Ministry for Earth
Promoting the seventh Principle of Unitarian Universalism: to affirm and promote respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
Our mission is to educate ourselves and others about environmental issues; advocate public policies to protect the global environment; act locally in our homes, church and city; and connect spiritually with the web-of-all-existence. We work towards that mission by organizing educational, community-building action and service projects. We meet informally at 9:45 a.m. on the 4th Sunday of the month, in the library.
Our Members in the News
Dori and Jeff Wolfe attended the Citizens’ Climate Lobby annual conference in DC. See a few snapshots of the meetings here (Dori and Jeff appear about 1:03 minute mark in the short video).
What is Houston’s Green Building Resource Center?
Sunday, July 29, at 6 p.m. Online only.
Presentation by Steve Stelzer, Program Director for Houston’s Green Building Resource Center. Steve is an architect with 30 years experience who is focused on making Houston a greener place to live and work. He will discuss the center’s work to educate the public on healthy and energy, water, and material-conserving design & construction. This mission is accomplished in a number of ways: a showroom highlighting building components, water conservation, site, and energy efficiency, monthly educational seminars on a wide variety of topics, and plan review services to suggest strategies to conserve energy and water, save money, & create a healthier building environment. The center also hosts a green book discussion group, holds periodic rain barrel and composter sales, offers Master Composter classes, educates on Drawdown (ways to combat climate change), how to achieve zero waste, and many other green living topics. Come learn how the center can help you to go green not only with building design and construction, but also operations & maintenance, whether for a residential or commercial property. Get all your green building questions answered! You must register for this talk to receive an invitation to the web meeting.
Recurring Community Events
Houston Green Film Series at Rice University
Date: third Wednesday of the month
Time: 6:30 p.m. light meal, conversation, & networking, 7:00 p.m. film
Where: Rice Media Center, 6100 Main Street, Houston, TX 77005
Cost: free and open to the public, donations gratefully accepted.
City of Houston innovation that Mayor Turner initiated
At the meeting of Emerson’s Ministry for Earth on June 24, we discussed how we could support the Mayor and City Council for working on a Climate Action and Adaptation Plan.
This is the response from the Mayor’s office to Nancy Edwards, Climate Action Team at First Unitarian Universalist Church in Houston:
From: COH – Mayor <email@example.com>
Subject: RE: Houston’s Sustainability
Date: June 13, 2018 at 12:32:50 PM CD
Good afternoon, and thank you for your email regarding Houston’s sustainability.
Please know that I shared your email with our Sustainability Office for review. In conjunction with HARC, the Houston Advanced Research Center, the City has started working on our first community-wide Climate Action and Adaptation Plan. This plan will act as a roadmap for the City, businesses, residents and communities to reduce their GHG emissions and meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. The Climate Action and Adaptation Plan will analyze current emission sources and calculate the health, safety, and economic benefits of various development and policy options that could bring Houston closer to a carbon neutral future. As sustainability and resiliency go hand in hand, the Plan is also a critical component of the City’s overall recovery efforts after Hurricane Harvey.
Additional information can be found by visiting the Sustainability website at www.GreenHoustonTx.gov.
Thank you for your feedback!
Veronica E. Weatherspoon
Division Manager, Correspondence & Constituent Services
Office of Mayor Sylvester Turner | City of Houston
The following websites have more information about innovation in Houston.
https://stationhouston.com/ – This is the main startup up hub that worked with Mayor Turner on innovation task force along with Rice University and UH.
https://www.accenture.com/us-en/service-accenture-innovation-center-houston – This is new in Houston; they are the company that Houston hired to come up with the report.
http://houstonrenewableenergy.org/ – This is the main renewable energy community in Houston. Annise Parker really did a great job of laying the foundation especially with her push for LEED buildings.
Sunday, May 6, Making Houston a Resilient City – How Houses of Worship Can Help. Presentation by Jim Blackburn.
