The purpose of conducting an opportunity assessment is to enable the congregation to identify and describe opportunities and challenges to achieving the greatest impacts with respect to:
- Mitigating the climate-change crisis.
- Adapting and building resilience to impacts of the crisis.
- Securing justice by collaborating with marginalized communities most impacted by but least responsible for the crisis.
The assessment gathers descriptions and data which guide development of an action plan to achieve those impacts and engage in that collaborative work. It also establishes baselines, which make it possible to measure and describe the impacts and results of the congregation’s Green Sanctuary efforts.
Each section of the Opportunity Assessment has two parts: Gathering Information and Discussion. The former poses questions about your congregation’s current environmental practices and context. The Discussion questions give you a chance to do some initial analysis of the data you have collected and some reflection about possible ways forward. Think of them as a guideline more than a prescription - you may encounter issues not listed here, or find you need more specificity in some areas. The objective is to think as broadly as possible, eventually targeting specific issues as you learn. Not every item will be relevant to your congregation; be selective, spending time and resources where it matters most. Remember, too, that the purpose of the assessment is to document where you are right now so you can plan how to move forward. Focus on what your congregation is actually doing, not what you’ve talked about, or think you “should” do. Don’t worry about whether your current practices are “good enough.” No matter where you are starting from, the Green Sanctuary program will give your congregation the opportunity to grow.
Once you have completed your information-gathering and your analysis, the Opportunity Assessment is submitted to the Green Sanctuary Review Team for feedback. We strongly suggest that you make use of the Opportunity Assessment Guidelines before you submit your Assessment and include it with your Assessment. They will help you determine if you have collected enough data to create campaigns with significant impact, which is the goal of Green Sanctuary accreditation.
The next step will be to use the feedback from the Review Team to create an Action Plan, where you will design three campaigns (one each for mitigation, adaptation/resilience, and justice) that make sense for your congregation’s circumstances and passions. These campaigns- a combination of education activities, projects, and civic action- will be the heart of your work towards congregational transformation and Green Sanctuary accreditation.