Our beautiful earth
Earth is in our hands

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 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.

We meet informally at 9:45 a.m. on the 4th Sunday of the month, in the library.

Upcoming Events

Tuesday, March 20 – Welcoming Spring, Celebrating the Vernal Equinox

Time: Potluck supper at 6:30 pm; service at 7:30 pm
Where: Westwood Hall
As children of the earth, we are subject to its annual cycles of light and life. And so we gather to celebrate the equinox, to acknowledge the cycles of change in the natural world, and to celebrate our place in the universe and in nature. We pause to reflect on this point of balance, embracing the coming season of hope, renewal, and fresh energy. You’re invited to contribute poetry, reading, story, drumming or dancing  to our informal service (outside in the courtyard).  Questions? Email Ann May and Robin McElfresh at ministryforearth@emersonhouston.org

Saturday, March 24, 2018 – River, Lakes, Bays ‘N Bayous Trash Bash®

Time: 8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. (includes lunch)
Where: Buffalo Bayou-Upper (Terry Hershey Park). Meet at Registration Tent, at 15200 Memorial Drive, Houston, TX 77079.  This is the largest, single-day waterway cleanup in the state of Texas. All ages can participate. We will carpool because parking is very limited.

Sunday, April 8, 2:30 p.m. Solarize Houston for Houses of Worship (and Their Members).  Co-sponsored with Interfaith Environmental Network of Houston. At Emerson.

Tuesday, April 10, 7:00 p.m. Citizens’ Climate Lobby. Joint meeting of 4 chapters. Emerson room TBD.

Sunday, April 22, 2018 Earth Day Houston
12 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Discovery Green.  1500 McKinney St, Houston, TX 77010. Celebrate a day of family entertainment, environmental education, and the Green Expo! Emerson is sponsoring a UU Network booth.

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.

Current Focus Issues

Renewable Congregations Campaign

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.


Related Organizations

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)

GreenSanctuary-logoAs 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.



LEED Certification of Delaney Hall (2006)IMG_0852-LEED2-cropped

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.