This small congregation in Morehead City is home to a large Green Sanctuary Committee which helps UCF to develop strategies to operate in accordance with the Seventh Principle of our Unitarian Universalist Faith: “Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part”. This Seventh Principle calls us to be a “Green” congregation and to maintain a “Green” house of worship.
UCF received the National Wildlife Federation’s classification of a Green House of Worship in 2010 by following the NWF guidelines for planting and landscaping our lot to be user friendly for wildlife. Among other things, we planted native flowers and shrubs, put up bird feeders, composted our wastes, used xeroscaping to reduce water use, and our youth even planted small vegetable plots which they tend and then donate the fresh produce to a local soup kitchen!
Next we decided to move our greening efforts to the sanctuary and we had a professional Energy Audit in the winter of 2011, which revealed many ways we could reduce our energy footprint while saving money. We shared this information through a community-wide presentation titled “Energy Efficiency in your Homes and Congregations”. Representatives from local power companies, NCIPL, and an Energy Audit Firm presented helpful information to the audience on how everyone could save energy and therefore, save money, while helping the planet. For instance, UCF added insulation to the ceiling and caulked many leaky windows, and also replaced some windows with more energy efficient models. We still have a ways to go, but we have definitely seen our energy bills go down in this past year!
UCF also participated in the Interfaith Power and Light Cool Harvest program last December. After sharing a potluck of local food, we showed the movie “Nourish” and then we discussed what is meant by the term “ethical eating” and how your food choices can help the planet. We ran this program in partnership with the Carteret Local Food Network which was a wonderful way to bring more people into our church.
Caring about creation is a basic tenet of all faiths and therefore, we all need to take responsibility for incorporating that creation care into our religious and personal lives on a daily basis. That is what we are doing at the Unitarian Coastal Fellowship! The next event we will participate in is “Hands Across the Sand” on August 4, at Fort Macon Beach, which is a protest against offshore oil drilling and supports alternative energy like offshore wind power. Come and join us at the Beach!
-Penny Hooper, Chair of UCF’s the Green Sanctuary Committee