I urge you to join the UCC Keep It In The Ground movement

I urge you to join the UCC Keep It In The Ground movement

For many months I have been working with the national setting of the UCC to prepare for the UCC April mission emphasis “Keep it in the ground.”  The hope is that this month you will focus a worship service on this theme by preaching and/or using some of the superb worship resources available on the Keep It In The Ground website. 
When asked to sum up why this important, here’s what I said, “It falls to us – to our generation – to launch the greatest social change movement the world has ever known.  This can only happen if religion – which is the most powerful force on earth – channels the resolve of its adherents to make the changes science says we must so that our children will know something of the Eden into which we were born.”   And my colleague, the Rev. Dr. Brooks Berndt - Environmental Justice Minister for the UCC – had this to say, “The question of the day is whether we will be the Moses generation.  Like Moses standing on holy ground before the burning bush, now is the time of our high calling.  Now is the time to leave behind the Egypt of fossil fuels so that we might reach a promised land flowing with clean energy.  The key to our success begins with an unwavering commitment to leave the holy ground beneath our feet undisturbed.”
Bill McKibben (who is quoted on our website) offers a more comprehensive explanation about why it’s essential to keep fossil fuels in the ground.  Click here to read his recent article from YES! magazine.
Terry Tempest Williams just published an op-ed piece in the The New York Times: Keeping My Fossil Fuel in the Ground.
Among the contributors of original liturgical material is Carolyn Winfrey Gillette.  Her new hymn “God, Creation Sings Your Praises” (Copyright © 2016 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette and sung to Beach Spring ("God, Whose Giving Knows No Ending")) includes this stanza:
     Lord, you give creation limits so creation will be blessed.
     You set planets in their orbits; you give days for Sabbath rest.
     You make fruit not for consuming, things to stay where they are found,
     And with great disaster looming— fuel to keep within the ground.
It’s been a year filled with the best climate news in decades – the Pope’s Encyclical; the Paris COP21 agreement; the astonishing plummet in the price of solar and wind power; the mounting momentum of institutional and personal divestment of fossil fuel stocks; and several executive actions by President Obama.  It has also been a year with the worst climate news ever – most recently former NASA climatologist (and my fellow cell-mate) James Hansen’s paper that we are only decades - not centuries – away from catastrophic climate peril.
People of faith must step up.  We must become as engaged in this work and witness as we are in prayer.  Only HOPE – rooted in the miracle of creation – can withstand the grief which climate change triggers.
As we celebrate resurrection hope, let us live out God’s plea to Keep It In The Ground.


Jim Antal
Jim Antal

Jim Antal is a denominational leader, activist and public theologian.  He led the 360 churches of the Massachusetts Conference United Church of Christ from 2006 to his retirement in 2018.  An environmental activist from the first Earth Day in 1970, ...

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