Green Sanctuary Certification

The Church of the River participated in the Green Sanctuary Program and earned certification as a Green Sanctuary. Becoming certified involved a year-long process of improving our understanding of and relationship with our earth and our local environment. As part of the process of becoming a certified Green Sanctuary, specific projects were designed and completed by the children of the Religious Education Program. Remaining accredited is a continous commitment and process. According to the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA):

The Green Sanctuary Program:

  • Provides the framework for congregations to begin specific projects and activities that lead to recognition as a Green Sanctuary through candidacy and then accreditation.
  • Invites congregations to embark on an exploration of what it means to live today within a religious community on an imperiled Earth.
  • Is a way for all Unitarian Universalists to join our efforts, both symbolically and explicitly, in becoming stewards of the Earth.

The Green Sanctuary is a congregation that:

  • Has received official recognition for completing the Green Sanctuary Program.
  • Lives out its commitment to the Earth by creating sustainable lifestyles for its members as individuals and as a faith community.
  • Is committed towards creating a religious community that has a fundamental, bottom-line, commitment to living in harmony with the Earth

Our Green Sanctuary Certification Projects:

As part of the process of becoming a certified Green Sanctuary, specific projects were designed and completed by the children of the Religious Education program and the church community (2 required: 1 for children and 1 for adults). Remaining accredited is an continuous commitment and process.

To promote environmentally friendly activities by church members, we decided to take action the first week of each month. This project is ongoing. The weekly Church newsletter, which is now e-mailed to all members except those few specifically requesting a paper copy, contains a practical green tip such as, "Turn off the water while you brush your teeth and save 2,600 gallons of water a year." This project was led by Bill Landers and Rev. Burton D. Carley.

The Religious Education program focuses on environmental issues on the first Sunday of each month. In 2008, our Director of Religious Education adopted this goal and incorporated it into the ongoing ministry for our church school. Our children are becoming more aware of how important it is for everyone to be environmentally friendly and to take those steps available to each of us to live a more sustainable life, both for our own benefit and the benefit of our community. This project was led by Cindy Sakaan, Director of Religious Education.

First Sunday/Green Sunday began in 2007-2008 and is ongoing. Religious Education for children on the first Sunday of each month focuses on environmental justice and our seventh principle: We respect the interdependent web of all creation. An outcome has been the learning process of what it means to "be green" including workshops on recycling, composting, consumerism, wind energy, and local community garden efforts.

In 2008-2009, we focused on the Wolf River Conservancy. Activities included hosting guest speakers, became educated about the Wolf River ecosystem and how our community is impacted. Donations were given to the Wolf River Conservancy, children wrote letters to the governor and other officials urging responsible conservation (and received replies!), demonstrating ways to be activists for environmental justice. Children and youth participated with adults in the clean-up of a Shelby Farms trail and the installation of a bench along the Wolf River.

Our focus, in 2009-2010, was on our own front yard, the Mississippi River. Children observed our section of the river and wrote or drew reflections of how it changed from month to month. Children also participated in demonstrations about the composition and effects of pollution on water quality in the river.

Community partnerships formed in 2010-2011. Thus far, children created peace stones for placement along the newly opened Greenline. Volunteer teachers attended training with the Jane Goodall Institute to create a Roots and Shoots youth group at The Church of the River. Our first Sunday activities followed the Roots and Shoots curriculum for the rest of this church year.

Children, in 2011-2012, were introduced to the ways we can recycle and reuse ordinary materials. Our Green Sunday curriculum is year round and focuses on environmental stewardship. Our fundraising efforts ran from January through May. The children created bottle cap magnets, jewelry and key chains from items we found in our recycle bins and junk drawers. The only thing we purchased was epoxy. The children presented the finished products to the congregation and asked for donations that were distributed to non-profit partners in Memphis working for environmental justice.

Certified Green Sanctuary
Green Sanctuary Logo