As part of our work to support and connect congregations and individuals working on environmental issues, UUMFE collaborated with three UUA Districts on district conferences in 2010.
UUMFE received a $6,000 challenge grant from the UU Funding Program to provide support for UUA Districts furthering the work of building a just and sustainable future for life on our planet. The grant allowed for direct work with the Districts, and resulted in a template for other Districts or regions to use in strengthening their Earth ministry. It also gave UUMFE the opportunity to build organizational capacity by identifying potential new members and donors.
Three districts participated in the initial effort: Northern New England, St. Lawrence, and Ohio Meadville. Plans are underway to involve a fourth District. Each of the three Districts received a $500 matching grant. Individuals and congregations within each District are helping to fund the $500 match. The Districts administered a survey of the environmental interests and needs of their congregations and planned their fall conferences to address those needs.
The Ohio Meadville District held its conference in Youngstown on October 23 focused on Green Leadership. David Orr, well-known environmental author and chair of the Oberlin College’s Environmental Studies program, was the keynote speaker. Workshops focused on building green commitment in congregations and building green partnerships in the community.
The St. Lawrence District selected Re-Thinking Social Justice within an Eco-Justice Moral Framework as the theme of its Fifth Annual Social Justice Conference held October 30 at May Memorial UU Society in Syracuse. Worship, a keynote address by Rev. Kate Braestrup, and a number of workshops were offered as part of the day.
The Northern New England District planned a two-day event November 5 and 6 at Second Congregational Society Unitarian Universalist in Concord, New Hampshire. On Friday, an optional pre-conference workshop, Awakening the Dreamer, was held for those over sixteen years of age. Through dynamic group interactions, leading edge information, and inspiring multimedia, participants of this workshop were inspired to reconnect with their deep concern for our world, and were empowered to make a difference. The multigenerational conference began Friday evening with supper and worship and continued on Saturday with spiritual grounding, sharing of stories and resources, parallel programming for children and adults, and interest/action groups. Meals were created from locally grown foods made by teams of congregations.
UU Ministry for Earth worked with each District on organizing the survey, raising the matching funds, thinking through the conference design, connecting to other resources, and sent representatives to each of the conferences.
UUMFE continues to be interested in collaborating with districts and in participating in regional events to bring our environmental justice resources to a larger audience. We welcome your inquiries.