03/04/12 — Church recognized for 'green' initiatives

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Church recognized for 'green' initiatives

By Kelly Corbett
Published in News on March 4, 2012 1:50 AM

The members of a small brick church in Seven Springs come together not just to worship each Sunday, but also to make an effort to decrease the size of their carbon footprint.

Outlaw's Bridge Universalist Church recently was acknowledged as an accredited green sanctuary by the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations.

The accreditation as a green sanctuary is in line with the mission of the overall Unitarian Universalist church, which encourages people to care for the earth, the Rev. Claudia Frost said.

"I think being a Unitarian Universalist has made me more attentive, particularly about being a recycler," she said, adding that she recycles at home and also has her own compost. "It becomes such a part of our lives to think that way."

Mrs. Frost said it took about a year to complete all of the paperwork for accreditation, which includes a lengthy action plan and describes many past and present green activities.

Member Barbara Grady completed the majority of the paperwork and also leads the English as a Second Language classes at the church. As part of the ESL class, she teaches a Learn Not to Burn program each fall, emphasizing both home and environmental safety.

"A lot of people are from dry areas," Ms. Grady said. "They didn't realize how harmful it is to burn plastic."

In response to the accreditation request, the UU Association of Congregations expressed interest for the church to expand the program.

"We're going out to more locations than just the class -- Latino churches and stores," Ms. Grady said.

The middle school youth class, made up of three members, is currently studying water conservation from a global perspective. A river trails along the side of the classroom, which will eventually show the different forms of life along the waterway, teaching students the importance of water as a natural resource.

Mrs. Frost said the church also holds a potluck once a month and the paper materials the church purchases, when it must, are all 100 percent recyclable.

"We always use washable plates, washable utensils on everything," she said.

In the kitchen, there is a small recycling center with separate bins for paper, metal and glass and plastic with signs above directing members on what can be recycled and in which bin. Treasurer Peggy Jones empties the bins regularly, taking home the various items to recycle.

"We try to be really conscious of how we are stewards of the earth," Mrs. Frost said.

She collects plastic bottle caps from the congregation to take to Aveda stores and beauty salons, who then ship the caps out to be recycled into new caps and containers. She also collects soda can tabs for the Ronald McDonald House Charities, which are weighed for their value and benefit the local chapters.

"It's automatic," Mrs. Frost said. "When I get a can, I pull the lid."

Last year, a few of the church members came together to plant azaleas to build a natural fence for the church. Church members also park on the grounds instead of a paved parking lot since it is more economical, Mrs. Frost said.

In the future, Mrs. Frost said the church hopes to have a small community garden and also to make sure there are recycling bins at the Albertson Community Library.

The church has 30 active members and meets for worship each Sunday at 11 a.m. For more information, contact the church office at 658-5267.