Earth Day 2021

Climate Justice and Sacred Activism

An urgent message came out of the 2019 International Climate Conference: even if nations could achieve the 2015 climate goals set in Paris, greenhouse gasses would not be lowered enough to avoid catastrophic losses of human life and property, as well as landscapes, flora and fauna. 2020 was to be the pivotal year to pressure governments to boost climate goals and enact laws and policies to reach them, and also to provide more assistance to poor nations suffering the worst of weather extremes. Then COVID 19 cancelled most all public demonstrations, nations shut down, and momentum to address the climate crisis withered.

In 2021, national Earth Day leaders are reviving efforts to create a grassroots explosion of activism to bring justice to the land and people harmed by the growing accumulation of planet-warming greenhouse gasses. With CO2 in the atmosphere now the highest in recorded history, people must insist on governments stopping the extraction and burning of fossil fuel with the fervor of sacred activism.

The RISE coalition members who will participate in our Earth Day service, and their supporters in the struggle to stop Enbridge Company’s Line 3 tar sands oil pipeline from crossing native American treaty lands and sacred waters in northern Minnesota, demonstrate the sacred activism that our times require.

How do we practice sacred activism for climate justice? WBUUC has a history of social justice activism led by members dedicated to serving the homeless, the hungry, the victims of discrimination, whose numbers will increase worldwide with refugees from climate- related intense rainstorms, hurricanes, droughts and wildfires. Like our Earth Day guests, Nookomis Deb and Gaagigeyaashiik from RISE, we must be advocates for the natural world and ally ourselves with many climate justice organizations, within Unitarian Universalism* and beyond**, to stop the extraction and burning of fossil fuel.


“When We Meet Again”

WBUUC has had a Global Climate Change Committee since 2008, educating our congregation and the wider community about greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and strategies to stop emitting them, through over 65 presentations and discussions. In 2020 the Committee renamed itself the Climate Change Action Committee and made initial plans for a congregation-wide carbon offset project that was tabled by the pandemic. The committee will be re-organizing as a portal for climate justice action when the church opens for groups to meet again, welcoming WBUUC members to initiate committee projects to lower the church’s carbon footprint or connect WBUUC to other climate-focused organizations to lobby elected officials on particular legislation or collaborate in actions to draw public attention to climate injustice.

Watch email newsletters and the WBUUC website (page under development) for more information and invitations to engage in sacred activism through WBUUC’s Climate Action Committee.

*Minnesota UUs for Social Justice (MUUSJA) (
*UU Ministry for Earth (
**Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light (
**MN350 *
***and many other MN non-profit organizations with climate change programs


Earth Ministry: WBUUC’s Religious Grounding for Sacred Activism

WBUUC has a long-standing tradition of environmental stewardship, with many of our elder and younger members pioneering sacred activism — both within our faith community and in our lives outside of church. The Earth Ministry circle was formed three years ago, with a goal of serving as active advocates for the moral imperatives of the 7th UU Principle — “Respect for the interdependent web of all existence, of which we are a part.” We consider our work to be religious.

A main goal is to engage our church community in critical conversations, keeping us all mindful of the impact of our personal and organizational choices. As part of this, we design multigenerational activities meant to inspire — such as our 7th Principle Exhibit, our phenology board and our iNaturalist project. We help influence worship services and programming, and we strive to be — along with others — keepers of the flame of serious environmental stewardship at WBUUC.

Here is our call to you. We would like to weave new voices into the Earth Ministry, in order to keep this work energized, shared, evolving and relevant. We acknowledge that the broad-sweeping concept of environmental stewardship in a time of climate crisis can be daunting and hopeless, at times. Part of our work is to create a framework for our community that offers hope and opportunities that help us better integrate the 7th Principle into our lives.

Our motto is Notice. Cherish. Protect. If this resonates with you, we would love to have you be a part of this circle, however much or little time you can devote to it. A new Earth Ministry page on the WBUUC website is currently in development. In the meantime, if you know you would like to participate or you need more information, please contact Dana Boyle (



About RISE

69143422_100730714642379_8009175440721707008_n RISE, the Resilient Indigenous Sisters Engaging Coalition began in response to Enbridge’s Line 3 relocation project, which failed to secure informed consent of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe to cross their treaty lands.*

Though seasonal restrictions as of April 1 have temporarily halted construction of the 337 mile long Enbridge tar sands oil pipeline, Native Americans and their allies continue efforts to permanently stop this violation of indigenous treaty rights through legal action and public education.The 3 foot-wide pipe carrying 760,000 barrels of dirty oil every day would cross over 200 water bodies and 78 miles of wetlands to eventually be burned and release C02 into the atmosphere. RISE stands in solidarity with its allies to protect the land, water, and resident plant and animal species (all our relatives) from desecration by potential, maybe inevitable, oil spills.

UUs in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and beyond have been opposing the Line 3 tar sands oil pipeline, often through Minnesota UUs for Social Justice (MUUSJA), MN 350*, MN Interfaith Power and Light (MNIPL)*, and Sierra Club Northstar Chapter*. UUs acknowledge we are non-native people living on stolen land, and justice requires us to respect obligations in federal and state treaties. Justice requires us to protect the waters and biodiversity, “the interdependent web of all existence,” threatened by Enbridge’s oil pipeline.

The tar sands oil in Enbridge’s pipeline is destined to be burned, releasing enormous amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere, raising the earth’s temperature. In 2007 when WBUUC’s Global Climate Change Committee was formed, CO2 in the atmosphere, measured at Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, was 383 ppm (parts per million), already above the 350 ppm declared by climatologists to be the safe limit. In February 2021, the mean was 416.76 ppm.

Next week’s Earth Day column will describe specific opportunities for WBUUC members to embrace Sacred Activism for Climate Justice.