Monday, February 15, 2016

Resources for Reducing Our Carbon Footprint by Meighan Pritchard

Resources for Reducing Our Carbon Footprint
By Meighan Pritchard
 On occasion, I preach about climate change and how we as Christians are called to be good stewards of the planet. After one of these sermons, a member of my congregation who is in his 80s said, “I appreciate your words; unfortunately I just can’t see giving up my car. I think my bicycling days are through.” And I would have to agree. But there is still plenty he could do.
We all have many ways to be good stewards of God’s creation. Getting rid of one’s car is one option, but it’s not for everyone. Here are some other ways to live more lightly on the planet:
·       Consider what things you buy and whether they are made in sustainable says.
·       Reduce driving by arranging to carpool, combining errand trips, taking the bus, biking, or walking when possible.
·       Reduce consumption, reuse items, and recycle.
·       Eat lower on the food chain, as raising animals for food takes a huge amount of resources.
·       Eat more food produced within 100 miles of home (perhaps in your own garden!).
·       Made sure houses are well sealed and insulated so as to heat efficiently.
·       Use energy-efficient light bulbs and appliances.
·       Advocate for good climate-friendly legislation.
There are many more possibilities.
What you may not know is that the UCC has numerous resources to help individuals and congregations meet these challenges. Here are some links to get you started:
·       Carbon neutral congregations:
·       Green Justice Congregations:
·       Books, periodicals, and films on environmental themes:
·       Environmental Justice Workshops:
·       The Pollinator, a blog and newsletter on environmental justice issues by the Rev. Dr. Brooks Berndt, UCC minister for environmental justice:
·       Worship resources on environmental themes: 
Our world leaders have agreed that we need to hold rising global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Centigrade. It is up to each of us, as inhabitants and stewards of God’s good creation, to make sure we all reach this goal.

Monday, January 25, 2016


Minimum Wage and Leave Initiative
By:  Steve Clagett
Co-Chair JWM
This blog post will alert you about a tremendous 2016 economic justice opportunity.  The, as yet to be formally named, Minimum Wage and Leave Initiative will provide plenty of work  for UCC members to ensure its success.  The initiative will increase the state minimum wage to $13.50 per hour, higher where local ordinances require it, and mandate that sick, family, and safe leave be afforded to employees.  The initiative was filed with the Washington Secretary of State this month and is going through a vetting process to determine its final title and contents.  Initiative petitions should be coming out in mid-February.   To be safe, about 325,000 signatures will be needed by the end of June.  Assuming that succeeds, the campaign will move entirely into an effort to ensure voter approval at the November Presidential Election.  

 Experts agree that $13.50, not even $15.00, is a livable wage for most families.  Still, this initiative would be a huge step forward for Washington State families and should benefit from the increased attention national candidates are giving our growing income equality and diminishing middle class.  The initiative is supported by a coalition of more than thirty organizations, Working Washington ( being one of the leaders.

 The Justice Witness Ministries Committee will provide full details on how you can become involved with the campaign when they become available. 


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Blog Post for JWM by Briana Frenchmore
Farmworker and Food Justice
November 8, 2015

Familias Unidas por la Justicia: The Spiritual Connection of the Strawberry


We know autumn has arrived when the ubiquitous pumpkin greets us everywhere we go. It is a sign of the changing of the seasons, inviting us to get cozy indoors and probably start making a lot of soup!  In the same way, the arrival of strawberries signals the joys of summer picnics and time spent basking in the sunshine. How many of us enjoyed some simply sweet strawberries that brought a smile to our face just a couple of months ago?

Today, I’d like to bring our attention to the intersection between the food we love to eat, farmworkers and our connection as people of faith.

In 2013, a group of berry pickers at Sakuma Bros. Farms in Burlington, WA in the Skagit Valley, went on strike demanding better pay and working conditions. Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ-Families United for Justice), an independent farm worker union (recognized by the WA State Labor Council AFL-CIO) was formed as a response to unattainable production standards and unjust pay, wage theft, and hostile working and living conditions. To-date FUJ has about 400 members, the majority of whom are from indigenous towns in southern Mexican states such as Oaxaca.

