III. Local Action for United Nations Sunday

Part of UN Sunday

As part of the Global UU Story, Unitarian Universalists around the world work for social justice causes they care about.

UN Sunday offers an opportunity to consider the theme during a worship service, but congregations must also take action in order to make change. This page provides suggestions for how to incorporate action into your congregation’s celebration of UN Sunday to advance food equity and sustainability.

Local Action with a Global Impact

Congregations can make an impact globally through their financial support to organizations like the UUA Office at the United Nations who are engaged at the international policy level to push for global movement toward food equity and sustainability. That’s why congregations that hold a special collection for the UU@UN on UN Sunday (and any time of year!) are so important – and why they’re recognized through the Sixth Principle Congregation Award!

At the same time, congregations’ local action can also make a global impact. When congregations and individuals take action locally and share about it, share about the effect it had on your community, those actions can reverberate around the world – starting with other UU congregations!

Spreading UN Sunday Action and Inspiration

Being connected to the UUA Office at the United Nations gives your congregation an opportunity to spread its good work and message far and wide! Congregations can appoint an Envoy or Envoy Team to represent them and attend Envoy gatherings. When your congregation takes action for UN Sunday, the congregation’s Envoy can share about that with the UU@UN and with other Envoys at the monthly zoom meetings. This is both inspiring for other congregations who may be looking for ideas on how to take action, and it’s also a great source of testimonies that can be shared by the UU@UN in our advocacy in and around the United Nations.

Activity Suggestions: Green Sanctuary 2030

Action for climate justice is going to be most meaningful if it results in long-term commitments and change. This is why for UN Sunday this year we are urging Unitarian Universalist congregations to join the Green Sanctuary Program.

The 7th since it came into being in 1989, the current iteration of the Green Sanctuary Program serves as a “Roadmap for Congregations to Rise to the Crisis,” – the climate crisis that is. Green Sanctuary 2030 is all about “Mobilizing for Climate Justice,” identifying with the year 2030 as the deadline (recognized by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) by which the world must reduce global net carbon emissions by at least 45% – and then near zero by mid-century – in order to achieve a livable and just world.

Becoming a Green Sanctuary congregation means addressing climate justice on the following three intersectional areas:

  • Mitigation: Implementing strategies to meet or exceed the IPCC targets of 45% carbon reduction by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2050
  • Adaptation and Resilience: Transforming the culture of the congregation for long-term response to the climate crisis
  • Justice: Deepening relationship and showing up in solidarity with a frontline community or frontline-led organization that’s addressing the effects of climate injustice locally

Green Sanctuary 2030: Mobilizing for Climate Justice

For United Nations Sunday, addressing the theme “All In for Climate Justice: Food Equity and Sustainability” is a way to boost the congregation’s interest and energy towards achieving Green Sanctuary accreditation or reaccreditation. Below are some suggested actions, aligned with the “Food Equity and Sustainability” theme, that might be part of a congregation’s Green Sanctuary Action Plan and will help towards each of the three Green Sanctuary goals.

Mitigation

The Green Sanctuary program describes mitigation as “action to reduce the causes of climate change and its global warming trend.” Working towards more equitable and sustainable food systems is a key avenue to achieve mitigation, as described in the section on Food Systems and Climate Change in this UN Sunday resource collection. Congregations can undertake the following activities (Source: Green Sanctuary examples of mitigation activities (Word, 3 pages)):

  • Promote carbon sequestration using land (learn more about this via the key concept of drawdown), and promote climate-smart agriculture and agroecology.
    • Are there areas of the congregation’s physical space that can be harnessed as carbon sinks? What local initiatives can the congregation support to further sequestration of carbon via the land, and promote sustainable agricultural practices?
  • Promote sustainable diet advocacy, advocating for eating less unsustainable meat, for alternative meat sources, and for more plant-rich diets.
    • Discuss these issues in your congregation.
    • Consider implementing a policy or guidance for congregational events, including coffee hour, to prioritize plant-rich options and sustainably sourced food.

Adaptation and Resilience

Engaging as a congregation in adaptation and resilience work will depend on the unique climate threats faced by your local ecosystem. The Green Sanctuary program asks congregations to plan for adaptations that will help the congregation and surrounding community become more resilient to increasingly severe climate conditions and weather events. In addition to the plan for the congregation itself, the program invites congregations to work towards either “Natural” or “Human Systems Adaptation/Resilience.” This means identifying either an ecosystem (Natural Systems Adaptation/Resilience) or a human community (Human Systems Adaptation/Resilience) in your area that is endangered or affected by climate change. The congregation should collaborate with existing groups to increase the ecosystem’s or community’s capacity to withstand climate change. Learn more about this section here.

