Holy Conversations: Sustainability Update

Lately, people have been asking me about where we are with our congregation-wide Sustainable Living Initiative. Glad you asked!

This past year saw wonderful achievements. The Initiative’s mission is for UUCA to become a leader in equipping people to lead more sustainable lives, and to that end, we saw the following efforts:

  • The MLK Day family service project, in which there were more than 50 participants
  • A Reproductive Justice Advocacy group, which hosted a fantastic speakers forum and panel discussion featuring key area leaders
  • Multiple Mindful Eating Potluck events
  • A special Give Away the Plate offering, which subsidized community supported agriculture shares for five people
  • A Green Products Buying Club
  • Energy Star Certification for UUCA
  • A weekly “40 Million Minutes” message in worship services from January to April, encouraging people to live more sustainably
  • Around 120 congregants making a year-long Happiness Pledge
  • Progress towards Green Sanctuary Certification by the UUA
  • The upcoming Aug. 22 “This I Believe” worship service, featuring credos by a variety of UUCA congregants

And this is not everything! In small ways and large, the efforts claim the vision that sustainable living is holistic in nature and involves caring for our earth as well as for personal well-being, social justice, and the economy. In order to truly build to last, we must take all four “points” of the “sustainability compass” into consideration.

A big thank you goes to the leadership behind this past year’s events: Charlene Hurt and Jane Henley; Manette Messenger and Judy Shaklee; Sarah Eiler, Dev Howerton, and Kimbery Ferlauto; and Tom Sayre and Richard Dew. Beyond these leaders, there are so many others deserving of thanks. So many people have been involved, in one way or another! Extra special thanks goes to Manette Messenger, for her guiding expertise and passion throughout.

And now, we look forward to a new program year (Sept. 2010-June 2011) and another chapter of the Sustainable Living Initiative at UUCA! Let me say a couple words about what lies ahead.

First of all, there will be a couple of organizational changes, to facilitate smoother functioning: (1) The four sustainability teams will combine forces to become one team, enabling volunteers to be in better communication with each other, as well as to reduce the number of top-level leaders required to keep the Initiative moving forward; and (2) the Initiative will become an official Faith in Action group, ensuring that it receives the same support (budgetary and otherwise) that our other Faith in Action groups enjoy at UUCA.

A third organizational change deserves its own paragraph: the Initiative will be led by Sarah Eiler and Tom Sayre. Last year, Sarah was a Service Team co-leader, and Tom was a Zero Footprint Team co-leader. Both did a fantastic job, and I’m excited about the energy and skill that they will be bringing to the Initiative!

Beyond these organizational changes, keep a sharp eye out for some big gathering events coming up. One will be on Aug. 22, following the “This I Believe” service scheduled for that Sunday. After the service, there will be an RE Orientation and Sustainable Living Picnic. At this community-building event, we want to get the word out that “UUCA is a leader in sustainability in Atlanta.“

Equipping people to live more sustainably is one of the most important things we can do as a faith community. My dream is that, when people think of UUCA, one of the first thoughts that pops into mind is, “Oh yeah, that’s the congregation where people do sustainable living!” Let’s make this dream a reality!

A final word: by the time you read this, I’ll be on my summer leave, which will combine vacation time with time devoted to study. And there will be a lot to study! Next year, our First Sunday sermon series will focus on Unitarian Universalism as a spiritual tradition that draws from many world religions. So I’ll be reading a lot on Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, and other religions of the world. Can’t wait!

See you in August—and as always, many blessings!

Rev. Anthony David, Senior Minister