In this presentation, Jim Blackburn will discuss the scope of current problems, some ideas to bring resilience to our community in the future, and the role of houses of worship could play in realizing this future. But, this future can only be achieved by personal commitment and action, and to reach it, we all are going to have to come together and act for the common good, a great challenge for the faith community. Jim is a Professor in the Practice in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at Rice University, co-director of Rice University’s Severe Storm (SSPEED) Center and a Faculty Scholar at Rice’s Baker Institute. He is both an environmental lawyer and planner and has written two books about the Texas coast.
Sunday, April 22, 2018 Earth Day Houston
12 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Discovery Green. Celebrate a day of family entertainment, environmental education, and the Green Expo! Emerson’s Ministry for Earth is sponsoring a UU Network booth and welcomes all UUs to help staff the booth; or stop by and say hello.
Thursday April 19, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. Mitigate and Adapt – Or Suffer: Planning for Climate Resilience in Houston’s Post-Harvey World. A presentation by Katharine Hayhoe, one of the world’s leading climate scientists. Her presentation goes beyond global climate issues, as she addresses local measures to make Houston a more resilient community post-Harvey. As a self-professed Evangelical Christian, she is well known for bridging the gap between scientists and faith-based communities. Check here for recording of the event.
April 14-22, 2018 Faith Climate Action Week.
Celebrations, sermons, service projects, events, and nature walks will be held by many faiths, around the theme “Charged with Faith: Leading the way to a clean energy future”. We will be focusing on ways we can green our facilities and homes, take action locally, and advocate nationally for positive steps towards a sustainable, 100% renewable energy future. Representatives from Emerson, along with the Interfaith Environmental Network of Houston, made statements to the Houston City Council on Tuesday, April 17, on how Houston can work towards a sustainable future.
Sunday, April 15 , 2018 – Earth Day Potluck Lunch. Special guests include “education animals” Olive the opossum and Iris the screech howl, along with docents from TWRC Wildlife Center. Donations totaled more than $100 to benefit the Wildlife Center.
Sunday, April 15, 2018 – How to fight Insectageddon with a garden of native plants. Presentation by Michael Eckenfels, Master Naturalist. Scientists report that earth is in its sixth and most dramatic wave of species extinctions. The current one is caused by human activity, particularly though habitat loss. Each of us can promote habitat protection through a variety of means. Habitat gardening with native plants is one way we can help. Michael discusse the role of native plants in protecting wildlife as well as local resources at your ready. Even if you don’t garden there are ways you can help.
Sunday, April 8,2018 Solarize Houston for Houses of Worship (and Their Members). Co-sponsored with Interfaith Environmental Network of Houston. How you and/or your house of worship can go solar for less by leveraging the Solarize Houston, a program of the Houston Renewable Energy Group, a local non-profit dedicated to promoting renewable energy solutions and businesses. Solarize Houston is a group purchasing program for rooftop solar. PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) financing will also be covered, a very attractive financing option for houses of worship & other commercial properties.
Current Focus Issues
Emerson challenges other congregations to shift to 100% renewable energy. This program is one response to climate change. Recent book discussions included This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein and Change the Story, Change the Future by David Korten. Recent videos included Chasing Ice and Bidder 70. We actively engaged in the UUA’s Commit2Respond program.
Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) is the leading organization in the nation advocating for climate change and its practical solutions. CCL has been actively working with all levels of legislative bodies and educating the general public on the “Carbon Fee & Dividend” program that is CCL’s central focus. This market-based, consumer-friendly solution has received support from conservatives and liberals alike. In this talk, you will be hearing the unique approach of CCL to reverse the climate change by building positive, respectful relationships with lawmakers. CCL’s non-partisan coalition has led to the start of the “Climate Solutions Caucus” in the congress that so far has 60 members of congressman and congresswomen joined. The mission of CCL is to create the “Political Will for the Livable World.” Dori Wolfe, Briar/Memorial chapter organizer.
