About the Author
Robin Nelson

Green Sanctuary at 50th Annual General Assembly

It’s that time of year again!  Soon thousands of UUs will be descending upon Charlotte, NC for the UUA’s 50th General Assembly.

General Assembly, GA, is our yearly meeting of congregations where we come together “to take part in the governance of our Association, to build together a vision for its future, to learn from each other, to work, talk, play, and imagine together, to grow together” (from the opening of the General Assembly Program 2010).

The Green Sanctuary program traditionally has a presence at GA. Robin Nelson (soon-to-be Environmental Stewardship Director, for Congregational Stewardship Services) will be attending, leading workshops, meeting with leaders, hostessing a Green Sanctuary Reception, co-leading a Plenary Chalice Lighting, staffing “the booth”, and available at GA.

For a listing of all of environmentally-related offerings at GA:

  • check out the Environmental Justice Programming on page 8 of the Program. (This includes the Green Sanctuary workshop)
  • check out our ad on page 66 of the Program.

The Green Sanctuary Program falls under the portfolio of Congregational Stewardship Services which is part of the larger Staff Group called Congregational Life.  As such, I will be in the Congregational Life “booth” #721 in the Exhibit Hall.  If you have questions for us you can stop by “the booth” and leave a message for me and I’ll be sure to get back to you as soon as we can.

See you at GA!

Missed the EnergyStar webinar? Watch it on your own time.

On Monday, May 16, 2011 the UUA and EnergyStar hosted a webinar specifically for UU congregations called “Green Sanctuaries and Portfolio Manager for Congregations.”

The training introduced congregations to the EnergyStar for Congregations Portfolio Manager.  The UUA is encouraging all congregations, especially Green Sanctuary involved congregations, to join EnergyStar for Congregations.

The webinar focused on one of the most useful tools that they have the Portfolio Manager.  It can benefit your congregation in many ways including:
*Managing of Energy and Water Consumption for All Buildings
*Rating Your Building’s Energy Performance (versus other similar buildings)
*Estimating Your Carbon Footprint
*Setting Investment Priorities
*Verifying and Tracking Progress of Improvement Projects
*Gaining EPA Recognition (like the UU Congregation of Atlanta and First Parish in Needham)

To watch the recorded session of the UUA and EnergyStar webinar go to https://energystar.webex.com/energystar/lsr.php?AT=pb&SP=TC&rID=48233262&rKey=41c4df31afe679bc&act=pb

The Data Collection Worksheet and the Quick Reference Guide mentioned in the recorded session are useful tools for getting started with the Portfolio Manager.

We’ve Got the Whole Earth (song adaptation)

Ken Hutton, the Green Sanctuary Chair at Unitarian-Universalist Church of Canandaigua (UUCC), recently share that for their Earthday Celebration they sang songs such as “Happy Earthday…dear Gaia”  and “How Old are you now?” along with the following adaptation of the popular song “We’ve Got the Whole World in Our Hands.”

“We’ve Got the Whole Earth”

We’ve got the whole Earth in our hands  (4x)

We’ve got the flora and the fauna in our hands (3x)
We’ve got the whole Earth in our hands.

We’ve got the sacred blue water in our hands (3x)
We’ve got the whole Earth in our hands.

We’ve got the birds and the bees in our hands (3x)
We’ve got the whole Earth in our hands.

We are a Green Sanctuary, it’s in our hands  (3x)
We’ve got the whole Earth in our hands.

After their celebration, they ate Earthday cake with a picture of our Earth on it.   Congregants filled out Earthday gift cards for what they would give to the Earth for next year and most importantly they had fun!

UUCC was accredited as a Green Sanctuary on March 3, 2010.  Check out the full list of accredited Green Sanctuaries at the UUA website.

The UUA is expanding its commitment to environmental stewardship!

Due to the tremendous growth and popularity of the Green Sanctuary Program among Unitarian Universalist congregations  the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is expanding its commitment to environmental stewardship!

The UUA Leadership Council recently approved a fiscal year 2012 budget that included funding for a full-time Environmental Stewardship Manager at the UUA.  Robin Nelson, currently Congregational Stewards Services Program Manager, will transition to this position on July 1st, 2011.  (Since July 2008, Robin has worked with the Green Sanctuary Program one-third time.)  Beginning in July, Robin will focus on five components of environmental stewardship:

  • Develop already-targeted resources for congregations
  • Highlight and encourage congregations to participate in environmental stewardship efforts
  • Enable congregations to teach other congregations about religious-environmental work
  • Partner with other UUA staff groups to bring environmental components into all of our work
  • Further our partnerships with affiliate UU organizations and other environmental organizations.”

The creation of a full-time Environmental Stewardship Manager at the UUA is part of a larger change in the Congregational Life Staff Group.  Terasa Cooley, Director of Congregational Life recently wrote: “Congregational life is changing.  This is true about congregations themselves, and it is true about the staff group of Congregational Life… Our congregations are recognizing that they must develop leadership that goes deeper, that is able to deal adaptively with a rapidly changing world, and that builds upon the inherent capacity of the leaders themselves… This wildly popular [Green Sanctuary] program responds to congregations’ desires to adapt their practices to being good stewards of our environmental resources.”

