Climate Knowledge and Sacred Work


Chad Tolman (center) at the Peoples Climate March.

Chad Tolman leads climate-change action.

AMONG THE 28 MEMBERS OF FIRST UNITARIAN CHURCH who joined about 1,500 other UUs at the Sept. 20 Peoples Climate March in New York, perhaps none was more excited and committed than 75-year-old Chad Tolman, who has spent two decades studying and working on the issue of climate change.

According to the UU Ministry for the Earth (UUFME), Chad was a co-author instrumental in providing the scientific underpinnings for the Unitarian Universalist Association’s groundbreaking Statement of Conscience on Global Warming and Climate Change. The statement was adopted by the UU General Assembly in 2006.

The preamble to the statement asks, “As Unitarian Universalists, how can our faith inform our actions to remedy and mitigate global warming/climate change?” It then declares that Unitarian Universalists “will not acquiesce to the ongoing degradation and destruction of life that human actions are leaving to our children and grandchildren.”

Eco-Justice Super heroes

In 2013, Chad and fellow FirstU member Donna Gonzalez were honored by the UUMFE as “eco-justice super heroes” by the UUMFE for their “multiple innovative and inclusive projects,” including the designation of First Unitarian Church as a Green Sanctuary and the creation of the Delaware chapter of Interfaith Power and Light.

At the time, Chad wrote, “I see the closely coupled issues of energy and climate change as the greatest scientific, economic, political, and moral issues of our time . . . By sharing in this sacred work I have found meaning and value in my life .” Donna added that this work “has helped me to see life more holistically, that everyone and everything matters.”

At the 2014 General Assembly, the UUA put its money where its mouth is. Delegates overwhelmingly approved a resolution calling on the Board of Trustees of our denomination to divest itself from profits from fossil fuel extraction from the Earth. Chad Tolman was not at GA this year, but he deserves some credit for this historic move on the part of a religious movement.

Learn from Chad’s blog

Chad writes a monthly blog called Climate Change News that focuses on energy and climate change science, public policy, public opinion, and ethics. Like Chad, a PhD chemist, the blog is a little technical and geeky, but it’s full of facts. Climate change deniers beware, because Chad has the true story!

The November edition of Climate Change News summarizes key points of the latest United Nations reports. It’s a sobering view. A sample:

Anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions have increased since the pre-industrial era, driven largely by economic and population growth, and are now higher than ever. This has led to atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide that are unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years. Their effects, together with those of other anthropogenic drivers, have been detected throughout the climate system and are extremely likely to have been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.

I just “joined” Chad’s blog, meaning that once a month I’ll get a message telling me that there’s a new post from a trusted source on climate science. I hope you’ll follow the link and join Climate Change News. Chad Tolman, with his quiet, scientific manner and deep commitment to this issue, is a shining example of what can happen when you combine scientific knowledge and our sacred work.

—Jeff Lott

Will You Be on the Bus?

To Change EverythingIt’s time to decide. Will Unitarian Universalists help make this the largest march in history to demand action on climate change? Will you join the march?


We’ve set a goal of 20 people from First Unitarian Church attending the Sept. 21 People’s Climate March. Today, we learned more about the transportation and the march from Stephanie Herron of the Sierra Club Delaware Chapter, who met with a small number of interested members after church.

On Sunday, September 21:

  • The Newark bus will leave the Trabant Student Center off Main Street (pick-up in the lane between Trabant Center and parking garage) right at 8am on Sunday, 9/21.
  • The Wilmington bus will leave the People’s Settlement Association at 408 E 8th St, Wilmington, DE right at 8:30am on Sunday, 9/21.
  • The North Wilmington bus will leave the Brandywine Town Center right at 8:30am.  Meet in the area near the Christmas Tree Shop, 5450 Brandywine Pkwy, Wilmington, DE (park towards the back of the lot to avoid blocking the store parking).
  • The march will form near Columbus Circle, at the southwest corner of Central Park, and proceed downtown to 11th Avenue at 34th Street. It will end at about 4:00, and buses will leave from a pre-designated point shortly thereafter to return to Delaware.
  • There will be some food available on the bus, but marchers are urged to bring their own food and water.

