Happy Earth Day!

Welcome to the April Newsletter of the UCC Northeast Environmental Justice Center!

This monthly e-newsletter offers information about global, national, regional and local news, action opportunities and events centered on the climate justice movement. The intention is to inform, educate and help folks connect with the movement and each other, so that we can amplify our collective voice on behalf of Creation here in southern New England (and beyond). If you find these e-newsletters helpful, please share widely, and encourage others to subscribe. If you have environmental events open to the public or legislative actions (especially if you're from MA or RI) that you would like to include in future e-newsletters, please be in touch. Thanks for reading!

Pam Arifian, Director

UCC Northeast Environmental Justice Center Happenings

It's been a busy couple of months for the UCC Northeast Environmental Justice Center! Here's a look at what we've been up to.

Church Visits & Workshops

Sowing seeds during the Creation Care workshop with the Oasis Multi-Church Youth Group, March 2019.

I was pleased to offer a Creation Care workshop to the Oasis Multi-Church Youth Group in the New Haven area in early March, and to each of the four CTUCC Confirmation Retreats held this past winter at Silver Lake Conference Center. The Retreats hosted 150 youth and adults from 17 congregations. The Creation Care workshop offers engaging activities for youth to explore how our choices have an impact on our planet, and how we can make different decisions that will cause less harm. 

I was honored to offer an environmental-justice themed sermon and discussion after worship at Church of Christ, Congregational in Goshen, and a children's sermon and a Second Hour Workshop at First Congregational Church of Glastonbury. The Environmental Justice and the UCC workshop offered an overview of the issues and the UCC's involvement at various levels, and offered opportunities for the participants to connect with a broader movement, both within the church and in the wider community. The workshop was well-attended by folks who are now re-inspired to deepen their environmental witness, starting with a goal of attaining Level 3 Green Church Award!

At Super Saturday on March 17th in Wilbraham, MA, I led a workshop called "Climate Change Resonance Circle." This workshop offered participants an opportunity to support each other in processing and externalizing the big emotions that the climate crisis evokes in us through the practice of storytelling and resonance. Grace O'Connor, UCONN Urban Semester Intern for the CTUCC this semester, attended the workshop at Super Saturday and offered this reflection. Thanks to all who participated! The next Super Saturday will be held on October 5th in Framingham, MA. Has your church or members of your church been involved in climate action or environmental justice initiatives? What stories or collaborations can you share that would be inspiring and informative for others to get engaged in the movement? Please submit your workshop proposals by the end of April.

Next up for environmental programming is the annual Environmental Justice for All! Retreat for 8th - 12th graders at Silver Lake Conference Center, May 17-19, 2019. We have some space available, please register by May 6th!


Pam Arifian, her daughter, and Danielle Peterson at the Hartford Youth Climate Strike, March 15, 2019

I attended the Youth Climate Strike in Hartford, which was part of a global youth action, inspired by Greta Thunberg's school climate strike. I was thrilled that Silver Lake Conference Center alumna and environmental activist Danielle Peterson helped to organize this youth- and young-adult-led witness to demand immediate action in support of a just transition from fossil fuels to 100% clean, renewable energy. It was a great event, with inspiring youth and young adult speakers. I am grateful for the passion and energy of these youth activists and the impact of their actions, and for the adults who support them.

Interested in taking part in this movement? The next Youth Climate Strike in CT will take place on May 3rd at the Capitol in Hartford and New Haven - or find a local event near you, which may be on a different date and/or ongoing!

For more information on local environmental legislations, take a look at last month's newsletter.

Climate Justice Movement

March brought cyclones and subsequent flooding to Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi and the midwest United States. Over 1000 people have died and over 4000 cholera cases as a result of Cyclone Idai. Many areas in the midwest U.S. that are still recovering from the "bomb cyclone" induced flooding in March are bracing themselves for what might turn into second "bomb cyclone" in as many months. The Pine Ridge Reservation of the Oglala Sioux Tribe in South Dakota was especially hard-hit, with many people still stranded. A request was made for federal disaster declaration, and, linking the climate-fueled disaster with the KXL pipeline, Chairman Julian Bear Runner called upon President Trump "to cease efforts to expedite the Keystone XL pipeline."


Donate to support Oglala Sioux recovery here. Contribute to recovery in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe through the UCC's International Emergency Fund. As of April 10, the UCC has contributed over $62,000 in the relief effort following Cyclone Idai in Africa.


#YouthVGov Update

The House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis held a hearing on April 4th to provide a platform for those most affected by climate change to make their case for action. Aji Piper, an 18-year-old plaintiff in the federal climate law suit Juliana v. United States, testified before the committee, asking policymakers to take responsibility for the government's continued actions that cause the climate crisis and ensure future generations the right to a safe climate. On June 4th, 2019, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments on the interlocutory appeal and the preliminary injunction.


Learn about activities and opportunities to show solidarity with the youth plaintiffs leading up to the June 4th court date, either in person in Portland OR or from afar. Learn more about the court case and solidarity actions, and make donations to support the case here.


