The First Universalist Church in Rockland will joyfully celebrate the congregation’s certification as a Green Sanctuary during the Sunday worship service on Sunday, Jan. 31. The service begins at 10 a.m. All are welcome.

The Unitarian Universalist Association recently recognized the Rockland church as an Accredited Green Sanctuary in honor of the congregation’s accomplishments in promoting a strong environmental consciousness within the church and in the community. As a Unitarian Universalist congregation, the church is bound by a set of principles, one of which is “to honor and celebrate the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.”

Since 2002 the congregation has worked to put this principle into practice throughout its worship, programs and outreach. As the gravity of global warming has become more evident, the congregation has been a leader in finding practical ways to lower its carbon footprint. In 2006 members decided to focus on sustainable food choices as a way to reduce their energy use and combat global warming.

The First Universalist Church in Rockland was the first church in Maine to develop a community supported agriculture partnership with a local farm. The CSA has grown rapidly and is about to begin its fifth year. Hatchet Cove Farm delivers fresh produce to the church during the service on Sunday mornings during the growing season for pick up by CSA shareholders from the congregation and the community. The congregation raises funds to donate shares of fresh produce to the Area Interfaith Outreach Food Pantry.

Building on the success of the CSA with Hatchet Cove Farm, in the 2008 winter shrimp season the First Universalist Church and the Midcoast Fishermen’s Association established the first community supported fishery partnership in Maine and one of the first in the nation. That pilot season was the catalyst for the rapid development of the Midcoast Fishermen’s Association’s CSF. During the winter shrimp season and summer ground fishing season, deliveries are made to the church on Sunday mornings for pick up by CSF shareholders from the congregation and the community. To promote the buying of local Maine shrimp, the First Universalist Church, the Midcoast Fishermen’s Association and the Island Institute have collaborated in publishing “The Original Maine Shrimp Cookbook,” which is filled with mouth-watering recipes for preparing the sweet delicacy of Maine shrimp.

In addition to its flourishing ministry of local foods, the church has sponsored a number of celebrations and activities. It birthed the community chorus that gave performances of Paul Winter’s Missa Gaia (Earth Mass) in honor of Earth Day in 2004, offered a Cosmic Mass at Watts Hall in Thomaston on Earth Day in 2008, and organized the Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream Symposium in celebration of Earth Day in 2009. The church has joined together with the Maine Council of Churches, the Maine Chapter of the Sierra Club, and the Midcoast Peace and Justice Group, among others, to sponsor programs on global climate change. Members of the church are active advocates for lowering energy use in local communities.

For more information on the church CSA and CSF or the Sunday service, call the church at 594-8750. The First Universalist Church is located at 345 Broadway in Rockland.