About the GSP at BUF
"...the theological, spiritual and ethical aspects of human activities
that affect the health and sustainability of the living earth." ~ Green Sanctuary Program Manual
The earth is our Sanctuary...
"Imagine for a moment a church community that had a fundamental commitment to living in harmony with
The program of such a church would be continuously infused with environmental ideas, actions, and spiritual ceremonies. There would
be at least one children's religious education curriculum taught each year on the environment. The adults in the church would carry
on a simplicity circle to help each other take actions in their lives that minimize their footprints on the planet. There would be
field trips to sites of environmental concern and to places of great natural beauty. Community meals would emphasize locally grown,
sustainable foods, free of biocides, with nothing wasted.
In such a church, the administration would be mindful of conservation in all its policies, such as using recycled paper products,
reusable dishes, cloth diapers, and nontoxic cleaners, soaps, and art supplies. Church programs would include mending bees, swap
programs, work parties, and recycling of paper, glass, metal, and plastic products used by the church and its members. Church
investments would emphasize socially and environmentally responsible funds.
Worship would normally invoke elements of the earth and our human connectedness to it. There would be environmental
prayers, music, altar objects, and readings. There would be services outdoors. On a regular basis, the minister and
congregational leaders would focus sermons on the community of life and the challenges faced by this ecological community.
Imagine the building such a church would own. It would be accessible by human-powered and public transportation and would
enhance rather than detract from wildlife habitat. It would capitalize on solar, wind, and water energy to the fullest
extent possible. The building would be built with native materials, well insulated, naturally lit, cooled by breezes, and
heated by the sun. Every appliance would be energy efficient.
Imagine the grounds of such a church. Recognizing the importance of living well in one's particular place, the plant community
would reflect native and well-adapted species for the ecozone of the church. Water levels applied to landscaping would be
relatively consistent with those occurring naturally. Chemicals would be avoided, shading for the building would become
important, and vegetables would be grown with compost produced through community meal preparation.
Finally, such a church would embrace a leadership role in the larger community by modeling environmental responsibility, especially
in relation to issues of ecojustice. The church would recognize that poor people and people of color tend to be the first victims of
environmental poisons and natural disasters. The church would undertake environmental projects, perhaps on an annual cycle: impeding
irresponsible industry or governmental action, developing appropriate land use planning, protecting critical habitats, cleaning up
environmental atrocities of the past, distributing environmental degradation equitably, reducing unneeded consumption. The church would
participate in teaching the community that it exists not only in space but also in time-extending backward through memory and tradition,
and forward through vision and legacy.
Does this vision of a truly "green" church . . . exist? . . . "
David Cockrell, UUWorld Formum "Greening liberal religious communities" (2005 March/April · Vol. XIX No. 2)
Once upon a quiet evening . . .
The first BUF Simplicity Circle struck upon a wonderful idea . . .
The Green Sanctuary Program is a nation-wide UU program that encourages UU congregations to put into practice its Seventh Principle
as promoted by the Unitarian Universalist Ministry For The Earth (UUMFE). Originally known as the Seventh Principle Project of the UUA,
the Green Sanctuary Program is a means by which congregations can work toward "focusing on the theological, spiritual and ethical
aspects of human activities that affect the health and sustainability of the living earth."
The GSP requires that each participating congregation complete 12 tasks in four focus areas. The focus areas are: 1) Worship and
Celebration, 2) Religious Education, 3) Environmental Justice and 4) Sustainable Living. Each church is required to conduct an
environmental audit that reviews its activities in each of the four areas and come up with projects related to each focus area. A
plan is developed around these 12 projects and is submitted to the UUMFE as an application for candidacy. Once the plan has been
completed, running between one to two years, the voting membership of the congregation must vote on its application for accreditation
and submit the completed plan to the UUA for certification as a Green Sanctuary Program. The accreditation application is filed and,
hopefully, approved by the UUA.
The BUF GSP Team worked diligently to come up with 12 projects that provided all members of the congregation with
an opportunity to participate. The team's twelve projects ran the range from simple to complex. They were designed to allow
members to participate on whatever level they could, knowing that many members were limited in time, ability and resources. They
could attend an environmental workshop, buy fundraising products or change out some of their household light bulbs for the compact
florescent bulbs. They also had the opportunity to become involved in larger projects including political activism, research, project
development and educational functions. In May 2009, Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship submitted it's application for accreditation.
Click here to see the accreditation application.
It is our hope that we can engage every member of the congregation, on some level,
to begin building the necessary foundation for a truly,
in-depth earth-conscious and earth-centered philosopy
that guides our footsteps forward,
stepping lightly and
walking in a sacred manner
on this Sanctuary we call Earth . . .
Green Sanctuary Coordinators Linda Fels and Deb Cruz
Yes, Mr. Cockrell. Such a church does exist.
Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship
Accredited as a