When congregations are looking for good Religious Education materials for adults around environmental issues I often send them to the NorthWest Earth Institute (NWEI) to check out their discussion courses.  Many UU congregations have found these helpful and use multiple courses or repeat courses because participants enjoyed the experience. 

More recently, I’ve been encouraging congregations to consider using the “Menu for the Future” discussion course because it would not only fulfill a Green Sanctuary Program requirement but it would also get congregations involved in the Congregational Study Action Issue – Ethical Eating: Food and Environmental Justice for 2008-2012.

On January 6, 2011, the NWEI announced the introduction of Just Below the Surface: The Gulf Coast Oil Spill, a study guide addressing the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and exploring opportunities for change, available in February. This one session guide includes articles and discussion questions to facilitate a deeper investigation into the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which spewed over 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, making it the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history. The $5 guide explores how the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is connected to our daily lives and how we can make meaningful and lasting changes. This guide is free with any order of NWEI’s climate change guide:  “Global Warming:Changing CO2urse.”

The NWEI also offers discussion courses titled:
A World of Health
Sustainable Systems at Work
Choices for Sustainable Living
Voluntary Simplicity
Healthy Children, Healthy Planet
Discovering a Sense of Place
Reconnecting with Earth

UU congregations around the country have used each of these and found them all to be interesting and thought-provoking. Many end up sharing their experience with the larger congregation via a lay led worship service or other special programming. And some even end up offering the discussion courses at local libraries inviting folks from outside the congregation to study with them.  I encourage you to take a look at these materials and see if they would be helpful for your congregation.

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Robin Nelson


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