The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County achieved Green Sanctuary Certification at the Unitarian Universalist Association's General Assembly in June of 2006. At UUCMC, Green Sanctuary is a responsibility of our Social Action Committee.
The Green Sanctuary Program seeks to reduce the use of carbon (energy) by members and friends of the Congregation through the Seventh Generation Project, which makes available tools to help monitor reductions in use of electricity and fossil fuels for heating and driving, as a means of living our values and addressing our concern about global warming/climate change.
As part of our Green Sanctuary program, and as an expression of our concern for greater social and economic justice in our community, our Congregation sponsors an organic "Community Garden" in which we raise vegetables to be used at The Kitchen at St. Marks, in nearby Keansburg, where free, nutritious meals are served to the needy.
If you would like to volunteer to work on the Community Garden project, contact Irene Gibson or Elaine Held through the Meetinghouse office. If you would like to participate in the preparation and serving of food at St. Marks, contact Barbara Vallin.
Social Action Green Sanctuary Highlights
- Solar panels on our Congregation's roof generate clean electricity 365 days a year.
- Addition of insulation to both the Community Room (during a remodeling project) and to a recently-replaced section of roof of the old wing of the Meetinghouse.
- Upgrading appliances and lights to more energy efficient models.
- Replacement of all cleaners with products that contain no harmful ingredients.
- A chart in our monthly Congregational Newsletter where we keep track of the functioning of our solar panels and the energy savings they bring.
- Notices on our Community Bulletin Board about ways to save energy.
- A Community Organic Garden that provides plots for Congregational members that makes it possible to grow vegetables for a lunch program for the poor that is supported by our Congregation.
- An Earth Sunday service near Earth Day each spring, to honor Planet Earth, our home, and to learn what we can do to help keep it habitable.
Our Religious Education classes have been actively involved in our Green Sanctuary program. Their accomplishments include:
- Creating a certified "Pesticide Free Zone."
- Learning about and participating in our recycling and composting activities.
- Organizing the sale of compact fluorescent light bulbs that save energy.
Our "Share-the-Plate Program", which represents funds collected during Sunday service offertories, contributes to GreenFaith, a national inter-faith environmental initiative based here in NJ. GreenFaith has received a contribution from us almost every year since 2005, totaling almost $3,800.
Regina Knowlton serves as champion of the Green Sanctuary program for our Congregation, serves on the Social Action Committee, and convenes the Green Sanctuary committee as needed.
Members of our Green Sanctuary committee participate in a Cool Cities Coalition in our county, which brings together the League of Women Voters, the Sierra Club, and the local Catholic Church and Friends ("Quaker") Meeting, to encourage municipalities to implement projects that will help decrease global warming.
7th Generation Project
Within the Green Sanctuary program, our Congregation initiated the Seventh Generation Project in 2007. The purpose of this project is to:
- create awareness of climate change within the membership of our Congregation;
- identify measures people can take at home to reduce emissions of CO2, the main cause of global warming;
- identify families within our community willing to reduce CO2 emissions;
- quantify emission reductions; and
- achieve significant reductions in CO2 emissions above and beyond those accomplished at our place of worship (numeric goals will be established as the project progresses).
We gather and analyze data for about twenty households, in addition to the Meetinghouse. To date, the members of this pilot group have seen a reduction of more than 138 tons of CO2, from base year data. We will continue tracking data from these locations, and are actively looking for more members to participate in this project. Steve Knowlton serves as Champion for the the 7th Generation Project.