online worship resources, Creation Justice Ministries, provides resources across a number of denominations, including the UCC. Their 2020 theme is The Fierce Urgency of Now.
- For an insightful discussion on our role as people of faith and the role that care of creation plays, we’d suggest listening to this webinar hosted by UCC Environmental Minister, Rev. Brooks Berndt, Coronavirus and the Climate Crisis.
- And because we’re at our best when we join together in protecting public health, we invite you to explore this opportunity as offered by 350.org, Training for Environmental Advocacy.
Rev. Dr. Jessica McArdle, Environmental Ministry Team Member
For the SNEUCC Conference Environmental Ministries Team, Barbara Darling and Ted Wade, Co-Chairs
The Rev. Dr. Jessica McArdle is an Interim Minister, Writer & Researcher