21 in 21: A Green Congregation Challenge

21 in 21: A Green Congregation Challenge

The Southern New England Conference UCC is launching 21 in 21 this fall, challenging 21 congregations to commit to creating a greener world by joining the Green Congregation Challenge. Sign your church up here

On August 9, the New York Times ran this headline: “A Hotter Future is Certain, Climate Panel Warns, But How Hot is Up to Us.” For three decades, leaders representing countries large and small have been gathering for global climate summits. The 2021 summit is just about nine weeks away in Glasgow and those leaders will face the sobering reality that the world has waited too long to prevent the frequency of devastating impacts from heat waves, droughts, superstorms, flash floods and wildfires which have been making news around the globe all year.

A hotter future is certain, but how hot is STILL up to us. The SNEUCC Environmental Ministries Team believes that we are called to act as people of faith. We are called to advocate for vulnerable communities who will suffer the greatest impacts of a hotter future. We are called to protect and preserve the world that God made and that God loves. We believe our witness matters.

This fall, we invite your congregation to be that witness. The Environmental Ministries Team has updated and expanded the Green Congregation Challenge for the Southern New England Conference. We began work back in the fall of 2020. We built upon the prior challenges from the historic conferences. We solicited feedback from some of the 70 plus SNEUCC congregations who have already been recognized for achieving Green Congregation status. We expanded links to topics like advocacy, voting, environmental justice, intersectionality and civil disobedience. You can find books and curriculum for children and adults, opportunities for youth, and contact information for SNEUCC climate leaders.

The Green Congregation Challenge now offers about 25 action options for each of four levels with ample resources to get you and your Green Team started. We have mapped out the actions that allow your congregation to progress from “Getting Started,” to “Creating a Plan,” to “Building Momentum,” to “Expanding Impact.” Each level encourages congregations to spread out their engagement over five different areas: Educate, Organize, Reduce/Recycle/Rethink, Connect and Advocate.

We believe we are at a tipping point. More than 70% of people in the US believe that the climate is warming and that it is human caused. More and more often, news articles reference the climate crisis when reporting on storms or droughts or wildfires or floods as the impact of those events grows more severe. It is easy with all that has happened in the past 18 months to feel isolated, overwhelmed, and inadequate, but we are not taking on this challenge alone. As Bill McKibben said, “What’s the best thing an individual can do for the climate? Stop being an individual!”

We are not alone; we’re Church. Your congregation can inspire your community. Your members can motivate people in their networks. There are plenty of things anybody can do from a phone or laptop to get started. It’s time for all of us to stop being individuals and to realize what we can accomplish if we come together with others to protect and preserve this world that God made and that God loves.

Join the Challenge this fall. For more information, visit www.sneucc.org/green-congregation-challenge and check out our other resources, like the Creation Care Voter Pledge, at www.sneucc.org/environmental-ministries. Sign your church up for the challenge here.


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Vicky A. Guest

The Rev. Victoria Alford Guest is co-chair of the SNEUCC Environmental Ministries Team and former pastor of the First Congregational Church in Natick, MA.

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