Our congregations can be a vital source of teaching, supporting, and advocating for the planet and everything (and everyone) that inhabits it. By establishing small groups and individual practices within our congregations that connect to nature, humans, and other animals we can strengthen ourselves and our communities.

After visiting over a hundred UU congregations and working with them on multispecies ministry as part of the Reverence for Life Program, the First Principle Project, and One Earth Conservation’s Nurture Nature Program, Rev. Dr. LoraKim Joyner and Gail Koelln developed guidelines to enable congregations and community organizations to create small groups called Nurture Nature Communities.

The workbook consists of eight topics:

1. Compassionate Communication – sets the framework for deep listening and for loving animal nature- the human self.
2. Compassion and Empathy – what does that look like in us and other animals?
3. Awe and Wonder – how can we grow our resilience with these nature experiences?
4. Evil and Harm – how harm to life is inherent in life
5. Birding for Life – practices that connect and compel us
6. Nature Poetry – practices that connect and compel us
7. Spiritual Animals – how connecting to the “all” connects and commits us
8. Freedom and Liberation – what all this is for

We are convinced, now more than ever, that to gain the powers of solidarity, resilience, and resistance we have to come together in local communities that are committed to and claimed by the biotic community in which they are embedded. Only in this way can we mourn, learn, and have sufficient focus and wisdom to build a new way, even as the old way crumbles around us. These guides, given the risks and challenges of these times, are meant to augment community formation and personal transformation and commitment, whether you are beginning something new or use these guides for an already existing community, family, or organization. They are meant to be broadly nonsectarian, but also can be adopted by particular religious or spiritual institutions and endeavors. They are adaptable for a wide variety of circumstances, with the overall goal of supporting the health of individuals, relationships, and communities of all species. They will:• Deepen your connection to nature, animals, self, and others• Grow your resilience• Augment your advocacy, justice work, and compassionate care of individuals of all species• Develop community and relationships• Foster your loving animal nature• Cultivate acceptance of self and others of all species.

Nurturing Discussions and Practices Nurture Nature, Yourself, and Your Relationships