On our Earth Day Sunday, we took the kids on a tour of the congregation and pointed out the many ways we are a Green Sanctuary.
The Green Sanctuary Program from the UUA provides a structure and tools to congregations who want to raise their awareness and take action for the environment and climate change. OUUC earned its Green Sanctuary accreditation several years ago, and continues to show a high commitment to being a Green Sanctuary.
Stops on our tour with the kids:
- The Green Sanctuary Accreditation letter, posted outside the Minister’s Office
- The Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary sign (posted on the fence around our dumpsters, but that’s not the wildlife habitat … the habitat is right behind the dumpsters in the wild woods portion of our property).
- At the front of the building, you can see the solar panels on the roof. Anyone interested in the energy report can access it from the church website.
- Inside again, we noted the big banner in the Commons proclaiming 2018 the Year of Environmental Justice at OUUC.
- A stop in the kitchen to note the recycling and compost sorting station sparked good conversation about trash and home recycling habits.
- In the Work Room we noted an old poster about global warming that we’ve had up for decades …. showing the long term commitment to this issue this community has had.
- Back in the hallway outside their classroom, the kids checked out the Green Sanctuary Committee’s bulletin board, showing many of the ways this community and this congregation show their care for the Earth.
Next time you are at OUUC, look for some of these signs of our Green Sanctuary yourself!
Each year, we hold a “Children’s Annual Meeting”. It is the children’s main opportunity to practice congregational polity, just as the adult voting members of our congregation do when they attend a congregational meeting.
In the children’s meeting (held during class time), the children self-select into three committees:
- The Open Minds Committee
- The Helping Hands Committee
- The Loving Hearts Committee
The names of the committees refer to our chalice lighting words that we say each week:
We light this chalice
to celebrate Unitarian Universalism
This is a church of open minds
this is a church of helping hands
this is a church of loving hearts.
Together we care for the Earth
and work for friendship and peace in our world.
The Committees work to make nominations of summer curriculum or programs for the kids, of causes we could donate 50% of the Children’s Offering to and advance our values in the larger world, and of a May Service Project. There were wonderful and thoughtful presentations this year as the children nominated various causes and ideas: helping animals through The American Kennel Club or the Zoo, doing a service project to make Get Well Cards for people in the hospital, and more.
All of the kids had a chance to present and try to tell others why their nominee was worthy. Then everyone voted on each decision, and we came to these results:
- Our summer RE program will be Maker Space. We did this two years ago, and it was really fun. Each week a different guest speaker from the congregation came to class to share about their Makers process (what they make, why they enjoy making that, how they first learned, etc.) And for the rest of the class time, the kids have access to tools and supplies to engage in their own making work.
- Our Share the Offering for the children’s offering will be to UNICEF, and/or another cause that benefits the people of Puerto Rico recovering from Hurricane Maria. (This current year the Share the Offering recipient was World Wildlife Fund, and the children donated $340 over the year so WWF will be receiving $170. I’m super proud of the children’s’ generosity.)
- Our May Service project will be to help the environment. The kids’ ideas included helping Nature Nurtures Farm feed their animals and “plant things”. We’ll be shaping that project up, so stay tuned!
It was lovely to hear the kids thoughtfully engaging with the questions and issues of the meeting. This is democracy and faith in action.