On April 22, 2010, Unitarian Universalist (UU) congregations will celebrate the fortieth anniversary of Earth Day by holding worship services and making commitments focused on Ethical Eating. Since its inception in 1970, Earth Day has fostered grassroots organizing across the country, resulting in national environmental policies, including the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. UU congregations are eager to be part of the next wave of environmental activism.
To support the current Congregational Study/Action Issue on “Ethical Eating: Food and Environmental Justice,” the UU Ministry for Earth (UUMFE), the UUA Washington Office for Advocacy, and the Ethical Eating Core Team have launched the 40/40/40 Campaign to help congregations take steps toward a more just and sustainable relationship to the environment. Congregations participating in the campaign will enlist at least forty members to commit to an Ethical Eating action for forty days in honor of the fortieth anniversary of Earth Day.
Plans for lifting up and celebrating Ethical Eating this Earth Day are underway in more than half of the 132 congregations registered with UUMFE. Forty-two of those have also committed to 40/40/40 actions. Participating congregations represent thirty-six states and three countries, including Cuba.
“It’s great to see how many congregations are participating in worship, celebration, and action on Ethical Eating for Earth Day, and inspiring to see the depth of these commitments, with many congregations using Earth Day to kick off long-term programs,” said Rowan Van Ness, Program Associate for Environmental Justice with the UUMFE. “Every time we sit down to eat, we are connected with the land and labor that produces our food. Unitarian Universalists across the country are taking steps to support a just food system and to shape how the world’s resources are used.”
The First Unitarian Church of Orlando, Florida, got an early start and celebrated “Justice in the Fields” with a worship service dedicated to farm laborers. Special guests from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers joined in for an intergenerational class and a meet-and-greet during the coffee hour. Children participated in a fair food coloring contest and led a "surprise" parade through the sanctuary, holding Earth Day flags and chanting with drums, shakers, and other instruments.
The Second Unitarian Church of Omaha, Nebraska, will have a booth at a community Earth Day event. Volunteers from the congregation will give away shopping and gardening tips and seed packets with church information printed on them, and they will sell fair-trade coffee and tea.
The Unitarian Univeralist Congregation at Rock Tavern, New York, will clean up trash in local wetlands, including a section flowing through one of the few remaining dairy farms in the region that produces and sells milk locally. They will conclude the event with a community potluck, and they plan to continue discussions on dairy production issues later in the year.
In Virginia, the Accotink Unitarian Universalist Church will follow their Earth Day worship service with tastings from the “Cooking—All Things Considered” class as they launch their participation in the 40/40/40 Campaign.
Join the movement! Check out links to current and past Earth Day resources.
Find information and suggestions on issues ranging from the field to the table, with links to congregational stories, worship materials, and ideas for actions in your own community at UUMFE’s Earth Day website.
Go a step further by participating in the 40/40/40 Campaign, and get forty people from your congregation (or forty percent of your membership) to commit to forty days of action.
Register your congregation’s Earth Day event to be included in the final count of participating UU congregations and be entered in a raffle for a $50 gift certificate to the UUA Bookstore.
Consult the resources on media and messaging to share your message beyond your church walls.