MACUCC signs on as friend of the court in Supreme Court climate change case

MACUCC signs on as friend of the court in Supreme Court climate change case

By vote of the Board of Directors, the Massachusetts Conference has signed on as  a “friend of the court” in a Supreme Court case related to  climate change.  The case is being brought by a group of youth and young adults who argue that the government has an obligation to protect essential natural resources for present and future generations.

The Conference joins legal scholars, economic and national security experts, climate scientists, conservation and social justice organizations, native communities, business and government leaders, and cities who filed amicus curiae briefs with the United States Supreme Court in support of Our Children's Trust.

"The MACUCC can be proud to be listed among the organizations filing as “friends of the court” in this case," said Massachusetts Conference Minister & President Jim Antal.  "In joining this case, we demonstrate once again our leadership among mainline churches in America when it comes to the issue of climate change." 

The case, Alec L. v. McCarthy, Supreme Court Case No. 14-405, relies on a foundational principle of government, the Public Trust Doctrine, in seeking a decision that the federal government has public trust obligations to protect essential national natural resources for present and future generations.  (Read more: Who Speaks for the Earth?, US News & World Report, Nov. 10, 2014)

Antal first became aware of the work of Our Children's Trust when he spoke at a gathering in Oregon of 150 United Church of Christ environmental activists.  He was introduced to 18-year-old Kelsey Juliana, one of the plaintiffs in the case.  (See Kelsey's interview with Bill Moyers here.)

When the opportunity to sign on to the amicus brief came up, Antal proposed it to the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors, who then recommended action by the full Board.  (The bylaws of the Conference authorize the Board of Directors to act for the Conference between Annual Meetings.)

"As the Executive Committee carefully considered the question, we found this action consistent with the 2009 Resolution to Reverse Climate Change and Protect God's Creation. Signing the amicus brief is a fulfillment of the Annual Meeting's call 'to take action, individually and institutionally, to reduce their carbon footprint,'" said Angela Menke Ballou, chair of the Board and senior pastor of Cotuit Federated Church.

Antal is calling on pastors across the Conference to use the suit as a stepping-off point to develop sermons and to start conversations in their churches.
"In my four decades of environmental ministry, I can think of no topic more deserving of a sermon from every pulpit in America (or at least every UCC pulpit in Massachusetts)!" Antal said. "What are we, if we are not a church for the future?  What are we, if we are not a church that stands for a sustainable creation?  What are we, if we are not a church seeking to pass on to our children a viable earth and climate?"

"So to pastors I say: preach a sermon that offers your” take” on intergenerational obligations, and convene an adult education opportunity to view and discuss Bill Moyer’s interview of Kelsey,"  Antal said. "Whether we call it generativity, legacy or environmental responsibility – God is calling us to this witness."

More on the Supreme Court case:

These teens are taking their climate lawsuit all the way to the Supreme Court,, Oct. 22, 2014

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