General Assembly 2008 Event 2020
Presented by the Unitarian Universalist (UU) Ministry for Earth: Rev. Katherine Jesch, Barbara Ford
The UU Ministry for Earth has enjoyed a banner year. In celebration, their annual business meeting was followed by three exciting presentations and a question-and-answer session to exchange ideas and share success stories.
Barbara Ford, Chair of the Ministry for Earth, opened the annual meeting, introducing Rev. Katherine Jesch, Director of Environmental Ministry, and Susan Leslie, Director of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Office of Congregational Advocacy and Witness. Susan Leslie presented the Bennett Award for Social Justice to Mount Vernon Unitarian Church in recognition of their active and robust program focused on sustainability and Green Sanctuary. She promised we would hear more about the Mount-Vernon successes later in the program.
Claudia Kern presented the first annual Guardian of the Future award to Stefani Scott, our first "eco-hero," who is a dynamic science teacher and has developed a religious education curriculum, "We Are All Connected."
With this 10-lesson curriculum, children learn how to love and nurture butterflies and creepy-crawlies. The program includes worship, stories, crafts, music and other hands-on activities, and can be ordered from the Ministry for Earth website.
Rev. Katherine Jesch gave the program report. The Ministry for Earth is affiliated with the UUA. Individuals or congregations can be members. At present, the membership includes 528 individuals and 146 congregations, a 41% increase from a year ago. The Green Sanctuary program (join the GreenSanctuary email list) has grown by 69%. It is now administered by the UUA and is the first environmentally focused program in UUA history.
Terry Wiggins presented the treasurer's report. The Ministry for Earth is a non-profit organization with most of its $80,000 income coming from membership fees and donations.
The organization's election followed. Barbara Ford of Portland, OR, was re-elected chair. She is joined by Terry Wiggins (Kansas City, MO), Irene Keim (Bushnell, FL), Claudia Kern (Lyme, NH), Steve Maier (Middlebury, VT), Ann May (Houston, TX), Nancy King Smith (Shaker Heights, OH), and Karen Urbano (Oakland, CA).
Rev. Katherine Jesch introduced three outstanding examples of successful programs. Ellen McClaren described the children's program, "Web of Life," at the UU Church in Reston, Virginia, which includes a nature trail certified by the National Wildlife Federation and a popular Theater in the Woods.
Pat Killian described the collaboration between the UU Fellowship of Stony Brook and Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church to restore and preserve Hobbs Farm. The Hobbs family came to Long Island from Alabama in 1906, and their farm may have been the first black-owned farm in New York state.
Suzanne Cleary Cohen described the work of the Green Sanctuary Task Force at Mount Vernon Unitarian Church in Alexandria, Virginia. She described how it took 5 years of outreach, networking, and public relations for green work to catch fire in their congregation. Now, with many ongoing relationships and partnerships they have completed a 7-acre, $60,000 program of watershed improvements that promises to have a broad impact on the low-income and minority populations of the Potomac River. They installed permeable parking pavers, and channeled the runoff from their driveway into rain gardens, in order to mitigate damaging impacts on nearby communities. The task forces continues to develop ongoing relationships with local organizations and has a road map for the future.
Reported by Mike McNaughton; edited by Jone Johnson Lewis.