The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Winston-Salem has a long and exciting set of goals, accomplishments, and challenges relating to its Green Sanctuary Program accreditation. We have a broad range of practices to build awareness of the significance and complexity of environmental issues facing our society. We often have sermons by our minister and visiting experts on environmental justice and population issues. We recently participated in Interfaith Power & Light’s Preach-In on Climate Change, with a Pulpit Editorial and the collection of signatures on postcards to President Obama urging him to take climate change seriously. The children and teachers enjoy the religious education curriculum with lots of time outside, exploring our woods and big backyard. They pay particular attention to the different habitats we have on our property and discuss what types of animals live in each. Last summer, a group of families restored one of our gardens and we were happy to see it flourish with new sustainable plants (pictured below). We are also proud of our green kitchen which composts its food waste, uses only washable tableware and napkins, and has a high efficiency dishwasher.
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Winston-Salem
4055 Robinhood Rd., Winston-Salem, NC 27106
Contact: Gus Preschle, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Fellowship also sponsors programs designed to support sustainable lifestyles. The Religious Education program, as well as environmental articles in our monthly newsletters, has highlighted opportunities for individuals to recycle more, use fewer toxic substances at home and at work, compost using a 2-barrel system developed by one of our members, and carpool to Fellowship activities. The Buildings Committee continues to keep our beautiful buildings green and healthy. This not only reduces our environmental footprint, but it serves as a model for committee members and all others visiting our building so that they may take lessons learned home and try them there. Our key actions regarding energy conservation include changing the air filters per schedule, annually testing the toilets and sinks for water leakage, maintaining thermostat settings for best efficiency, vacuuming major appliance coils each year, annually checking the windows and doors for leakage, annually checking the HVAC units for coolant leakage, and continuing to replace incandescent bulbs with CFLs. The Grounds Committee continues to use best practices for enhancing the quality of our habitat while minimizing the use of harmful herbicides and pesticides. They also limit mowing to an as needed schedule. They use community mulch and provide maintenance to the large rain garden installed in 2010.
We also engage in community action on climate change issues. Environmentally friendly, low-income housing is in great need in our community. To help with this, four members of the Fellowship organized and worked on a committee to design and build an advanced prototype Green Home for Habitat for Humanity. Over 50 UU volunteers contributed to the construction of the home. Lessons learned are already being used on new Habitat homes. We also had volunteer Saturdays for Habitat Women Build Energy Star rated homes.
An important part of our mission is to strengthen the connection between spiritual practice and Earth consciousness. We constructed our Green Sanctuary Program around our respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are all a part. The music and songs selected for Services, readings at Chalice lightings for committee meetings, and the dedication of the many volunteers that support these programs reflect these beliefs.
Many members work to heal environmental injustices. The aforementioned cards to our government, as well as Letters to the Editor, and organized emails and phone calls to elected officials are directed at resolving the unequal distribution of healthy goods and services, and the placement of unhealthy landfills, coal ash ponds, and poorly maintained schools in disadvantaged neighborhoods. Some of our members serve in leadership positions in environmental organizations such as the Piedmont Environmental Alliance, the Sierra Club, the Audubon Society, the Neighborhood Alliance, and CHANGE (Communities Helping All Neighbors Gain Empowerment).
While we do not currently have an actively functioning sustainability committee, it is easy to see that environmental grass roots activities are well entrenched in our Fellowship Ministry and committee structure. We look forward to even more exciting programs in the future.
– Gus Preschle, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Winston-Salem Member