Since 2014, Familias Unidas por la Justicia has called for a boycott of Driscoll’s, one of the largest suppliers of berries, and Haagen-Dazs strawberry ice cream who are purchasers of Sakuma Bros. Farms’ berries. In 2015, boycott teams from Burlington to Portland engaged Costco and Whole Foods in efforts to stop selling products from Sakuma Bros. Farms (these 2 companies were chosen due to their tendency to pay more attention to issues of worker and environmental justice when sourcing their products). FUJ continues to ask for community support in the boycott and putting pressure on Sakuma Bros. to recognize their union.

When we look at the issue of standing with Familias Unidas por la Justicia, we are quickly reminded of our connection to the land and our dependence on those who labor to produce the food that sustains us. We know that food not only nourishes us, but is an important part of our culture—who doesn’t look forward to community gatherings where a meal is shared? And as Christians, the ritual of remembering Jesus’ last meal with his disciples, connects us to the land and to each other when we break bread and drink from the cup of blessing around the communion table.

For those in the area, I invite you to join us on Saturday, November 14th from 10am-12pm at Keystone UCC in Seattle for a Familias Unidas por la Justicia teach-in hosted by Farmworker Ministry Northwest. Join us to be a part of the conversation on how we as people of faith can stand and walk in solidarity with Familias Unidas por la Justicia and other farmworkers.

¡Si se puede!


1.      Visit Familias Unidas por la Justicia’s website. Watch these short videos: Fruits of Justice and Campesino.

2.      Get connected with Farmworker Ministry Northwest to plan an educational forum at your congregation: contact  Briana Frenchmore at

3.      Find resources from National Farmworker Ministry such as an Overview of FUJ and Driscoll’s Boycott

Opportunities for action and advocacy:

1.      Commit to boycott Driscoll berries and Haggen Daaz ice cream. Find sample letters to send to store managers where you shop, asking them to honor the boycott.  (sample letter accessible here).

2.      Join the Farmworker Ministry Northwest organizing and education team to plan actions to support FUJ in 2016:  contact  Briana Frenchmore at

3.      Join the United Farm Workers (UFW) list serve for regional and national advocacy updates.


Monday, October 19, 2015

After Marriage Equity….What’s next for the LGBTQ Community ‘Yeah we can’t hire you, it wouldn’t work here’. That was the response that a UCC peer who is in the midst of a search and call process within the United Church of Christ received from a church who she had just told she was married to a woman who she parented a child with. That happened this week, within the UCC.

It is experiences like this that remind me of the work that still exists as we move towards equality and justice for all of God’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender children. In addition to the workplace discrimination that occurs against the LGBT community continues in many states, it’s estimated that 20% of homeless youth are LGBT and those youth commit suicide at dramatically higher rates. Violence against the LGBT community continues with over 2,000 incidents of anti-LGBT violence in the past year with the transgender, gay people of color and gay male communities facing the most severe violence. Gay conversion therapy (despite being opposed by the American Psychological Association) is still allowed in the vast majority of states. LGBT families continue to face discrimination in many states to foster and or adopt children.

And that is just in this country. If you step outside of the US, our LGTB brothers and sisters in many countries in this world face realities that are particularly grim. In 78 countries around the globe, LGBT people are arrested, imprisoned, or even put to death simply for who they are or whom they love. In Nigeria, for example, federal law classifies same-sex sexual activity as a felony punishable by imprisonment.

But today in the United States, lesbians and gays can get married. That is something that I, a lesbian woman who has been with my partner for 23 years and share in the parenting of two children, do not take lightly. The day I legally married my spouse in front of our friends and family was a blessing beyond my wildest imaginings and it is out of that foundation of legal privilege that I can now stand and be sustained for the continued struggles for equity and justice. It is out of that state of privilege that I feel a continued call to bring my time, my resources and my passion to the continued work of justice and equality for all of God’s children.

Being married is wonderful, but walking in a world where all of God’s LGBT children can travel safely, do work that they are called to do, love with dignity and authenticity, be honored for the gifts they bring to this world and raise families that continue the work of justice….that is a dream that is worth continuing to fight for.