Green New Deal Update

For more on the Green New Deal, take a look at last month's e-newsletter for an overview, as well as UCC supportive response, and critiques by the Indigenous Environmental Network and Food & Water Watch.

Rev. Brooks Berndt, UCC Minister for Environmental Justice, released a commentary on the myth of partisan divide with respect to the Green New Deal.

Many cities and states are not waiting for national action on a Green New Deal, taking action on smaller-scale, ambitious plans that show how elements of a national GND could be implemented. Congrats to the City of Boston, which just passed a resolution in support of a Green New Deal.

Fossil Fuel Resistance

Killingly Energy Center

There was a public hearing on April 4th with the CT Siting Council to hear comments about the re-opened application for a 650-megawatt fracked natural gas power plant on Lake Road in Killingly, CT.


The Siting Council will accept public comments until May 4, 2019. Voice your opposition to this power plant, and encourage the development of clean energy infrastructure in CT instead. Submit your comments via email.


Keystone XL Pipeline and Executive Orders

While the Midwest and especially the Oglala Sioux at Pine Ridge Reservation are still recovering from severe weather impacts, President Trump signed two Executive Orders designed to speed up approvals for fossil fuel infrastructure, including the contentious Keystone XL pipeline, and to make it easier for energy companies to transport oil and gas to domestic and international markets.


Weymouth MA Compressor Station

As part of the Atlantic Bridge pipeline project, Spectra Energy (known as Enbridge), plans to build a fracked gas compressor station in a densely populated urban area, adjacent to the new Fore River bridge. Health, odor and noise impacts pose serious health risks for residents of Weymouth, Quincy, Braintree and South Shore. Fore River Residents Against the Compressor Station is actively organizing and opposing the compressor station.


FRRACS offers avenues for joining the opposition here. Mothers Out Front MA is supporting this opposition along with other natural gas infrastructure with their new 2-year Beyond Gas Campaign - find out more and get involved here.


Water Issues

Water Privatization Bill Withdrawn in Providence, RI

Big water news coming in from Rhode Island: in response to opposition by indigenous leaders and community groups, Providence Mayor Elorza canceled plans to privatize the city's water system. Special thanks to Rev. Brendan Curran, VP of Justice and Witness for RICUCC Board of Directors and Associate Pastor at Barrington Congregational Church, who wrote this blog post inviting witness through vigils and advocacy, and to the Water is Life Land and Water Sovereignty Campaign for their work in getting this water privatization bill withdrawn!


Contact your federal legislators to demand that they support the Water Affordability, Transparency, Equity and Reliability Act (WATER Act). Read the fact sheet from Food & Water Watch to learn more.

Earth Day Resources

Every Day is Earth Day, but together we celebrate Earth Day on April 22nd! Here are some ideas for engaging in environmental witness:

Upcoming Events & Learning Opportunities


Green New Earth Day

When: April 22, 2:00-7:30pm

Where: First Churches, 129 Main Street, Northampton MA


Local Environmental Action Conference

When: April 27, 9:00am - 5:00pm

Where: Worcester State University, 486 Chandler St, Worcester MA


Emergent Strategies for Environmental Justice: A Creation Justice Webinar with adrienne maree brown

When: April 30, 1:00pm - 2:00 pm

Register for this free webinar here - if you can't make it, you'll get the recording in your inbox. You may also view previous webinar recordings, including the recent webinar on Faith-Rooted Climate Policy


3rd Annual Earthkeepers Dinner

A networking and fundraising event hosted by InterReligious EcoJustice Network.

When: May 1, 2019, 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Where: Pond House Cafe, 1555 Asylum St, West Hartford CT

Cost: $70-120

Register by April 24th


Youth Climate Strike

When: May 3, 2019, 10:00 am - 1:00 pm

Where: CT State Capitol, 210 Capitol Ave, Hartford CT

Sign Up for the 2019 Environmental Justice for All! Retreat

Are there 8th - 12th graders in your life who might be interested in a weekend of community and fun, and of learning about environmental issues and how to harness their talents to create a more just and sustainable future?

The annual Environmental Justice for All! Retreat will offer all of this and more!

Please Join Us!


May 17-19, 2019 at Silver Lake Conference Center in Sharon, CT

Cost: $145 per person; scholarships available (contact Pam for info)

Register Today!

Come to Camp! Register for Silver Lake Summer Camp 2019


The Silver Lake Conference Center in Sharon, CT offers summer camp programs with countless events and activities for youth in grades 4-12 designed to facilitate leadership, community, deeper faith, and life-long friendships.

Find more information and register here!


JOIN US for a super fun OPEN HOUSE

Sunday, May 19th, 2019 from 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm! This is a FREE event - please RSVP here

Come for a tour, learn about and sign up camp programs, meet staff members and program leaders, have some fun climbing the ropes course and enjoy a s'more by the campfire!



The Northeast Environmental Justice Center
of the United Church of Christ

Housed at Silver Lake Conference, the EJC offers education and advocacy resources to the northeast region.

Pam Arifian, Director, 860-364-5418