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The Environment is Your Backyard

by Lillian Daniel

Michigan Conference Minister

“Save the Environment!”

I saw the slogan everywhere growing up, on tee shirts and bumper stickers but it was the posters of exotic animals from far away that captured my childhood imagination. They were my first hint that the world was huge and I had only seen a small patch of it. 

I lost myself in the posters of parrots in paradise, monkeys in the rainforest, polar bears staring at stars while lounging on glaciers, and of course the bamboo-nibbling panda couples on that special date night in the wilderness. All of them seemed to be beckoning me to jump on the hang glider of eco-justice and come rescue them. Later, I was somewhat disappointed to learn that none of these animals were looking for me to rescue them by bringing them home as pets. Apparently, these rare creatures wanted me to save them by saving their environment, and then by leaving them alone. As I matured, that mission of preserving some species’ habitat inspired me. But in the interests of honesty, I’d also like to briefly thank Jesus for inventing stuffed animals, which got me through a potentially rudderless time. 

Today, I look back on all those early imprinting visuals featuring animals that I would never see in my own block or backyard, and I now believe that I subconsciously internalized the message that the environment was somewhere else, far away, in a special spot much prettier than my boring neighborhood or block, and therefore much more deserving of preserving. 

But there comes a time to put aside childish things, including the idea that the environment we should be saving is somewhere else, out on an iceberg our grandchildren may never see unless we get our Alaskan cruise tickets early. 

The environment is right here.

It is the Flint River, whose natural force, blasted through lead pipes ten years ago, poisoned tens of thousands of people who still wait for their share of the legal settlement. The environment is the conference room where the decisions are made and the environment is the classroom where we learn from our mistakes. The environment is where we live, work, eat, pray and play. That idea was actually a gift of the United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice who back in the 1970’s researched the disproportionate placement of landfills in Black communities, coined the term “environmental racism” and gave a new way of thinking to the rest of the environmental justice movement. 

The environment is not somewhere far away, for the elite to visit, and cry over on social media. The environment is the pollinator garden at your church and the stray cat in the alley behind your apartment. The environment is the wildflowers on Michigan’s highways who don’t see themselves as weeds, but grow gloriously and boldly, around and above the litter that human critters toss from speeding cars.

Nothing in God’s glorious creation is unconnected.

The environment is your backyard.

Save the environment.

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What do your local church efforts for Environmental Justice look like?

We want to know what you are up to and who the key leaders in your local church are that are doing this important work in your backyard. Share you Story HERE or email

Vote For Climate Hope

Invite a UCC Climate Hope Intern to Speak

We have a Michigan Conference UCC young adult who is interning with the National Setting this summer. Charlotte Ault is spreading word of this campaign through PowerPoint presentations to congregations and community groups and can bring Vote for Climate Hope pledge cards and the program to YOUR local church either onsite or on Zoom.

Email Charlotte Today!!

Great Lakes Collaborative UCC

The Great Lakes Collaborative UCC is working together across UCC Conferences to protect our beloved Great Lakes.

Join the Collaborative for onsite learning and leadership opportunities to step into the work of healing, awareness, and advocacy for our Lakes.

August 18- 20, 2024

Cedar Valley Camp and Retreat Center

GLCUCC August 2023

Onsite at Tower Hill Camp and Retreat Center

Register Here

Upcoming Creation Justice Webinars

Wednesday June 26 at 1:00pm ET

How does one go about electrifying one’s church and one’s home? The next UCC Climate Action Assembly will feature Cora Wynet, who is the Senior Director of Research at Rewiring America, the nation's leading electrification nonprofit.

Tuesday July 16 at 3:00pm ET

An Indigenous translation of the Christian scriptures has brought fresh language to how our sacred texts are conveyed and understood. Learn more from the translators in this free webinar.

Upcoming Preaching Schedule & Worship Visits

Lillian Daniel, Michigan Conference Minister 

June 30, 2024 Preach - First Congregational UCC, St Joseph

July 14, 2024 Preach - Old Mission Congregational Church, Old Mission

July 21, 2024 Preach - Zion Evangelical UCC, St. Joseph

July 28, 2024 Preach - Mayflower Congregational Church, Detroit


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