UUA President Rev. Peter Morales’ passion for environmental justice is reflected in the UUA’s decision to provide more resources towards environmental stewardship specifically through the creation of a full-time Environmental Stewardship Manager.  Most recently, Rev. Morales has shown his commitment to the environment through his participation in the UUA 40 Day Challenge for Earth Day video.

Sample Resolution to start Green Sanctuary

The Unitarian-Universalist Church of Akron in Akron, OH started out their Green Sanctuary Program on a positive note by working with their Board of Trustees to pass the following resolution (adopted on Febrauary 21, 2007):

“RESOLVED that the Board of Trustees of the Unitarian-Universalist Church of Akron endorse the plan of the Green Team Committee to prepare for candidacy in the Green Sanctuary Program sponsored by the [Unitarian Universalist Association].

We understand that the Green Team will conduct an environmental audit of the church, will design a program and action plan including twelve activities to be completed by the congregation as a whole, will work closely with other committees in the church, and will bring Green Sanctuary candidacy to a vote to the congregation before applying for formal candidacy from the [Unitarian Universalist Association].

We understand that this effort will involve the entire congregation and its leadership; we understand that final accreditation will take as much as two years to complete.

We go on record as endorsing its ultimate success for our church.”

Once they introduced the idea to the congregation they created a Green Team Bulletin board that depicted the “Road to Green Green Sanctuary.”

Since then, they have updated the board featuring global warming and will continue to “make use of this important space as we implement our action plan and work towards accreditation.”

UUA and EnergyStar training webinar

The UUA and the Green Sanctuary Program are excited to announce that we’ll be co-sponsoring an EnergyStar training webinar.

ENERGY STAR training session on the Web, using WebEx.
Topic: UUA and ENERGY STAR: Green Sanctuaries and Portfolio Manager for Congregations
Date: Monday, May 16, 2011
Time: 7:00 pm, Eastern Daylight Time (New York)
Session Number: 718 921 981

To attend this training session, you must first register for it.
Once you have registered for the session, you will receive an email message confirming your registration. This message will provide the information that you need to join the session.
The training session is to introduce congregations to the EnergyStar for Congregations Portfolio Manager.  If you are unable to attend this session it will be recorded and available on-line after the training session for you to “attend” at your leisure.
The UUA is encouraging all congregations, especially Green Sanctuary involved congregations, to join EnergyStar for Congregations.  One of the most useful tools that they have is the Portfolio Manager, which can benefit your congregation in many ways including:
*Managing of Energy and Water Consumption for All Buildings
*Rating Your Building’s Energy Performance (versus other similar buildings)
*Estimating Your Carbon Footprint
*Setting Investment Priorities
*Verifying and Tracking Progress of Improvement Projects
*Gaining EPA Recognition (like the UU Congregation of Atlanta and First Parish in Needham)
I hope that you will consider attending this training.

We All Live Downstream

If you haven’t seen it already, check out the UUA 40-Day Challenge for Earth Day video on the homepage of UUA.org. The video culminated in an UUA Chapel Service that I co-led yesterday (we have Chapel on Tuesdays at the UUA) Sacred Waters – A Chapel Celebrating Earth Day. I wanted to share the Chalice Lighting reading.

“We All Live Downstream” from the book Water Consciousness: How We All Have to Change to Protect Our Most Critical Resource edited by Tara Lohan.

” ‘We all live downstream.’
We are connected to each other by our dependence on water and our participation in its use.
Overtime, water has been our world’s architect – carving and sanding stone, breathing life into forests, testing the patience of deserts.
But water has also been the architect of our communities, enabling us to put down roots along the banks of rivers and build lives as deep as our wells.
How we use or abuse our water resources has shaped the kinds of communities we live in and the land that surrounds them.

How do you use or abuse water resources?  Can you think of ways to change these habits/patterns?

Sample Green Sanctuary Convenant

This sample Green Sanctuary Covenant comes from the First Universalist Church of Denver.

“We the members of First Universalist Church of Denver and Participants in the Green Sanctuary Program:

  • Recognizing the vulnerability and interdependence of Earth and all living things;
  • Recognizing the need to protect and maintain the quality of our common natural resources;
  • Recognizing the need to act individually, as a congregation and to join with others to promote environmental justice and to create a sustainable society based on love and respect for out Earth and its diversity of life and resources; and
  • Recognizing our universal human rights to a clean environment

Do covenant:

  • To engage in ongoing activities and projects and to encourage each other in a personal and congregational commitment to living this promise through our Unitarian Universalist Principles, including the Seventh Principle, “Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.”;
  • To incorporate the Seventh Principle values and practices into our worship services, celebrations and religious education programs;
  • To live lightly on the Earth and strive to continually improve our environmental impact; and
  • To affirm and promote programs to raise the awareness of human behaviors and actions that affect the health and sustainability of our living Earth and humanity.”

First Universalist Church of Denver was accredited as a Green Sanctuary on October 27, 2010.  Check out the full list of accredited Green Sanctuaries at the UUA website