Progress Made on Green Sanctuary Accreditation

Through the fall and early winter ERUUFians took the initial steps toward Green Sanctuary accreditation. Green Sanctuary is a program offered by the UUA to give congregations a pathway of study, reflection, and action in response to environmental challenges, most 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. Attaining Green Sanctuary accreditation is a strategic action in ERUUF’s current Strategic Plan: Initial efforts to move this multi-year effort forward are being led by members of the Earth Justice Action Group that form the Green Sanctuary (GS) Accreditation Team (GSAT).
What has been accomplished to date? Stage 1 of the GS process involves “Team Building and Congregation Education.” The first step in this stage was to invite members of ERUUF to participate in Congregational Engagement Sessions (CES). The aims of holding these sessions include: (1) to generate aspirational ideas within four areas of “congregational life” identified in Green Sanctuary (Sustainable Living, Religious Education, Worship and Celebration, and Environmental Justice) and (2) to identify leaders who are interested in participating in the process of implementing projects to bring these aspirations to fruition.Three CESs were held in October and November during which a total of 36 ERUUFians participated, representing about 5-6% of the congregation. Researchers Chenowyth and Stephan have found that no organizing effort’s campaign has ever failed that has achieved active sustained participation of 3.5% of the targeted population. So the GS Accreditation Team feels that we are off to a promising start! We thank those who participated for their time and contributions.
The process of garnering input at each CES was organized based on the four areas of projects in the Green Sanctuary indicated above. Participants came up with dozens of wonderful ideas from specific to general. Some of the them involved projects long talked about at ERUUF, while others were new and creative solutions. The ideas generated were recorded and then collated into a number of themes under each category by Green Sanctuary Team members. Below is a listing of these themes:
Sustainable Living
● Theme 1: Invest in & support renewable energy & energy efficiency for ERUUF
● Theme 2: Reduce all waste – strive for zero waste
● Theme 3: Support & advance alternative modes of transportation
● Theme 4: Conserve and reuse water
● Theme 5: Support & advance plant-based eating
● Theme 6: Establish and follow Green policies and practices
Religious Education
● Theme 1: Provide education on topics of Sustainable Living (e.g., alternative
energy, conservation, food and agriculture, transportation, etc)
● Theme 2: Provide education on Waste Reduction/Zero Waste
● Theme 3: More 7th Principle and Ecology oriented programming to include experiential learning 
● Theme 4: Provide RE offerings on Earth Justice related topics 
● Theme 5: More youth-centered environmental RE activities and recognition of contributions
Worship & Celebration
● Theme 1: More worship services, celebrations, and spiritual groups with 7th
Principle and Earth Justice oriented themes
● Theme 2: More art in sanctuary and music in worship honoring Mother Earth Environmental Justice
● Theme 1: Work to end fracking and dirty energy
● Theme 2: Partner with existing organizations to advance environmental justice and decrease environmental injustice
● Theme 3: Engage in the democratic process for pro-people, place, and planet policies
● Theme 4: Take more actions, individually and congregationally, to address environmental injustice
Another step in Stage 1 is reaching out to 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.
We are grateful to the ERUUF Board for scheduling a special "deep chair" meeting to focus on Green Sanctuary on January 30th. GSAT members, Denise Frizzell and Albert Hardy (who was wearing two hats- as member of the Board and GS steering team), presented information about GS as well as ERUUF's progress and plans. The Board (including Rev. Cayer) were very interested, attentive, asked good questions and offered helpful suggestions.
The GSAT also appreciates the opportunity to submit questions to this year’s Pulse Survey, which asks congregants to provide feedback on areas that are going well and areas that need improvement. The GSA Team drafted four short answer questions corresponding to the four GS focus areas and an open-ended question to solicit ideas. Please remember to complete your Pulse Survey!
Albert also met with Daniel Trollinger (ERUUF's Director of Administration) to start a conversation particularly about the Sustainable Living area of GS, which asks us to be mindful of the choices we make as individuals, households, and at the institutional level to live more sustainably. Daniel is fully supportive, noting that several of the aspirations/ideas generated at the CESs are already part of ERUUF's practices and others he enthusiastically endorses implementing. There are two major facilities upgrades already in the works which would satisfy GS requirements. Daniel will schedule an energy audit as part of Stage 2 of the GS processv(Congregational Assessment) and will schedule meetings with lay leaders involved in Building and Grounds.
GSAT member, Kristie Mather, met with Julia Tyler (RE Director) to discuss potential projects within the Religious Education area of GS. 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.
The information gathered from the components of Stage 1 is being compiled and organized as a prelude to beginning of Stage 2 - throughout February and March, the GSAT will work with our staff partners and applicable groups to assess all four areas of congregational life covered by Green Sanctuary Accreditation.
To learn more about Green Sanctuary and/or becoming more involved, you may contact Albert Hardy () or Denise Frizzell (). For additional information on the Green Sanctuary program at the UUA click here.