At the most recent Climate Action Team meeting, members began discussing our congregational engagement efforts during April’s Earth Month and over the course of the past year. The critique elicited not only praise for CAT member volunteerism and appreciation for event coordinators, but also dismay about low congregational participation and seeming apathy.

“No one but our team reads the blog,” one member said. She went on to explain that, to her, the group feels totally separate from the rest of the church.

Another observed a downward shift in overall church participation since moving to the new campus and said that the perceived decline led her to cancel an annual food drive for a different social justice group. “The culture has changed,” was a sentiment echoed by several commenters who followed.

At its June 17 in-person meeting, the CAT will take a deeper look at its engagement initiatives in light of these perceptions. Hopefully, we will re-align our energy with efforts that support the needs of our team members and generate greater commitment from the larger congregation around Earth care.

What’s realistic for a growing congregation that already finds itself large by UU standards? Do smaller spiritual communities see greater participation because their members aren’t overwhelmed by a weekly plethora of offerings? Is “specialization” the name of the game at UUCA, where maybe folks find a single niche and stick with only that? Are more attendees coming exclusively for a sermon and entertaining music or RE programs for their kids?

The Climate Action Team has published this blog every week for almost two years. We aim for it to be provocative and practical. Is it? We also provide a peer-to-peer lending library with over 120 environmentally-themed titles available for check-out. We thought this would appeal to our readerly membership and model a simple way to employ “the commons” in a facility with limited storage. The response has been minimal, even with an attractive display outside the sanctuary on the most recent Seventh Principle Sunday.

In the absence of a campus grounds group, the CAT funded a permaculture design plan and widely promoted an April gardening workday. It was attended almost only by CAT members. Two weeks later, a nature-themed poetry and photography showcase drew mostly CAT members and a few guests invited by the poets. We find that if even five of the 75 people who flood the social hall after a service stop by our once-a-month table to check out the display and practical handouts, that feels like success.

Here’s the thing, though: the CAT itself is organized, highly engaged on campus, active in the larger advocacy realm, and known (thanks to Georgia Interfaith Power and Light) as a model for other green teams around the state. Almost 20 members served food and cleaned up on April 17 to launch the return of Wednesday night Souulful Suppers. A dozen members pulled up sod, prepared soil, and planted native flowers and grasses during the April 20 garden workday. We had a chancel full of members lead the movement prayer at the April 21 service. CAT members shared dozens of beautiful nature photos they had taken to display at the May 2 “Falling for Nature All Over Again” event. Our monthly Zoom meetings regularly draw 14 – 20 attendees, and quarterly in-person mini-retreats have topped that.

Is that enough to be grateful for? Should the group be satisfied that it is doing good work on behalf of UUCA and stop expecting more from the congregation? Is there a magical formula for how much the CAT’s programming should simply sustain its members versus how much should solicit increased participation from those outside the group? We’ll reflect on this next month and then allow the seeds of our discernment to germinate during a July hiatus. If this topic has stirred opinions in you, please see the June meeting details below. We welcome your voice.

• • •

JOURNEY WITH US: The Climate Action Team is for you because, well, the planet needs your urgent action – and we need each other as we navigate these changing times. Learn all about the group here,  and check out our minutes and take action table, our lending library and the Carbon Offset Fund. You can also request to join the Climate Action Team on Realm. Contact Nicole Haines to connect to the CAT and join us for our next meeting on Monday, June 20, at 7:30 PM in the UUCA social hall.