The National Wildlife Federation recently named Unity of Fairfax as one of the first recipients nationwide of the Sacred Grounds Certification which recognizes congregations that actively care for wildlife and the environment. A delegation of NWF members from around the country toured Unity of Fairfax’s five-acre campus in Oakton, VA, to learn about the church’s extensive environmental projects including a green roof, ecological storm water management, meditation garden with native plants, and bluebird sanctuary project.
“This is a new program of the National Wildlife Federation, and we are very pleased today to be here to give Unity of Fairfax church one of the very first designations of the Sacred Grounds program in the whole nation,” said Naomi Edelson, NWF’s Senior Director of Wildlife Partnerships. “Unity of Fairfax, you are a model for the nation, and we hope that you will set the stage for thousands of congregations in this country and even beyond to be stewards for our wildlife and our water.”
Sacred Grounds™ is a new National Wildlife Federation Garden for Wildlife™ program that recognizes congregations, houses of worship, and faith communities, which both create wildlife habitat and actively link faith practices and caring for the environment. This connection occurs in 3 primary ways:
- A commitment from leadership to integrate habitat stewardship into religious activities.
- Educating and engaging the congregation.
- Connecting these practices to the greater community.
“This is a part of our practice of our faith, which comes from knowing the oneness of all life,” said Rev. Russell Heiland, Senior Minister of Unity of Fairfax. “It is our intention and our calling to take care of one another.”
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 partnerships with the Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions, 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, and last year received one of only five Green Star Awards to recognize leaders in sacred environmental responsibility.
Unity of Fairfax is a positive, inclusive spiritual community focused on transformation of consciousness and awakening the spiritual light in everyone. As a spiritual center for education, practice and service, Unity offers a wide array of classes, study groups, programs, and service projects which put spiritual principals into action. Regular services are held on Sundays at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Unity of Fairfax is a member of Unity Worldwide Ministries and is affiliated with Unity World Headquarters, which publishes the well-known magazine, Daily Word. Visit www.unityoffairfax.org for information and to watch live-streamed services on Sunday.