Integrating EarthCare into Your Ministry’s Life

Published on: March 23, 2015

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Nature is surely the glorified face of Good. See the beauty about you and you do see the manifestation of the infinite Mind. —Myrtle Fillmore

 

The Unity movement is guided by a vision of sacredness and the interconnectedness of all, the interdependence of all life. With the viewpoint that all is interconnected, and God is everywhere, the topics for Sunday sermons are limitless. However, there are most likely themes that recur throughout the course of the year.

If you would like the sacredness and connection to the natural world to be a more integral part of your spiritual community’s message, there are many ways to incorporate that message beyond an acknowledgement on Earth Day.

Understandably, we don’t want to reinforce a message of fear or “the other,” so oftentimes an environmental disaster is not addressed, or there is a perceived risk of veering off into a political debate that may alienate a portion of the congregation. However, when we approach earth care from a place of love and gratitude with affirmative prayer, we are growing the spiritual consciousness which manifests as loving coexistence with all creation and care for our Earth home.

One of the most impactful ways to convey this message is during the Sunday services, whether it is in a sermon, meditation, music, or a combination of these three. In addition to an Earth Day message in April, themes of our connection to the earth can be woven in throughout the year.

Sermons and Meditations

January – New Year’s Resolutions. Stewardship of the ministry and Mother Earth may be an intention staff and congregants will want to focus on in the months to come.

February – Valentine’s Day: Love Your Mother Earth. Interfaith Power and Light encourages a National Preach-In on Global Warming. Congregations in all 50 states take part and send 100,000 Valentine postcards to U.S. senators urging them to act boldly on climate. They provide Love Creation climate postcards for your senators, bulletin inserts for your members, climate prayers, tabling materials, and a delicious bag of organic chocolates for you and your team. Links to sample sermons for all faiths, talking notes, and other printable materials can be found at www.preachin.org/sermons-by-faith.

March – The Spring Equinox: The themes of the balance of light and dark and planting seeds (intentions) in fertile soil can be powerful metaphors that fit in perfectly with Unity’s message.

April – Earth Day: This is a great opportunity to write and declare an EarthCare covenant which expresses a conscious awareness of our oneness with creation and a commitment to care for the Earth as a significant component of the ministry. Examples and resources can be found on Unity Worldwide Ministries’ EarthCare Ministry Team’s page at www.unityworldwideministries.org/earthcare.

May – Mother’s Day: Incorporate Mother Earth into your Mother’s Day message. Explore this beautiful compilation of Earth themed DailyWord® messages from over the years.

June – Summer Solstice: You can tie in the theme of the brightest day of the year with Unity principles such as Zeal, and letting your light shine. A favorite celebration at Atlanta Unity Church, Norcross, Ga., was a walking meditation in a medicine wheel, constructed in the sanctuary to honor the summer solstice.

July/August – This is a wonderful time of year to have a Blessing of the Animals. If you have a large congregation, or don’t want to take the risk of having live animals attend a service, you can ask people to bring in a picture of their pets and place them on the altar. The Unitarian Universalist Church has some great resources for honoring the Earth in services. You can find ideas on animal blessings and other resources at uuministryforearth.org/Resources-Publications.

September – International Day of Peace and Unity World Day of Prayer: Consider having a flower or water communion to celebrate the beauty of diversity or, in the case of water, as a symbol of global interdependence and oneness as we all flow towards the same source. Again, the Unitarian Universalist church has some resources on conducting these rituals, but they can easily be “Unitized” by incorporating readings from Earth blessings as mentioned above. September is also the fall equinox, so again the hours of day and night are in balance, with the darkness increasing. It is a time of rest and gratitude after completion of the harvest.

October – As the leaves change colors and fall, it is Mother Earth’s reminder to us to embrace change, and have the wisdom to let go and let God. “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”

November – Thanksgiving: Giving thanks for the abundance of the Earth as we feast and share our harvest.

December – Winter Solstice: The light reemerges from the darkest hour; a very powerful metaphor.

Music

Music can be such a moving part of a Unity service. Below are some song suggestions to use during services. Please feel free to add your own suggestions in the comment section below.

Unity Worldwide EarthCare Ministries has an official song, I Dream by Unity’s very own Lisa Firestone.

Additional suggestions:
Better World by Soul Majestic
Blue Boat Home by Peter Mayer
Circle of Life by Elton John
Conviction of the Heart by Kenny Loggins
Earthlings by Here II Here
Fragile by Sting
Gaia by James Taylor
He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands by Etta James (or various artists)
My Own Two Hands by Ben Harper & Jack Johnson
Nature by India.Arie
One World (Not Three)/Love Is the Seventh Wave by Sting
Rising Green by Katherine Rhoda
Shall We Gather at the River? by Randy Travis
The Oneness of Everything by Jim Scott
Turn the World Around by Harry Belafonte

Walk the Talk

As the EarthCare message seeps into the hearts and souls of your congregants, they may be inspired to start or join an EarthCare ministry group at your spiritual community. A comprehensive description of the Unity Worldwide EarthCare Ministry program can be found at www.unityworldwideministries.org/earthcare.
Some examples of what this ministry group looks like in action are:

  • Book club and/or film discussions on environmental topics
  • Outdoor garden and/or tree planting
  • Local service projects/community outreach (e.g., pick up litter in surrounding parks)
  • Field trips to sacred sites or nearby trails
  • Start a recycling program at your spiritual community
  • Conduct an energy audit which could lead to savings in both energy and money
  • Become a hub for a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) delivery

All of these possibilities will not only help to retain and invigorate current members, but they also have the potential to attract new members. Please feel free to add what your ministry is doing in the comment section below.

It may feel like including EarthCare in your message is something extra piled on your to-do list, but there is synergistic relationship between planetary and personal well-being; the needs of the one are relevant to the other. It offers the promise of connection: the inner with the outer, the self with the other, the ordinary with the sacred, and the person with the planet. The above suggestions may help your congregants uncover and experience the interconnectedness of our lives and the natural world, and discover that when we heal our lives, we also help to heal our collective experience on planet earth.

 

Beth Remmes
Beth Remmes, Facilitator for The Work that Reconnects, teaches workshops on engaged spirituality, sustainable activism and Awakening the Dreamer. She is leader of the EarthCare Team at Unity Atlanta, on Unity Worldwide Ministries Earth Care Team, and is on the Education Committee of Georgia Interfaith Power and Light.

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