In working towards launching a Human Systems Adaptation/Resilience campaign, consider specifically how resilience plans can include food justice adaptations. Where do these frontline communities source their food from? How is this food being grown and what are the conditions for the workers? Is the community suffering from food apartheid? What systems can be put in place to create equitable and sustainable food access that’s resilient to the effects of climate change? As an example, learn about the farming practices at Soul Fire Farm and at the Many Hands Peace Farm.

Justice

This part of the Green Sanctuary Program invites congregations to work in partnership with communities experiencing and confronting the climate crisis directly. As part of their Action Steps toolkit for Food Sovereignty, Soul Fire Farm offers guidelines for building alliances and relationships with frontline communities, starting with an acknowledgement that “frontline communities have the long term commitment, strategy, and expertise to transform the system.” Those who want to act meaningfully in solidarity must show up and build relationships starting from a place of humility.

Reparations and Land Back

Reparations and land back measures are how communities can make real their commitments to justice, particularly antiracism, anticolonialism, and anti-oppression. Learn more:

Taking Action on UN Sunday

If you are holding your UN Sunday service on United Nations Day, October 24, take advantage of the proximity to World Food Day to stretch your activities over two weekends in order to have deeper engagement. The Saturday of the prior weekend, October 16, is World Food Day. Hold educational gatherings and discussions on World Food Day about some of the issues at stake regarding food sovereignty, then take action on UN Sunday to make some change locally. Based on the above activity suggestions, here is how your congregation might get involved around World Food Day and UN Sunday.

On October 16, World Food Day

Learn and Connect

  • Pay to rent the Virtual Keynote from Soul Fire Farm, “Uprooting Racism, Seeding Sovereignty,” and host a screening for your congregation. Invite neighboring congregations as well!
  • Use information from the 2021 UN Sunday Theme webpage as the basis for congregation-wide conversations about the connection between climate and food justice, and how people relate to these issues on a personal level. Try these discussion questions:
    • Reflect deeply on the most recent meal you ate, then share with the group. 1) who made it? 2) how did this food come to be? 3) where did these ingredients come from? 4) what does this meal mean to you?
    • Tell a story from your communities (family, neighborhood, town, congregation) where people together solved a problem about the production of food and/or access to food. What was the problem? Who was involved? How did things change? What else remains to do?
    • After learning about climate and food justice, what commitments might you be able to make individually or as a community? 1) Name something you or your community will let go of or stop doing, in order to further food justice. 2) name something you will keep doing or reinvest in, in order to further food justice. 3) name an organization or community group you will join for food justice.

On October 24, United Nations Day

Take Action for Food Equity and Sustainability

Make real your commitments to sustainability by implementing a policy or guidance for congregational events, including coffee hour, to prioritize plant-rich options and sustainably sourced food.

On UN Sunday, host a special event to start putting this commitment into action! If meeting in person, hold a potluck for only sustainable foods. If meeting virtually, host a kitchen cook-along via Zoom to prepare a sustainable meal together.

Go Deeper in Learning and Engagement

Decolonizing Climate Justice

The Canadian Unitarian Council has adopted a commitment to challenge colonial mentalities and practices in the way that Unitarians in Canada worship, live, and work for justice. They have created a resource for Decolonizing Climate Justice. Unitarian Universalist congregations are invited to engage with this resource, through small group ministry conversations, adult religious education groups, climate and social justice action teams, and more. The resource website contains:

  • A brief overview of the Decolonizing Climate Policy in Canada (March 2021)
  • Decolonizing questions
  • Guidelines for relationship building
  • Sources & Resources
  • A digital bulletin board where you can network with others

Though the resource was created for Canadian congregations, U.S. congregations will also find the process illuminating.

Decolonizing Climate Justice Resource

Create Climate Justice

For long-term engagement with Unitarian Universalist action for climate justice, congregations should be connected to Create Climate Justice. UU Ministry for Earth, in collaboration with the UU@UN and the UUA’s Green Sanctuary Program, developed this online campaign for Unitarian Universalist climate justice organizing called Create Climate Justice (CCJ). The priority focus areas for CCJ are:

  • Strengthening Unitarian Universalist communications and mutual support networks for Climate Justice
  • Mobilizing UUs in solidarity with Indigenous front-line communities
  • Supporting the Just Transition to an ecological civilization through partnerships and civic engagement

As part of this overarching campaign, the Create Climate Justice Network (CCJnet) exists as a platform to network with fellow UUs who are involved in climate justice action and to find and share resources and events. Get involved with Create Climate Justice Net and subscribe to the email list to get monthly updates about the CCJ campaign.

  • Join the “All In for Climate Justice: Food Equity and Sustainability” Group in CCJnet to connect and share resources and opportunities with others who are passionate about this topic. Join the Group today! (You must be logged in to CCJnet for that link to work)