Sacred Earth Matters!
Look around you at this incredible earth,
then may you experience each day
as a sacred gift
woven around the heart of wonder.
In 2001 a small group of University Congregational members came together to work on environmental justice and climate change. They called their new group the “green church task force.” Since then earth stewardship has become a vital component of our community’s mission. Renamed “Sacred Earth Matters,” this initiative has engaged hundreds of people in learning about environmental issues and taking action to stop degradation of the earth due to climate change, greed and human failure to comprehend our sacred interconnections.
Sacred Earth Matters exists to celebrate the sacredness of all creation. The group’s mission is to empower and mobilize us to act with urgency to build a just and sustainable world. These passionate earth stewards are dedicated to helping us respond to the climate crisis affecting all life on this planet.
Concrete goals for action
Sacred Earth Matter’s goals are based on science, and they also speak to the heart. Within the context of Christianity and earth stewardship the group seeks to :
- Explore how our Christian, biblical understandings and other spiritual traditions offer alternatives to human domination and support the care and integrity of creation – our earth, natural resources and all beings.
- Help us make decisions in our everyday life that honor the sacredness of creation and confront actions that degrade the earth.
- Participate in creating worship opportunities and resources for our congregation that celebrate the sacredness of all creation.
- Sponsor groups from our church to join with other churches, organizations, and communities in actions and events that help restore our bio-region.
- Advocate for environmental-justice; linking with social justice concerns of the church’s mission and goals.
Since its formation, Sacred Earth Matters has encouraged our community to be more ecologically responsible. We have worked with the nonprofit Earth Ministry and received their “Greening Congregation” designation. We have dramatically lessened our use of throw-aways on a daily basis. We have made our building more energy-efficient by installing 92 solar panels on our roof in 2014. To literally see this work in action, check out the energy production of our solar panels. On a sunny Seattle day, these panels produce enough energy in one day to power eight average Seattle households. They produce about 25 megawatts of electricity per year. We have also developed a travelling photographic exhibit that contrasts the beauty of the earth and the devastation caused by irresponsible stewardship and climate change.
In 2020, our church’s Racial Justice Activists joined with Sacred Earth Matters to develop a Land Acknowledgement Statement. They worked in consultation with local tribal leaders to accomplish this. Read the statement here.
Living into our commitment
In 2019 the University UCC Congregation passed a resolution entitled “The Earth is Sacred, not ours to Wreck.” Within this resolution the congregation committed to raising “its prophetic voice regarding the urgency of healing the climate of the earth, our sacred home, for the future of all life.” The resolution also commits the church and its individual members to “making decisions of integrity in our energy choices, even as we commit to hold our political leaders accountable to do the same.” This three-page resolution is both specific and inspiring. Read it here: The Earth is Sacred, not ours to Wreck.
In July 2021 the General Synod of the National UCC adopted a resolution entitled “Who Will Speak for the Trees?” A Resolution on the Rights of Nature.” The Sacred Earth Matters group is considering an action step of becoming a Creation Justice Church as suggested in the resolution. Read the National resolution.
Earth Bistro presentations
Sacred Earth Matters regularly presents discussions and forums on climate change topics ranging from climate justice to energy production and beyond. Referred to as “Earth Bistro, they are customarily held after our worship service on Sunday mornings over a light lunch. During this pandemic time they are presented online via Zoom.
Check the Sacred Earth Matters section of “What’s up now” for information about specific “Earth Bistro” presentations.
Resources for making a difference
Making a difference for our earth’s future takes both individual action and group determination. The sections below provide specific ways that you can make a difference in your own life and through advocacy. Click on the plus sign (+) at the right of each title to open that section and learn more.
Understanding the science of climate change
To help members of University UCC better understand the science of climate change, University UCC member William Viertel has compiled a collection of graphs that illustrate the how and why of climate change, and outline the most productive solutions. Access this informative document here: Primer On The Science Of Climate Change
What you can do to fight climate change
Sacred Earth Matters, led by member Katherine Chesick, has assembled a guide to climate action and advocacy, entitled What You Can Do To Fight Climate Change
It provides guidance and practical suggestions tailored to the Seattle area. You will find information on the following:
- Use your voice
- Use your vote
- Use your choices in the following areas: transportation, food, home and office buildings, yard planning and care, money habits, shopping and consuming habits, family planing
- Making a difference and coping with the reality of climate change
- Resources for fighting climate change
Calculate your carbon footprint
Why calculate your carbon footprint? Doing this can provide concrete evidence of how your individual lifestyle is adding harmful gasses to the earth’s atmosphere and thus contributing to global warming. There may be some simple things you can do to reduce your personal impact on the environment.
The website CoolCongregations.org offers a simple carbon footprint calculator that is geared to individuals and congregations. Try it now. There are also a couple of carbon foot print calculators within the “Guide to Climate Action” booklet above.
How to reduce your use of harmful plastics
Plastics have become such a consistent component of our everyday lives that we often don’t notice them. This practical guide provides a gradual six-week program to help become more aware of the destruction to our earth from the overuse of plastics. It was originally offered in early 2020 as a Lenten practice and remains a useful guide into the future. Reducing Our Use Of Plastics
Inspiration for this difficult work
Healing the earth and fighting for climate action can be discouraging. It is important to stay connected with the sacredness of the earth through worship, contemplation and appreciation of the earth’s beauty. We offer here some brief quotations to provide sustenance for this critical journey.
As hawks rest upon air and air sustains them
So would I learn to attain freefall, and float
Into Creator Spirit’s deep embrace,
Knowing no effort earns that all-surrounding grace.
- Denise Levertov
It is also an expression of loyalty to the earth, the earth which bore us
And sustains us, the only paradise we shall ever know
The only paradise we ever need,
If only we have eyes to see. --Edward Abbey
Learn how to say ‘Hallelujah’ from the ones who say it right.
- Frederick Buechner
You are air; You are earth
You are beside me; you are within
O God of heaven,
You have made your home on earth in the broken body of Creation..
Kindle within me a love for you in all things. - Celtic Prayer from Iona
Wherever you set your feet is holy land…
You don’t live off it like a parasite.
You live in it, and it in you, or you don’t survive
And is the true worship of God.
Best preacher that ever was…
Watch now, how I start the day
In happiness, in kindness.
- Mary Oliver
Blessed is Creation in its magnificence.
For the Spirit dwells in every living thing, and is indivisible.
- Mary de La Vallette
That which we have received
As we make a forest of blessing, a ridge of blessing
For the future to grow upon.
- from The Chinook Psalter
May be baptized by the beauty of the
Rain, trees, light and mountains.
For God is in all things.
Every single creature is full of God
And a book about God.
Every creature is a word of God.
- Meister Eckhart
Learn more about us
The Sacred Earth Group meets on the second Sunday of each month at 11:30 am (currently on Zoom). Learn more about our work or explore joining us by emailing us at SacredEarthMatters@universityucc.org.