Becoming a Green Sanctuary
We received our Green Sanctuary Accreditation from the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) on June 22, 2009 thanks to the efforts of so many. A special thank you to everyone who worked on one or more of our many successful projects. Our accreditation is only the beginning of course — there will be so much more to accomplish in the future to improve our Earth.
So How Did We Do It?
The UUA sponsors the congregation-based Green Sanctuary Program which provides a path for congregational study and reflection, and a call to individual and collective actions to heal the Earth. The Program invites congregations to:
- Build awareness of the significance and complexity of environmental issues;
- Encourage personal life style changes;
- Engage in community action on environmental issues;
- Strengthen the connection between spiritual practice and Earth consciousness; and
- Work to heal environmental injustices for all living beings.
We began our Green Sanctuary work in the summer of 2007 when Joan Rubenson, Christine Bailey, Shirley Hines, Dorothy Mitchell and Barbara Hopkins formed the Green Sanctuary Task Force with big hopes about building a community more fully connected with nature and a 2-year commitment to steward UUSS through the accreditation process.
The more we became familiar with this program, the more enthusiastically we worked and found others with the same desires. There are now many UUSS members and friends passionately involved with Green Sanctuary who are dedicated to our vision: We come together to restore our Earth and renew our spirits in harmony with our seventh principle: “respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.”
We worked together to complete an environmental assessment of our spiritual practices, our practices with respect to sustainable living on campus and social action relating to environmental justice for all living beings, and energy useage in our buildings. We also conducted a survey for our congregation to review our own individual practices and behaviors which use natural resources and/or impact our environment.
We also asked the congregation what activities people would like to undertake. Many people came forward with ideas and a total of 41 project ideas!
Once we completed this work the congregation voted unanimously in May of 2008 to submit our Application for Green Sanctuary Candidacy to the UUA. On August 4, 2008 this first step was graciously accepted by the UUA.
Ultimately, we completed 26 projects and an Environment Assessment. We submitted our Application for Accreditation on May 20, 2009.
While the pace of Green Sanctuary projects undertaken has slowed since receiving our accreditation, we continue to invite members and friends to find ways to make UUSS a “greener sanctuary” and to heal the earth.