The Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto has been supporting RAN since 2003, donating nearly $2,000. Every six months the children of the congregation are given the opportunity to choose an organization to give money to from Sunday collection and the children have chosen RAN two years in a row!
We’ve been located in Palo Alto for the past 60 years (since 1947). With a legacy of openness and in accordance with the Unitarian Universalist Principles, we come together to support one another in our continuing commitment to a free and loving search for spiritual meaning and to the expression of that meaning in our community and in our lives. As a congregation we are deeply devoted to honoring and cultivating the connection each of us has with the Earth, and therefore we have put in place several programs that allow us to put into action our commitment and passion. Each month we choose an organization as our Social Justice Cause for the month, which receives a percentage of Sunday offerings to support their work. We also established other programs, including: Covenant of Sustainable Purchase and Use; Green Church Fundraiser; Ask Flo (a program that allows congregation members to seek advice on becoming “green” from a research librarian); a “Pledge to the Planet” bulletin board; establishment of Unitarian Universalists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals; Living Locally: A Resource Guide; a recycling program; and Green Education related to global warming.
Why our congregation chooses to donate to RAN
We first discovered RAN when our kids were searching Google for an organization that would help save the rainforests and the Wooly Spider Monkey. RAN was added to the list of organizations that the children in our Family Chapel services can pick from to give a portion of our offering donations. Each year they vote anew, and each year they have affirmed their desire to give 50% of our offerings to RAN (except the year of the Tsunami, when they chose to give all of the offerings to Tsunami Relief). Family Chapel has an official mascot, “Fuzzy Climber”, a wooly spider monkey (as seen in the picture above), who daily reminds us of the forests our contributions help to protect.
We continue to be drawn to RAN because of its focus on education and the children’s web pages. The materials are perfectly suited to teaching our kids and families about how to protect the rainforests and the people and animals that live in them. RAN makes it easy for us to see how we can actively engage with our passion to protect some of the Earth’s endangered places, in addition to donating money to support those campaigns.
Because we understand that all of the planet’s environments are connected, we know that our passion for the rainforests commit us to care about other environments around the globe—and that this commitment comes from our spirituality
As one of our Unitarian Universalist principles, we promise to affirm and promote “Respect for the interdependent web of all existence which we are a part.” We feel that a sense of awe and a sense of our connection to the earth are crucial to Religious Education. We also teach our children that we are the church of the “open mind, helping hands and loving heart.” We feel that caring for the rainforest and other endangered beings is part of having helping hands and a loving heart.
Our commitment to the Earth encouraged our congregation to embark on a process of becoming a “Green Sanctuary Congregation” as certified by the Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Earth (UUME). Our application has been approved by the UUME and now we must implement our plans in order to become fully certified. We are also working on a “Pledge to the Planet” which will encourage each of us to make a change in our life that will help protect the environment. Our Spring Children’s Curriculum is called “Our Awesome Earth” (Grades Pre-12) and will give hands-on experience with dirt, worms, birds and plants, and help encourage a sense of awe and wonder at our beautiful planet.
Right now our congregation is particularly concerned with global warming, although in general we are interested in a variety of environmental issues. For example, we are part of an effort to help procure federal funding to relocate the village of Shishmaref in Alaska, which is experiencing extreme coastal retreat due to global warming’s impact of increased storm surges reaching shore and increased thawing of the permafrost. RAN’s work to address the funding and impacts of, as well as the solutions to global warming, is important to us and we are eager to stay informed about the work the Global Finance Campaign is doing to halt the financing of destructive projects and redirect the marketplace toward renewables and energy efficiency.
We have done really fun projects to raise awareness about rainforests and money for RAN, but we do have a favorite
One Sunday all the children came together for “Cool Deeds for Kids”, a project focused on saving the rainforests through reducing deforestation. We colored in some of the pictures from RAN’s website, showed the Forest Family Forever video and read “The Great Kapok Tree”. Then we made hand made recycled paper using old newspapers. RAN’s Rainforest Heroes website provided us with materials about how to help when the family goes shopping (and sent them home afterwards). A member donated canvas shopping bags for each child. I asked each child to pledge that she/he would bring their shopping bag to the store instead of using paper or plastic bags. Finally, we wrote letters to Weyerhaeuser to ask them to stop clearcutting ancient forests of the Canadian Boreal.