The Green Sanctuary Program is one way that Unitarian Universalist congregations in Canada and the United States live out our seventh Principle and recognize our responsibility for environmental and climate justice. Through it, congregations examine their environmental impacts and move toward more sustainable practices grounded in Unitarian Universalism.
To be accredited as a Green Sanctuary, a congregation must assess itself, write a plan, and complete projects across four focus areas: environmental justice, worship and celebration, religious education, and sustainable living. It’s a two- to three-year process of bringing congregational culture into greater alignment with environmentally aware faith and practices. Green Sanctuary accreditation is a formal recognition of a congregation’s service and dedication to the Earth.
About 30 percent of Canadian and US congregations are fully accredited Green Sanctuaries. Accredited Canadian congregations include
- First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto, ON
- First Unitarian Church of Hamilton, ON
- Unitarian Fellowship of Sarnia & Port Huron, ON
- Unitarian Church of Montreal, QC
- Unitarian Church of Calgary, AB
- Neighborhood Unitarian Universalist Congregation, ON
Our congregations work for environmental health and justice in other ways, too! Many celebrate Earth Day and have committees that educate and lobby on environmental issues. Some have taken special action:
- The Unitarian Congregation in Mississauga developed its Greening Initiative to replace invasive plants on its property with native ones, create habitat for song and ground birds, small mammals, and bees, butterflies, and other pollinators, and build a “rain garden” that naturally filters the runoff into Lake Ontario.
- The Vancouver Unitarians fund innovative projects for environmental sustainability through their Green Fund, and their weekly forum devotes the first Sunday of each month to environmental issues.
- Neighbourhood UU Congregation in Toronto and the Kingston Unitarian Fellowship have installed solar panels that produce clean energy.