UCC Environmental-Justice Training Program is Launched

        Earth Day and Beyond 2012

Pilgrim Firs, Port Orchard, WA

We want everyone to know about an extraordinary faith and environmental program that is being implemented by the United Church of Christ under the leadership of Rev. Jim Deming, Minister for Environmental Justice.  This vision -- to train leadership for environmental-justice -- is an exciting plan that Rev. Deming and his colleagues have been developing for a long while.  We hope that leaders of all faith groups will find interest and inspiration in this model.

We’re also extremely pleased that RENEWAL is being used as an essential teaching tool in many of the training workshops.

Here are excerpts from a letter that Jim Deming sent to potential registrants last January.  It provides a good description of the plan that’s now going into effect.

I am pleased to announce that we will be holding our first environmental justice training event at Pilgrim Firs in Port Orchard, WA, April 20-22, 2012. It seems most appropriate that we will begin our training events on Earth Day weekend.
The curriculum and agenda are now complete, and I believe it will be an effective way to bring environmental justice back to our home communities. In fact, we are asking that all participants enter into a covenant that they will teach the EJ curriculum at least two times in the year following the training event in April. Each person who comes to Pilgrim Firs will be given all the necessary tools and support to start the conversations and take actions that are thoughtful and transformative. As the agenda on the registration page details, the Pilgrim Firs EJ training event will include:

·         Five basic themes of environmental justice based on Biblical and ethical foundations.
·         A hands-on immersion experience in the Seattle area.
·         Based on the brilliant work of Joanna Macy, a discussion of how we work with hope in the midst of difficult circumstances.
·        Taking environmental justice back to our home communities.
We have tried to keep the costs to a minimum, and the $160 registration fee includes all meals and lodging for two nights. At the present time, we do not offer scholarships, but we hope to in the future. We believe that finances should not limit participation, and we hope to build a fund that helps pay expenses for those who need financial help. We encourage all our participants to ask their home faith communities to support this work by funding each participant.
Each training event after April 20-22 will be limited to 15 persons to maximize discussion and small group process, but for this initial training we have set the limit at 21 persons. If you are interested in coming, I hope you will go to the registration site and sign up as soon as possible. You can access it by clicking here. If you cannot make it to the April training, we plan to hold the next event October 16-18 at Pilgrim Firs. It is also my sincere hope that our UCC conferences and congregations will invite us to hold EJ training events in other locations and possibly for specific groups such as young adults or senior high students. If that happens, I would hope to co-train with many of those who have first come to Pilgrim Firs.
This is an exciting and necessary time for this new venture. It is sponsored by the UCC Pacific Northwest Conference, UCC National Justice and Witness Ministries, and Pilgrim Firs Camp and Conference Center. It is also supported by all who believe that we should give thanks for the gift of Creation and take action to sustain this gift. My personal thanks for your support and prayers in this new ministry.

Rev. Jim Deming
Minister for Environmental Justice
United Church of Christ
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44115
216-736-3722 (office)