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.
We meet informally at 9:45 a.m. on the 4th Sunday of the month, in the library.
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.
Solarize Houston, the grass roots, volunteer, non-profit group, organizes Houstonians in a group purchase of solar systems. In 2016, 13 Houstonians contracted for 109 kW of new solar generating capacity in this program. A new group purchase was completed in July 2017. You can find out more by going to www.solarize-houston.org. Enrollees get a free design and energy projection.
Extreme Weather Events
Besides programs on individual and collective preparation for possible floods, 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. These issues especially affect those of us who are close to Buffalo Bayou and Buffalo Bayou serves as the drainage channel for areas and streams and creeks both upstream and downstream from the reservoirs. The vision underlying the plan should rest on living with nature, not denying or resisting or destroying it.
So a bit of considered and effective planning would be warranted. Some applicable articles from the Houston Chronicle are listed below:
The sub-section is called “Visionaries Offer Insight” and appears in the “Outlook” section of the Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017 edition, pp.A31-32.
1) “For lessons on how to rebuild, look to Mitchell and The Woodlands” by Loren Steffy
2) “What would Jesse Jones do?” by Steven Fenberg
3) “Developers killed Houston’s first flood control plan. Don’t let them do it again.” by Betty Trapp Chapman
What do you think! And what should we do together!
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.)
Supporting Community Events
Houston Green Film Series at Rice on the third Wednesday of the month.
Time: 6:30 p.m. light meal, conversation, & networking, 7:00 p.m. film
Where: Rice Media Center
Location: 6100 Main Street, Houston, TX 77005
Cost: free and open to the public, donations gratefully accepted.
Interfaith Environmental Network of Houston
Emerson UU Church is a founding member of the new Interfaith Environmental Network of Houston (a Houston chapter of 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 also includes staff of local environmental non-profits, so that a strong connection between them and the faith community can be nurtured.
When: first Sunday of the month, except when it’s a holiday weekend (then it’s the second Sunday)
Where: The University of St. Thomas, 3800 Montrose Blvd., Robertson Hall as well as online, via web meeting. Who: open to the public; Please register for planning purposes. Note: if you register, you can get the recording to listen to later.
August 6 at 4 p.m. – Jim Blackburn, noted local environmental lawyer and professor, “Becoming Carbon Neutral.” .
September 10 at 4 p.m. – Jaime Gonzalez, Community Conservation Director with The Katy Prairie Conservancy, on native plants for churches. Jaime’s expertise and enthusiasm helped Emerson Church create Walden Prairie in the fall of 2016.
October 7 at 7:30 p.m. – Benefit concert! Enjoy a concert by the band Traveler & a special guest while sipping coffee/beer/wine and nibbling tasty food at Bohemeo’s, 708 Telephone Rd. A suggested donation of $20 will be
accepted at the door. For more information, contact Lisa Brenskelle at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.