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How to Start a Green Team in Your Congregation: Notes from TXIPL's January 2012 Conference Call

January's interfaith environmental conference call featured a presentation by Robin Nelson, Environmental Stewardship Manager of the Unitarian Universalist Association, on the topic of "How to Start a Green Team in Your Congregation." The conversation this topic generated on our call was fantastic! In case you missed it, here are some ways to learn more:

  • You can download the mp3 recording of the call here.
  • Resources mentioned on the call by Kerry Stevens, including a PowerPoint presentation and a collection of Biblical scriptures about caring for Creation, can be found here.
  • Notes from Robin Nelson about her presentation are below. Thank you, Robin!


Texas Interfaith Power and Light

“How to Start a Green Team in your Congregation” – presentation
Robin Nelson, Environmental Stewardship Manager, Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA)

The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) has a specific program that provides the framework for congregations to begin specific projects and activities that lead to recognition as a Green Sanctuary through candidacy and then accreditation.

The Green Sanctuary program invites congregations to:

• Build awareness of the significance and complexity of environmental issues.
• Encourage personal lifestyle changes.
• Engage in community action on environmental issues.
• Strengthen the connection between spiritual practice and Earth consciousness.
• Work to heal environmental injustices.
“The formation of a Green Committee was the spark that set into motion a wide range of
progressive environmental movements within the church.” – Unitarian Church of Charleston, South Carolina

Steps to starting a Green Team in your house of worship:

1.     Develop interest
2.     Invite team members to join
3.     Form a charter/purpose/mission
4.     Involve the faith community

1. Develop interest:

·      What spiritual guidance does your denomination give around the environment?  Feel free to quote scripture. Explain how being good environmental stewards helps you live out your beliefs.

·      Potential money saving with energy improvements.

·      Strengthen your community: you will take actions that are designed to bring your congregation together. Worshiping together, learning together, solving problems, and creating something new as a community; discussing, debating, even arguing (respectfully, of course) to arrive at collective decisions; putting your time, energy, and skills to work for a better world--these practices reinforce the bonds that hold your congregation together and strengthen your capacity to change.

·      Collaboration: Networks, coalitions, alliances, and myriad other groups are forming and evolving all over the world to address the environmental crisis. The experience of the effectiveness of collaborative relationships and the hope that emerges when you know you’re not alone. The work gives us satisfaction, but the relationships bring us joy.

2. Invite Members to join the team:

·      Formally invite folks who are current or past members of relevant committees, such as religious education, worship, communications, building and grounds, finance, hospitality, or social justice.

·      Make sure you invite people with great networking skills or a special knack for synthesizing different viewpoints and seeing the “big picture.”

·      Members need to have enough diversity of experience in congregational life to connect with the entire congregation.

3. Form a charter/purpose/mission for the team:

·      A well-written charter or purpose statement clarifies that the role of this team is to organize and facilitate the work.

·      The entire community, not the team alone, is responsible for being engaged in environmental work.

·      The team leads the effort by conducting the assessment, planning projects, providing resources and logistical support, and communicating with other leaders and staff.

·      A key role of the team is to encourage participation in the program. In a sense, they are the congregation’s environmental cheerleaders.

4. Involve the faith community:

·      Hold information sessions to talk with the community about what the Green Team is doing and how others can be involved.

·      Invite feedback and suggestions for projects from the community.

·      Work collaboratively with other committees and staff.


UU Ministry for Earth

Contact Information:

Robin Nelson,
Environmental Stewardship Manager, Unitarian Universalist Association
25 Beacon Street
Boston, MA  02108

(Photo "Earth Hour 2010" by User Cornelia Kopp used under a Creative Commons-Attribution License.)