Unity of Fairfax and its EarthCare Ministry Team is one of five Unity congregations internationally to receive the Green Star Award for Congregational Environmental Excellence from Unity Worldwide Ministries. The award was presented June 14 at the 2017 Unity People’s Convention in San Antonio, Texas. Rev. Russell Heiland accepted the award from Rev. Karen Tudor, Chair of the Unity Worldwide Ministries Board of Directors. The criteria for the award is the accomplishment of at least three projects in the last year which foster awareness of spiritual oneness with our Earth home and promote active care of the environment.
In 2016, Unity of Fairfax and its EarthCare Ministry Team led the project to replace all fluorescent and incandescent lighting with state-of-the-art LED lights throughout two church buildings and the parking lot. In the first seven months after installation of the LED lights, the church has saved $2,960 in electricity costs and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 37,415 pounds of CO2. In addition, Unity of Fairfax hosted the 3rd Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions (FACS) and Interfaith Power and Light (IPL) (MD, DC, NoVA) symposium “Working Faithfully with Our Leaders on Climate Solutions” and supported a weekly Farmers’ Market each Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the church parking lot.
“This represents a united effort to keep our campus healthy, preserved and beautiful as well as recognition of our efforts to reduce greenhouse gasses and educate our members on ways they can help Mother Earth,” said Pete Clifford, leader of the EarthCare Ministry Team.
Unity of Fairfax has been focused on environmental activity and awareness since the EarthCare Ministry team was formed in 2009. In addition to caring for the church’s five acres, which are planted with a wide variety of native plants, the EarthCare team has spearheaded such projects as creation of a detention pond and riparian buffer, the implementation and maintenance of a vegetative green roof on one of the buildings, educational programs about recycling and environmental issues, extensive programs for Earth Day, and much more. Unity of Fairfax has been designated by Fairfax County as a demonstration site to provide education to the community on best practices in storm water management, and works with Northern Virginia Community College to educate Earth Science classes on environmental issues. In addition, Unity of Fairfax is a wildlife habitat certified by the National Wildlife Federation since 2005.
The EarthCare Ministry Team of Unity of Fairfax is a member of the nationwide EarthCare program of Unity Worldwide Ministries, which established the Green Star Award to recognize leaders in sacred environmental responsibility. Only five congregations in the world were recognized for their efforts in the last calendar year.