UUFVB receives ‘Green Sanctuary’ accreditation

VERO BEACH — Faith groups everywhere are responding to global warming concerns, and the Unitarian Universalist Association is no exception. This denomination has begun a program known as the Green Sanctuary Program which provides the framework for congregations to begin specific projects and activities that lead to recognition as a Green Sanctuary through candidacy and then accreditation.

The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Vero Beach responded to the challenge, and after a four-year pursuit of specific goals, its Green Sanctuary Task Force received a letter recently from Robin Nelson of the UUA’s Office of Congregational Stewardship Services, formally recognizing the congregation as an accredited Green Sanctuary. The Green Sanctuary Program addresses the question: what does it mean to live today within a religious community on an imperiled Earth, and how can we join efforts, both symbolically and explicitly, in becoming stewards of the Earth?

Voluntary participation in the Green Sanctuary Program provides a framework for response by meeting four program goals: (1) build awareness of societal environmental issues among members, (2) generate commitment for personal lifestyle changes, (3) motivate members to community action on environmental issues, and (4) build a connection between spiritual practice and environmental consciousness.

The local Unitarian Universalist Fellowship received unanimous Board of Trustee approval to begin the process in April 2005. Nancy Stiefel and Susan Winters, both members of the church’s Social Justice Committee, agreed to co-chair the Task Force, and recruited assistants from the church membership.

Over the next year, the group conducted an environmental audit and developed an action plan with a minimum of twelve projects within four focus areas: worship and celebration, religious education, environmental justice, and sustainable living.

In addition to responding to constant reminders (newsletters, bulletins, displays) of greener ways to live, the congregation now uses ceramic mugs for Sunday morning coffee, appropriate energy-saving light bulbs and air conditioner settings, and recycled-content office paper, paper towels and toilet tissue. It also regularly recycles office paper, cans and bottles, and collects items for Keep Indian River Beautiful’s ReUse Exchange Center.The UU Fellowship is located on the southeast corner of 27th Avenue and 16th Street in Vero Beach. For more information, call (772) 778-5800.

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