The Rev. Dr. Brooks Berndt, UCC Minister for Environmental Justice
Before becoming the UCC Minister for Environmental Justice in 2015, Berndt served for eight years as the pastor for First Congregational UCC in Vancouver, Washington. While there, he became active in various environmental campaigns including a successful effort to transition the state of Washington away from its only coal plant as well as an ongoing campaign to prevent the establishment of the largest oil terminal in the country in Vancouver.
During his time as pastor, Berndt published his first book Sounding the Trumpet: How Churches Can Answer God’s Call to Justice. It was co-authored with the Rev. Dr. J. Alfred Smith, Sr., a prophetic pastor at Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland, California. Scholar Cornel West described the book as “a masterpiece…full of deep spiritual truths.”
Berndt’s book reflects on the beginning of what became an innovative social justice ministry at his church. From 2011 onward, the church conducted yearlong social action campaigns that brought together members for a common purpose and a climactic public witness.
Berndt is now working on a second book entitled Dear Parents, Grandparents, and Anyone Who Has a Heart for Children: It’s Time for Climate Action. In the book, Berndt reflects on our motivation for climate action as what he calls the Three Great Loves: love of neighbor, love of children, and love of creation.