Earth Day 2011: Sacred Waters

40 Days of Commitment, 40 UUs in Your Congregation Stand Up for Environmental Justice

Earth Day update (May 2, 2011): Even though Earth Day 2011 has come and gone, UU Ministry for Earth hopes that this year's water justice resources will continue to aid congregations in their justice making activities for years to come. Use this table of Earth Day activities from registered congregations to find ideas for future projects or, for a quick summary, see this list of highlights of activities by category from several participating congregations. Be sure to check out the Earth Day video of UUA staff sharing their 40/40 for Earth pledge commitments.


Unitarian Universalists (UUs) all over are thinking about water justice, from the UU Legislative Ministry of California’s campaign to pass legislation on the Human Right to Water to congregations in New York examining the impacts of natural gas hydraulic fracturing on watersheds. As UUs, we are called to respect the interdependent web of all existence and water is a common thread. For Earth Day 2011, UU Ministry for Earth (UUMFE) is asking congregations to celebrate the sacred waters that sustain us all and to commit to 40 days of actions that will make our world more just.

UUs will fulfill commitments to small and large daily actions over the course of 40 days, from Sunday, April 17, to Thursday, May 26, knowing that our choices affect many aspects of global environmental justice. When 40 people in one congregation make 40-day commitments during this 40/40 for Earth Challenge, that congregation will be included in the roll of participating congregations. If 40 people seems too ambitious (or not ambitious enough!) a congregation can substitute 40 percent of average worship attendance.

An individual’s commitment for 40 days makes a real difference, and it is only amplified by doing this in community. More than 150 congregations registered participation in Earth Day in 2010 – let’s make it even greater this year!

This year's Call to Action for sacred waters includes extensive resources and suggested actions for participating in the 40/40 for Earth Challenge and bringing your water justice ministry beyond church walls.

For your Earth Sunday service, you may find the following items useful:

The following pages will help you learn about water justice issues and plan your 40/40 for Earth Challenge:

  • Water Justice Issues – a sampling of the many issues that might inspire your congregation to action
  • 40/40 Sample Actions – choose one or more from this list of 40 actions for your 40/40 pledge
  • 40/40 FAQs – more information on the challenge
  • Gulf Coast Supplement – additional resources on the BP oil spill disaster and Hurricane Katrina
  • Water Justice Resources – includes UU resources; water justice organizations; and books and films for adults and children
  • If you register your event before July 1, we'll include you in the list of participating congregations so we can see our impact and inspire each other
  • Congregational Stories – read about what other congregations have done
  • Spread the Word – engage your community through press and publicity for your Earth Day event

When you need some ideas for reading materials to support your acitivities for Earth Day and beyond, the UUA Bookstore has several books on the human right to water.

In addition to using these resources for Earth Day and beyond, we ask that you make your Earth Day service an opportunity to support the work of UU Ministry for Earth. Please include a special collection for UUMFE as a part of your service and promote membership in UUMFE. Our continuing service to UU congregations is dependent on the generous support of individual UUs and their congregations.

This year's Earth Day resources were developed by UUMFE in collaboration with the UUA, UU Service Committee, Clean Water Action, and the Coalition for Waste Water Treatment. We hope you find them inspiring and helpful in finding ways you can celebrate the abundance of our planet in a just way.

Happy Earth Day to our Earth Community from UU Ministry for Earth!

Special note: all the images used on this year's Earth Day pages are from the NASA Goddard Photo and Video photostream on flickr (Creative Commons). There are many more spectacular images of our beautiful water-covered planet on the site.