Highlights from Earth Day 2015

This year, the Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Earth continued our multi-year focus on different aspects of “Working Towards Sustainable Communities” by addressing the critical role energy production and consumption plays in today’s world and the challenges we face in bringing about a just transition to a low carbon future.

In conjunction with the launch of the Commit2Respond campaign, we compiled the latest information and resources, including worship materials and our first-ever commissioned sermon, in order to suggest a range of faithful responses for congregational, small group and individual action. These materials, like the ones from earlier years, are only a keystroke or two away, ready for use at any time of the year for your educational and programming needs and reference.  Please use them generously and share them widely!

We continue to marvel at the variety and richness of worship services, events, and activities that were shared by congregations who registered their Earth Day plans on our website this year. Congratulations to the UU Society of Schenectady, New York, who won the drawing for a $50 gift certificate to the UUA Bookstore. Members of their Green Sanctuary Committee worked with their minister to present the April 19th Sunday Service, entitled “Our Blue Boat Home.” The Green Sanctuary Players performed an original skit called “The Parable of the Paper and the Bottle,” both of which were rescued from the trash and redirected to the recycling bin. The minister’s sermon expanded on other ways of caring for the Earth. Following the service, the Green Sanctuary Committee hosted a table of recycling information. 

Among the other Earth Day-themed worship services were a multigenerational service titled "Earth, Wind & Fire” at UU Fellowship of La Crosse, Wisconsin; an Earth Day Festival for All Ages during the regular worship time at UU Church of Bowling Green, Kentucky, which was followed by an early May Day Maypole dance; the annual Earth Day service and subsequent “Trillium Walk” outdoor service at the Ginger Hill UU Congregation in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania; and the inclusion of a “Council of All Beings” for all ages groups in a two-hour service at the UU Fellowship of Jonesboro in Arkansas. Religious educators at the First Church in Belmont, Massachusetts worked with the Social Action Committee to focus on environmental themes throughout the month of April for grades 1-6. And First Unitarian Church of Orlando, Florida took its environmental ministry and ethical eating message into the community by exhibiting at Central Florida Earth Day, presented by Vegetarians of Central Florida.

We were also delighted to receive an update on the ongoing environmental justice ministry of Rev. Bob Murphy of the UU Fellowship of Falmouth, Massachusetts. Bob is one of UUMFE’s “Pioneers” and has been instrumental not only in our organization’s growth and evolution, but also in the founding of the Green Sanctuary Program and in co-sponsoring the 1994 General Resolution on Environmental Justice. He visited the UU Congregation of Naples, Florida, guest preaching on “The Environmental Justice Revolution.”

Then Bob led an environmental justice delegation to Havana, Cuba for a week-long program he co-organized with Eco Cuba Network, “Environmental Justice in Cuba: A Study of Cuba’s Environmental and Social Policy & Practice.” Participants learned about the impact of climate change in Cuba and various responses in the area of environmental protection and sustainable development; the group visited energy programs, community health programs, organic gardens, and more in Havana and western Cuba. Bob points out, “Cuba’s experience challenges people in the wealthy nations—including many progressives—to ‘think again’ about environmental justice and what it requires.” (Learn more

Cindy Davidson is on the board of Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Earth and is a member of First Parish in Lexington, Massachusetts.

This blog post originally appeared in the UUMFE spring newsletter. You can get more great stories like this in your inbox by subscribing to the UUMFE newsletter. If you have an Earth Day story or photos to share from any one of the 365 "Earth Days" please do so using the Commit2Respond share forum or by emailing office@uuministryforearth.org.

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  • commented 2015-12-10 23:21:34 -0500
    I moved to Florida in late September in order to continue my environmental justice ministry. I’ve been doing environmental justice work in Cuba and in Florida for several years and 2015 was a good year for a move to this region. (Cindy Davidson reported on some of my work in May.)

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