Jim Antal is a denominational leader, climate activist, author and public theologian. He serves as Special Advisor on Climate Justice to the General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ. Antal’s book, CLIMATE CHURCH, CLIMATE WORLD, was featured in the Chicago Tribune on Earth Day 2018, and in Christian Century Magazine on Earth Day 2019. Antal received the 2019 Steward of Creation award from the National Religious Coalition for Creation Care, joining the Rev. Dr. Gerald Durley and Prof. Katharine Hayhoe, and previous awardees HAH Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Bill McKibben, the Sioux Nation, James Hansen and Wendell Berry.
From 2006-2018, Antal led the 350 UCC churches in Massachusetts as their Conference Minister and President. Antal is a graduate of Princeton University, Andover Newton Theological School, and Yale Divinity School, where he was Henri Nouwen‘s teaching assistant. In 2017, Yale Divinity School honored him with the William Sloane Coffin Award for Peace and Justice.
An environmental activist from the first Earth Day in 1970, in July 2017 Antal authored a resolution declaring a new moral era in opposition to President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord. The national UCC Synod passed that resolution with a 97% supermajority. In July 2013 Antal wrote and championed the UCC’s resolution to divest from fossil fuel companies, the first of its kind in the country.
In 2009 the Massachusetts Conference UCC became the first religious body in America to pass a resolution calling upon our elected leaders to commit to policies that will reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to below 350ppm. In August 2011, Antal joined 1,252 climate activists in an act of civil disobedience at the White House hoping to convince President Obama not to approve the Keystone XL tar sands pipe line. On Ash Wednesday in 2013, Antal joined Julian Bond, Bill McKibben and others as they cuffed their hands to the White House fence. In 2016 he and other faith leaders were arrested in Boston as they sought to block the construction of a new natural gas pipeline. In 2010 Antal founded NEREM (New England Regional Environmental Ministries), which organizes various ecumenical environmental activities including the Ecumenical Lenten Carbon Fast and the 2013 “Climate Revival.” In 2015-2016 NEREM inspired scores of pastors to participate in “A New Awakening: A Season of Prophetic Climate Witness through Preaching, Prayer, and Practice.” In April 2016 Antal initiated the UCC’s Keep It In the Ground project which prompted hundreds of UCC pastors to preach on climate change.
Before leading the UCC in Massachusetts, for 20 years Antal was a local UCC pastor in Shaker Heights, Ohio and Newton, Massachusetts. In the mid-80’s he served as Executive Director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation (USA), an interfaith pacifist organization. Antal began his ministry as a chaplain and teacher at several schools, including Northfield Mount Hermon and Phillips Academy Andover.