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Stage 5: Gaining Green Sanctuary Recognition
Stage 5: Gaining Green Sanctuary Recognition

Carrying Out Your Action Plan

Allow one to three years to complete the projects in your action plan. It takes at least a year for everyone to get on board with the program. It may take a year to develop collaborative relationships and make positive change on an environmental justice issue. Another year can involve establishing changes in congregational practice, and individual congregants integrating the associated learnings and commitments.

As you carry out the plan, major changes in the life of the congregation like losing a minister or long-term leader or having to move to a different site for worship can derail the Green Sanctuary process. If this happens, contact the Green Sanctuary Manager or your coach for support.

When you have completed your action plan, a special celebration is in order! After that, you will prepare for accreditation.

Maintaining Energy and Motivation

Some may approach this work as another task, making it difficult to stay interested and engaged. Others may see it as an urgent mission to save the world, a view likely to be overwhelming. As you implement your action plan, try to balance both perspectives. Staying task-oriented keeps you organized and gives you milestones to celebrate; a sense of mission inspires you to stretch beyond your comfort level and reach for a higher goal.

One of the best ways to maintain energy and enthusiasm during your Green Sanctuary journey is to recognize that each completed project is a milestone. Celebrate your success!

Documenting and Reporting Progress

Once a year, candidates submit a brief report detailing recent accomplishments and general progress, requesting assistance as needed. This annual report will contain photographs and other documentation necessary for your accreditation application.

If a newsletter is part of your communications plan, consider using it as a basis for record-keeping. Add metrics or stories to explain where you began, detail your congregation’s actions, and note the program’s overall impact.

Specifically for the environmental justice work, a tracking tool is available as a shorthand way to record what you do over time. You will need to add more details to this tracking tool to create a complete enough picture for the review team, but it can provide a good scaffold.

The Application Process

Preparing to Apply

If you asked individuals to fill out a survey as part of your environmental assessment, consider repeating the survey after completing your action plan. Comparing the “before” and “after” responses will track changes in awareness, action, and long-term commitment. Summarize your work in a final report and present it to the congregation.  

Applying for accreditation must go to a congregational vote. The wording of the motion or resolution can be as simple or as elaborate as you like. Ideally, it will express an explicit commitment to live by your Green Sanctuary values, including continuing to make environmentally appropriate choices in all actions and decisions. You might choose to craft a covenant for your vote, giving added weight to your commitment.

Applying for Accreditation

The application for Green Sanctuary accreditation is available as a Microsoft Word file. Note that some sections are similar to the candidacy application.

  • Congregation Information  
  • Congregation Profile  
  • Congregational Vote: Provide documentation of your congregation’s vote, including a copy of the statement, resolution, or covenant.  
  • Completion of Action Plan: Revise project descriptions to reflect actions taken, and update timelines as needed. Describe project outcomes. Be sure each project is clearly explained, since the accreditation review team may not be the same group that reviewed your candidacy application. 
  • Accomplishment of Program Goals: The Green Sanctuary goals are listed on the application form. Write one to three paragraphs for each goal, noting the degree to which your congregation has achieved it. 
  • Program Evaluation: Evaluate the effect of the Green Sanctuary program.

The program evaluation helps the UUA’s Stewardship and Development Office determine whether the Green Sanctuary program effectively meets the program goals. It can also suggest new directions for living out your commitments after you receive accreditation.

Answer the following questions in one to three paragraphs:

  • What has been Green Sanctuary’s most important benefit to your congregation? 
  • What has been the most difficult or challenging aspect of the program? 
  • Have you observed positive changes in your congregation’s culture? If so, what are they? 
  • What are your intentions/aspirations for continuing to live out your Green Sanctuary commitments? 
  • What role do you expect your congregation to take in the wider community, relative to environmental issues? How do you feel recognition as a Green Sanctuary affects your position in the community?

Submitting the Application

Email your completed application to uua_greensanctuary [at] uua [dot] org. If you need to send your application via postal mail, contact us for instructions.

Specific questions can be directed to the Green Sanctuary Manager.  

Receiving Recognition

Once you submit your accreditation application, it will be forwarded to a Green Sanctuary Review Team. The Green Sanctuary Manager will communicate any requests for information, clarification, or requests for additional work.

After the review meeting, the Manager will draft a letter officially recognizing your congregation as a Green Sanctuary.

You will receive a certificate suitable for framing and display. You may also want to add the Green Sanctuary logo to your congregation’s website, and/or send a press release to local media outlets.

Congratulations! After months of planning, implementing, and documenting your projects, you have earned Green Sanctuary accreditation. This is a joyful achievement, so take the opportunity to celebrate and to show appreciation to everyone who participated.

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For more information contact uua_greensanctuary@uua.org.