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Unitarian Universalist Church of Silver Spring

Green Sanctuary Committee

The Green Sanctuary Committee (formerly the Global Warming Study/Action Group) coordinates church-wide efforts to earn certification as a Green Sanctuary by the UUA (Unitarian Universalist Association).

This May, 2012, the committee wrote and submitted to the UUA Green Sanctuary Program, a report on a two year process to gain accreditation as a 'Green Sanctuary'. To fulfill the accreditation process the church proposed and engaged in 12 projects that encompass at least four areas: worship, religious education, sustainable living, and Earth justice.

You may read the submitted report.

To join the committee or learn more about it, contact GlobalWarming@uucss.org.

About the Green Sanctuary Program

The Green Sanctuary Program invites congregations to explore what it means for a religious community to become better stewards of our imperiled Earth. It provides a framework for congregations and congregants to proclaim and live out their commitment to the Earth.

Learn more about the UUA Green Sanctuary program.

Read UUCSS's full proposal and learn about the 12 proposed projects. Below is a summary of the proposed projects:

Green Sanctuary projects

Project Title:  Seventh Principle Summer Youth RE Program
Plan:  a summer 2010 RE program for youth, building on the school year examination of world religions by examining “green” influences and practices in other denominations.
Lead: Ellen Jennings, MRE, Sarah Gonzalez, DRE

Project Title:  Re-enchanting the Land
Plan:  an adult RE program that will explore the spiritual meaning of our seventh principle with many small events over the year leading up to Earth Day 2011.
Lead: David Miley

Project Title:  Greening Your Life
Plan:  an adult RE program that will present ways in which individuals and households can reduce their carbon footprint Participants will use a carbon footprint calculator measure the impact of their actions and will help produce a “Green Tips” column for the Uniter.
Lead: open

Project Title: Speaking the Seventh Principle
Plan: The Worship Committee, the Minister, and other interested parties in the congregation will work to make changes to our Sunday services to reflect our commitment to the seventh principle by adding ritual words to some part of our weekly service. The language might be added to our church’s Welcoming Statement or Congregational Commitment, both of which are recited chorally by the congregation at the beginning of each Sunday service.
Timeline for Completion: by June 2011
Lead: Bob Geiger

Project Title: Green Music
Project Plan: The Music Committee, Music Director, Worship Committee, Minister, and the Green Sanctuary Committee will work together to find ways to use music to honor and celebrate our seventh principle.  Our church has hosted some major environmentally themed music events, including the Missa Gaia, an Earth Mass, in 2008, and the 2010 Suite Treat, an annual fund-raiser for the church’s music program, which this March had an environmental focus and served as a kick-off event for the Green Sanctuary initiative. This proposed “Green Music” project would continue and deepen the efforts already underway in our congregation. One specific element of this project is to hold a major musical event celebrating Earth Day 2011. We are also considering ways to incorporate hymns that reflect the seventh principle into our services on a regular basis, so that these “Songs for the Earth” become part of our church culture.
Lead: Michael Holmes, Music Director

Project Title:  Bringing the Outside In  
Plan:  We will periodically change our sanctuary to highlight the natural world by decorating it to note the different seasons, using our beautiful seasonal memorial quilts and other means.  We will also explore periodic changes to our use of the physical space in our sanctuary that emphasize the spiritual importance of our connection to the natural world, while at the same time retaining a deep and meaningful worship experience. One possibility we are considering would be to re-orient the service approximately twice a year so that the pulpit would be located in the choir loft, such that the congregation will face the large window which looks out onto the natural world.
Lead: Gaia Circle

Project Title:  REduce, REcycle, REuse = RESPECT
Plan:  We will improve our recycling/reduce/re-use program by taking the following steps.

  1. improve the percentage of recyclables that are actually recycled by providing more and better receptacles and by working with the county, Greater Washington Interfaith Power and Light, and our board of directors to devise a better plan,
  2. set a goal for overall trash reduction and creating a plan to reach that goal, transition to recyclable, re-usable, or compostable items at all our events, and promote our rummage sale as a way to increase re-use and reduce consumption.

Lead: Bob Geiger

Project Title: Energy-Efficiency Improvements
Plan: have a professional energy audit of our sanctuary building.

An energy audit would include an analysis of our current and recent history of energy use. We will use the results of the energy audit to make efficiency improvements to the heating and cooling of our sanctuary building and other areas where cost-effective energy savings are indicated. Determine the extent to which recommendations from a previous free energy audit of our whole campus have been implemented, and implement recommendations with a relatively short payback period that have not yet been implemented.
Timeline for Completion: Complete the professional energy audit and make improvements to our heating and cooling operations by Sept. 2010; complete the remainder of the plan by June 2011.
Leader: Mark Ferrenz

Project Title: Green Cleaning
Plan: Research cleaning products to make sure we use products that minimize our environmental impact. Institute cleaning methods and practices to minimize our impact on the environment.
Leader: William Hartung, Property Committee Chair

Project Title: Youth at Work
Project Description:
Objective: Conduct a green hands-on project with youth from our YRUU program to retro-fit their meeting building
Plan: This aging building, the original sanctuary of our church, lacks installed heating, air conditioning or insulation. The building also likely has gaps in its structure that cause heat loss. The youth group uses a space heater. Youth, youth advisers, and other church members, would work to evaluate, retro-fit and upgrade the building in an environmentally sustainable fashion, as our church budget and fund-raising for this project allows. We would also examine our heating source to make sure that it is energy-efficient. 
Timeline for Completion: by Dec. 2011
Lead: Eric Windsor

Project Title: Paint Branch Watershed Conservation and Restoration
Project Description:
Objective: Work with a to preserve and enhance the Paint Branch watershed
Plan:  Paint Branch is a local suburban stream that actually has native brook trout thanks to the combined hard work of government and citizens. We will partner with  alocal group called the "Eyes of Paint Branch" to assist with education projects, monitoring government and development activities involving the watershed, and stream monitoring and other hands-on activities.
Lead: Susan-Marie Stedman

Project Title: Advocates for Our Blue Boat Home
Plan: We will work to mobilize our members to contact their elected representatives in Annapolis and Washington, calling on them to address climate change. We will also work through the Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of Maryland, and through outreach to other UU congregations, to inspire UUs beyond our congregation to take action. We will work on the state level by lobbying for legislative and administrative decisions to effectively implement the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act passed in May 2009. We will  work with the UU Ministry for the Earth to support UU work on climate change at the federal level, with the goal of achieving comprehensive energy and climate change legislation.
Lead: Bob Geiger