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.
Emerson was certified as a 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.
If you want to learn and do, not just sit and discuss, this is the group for you! We also host Solstice and Equinox celebrations to help remind us of our connections to the natural world. Watch the E-blast and Order of Service for information about the next event.
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.
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
- Pet Adoption and Support for Corridor Rescue Coalition. At this event, co-sponsored by our highschool youth, we collected food and supplies for foster homes where the rescued dogs are being rehabilitated and nursed back to health.
- 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 Air Alliance
- Volunteering at the Texas Bioneers ConferencRECYCLINGe (Emerson has hosted the conference twice.)
Recycling Programs at Emerson
Beginning May 2016, single-stream recycling is provided by Republic Services. We collect:
- dry paper (IMPORTANT: No pizza boxes, used napkins, used coffee cups, tissues — these go in the trash)
- metal cans
- plastic bottles, plastic lids (but NO STYROFOAM or #6 plastic), with no food or drink residue.
- flattened cardboard (cut the tape and deconstruct your box)
In Westwood Hall, near the kitchen, we collect ink cartridges for recycling.
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.
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.