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.
Supporting Solar Power: Are you interested in installing solar panels on your home or business? 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. If you would like a discount on buying a solar system, by participating in the group purchase program, attend the information session at First Unitarian Church on June 11 or at Emerson on June 18th at 12:30 p.m. You can learn more about Solarize Houston at https://www.solarize-houston.org.
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.
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.
The new network promotes interfaith environmental events throughout Houston and plans to host Network meetings on the first Sunday afternoon of every month (second Sunday when the first is a holiday). Watch for detailed information in the Emerson e-blast for updates and carpooling.
Justice Advocacy Workshop, Sunday, July 9, 4 – 6 p.m. at the University of St. Thomas, Robertson Hall, as well as online, via web meeting. Free. Led by experts from Texas Impact, an Austin-based interfaith justice advocacy organization. Learn how to effectively raise your voice for the voiceless. Please register for this event, for planning purposes. The training will be recorded and available afterward. For more information, please contact Lisa Brenskelle at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday, August 6 – Jim Blackburn, noted local environmental lawyer and professor, speaks about carbon neutral projects.
Sunday, September 10 – Jaime Gonzalez, Community Conservation Director with The Katy Prairie Conservancy, speaks on xeriscaping & native plants. [His expertise and enthusiasm helped Emerson Church create Walden Prairie in the fall of 2016.
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
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.