Since 1989, the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Green Sanctuary program has provided an in-depth roadmap of actions for congregations seeking to start or deepen their climate justice work. The current iteration of the program—Green Sanctuary 2030—has been updated to include a larger focus on congregational transformation and justice.
Approximately 30 percent of UU congregations have received Green Sanctuary accreditation under previous iterations of the program, and thirty-two congregations have begun the Green Sanctuary 2030 process.
The congregational profile–a first step in the Green Sanctuary accreditation process–now asks congregations to identify Indigenous peoples whose land they occupy and to research historic moments of systemic oppression in their area. The program guides congregations through a process of education, opportunity assessment, and discernment, resulting in an action plan of activities and projects for campaigns.
When a congregation meets all criteria in the current iteration of the program, they can apply for Green Sanctuary accreditation or reaccreditation. To receive this distinction under Green Sanctuary 2030, congregations must complete projects within three intersectional domains: mitigation, adaptation and resilience, and justice.
Mitigation refers to projects that reduce the causes of climate change, the adaptation and resilience goal helps congregations create a foundation for long-term climate work, and the justice component asks congregations to collaborate with frontline communities in fighting climate change. For example, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Athens, Georgia—which installed photovoltaic panels on its sanctuary and took other measures to make its building more energy efficient in pursuit of net-zero carbon emissions—is partnering with Athens Area Habitat for Humanity and Athens Land Trust to fund the weatherization of lower-income homes in their area.
Those interested in learning more about Green Sanctuary 2030 may attend a Green Sanctuary orientation or team meeting, hosted monthly on Zoom. Information for all events can be found on createclimatejustice.net.