About the Author
Robin Nelson

Wanted: Green Sanctuary Intern

The Green Sanctuary Program was originally founded and nurtured by the Seventh Principle Project, now known as the UU Ministry for Earth (UUMFE). 

On July 1, 2008 the UUMFE transferred the Green Sanctuary Program to the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations (UUA) Office of Congregational Stewardship ServicesRobin Nelson, Program Manager for Congregational Stewardship Services, is primarily responsible for the Green Sanctuary Program and is allotted 1/3 time (or 12 hours per week) to manage this program.

We are searching for a Boston-area Green Sanctuary Intern for the Fall 2010 semester.  The Green Sanctuary Intern will be responsible for reviewing on-line resources, reading environmentally-themed books (provided) writing short synopsis and one review a month for the blog, providing essential programmatic support, and identifying their passion and applying it to the program. This is in non-paid internship which may be eligible for for credit depending on the requirements of the intern’s college or university.

 If you know someone who is interested, please let them know about this opportunity.  You can read the job description on the UUA’s “Career Opportunities” web page.

What can *I* do to help save the environment?

The tag-line for the Green Sanctuary program is “Congregations and congregants working together to restore Earth and renew spirit.”  The Green Sanctuary program is collective effort – its about all of us, according to our talents and capacities, coming together to create the Earth community we have envisioned.  The program encourages individual actions that reduce our impact on this planet while also acting as a program of congregational action.  Its about working together to strengthen our ability to create change.

One of the barriers for individuals to get involved in environmental work is that they feel detached from the situtation.  They believe that they are too small of a unit to make any real difference.  And often end up asking themselves “What can *I* do to help save the environment?”

In response to this those dedicated and most committed environmentalists end up creating long-lists of small everyday actions people can take.  Yet those that feel detached often find that this isn’t enough for them and so they continue being aware that there is a problem and not really doing much to change the situation.

Here’s the deal: solving the climate crisis will take a strong grassroots movement. Until we have a strong climate movement that can make our politicians work for us, they’ll keep working for the big polluters. We are called by our faith as Unitarian Universalists to get to work by changing our country from the bottom up.  As Congress finally begins to debate climate and energy legislation, we, as believers in the democratic process need to take a minute to ask our Senators a simple question: are you working with us or are you working with the big polluters?

Make a call and remind your Senator that they work for you, their constituent, not big companies. Use this resource from 350.org to make the call.

This is something *YOU* can do to help save the environment.

Undaunted by initial set-backs the UU Church of Canandaigua sponsors a thriving CSA

The Unitarian Universalist Church of the Canandaigua in Canandaigua, NY (about 30 southwest of Rochester, NY) is located in the midst of fertile farmland, where agriculture and wine growing are prominent features, sensitivity to and awareness of our connection with the Earth is a constant. A drive to the church from any direction leads past farm after farm. Although few of the parishioners are full-time farmers, a few who are employed elsewhere also farm their land and raise livestock.

Within this environment, it follows naturally that their Sunday services, Religious Education Curricula, and Social Justice initiatives are strongly influenced by an awareness of the precious resources placed under their care; a strong commitment to their preservation; and consistent exploration of ethical utilization of these resources. This is reflected in Sunday services through music, readings, and sermons. Many of the services involve the youth in storytelling and drama related to environmental issues.

In 2002 UUCC joined with two Rochester UU churches to applied for and received a grant for sustainability for the UUA.  One of the purposes of the grant was to create a church-sponsored community agriculture program.  In 2003 UUCC members met with a group of farmers to discuss their goals and requirements; however, for various reasons the plan was not executable.  Instead, Peacework Organic Farm mentored them for a year on operating a community supported agriculture (CSA) program.  Again, in 2004 UUCC members met with Canandaigua farmers to discuss forming a CSA; this time none of the farmers were ready or willing to take on their fledging CSA of approximately 20 members.

Healthy Food Drive – All Souls Church, Unitarian DC

Since the late 1940s, All Souls Church, Unitarian in Washington, DC and area UU churches create an annual Thanksgiving food drive distributed to hundreds of low-income families in the Columbia Heights, Adams Morgan, Mount Pleasant, and Edgewood neighborhoods.

Their participation in the Green Sanctuary Program led them to tweak this social justice project to include an environmental element.  In 2008 and 2009, All Souls food lists was revamped to include items such as whole grain pasta, brown rice, low sodium canned vegetables, soups and broths, and fresh fruits and vegetables.  They also requested that all food be brought in reusable grocery bags, and received donations of extra reusable bags for families.  Washington, DC recently implemented a bag tax that requires stores to charge 5 cents for every paper plastic bags customers use at supermarkets/grocery stores.  Having reusable bags enables these families to avoid this flat-tax.

As a result of this environmental justice project, they were able to fill over 500 reuable bags with healthy food each year, while challenging their members to more carefully consider the health and environmental impacts of their donations.

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

General Assembly and Environmental Programming

The Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations’  49th Annual General Assembly in Minneapolis, Minnesota is only 14 days away.

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).

The Green Sanctuary program will be well represented at GA.  Robin Nelson, Program Manager for Congregational Stewardship Services who manages the Green Sanctuary program, will be presenting workshop #2092 Environmental Stewardship: Green Sanctuary, leading a discussion group, heading up the Environmental Justice Passport project, and honoring congregations that have received Green Sanctuary Accreditation in the fiscal year 2010 in Sunday’s closing Plenary session.

For those of you who can attend GA:

You might also be interested the following workshops:  

  • #2015 Environmental Justice in Our Congregations sponsored by the UU Ministry for Earth (UUMFE) featuring Steve Maier, Dr. Mark A. Hicks and Rowan Van Ness
  • #2051 Proposed Congregationsl Study/Action Issues for 2010-2014 sponsored by the Commission on Social Witness led by Rev. Dr. Paul Johnson and Rev. Heather Starr
  • #2059 Using Sustainable Solutions to Impact Climate Change sponsored by the UU United Nations Office featuring Jennifer Jewell Thomas, Jim Harkness, Michael Noble and Will Steger
  • #2073 Environmental Justice: The Green Revolution in Religion sponsored by the Ballou Channing District featuring Rev. Robert Murphy, Rev. Jose Ballester, Rev. Paul Rasor, Rev. Dr. Fred Muir and Rev. Dr. Lucy Hitchcock Seck
  • #3013 Saving the World One Fork at a Time sponsored by the Commission on Social Witness featuring Howard Lyman, Rev. Dr. Paul Johnson, and Rev. John Gibb Millspaugh
  • #3058 Ethical Eating: Moving Toward a Statement of Conscience sponsored by the Commision on Social Witness featuring Rev. Dr. Paul Johnson, Re. John Gibb Millspaugh, Rev. Robert Murphy, and Rev. Dr. Lucy Hitchcock Seck


Welcome to the Green Sanctuary blog!

This blog seeks to highlight the work of Unitarian Universalist congregations that are engaging in the Green Sanctuary program, provide resources and ideas to congregations, and share information about what’s going on with the Green Sanctuary program.

We’ll be posting something new approximately every week so make sure you sign up for the RSS feed and visit us often!