Solarize Houston, the grass roots, volunteer, non-profit group, organizes Houstonians in a group purchase of solar systems. You can find out more by going to www.solarize-houston.org. Enrollees get a free design and energy projection.
An effective regional flood control plan including water, regional ecology and development is necessary to prevent or substantially mitigate the destruction caused by these extreme weather events and the limited options resulting from deficient planning. The vision underlying the plan should rest on living with nature, not denying or resisting or destroying it. A recent Houston Chronicle sub-section “Visionaries Offer Insight” appears in the “Outlook” section of the Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017 edition, pp .A31-32.
Ethical Eating and Environmental Justice
Many programs over the last few years feature sustainable suppers, movies, and events. Our potluck suppers feature vegetarian and vegan menus, such as the “veggie burger cook-off.” Other campaigns have highlighted the concerns of industrial agriculture, consumption, and unfair labor practices in the production of chocolate.
Consumption and Sustainability
We encourage members to reduce and reuse. Movies have included No Impact Man and the classic Story of Stuff. We encourage members to use china, glassware, and cutlery instead of disposables for all events that provide food and drink.
Supporting Local Conservation and Animal Welfare Organizations
- Rowdy Girl Farm Animal Sanctuary in Alvin
- Pet Adoption and Support for Corridor Rescue Coalition.
- Marsh Mania (planting sea grass) with the Galveston Bay Foundation
- Planting trees with Trees for Houston
- Cleaning up the beaches and bayous (Adopt-a-Beach and Trash Bash)
- Working in community gardens (Last Organic Outpost and Plant-It-Forward)
- Volunteering at Earth Day Houston, sponsored by Houston Air Alliance
- Volunteering at the Texas Bioneers Conference (Emerson has hosted the conference twice.)
Recycling Programs at Emerson
Single-stream recycling is provided by Republic Services (blue bin at back of parking lot) for members and friends.
- dry paper (NO pizza boxes, used coffee cups or paper plates — these go in the trash)
- metal cans
- plastic bottles and lids, with no food or drink residue. (NO Styrofoam or #6 plastic)
- flattened cardboard (cut the tape and deconstruct your box)
- NO glass.
In Westwood Hall, near the kitchen, we collect ink cartridges for recycling in a box on the counter.
Clothing Recycling, ongoing – Bring any type of clothing. A triage process puts each piece into the highest use possible, whether resale, or reuse. Emerson receives $30 per month.
Emerson was certified as a UUA Green Sanctuary congregation in 2003, and in 2011, took the name of Ministry for Earth, following the lead of the national program, UU Ministry for Earth.
Interfaith Environmental Network of Houston – Emerson UU Church is a founding member of the new Interfaith Environmental Network of Houston (with support from Texas Interfaith Power and Light, see Texas Impact, an Austin-based interfaith justice advocacy organization and recipient of an Outreach Fund Grant from Emerson. The purpose of the new organization is to empower the faith community in Houston to advocate and act collectively as stewards of the environment. The organization is open to staff of local environmental non-profits, so that a strong connection between them and the faith community can be nurtured.
Green Sanctuary Certification (2003)
As the Green Sanctuary Committee, Emerson was certified as a Green Sanctuary through the process now administered by the UUA. Certification recognizes our work to expand eco-awareness to religious education, service, worship and sustainability of our church’s physical facilities.
When Emerson began planning for Delaney Hall, the Green Sanctuary committee urged the architects to consider green building design and gave them a “Lean and Green Challenge” – to go as “green” as possible without adding cost to the building budget! The architects did such a good job of this that they themselves submitted the building for LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). After documenting the demolition, material selection and handling, and construction procedures, we received 29 points. Delaney Hall is the first church building in the U.S. to be certified, and the third building (of any kind) in Houston to achieve this certification. The building features sustainable design and construction methods, energy conservation, use of recycled materials, and pollution prevention techniques (air, water, light). The grounds were landscaped with native or highly adapted plants. We use integrated pest management and avoid pesticides. We encourage the use of recycled and/or reusable products for meals and parties.