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. We meet at 10:00 a.m. on the 4th Sunday of the month. Emerson is an accredited Green Sanctuary Congregation.

Congratulations to Emerson member Dori Wolfe!

HOUSTON — Mayor Sylvester Turner announced on Sep. 3rd that Sunnyside Energy, led by developer Dori Wolfe of Wolfe Energy LLC, has won a competition to repurpose a  240-acre former landfill in Sunnyside. The team will construct one of the largest urban solar farms in Texas., if not the largest. 

“Reinventing the landfill into a solar farm will help bring much-needed economic development to the community and makes Sunnyside part of the international energy transition to using ‘clean,’ renewable energy sources, reducing pollution and limiting climate change in the process,” the mayor added.

The preliminary design calls for the development of a 70 Megawatt ballasted solar array that would:
■ Generate enough electricity to supply about 12,000 homes
■ Prevent potential future environmental hazards posed by the landfill
■ Provide power discounts for low-income residents in the neighborhood
■ Train and employ local labor
■ Store and filter stormwater on the tract to help reduce flooding
■ Include educational attributes at the restored site

Details are available at https://www.c40reinventingcities.org

Upcoming Events at Emerson 

Sunday, Oct. 27 – Ministry for Earth open meeting. Room 205.  We will look at the Climate Action Plan proposed for Houston. Could we develop a similar plan for Emerson?  

Date TBD – Congregational Meeting to endorse the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (HR 763). Ministry for Earth has endorsed this legislation and we encourage Emerson’s Board of Trustees to support seeking congregational approval of endorsement by Emerson Unitarian Universalist Church. We understand that the legislation will drive down America’s carbon pollution, help bring climate change under control, while unleashing American technology innovation and ingenuity.  Importantly, it will protect the most vulnerable among us by providing monthly dividends to households. 

Plant It Forward Farm Shares Dropoff Location – Every Sunday, 12 noon to 3 p.m. – Support refugees and sustainable gardens with Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).  If you go on vacation, log in and set a “delivery hold” at least one week in advance, to insure your share doesn’t go to waste.

Events Outside of Emerson

Interfaith Environmental Network Open Meeting
Sunday, Oct. 6 from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at First UU Church (5200 Fannin St.) and web meeting. Get updated on the UN Environmental Outlook and discuss how our principles can enable our response. Co-sponsored by Emerson Ministry for Earth. Details and registration (for either in-person or online attendance) at eventbrite.  

Houston Climate Strike
Friday, September 20, 2019 at 12 PM on the steps of Houston City Hall,  901 Bagby Street, Houston, TX 77002. Global climate strikes and a week of actions to demand an end to the age of fossil fuels and climate justice.             NEED INSPIRATION?— Here is a speech by Sweden’s Greta Thunberg who last year at only 15 years of age started a lonely solitary vigil at the Swedish Parliament that so inspired many others that she is widely credited as being the inspiration for 3 European children marches last year of 10, 20 and 30 thousand children. – Here’s Greta at the UN


For a list of events in and around Houston, check out Citizen’s Environmental Coalition weekly update, on the News tab.

Houston Green Film Series (Facebook page) 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.

Past Events that Emerson hosted or attended:

Monday, Sept. 23 Autumnal Equinox Celebration – Potluck supper 6:30 p.m.  Outdoor service at 7:30 p.m. This is an informal, participatory service. Open to all ages

Sunday, August 25, 10 a.m. – Discussion of the draft Climate Action Plan for Houston. In inclues measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and preventative measures to address the negative outcomes of climate change. To read the draft report (15 pp) go to:  http://www.greenhoustontx.gov/climateactionplan/index.html

Sunday, August 4,Free Screening: “Paris to Pittsburgh.”  Over 100 cities and 6 states plus Puerto Rico have set goals to match the Paris Climate Accord committing to 100% renewable energy.  We’ll watch 2 excerpts (Miami and Los Angeles) and discuss Houston’s Climate Action Plan. 

Plastic Free Ecochallenge, July 1 – 31, online only. We joined the Interfaith Environmental Network of Houston team to participate in the challenge to reduce consumption of single-use plastics during July. 

Summer Solstice Celebration – Friday, June 21, 6:30 p.m. Potluck Picnic in Westwood Hall followed by 7:30 p.m.  Informal Service outside. 

Current Focus Issues

Acting on Climate Change

Renewable Congregations Campaign

Emerson challenges other congregations to shift to 100% renewable energy. 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 works with all levels of legislative bodies and educates the general public on the “Carbon Fee & Dividend” program that is CCL’s central focus. The mission of CCL is to create the “Political Will for the Livable World.” Dori Wolfe, Briar/Memorial chapter organizer.

Ethical Eating and Environmental Justice

Our potluck suppers feature vegetarian and vegan menus, such as the “veggie burger cook-off.” Other campaigns have highlighted industrial agriculture, consumption, and unfair labor practices in the production of chocolate.

Consumption and Sustainability

We encourage members to refuse, reduce and reuse. We encourage members to use china, glassware, and cutlery instead of disposables for all events that provide food and drink.

Local Conservation and Animal Welfare Organizations

  • Support for Corridor Rescue Coalition and Pet Adoption
  • Planting trees with Trees for Houston
  • Cleaning up the beaches and bayous (Adopt-a-Beach and Trash Bash)
  • Marsh Mania (planting sea grass) with the Galveston Bay Foundation
  • Volunteering at Earth Day Houston

Recycling & Composting at Emerson

GLASS: Place glass bottles and jars (no lids) in marked container in Westwood Hall. A volunteer takes the glass to Westpark Recycling Ctr.

Everything except GLASS: Single-stream recycling (without glass) is provided by Republic Services (blue bin at back of parking lot) for members and friends.

  • dry paper (no food or drink residue)
  • metal cans
  • plastic bottles, lids OFF, no food or drink residue. (NO Styrofoam or #6 plastic)
  • flattened cardboard (cut the tape and flatten the box)
  • NO glass.

INK CARTRIDGES:  Place in a box on the counter in the front of Westwood Hall, near the kitchen. A volunteer takes to commercial recycler.

CLOTHING: Place any type of clothing in big green bin at back of parking lot. 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    – A national program of the UUA and the inspiration for our environmental work at Emerson. In 2011, the Emerson Green Sanctuary group took took the name Ministry for Earth.

Citizen’s Environmental Coalition (CEC) – The CEC is an alliance of over 130 diverse nonprofit, governmental, professional, conservation, advocacy, and educational organizations to foster education, dialogue, and collaboration on environmental issues in the Houston/Gulf Coast region. The weekly Houston Environmental News Update publicizes opportunities to become involved, take action, and make a difference. 

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-logoEmerson was certified as a Green Sanctuary in 2003 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 the architects provided extensive documentation on demolition, materials and handling, and recycling and construction procedures, we received 29 points. Delaney Hall is the first church building in the U.S. to be LEED 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.