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Meighan Pritchard begins serving with national UCC

As of August, Meighan Pritchard was appointed for a term as the minister for environmental justice with the national office of the UCC.  While continuing to reside in Seattle, she will travel around the country to speak and teach about environmental justice.

meighan pritchard

Meighan Pritchard educates UCC on issues of environmental justice.

Meighan, who grew up at University Congregational UCC in Seattle and earned a master of divinity degree from Pacific School of Religion, serves as half-time interim at Prospect UCC in Seattle. 

Among her tasks will be helping the UCC implement four General Synod 29 resolutions that relate to the environment: a call to support Outdoor Ministries; to stand against mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia—in the Pacific Northwest address coal exports; to make UCC church buildings more carbon neutral, and to address climate change by divestment and other strategies to challenge fossil fuel companies.

She canceled the summer Environmental Justice Retreat for lack of sign-ups.  Another will be scheduled early in 2014.

Commenting on a major environmental concern in the Northwest, she reported that the Lummi Indian Nation in 2012 came out against coal trains and the proposed Gateway Pacific coal export terminal at Cherry Point in Bellingham. 

The terminal would be built on the bay the Lummi Tribe has traditionally used for fishing and on land containing sacred burial grounds.

She added that changes in the demand for coal by China, the main market for coal exports, have also affected the plans.  China is looking for cleaner sources of energy.

She encourages people to join the Totem Pole Journey.

“It’s important that the UCC support this effort,” said Meighan. “The environmental damage the coal trains and export terminals would cause to our local environment would be significant. Damage to the world coal emissions cause is a prime cause of climate change.

“We need to support the Lummi Nation in opposing a coal export terminal on their sacred ground and sacred water of the Salish Sea (Puget Sound),” she said.

In 1987, leaders in Pacific Northwest faith communities wrote an apology to the tribes for historical abuses by the churches, including forcing Indians to send their children to mission schools, forbidding children to speak their native languages, forbidding the practice of native religions and more. Former conference minister, the Rev. Jim Halfaker, was one of the signatories to this apology.

“Having experienced so many broken promises from churches, the Indians wondered whether this apology was just pretty words or actually means something,” Meighan said.  “If we stand with the Lummi in opposing the coal trains and coal export terminals, we show that we honor our words. We also pledged to do that when we passed a resolution at our 2013 annual meeting.”

The Army Corps of Engineers’ comment period on a proposed coal export terminal at Longview is part of the fight to keep coal in the ground.  The period runs through Nov. 18, 2013, with hearings Sept. 17 in Longview; 7 p.m., Sept. 25, at the Spokane Convention Center, Oct. 2, at the Trac Center in Pasco, Oct. 9 at Clark County Fairgrounds in Ridgefield; Oct. 17 in Tacoma Convention Center and Oct. 19 in Vancouver. Comments may be submitted

For information, call 206-370-4142, email or visit

Copyright © September 2013 - Pacific Northwest Conference UCC News


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