“Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.”; is the seventh Unitarian Universalist Principle. It affirms concern for the health and sustainability of the living earth. It recognizes our responsibility to take action in response to the damaging impact of our species on the planet and the interdependent web of life. The Green Sanctuary Program was developed by the Unitarian Universalist Association to aid UU congregations striving to be more environmentally aware and responsible. Interested congregations examine their current environmental impact, then develop sustainable practices grounded in Unitarian Universalism. There are four focus areas:
1. Environmental Justice acknowledges that marginalized communities are often hit first and hardest by environmental crisis. In partnering with these communities, we are able to address human and environmental needs at the same time. Environmental Justice emphasizes a shift from providing charity to working in solidarity with the communities most affected by climate change.
2. Worship and Celebration is the heart of Unitarian Universalism. As we work together towards a cleaner, more just and sustainable world, worship enables us to stay connected to each other and to celebrate the work we have accomplished.
3. Religious Education shapes more than just minds. It shapes attitudes and practices.
4. Sustainable Living requires us to treat the world more gently by using fewer resources and being mindful of the choices we make. More…
Contact Mary Alice Masonick.
When and how did our church become a Green Sanctuary?
UUCE’s Green Sanctuary Committee was formed in 2002, when members first heard about the Green Sanctuary Program. Our church entered a yearlong candidacy during which certain criteria were met. UUCE was accredited in May of 2003, becoming the first Green Sanctuary in Illinois. Currently, there are fourteen accredited churches in the state and 255 in the nation.
The Green Sanctuary Committee Now
Our Green Sanctuary Committee meets monthly and new members are always welcome to join. The Green Sanctuary Committee sponsors activities and events:
- Climate change awareness and activism
- Interfaith Earth conferences
- Services on Earth stewardship
- Conferences on sustainable living
- Solar Energy programs and annual Illinois Solar Tour
- Energy conservation
- Exploration of renewable energy options
- Support of wind energy development
- Monitoring of electricity produced by roof mounted solar panels
- Upgrading from fluorescent lighting to LED lighting
- Reducing, reusing, recycling, composting
- Ongoing collection of used household batteries, inkjet cartridges, CFLs, and Styrofoam
- Green Corner column in church newsletter
- Green Tips educational handouts
- Indoor farmers’ markets
- Non-toxic cleaning products at church
- Fair-trade, organic coffee, tea, chocolate, & other products
- Green Activism Campaigns for legislative advocacy
- Native landscaping
UUCE Green Sanctuary Timeline
- Green Sanctuary committee established.
- UUCE begins year-long candidacy.
- UUCE hosts interfaith Green Sanctuary workshop.
- UUCE accredited as a Green Sanctuary and endorsed by the congregation by unanimous vote.
- Reusables Policy approved by Board of Trustees.
- Procurement Policy approved by Board of Trustees.
- Adopt-A- Highway litter cleanups begin.
- Backyard Wildlife Habitat certified by National Wildlife Federation
- Support of wind energy development begins.
- Community Supported Agriculture promoted.
- UUCE begins hosting six annual Prairie Fests, an environmental fair for the public.
- UUCE certified as Heritage Land Registry Site by Fox Valley Land Foundation.
- Interfaith Earth Stewardship Workshop hosted.
- Carpooling and Bike-to- Church initiatives promoted.
- Community vegetable garden started.
- Environmental film screenings hosted.
- Renewable energy options explored.
- Statement of Conscience on Global Warming/Climate Change officially recognized by UUA.
- Energy audit completed.
- Semiannual indoor farmers’ markets begin.
- Reusable water bottle initiative
- Ongoing insulation of structural air leaks
- Photovoltaic solar panels installed on roof by a member donation.
- Host site on Illinois Solar Energy Tour and annually thereafter
- First floor lavatories upgraded with LED lighting.
- Interfaith Solar Social hosted.
- Tabling at several Earth events.
- Conservation@Work certification by The Conservation Foundation.
- UUCE joins UUA’s Commit2Respond and climate activism intensifies.
- Rooftop photo voltaic electricity production monitored.
- Brainstorming session held to develop Sustainability Master Plan for UUCE.
- Installation of five 7-day programmable thermostats to conserve propane.
- Audit of cleaning products in use at UUCE found them to be toxic.
- Green cleaning products explored, recommendations made and products purchased for use at church.
- Exit sign lighting upgraded with LEDs.
- Networking with area environmental and interfaith groups continues.
- UUCE in top 5% of 8,000 organizations for Fair Trade sales per Equal Exchange.
- Lighting in sanctuary and first floor foyer upgraded to LED by a member donation.
- Lighting in Fellowship Hall, kitchen, and offices upgraded to LED by members’ DIY project.
- Renewable energy options explored to save money and reduce carbon footprint.
- Proposal submitted to Special/Capital Improvements Fund for solar-assisted geothermal heating system.
- Styrofoam collections begin and are held monthly.
- 20 th semi-annual indoor farmers’ market hosted.
- Solar renewable energy credit payments to the church begin.