Marci Weis
Member in Discernment

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Seattle Pride Parade, June 28th, 2015

Join me and other members of the United Church of Christ in marching in the Seattle Pride Parade on June 28 in downtown Seattle meeting on 4th Ave around 10 AM. 

We are planning Communion before stepping out with each other in support of our GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender), friends and families.
We, in Washington, think the work for GLBT equality is almost over. Fortunately in this state we have marriage equality and laws in place to protect GLBT people in housing and the workplace.
Recently there have been gay bashings in our neighborhoods.  More education is needed about transgender people and the not so subtle discriminations they face.  Roughly 30% of the homeless youth on our streets are identifying as gay. Safe shelter is imperative for these youth. So we still have work to do.
Why am I so interested in this justice issue?  I have a gay son, Troy.  In 1996 UCC minister, Rev. Bob Fitzgerald, told my husband Bob and me, as we prepared to march in our first Seattle Pride Parade, we would be forever changed by the experience.  We were moved to tears by the people who had been abandoned by their families and churches.  As we heard these heartbreaking stories we knew we had to do something to change society. We were transformed. 
Bob, my partner on this journey remains with me in spirit.  He passed 9 years ago.  I see him in the sea of rainbows that flood 4th Ave and the Seattle Center.  I see prospects for a safer life for my gay son.
I also see others fear this change.  Fear is nothing to dismiss.  As some states draw up laws to allow discrimination in our stores etc. based on religion we need to tell our faith stories of our gay children and friends.  Yes, you can be Christian and gay.  Christians can support and love gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
Join us for communion.  Join us to show that some UCC families and friends are not afraid to step out and support those who may be different.  We are living into our motto "God Is Still Speaking". We are required to do love and justice.  So I promise you a colorful, rainbow  experience and maybe even a transformation or two.
Thank you,
Jeaneane Hill
University Congregational UCC

Friday, January 16, 2015

State Legislative Season

2015 Washington State Legislature
The 2015 Washington State Legislative session starts January 12th and continues for 105 days. It is a biennial (2 year) Budget session for 2015-2017. Information on the Legislature is available at this link: WA Legislature Info This link includes rosters of legislators, information on the legislative process, and also is your access to all advocacy days (listed under events).
As those concerned with the Common Good, we have various versions of Legislative advocacy available to us. Faith Action Network has an advocacy agenda that includes thess issues: Reducing Wealth Inequality, Forging a Sustainable Budget, Dismantling the Culture of Violence, Protect Housing and Prevent Homelessness, and Sustaining Washington’s Environment. More information may be secured on their webpage (click FAN ). Interfaith Advocacy Day is Thursday February 19. You may register at their webpage.
More specific to policies for safe, healthy, affordable homes, raising wages for jobs that can afford a home, and other efforts to raise revenue, the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance also has a Legislative agenda that may be found on its webpage (click their name). Additionally, on Tuesday February 17 the Housing Homelessness Advocacy Day is held. Last year more than 600 persons came to the Capitol and advocated on these issues.
Your local area more than likely has specific advocacy agendas that direct attention to issues that are more local but require State attention. Be in touch with your local Continuum of Care (for homelessness, usually your local County staff), with nonprofits who work with: children, domestic violence victims, seniors, veterans, those battling mental health, those struggling with substance abuse, and so on.

Your voice is necessary and important as we seek to be just with regard to the least, the lost, the lonely, the left behind, and the lowest on the economic ladder.  If you have questions, you may contact me: The Rev. Bill Kirlin-Hackett, Director, Interfaith Task Force on Homelessness, University Congregational UCC Seattle member,, 425-442-5418.

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Justice and Witness Ministry (JWM) Committee of the Pacific Northwest Conference of the United Church of Christ (PNC) is dedicated to assisting individuals and congregations of the PNC to get involved in the work of justice and peace.

We believe that such work is the work of the whole faith community. If you and/or your congregation would like to work on an issue of peace or justice, or if you would like to acquire particular skills (such as legislative advocacy) to carry out that work, please feel free to contact us for assistance.