The UU Church of Fresno (in Clovis, CA) offers year-round Spiritual Quest Groups, small lay-led weekly discussion meetings participants delve deeply into Unitarian Universalist principles or covenant.  They work together to learn right relationships, deep listening and communication skills as they grow together on their spiritual journey.

As a part of their Green Sanctuary process, Linda Mack, a member of the church, prepared a new Spiritual Quest curriculum called “Building a Theology of Ecology.”  The curriculum was designed to foster the development of a theology of ecology, helping people to articulate their emotional and spiritual connection to the earth, the meaning they find in life that sustains their hope, and the moral responsibility that impels them to action.  Linda put together eight sessions, beginning with an introductory session, explaining the process, deep listening, and a covenant of right relationship, with the question to be considered based on the 7th Principle.  The  topics she developed were “Awe and Wonder”, “Sense of Place”, “Simplicity”, “Wild Nature/Human Nature”, “Environmental Justice”, “Technology/Ecology” and the concept of “Evo/Devo”.  Each sessions’ curriculum included a chalice lighting, topic introduction, readings, questions, and closings.   This curriculum was then offered to three Spiritual Quest Groups at the church.

Two members of the groups added sessions that they had prepared. (Linda writes: “A sign of success!”)  These included “Simplicity as a Spiritual Practice”, “Connecting with Nature”, “Animals, Humanity’s Place in the Web.”

At the concluding session participants were invited to wrote a credo.  Some of the credo’s written by members of the UU Church of Fresno are:

  • I believe that the earth will survive and thrive with or without humankind, but in order for us to survive as a species, we have to change our attitude that all the earth’s riches are ours for the taking.
  • I believe that humans will always be in conflict with themselves because of the instinct to survive and provide for themselves vs. the instinct to honor the spirit and beauty of creation.
  • I believe that we have to find a way to balance preserving the earth with creating a table large enough for all earth’s people.
  • I believe each human is on earth to make a choice to either elevate humanity and the planet’s existence or not.  My choice has been to try to alleviate suffering in others and to overcome injustice.
  • I believe that to say all energy is finite, all water is finite is to start the understanding of right action.
  • I believe that all things are connected in the cosmos and are dependent on one another and that humankind, unique in all we know, is able to choose and change and is obliged to recognize these beliefs in every decision and action.
  • I believe that how I behave is more important than what I believe.

Linda shared “Building a Theology of Ecology” experiences with her congregation through a worship service. After reading these credos she reflected “Here, in these statements is a theology of praise and compassion. They were accompanied by commitments to live responsibly, with forgiveness, hope, love and joy.   This is who we think we are.”

Additionally, each Spiritual Quest group planned an act of service for the church. Group 1 made up a basket of products grown locally by agriculture students at the University to be auctioned off at the church fundraiser.  Group 2 held a workshop, “Composting Made Easy” which was attend by 45 members of the congregation.  Group 3 assisted with a “Third Sunday Luncheon” after church.

If you are interested in learning more about this curriculum or receiving a list of questions that were considered at each of the sessions contact office at uufresno dot org.

The UU Church of Fresno was accredited as a Green Sanctuary on May 5, 2010.  Check out the full list of accredited Green Sanctuaries at the UUA website.

About the Author
Robin Nelson

Comments

  1. Karen Stucke

    Wonderful idea. Valley UU Congregation’s Green Sanctuary has a monthly discussion group on various topics. The theological aspect of this might add dimension to what we are doing.
    We also do small group ministry, so there is another place where this might fit in.
    thank you,
    Karen
    VUUC
    Chandler, AZ

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