In 2017, ERUUF decided to work toward accreditation as a Green Sanctuary (GS) under a program coordinated by the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). ERUUF's Strategic Plan for 2016-2019, approved by the Board in 2017, includes a proposal by Earth Justice to become a Green Sanctuary congregation.
The program gives congregations a pathway of study, reflection, and action in response to environmental challenges, notably climate change. It provides a structure for congregations to examine their current environmental impacts and move toward more sustainable, just, and equitable practices grounded in Unitarian Universalism.
To pursue accreditation a congregation performs a self-assessment, writes a plan, and completes projects across four areas of congregational life: Environmental Justice / Climate Justice, Worship and Celebration, Religious Education, and Sustainable Living.
As part of Stage 1 of the Green Sanctuary (GS) process, “Team Building and Congregation Education, ” the GS Accreditation Team invited members of ERUUF to participate in Congregational Engagement Sessions to: (1) generate aspirational ideas within the four areas of Green Sanctuary (listed above) and (2) identify leaders interested in implementing projects to bring these aspirations to fruition. Participants came up with dozens of wonderful ideas from specific to general. Some involved projects long talked about at ERUUF, while others were new and creative solutions. A list of these ideas is available here.
Ideas were gathered from various stakeholder groups at ERUUF to enlist their involvement as well as get their input. Since members of these groups will likely be directly involved with GS projects, their leadership is vital. The GS team also submitted five questions for this year's Pulse Survey to solicit attitudes and ideas from the entire Fellowship.
The ERUUF Board invited GS team members, Denise Frizzell and Albert Hardy, to a special "deep chair" meeting to focus on Green Sanctuary. The team presented information about GS as well as ERUUF's progress and plans. The Board responded with good questions and helpful suggestions.
A free energy audit with NC Interfaith Power & Light has been scheduled as part of the Assessment Phase. The team will also collect data about congregational energy and water use, waste disposal, food choices, purchasing and other practices and present it to the congregation.
In addition to collecting data, the team is meeting with ERUUF directors and leaders responsible for each of the four areas of congregational life to explore possibilities for projects for our Action Plan.
- Sustainable Living (which asks us to be mindful of the choices we make as individuals, households, and at the institutional level to live more sustainably): Albert Hardy learned from Daniel Trollinger that a project to replace lighting in the Care Building with more efficient LEDs is already in the works. With generous funding provided by the Eno River Fellowship Foundation, two additional projects will be a bicycle rack and solar tubes which channel free sunlight into dark interior rooms reducing the need for electricity. There have also been several meetings with lay leaders involved in Building and Grounds.
- Religious Education: GS team member, Kristie Mather, met with RE Director, Julia Tyler, to discuss potential projects. Julia is very excited about infusing more of our 7th Principal into RE and several potential ideas were generated related to curriculum. The entire RE curriculum is being evaluated this spring, fitting nicely with the GS timeline. With the help of Lila Rosa and Joyce Boucheron, RE is discussing adapting Joyce’s excellent Zero Waste course for children.
- Worship and Celebration: GS team member and co-chair, Cheryl Turney, met with lead minister, Rev. Deb Cayer to assess historical 7th Principle themed worship services and celebrations which have primarily been associated with Earth Day. However, Cheryl and Rev. Cayer acknowledged the opportunities for expanding this area of congregational life and explored numerous possibilities which they will continue to refine over the next few months.
- Environmental Justice: As a moderator of the Justice Ministry Council, Tom Fletcher's assessment showed that three of the justice Action Teams in addition to the Earth Justice group have projects directly or indirectly related to environmental justice: Homeless Action Group, Sister Communities of San Ramon Nicaragua, and the Refugee and Immigrant Action Group. He also reported some additional ideas for the Action Plan:
1) Partner with NC WARN on their Clean Path 2025 plan directed toward marginalized communities in Durham, helping participants lower their energy bills and create opportunities for local green jobs.
2) Focus on Food: initiate a comprehensive food oriented program related to health and nutrition, equity, cultural inclusion, and sustainability combining the resources of several of our groups.
Our next step is to compete our assessment phase then move into the action planning stage, which we hope to complete by July-August 2018. For more information about ERUUF’s Green Sanctuary Program, email co-chairs Albert Hardy, and Denise Frizzell,
Watch a video about the Green Sanctuary Program presented by Karen Brammer, manager for the UUA Green Sanctuary Program.