The United Church of Christ has officially recognized Hope UCC, St. Louis, Mo. as a Creation Justice Church.
As the first church in Missouri to receive this designation, the congregation is dedicated to helping heal and restore the earth and working on behalf of all those who face issues of environmental injustice and oppression.
Hope UCC members proudly display their banner of new designation (in photo from left to right): Aaron Wagner (Environmental Justice Ministry chair), Roberta Van Nest (Environmental Justice Ministry secretary), Gail Geisel (Environmental Justice Ministry council liaison), and Randy Hall (Environmental Justice Ministry delegate to UCC Council for Climate Justice).
Weaving into Worship Justice Issues of Environment, Climate, Renewable Energy, Water Resources, and Food
Back in mid-2020, a few members of the congregation became interested in the issue of “environmental justice” and continued meeting and discussing related issues off and on since then. As a result of this continued interest, the Church Council approved formal creation of the Environmental Justice Ministry as a new “Ministry” in the life of the church, followed by UCC Environmental Justice Minister Brooks Berndt officially recognizing Hope UCC as a Creation Justice Church in December 2022.
The Environmental Justice Ministry team and worship leaders at Hope continuously weave issues of environmental justice, climate justice, renewable energy, water resources, and food justice into the worship experience, spreading the message of how followers of Christ can gradually reduce our ecological footprint.
Change Can Be Contagious
“As our ministry members grow and learn together, we are beginning to see that, as big as the problem may be, there are many, many ways we can have a positive impact at the local level, and we feel that this is a good place to start for Hope UCC,” says Aaron Wagner, who is chairing the church’s Environmental Justice Ministry.
“Whether it may be planting a pollinator garden on church grounds, partnering with other churches and organizations to stretch our resources and outreach, or helping provide more education for our congregation on how to reduce/recycle in our daily lives, the prospects are exciting,” adds Wagner, who encourages those interested in learning more to email him or simply attend one of their Sunday worship services.
The team has developed a logo for its efforts and a new Green Resources Blog.
Becoming A Creation Justice Church
The UCC Environmental Justice Minister is looking for more congregations around the country to step up and be part of the solution to these issues. Signaling a congregation’s long-term commitment to this cause can be as easy as taking five steps and submitting an application.