We know that there’s much greater interest than was shown after church today—and great urgency in addressing this impending crisis. (Most scientists think it’s not just “impending”—but actually upon us!) Reserve your seat(s) on the bus as soon as possible at this site.

As more details become available, we’ll post them on the Connector.


Climate March Kickoff Meeting


Information meeting Sunday after church in the sanctuary

Elizabeth Siftar of the Green Sanctuary Team reports that there will be a People’s Climate March Information Meeting – Sunday, August 31 at 11:45. 

We will be meeting in the Sanctuary at 11:45 to answer questions and to sign-up members and others wanting to reserve a seat on the bus. There will also information on bus departure and return time, start location on the march, information for parents. All are welcome.

UUSC Urges Attendance at Climate March

Today, an email from Rev. Bill Schulz, president of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, arrived, urging participation in the Sept. 21 Peoples Climate March. Here’s what Schulz had to say:

Join us next month in taking action to support climate justice! Attend the People’s Climate March in New York City on September 21 or find, support, or organize a related event in your area.

Climate change poses a threat to human rights in the United States and around the world. From women’s empowerment to disaster recovery, from access to clean water to food sustainability, efforts to improve human rights are already being strained by climate change.

Many communities whose rights are already at risk — including low-income people, women, indigenous people, and people of color — often experience the greatest negative impacts of global warming and related processes like fossil fuel extraction.

As a human rights organization committed to working with marginalized people around the world, UUSC is deeply engaged in supporting communities responding to these global threats.

We invite you to join us in whatever way you can. In September, timed to coincide with the United Nations Climate Summit, there will be a mass mobilization in support of climate justice. Here’s how you can participate:

  • If you are in the New York area (or can reach New York via sustainable modes of transportation):Participate in the People’s Climate March on September 21. This may be the largest climate march in history, with an estimated one million people gathering in New York City. There are many events scheduled for the weekend, including a Saturday night interfaith worship service hosted by young adults and open to all, a massive interfaith service on Sunday morning before the march, and a gathering directly following the march at Community Church of New York, UU. RSVP for the march now!
  • If you are not traveling to New York: Organize a local solidarity action or contribute to one that is already being planned. Be part of a demonstration, an educational activity, a letter-writing event, or any other gathering calling for effective global action to advance climate justice. In finding or planning local activities, consider how you can support communities in your own area that are most affected by the climate crisis and are leading efforts to respond. Learn more about participating in local action.


Bill Schulz
President and CEO
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

PS. The People’s Climate March is also the kickoff of Commit2Respond! A movement of supporters taking action for climate justice, Commit2Respond is a collaboration of the Unitarian Universalist Association, UUSC, the Unitarian Universalist College of Social Justice, the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association, Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Earth, and others.

Are You Ready for the Peoples Climate March?


It’s going to be the largest climate march in history—and you can help make history by going to New York on Sunday, Sept. 21. First Unitarian Church will have a significant contingent in New York City that day. We’ll travel by bus with Sierra Club Delaware (the transportation organizer) and join tens (hundreds?) of thousands of ordinary people demanding that world leaders do something to reverse the impending climate disaster.

To reserve a seat on the Sierra Club bus, go to this site.

Click to learn more about online about the Peoples Climate March. It’s intended to be family friendly and positive. And it’s timed to coincide with a meeting of world leaders at the United Nations to discuss urgent climate issues. Here are some facts about the PCM and what it’s going to be like.

What is the People’s Climate March?

  • The People’s Climate March is a major mobilization in New York City this September 21 to demand bold political action to address the climate crisis.
  • It is going to be the largest climate march in history! The People’s Climate March is literally that—the people coming together to show that we demand a future that is within our reach. A future with an economy that works for people and the planet. A world safe from the ravages of climate change.
  • This is a moment about us—the people who are standing up in our communities to organize, build power, and to shift power to a just, safe, and peaceful world.

What is happening on September 21st?

On September 21st, thousands of people will be coming to NYC to participate in a march led by young people in order to show that we care about our climate, our communities, and our futures! World leaders will be coming to New York City for a UN summit to discuss climate change, and we are bringing thousands of people together to show that our communities are resilient, powerful, and united.

  • We are coming together to show that our communities care about climate action
  • To show that we won’t wait for the UN to take action, we are already doing it
  • To show the UN that people are ready for action on climate change
  • That communities in NYC, who have been on the frontlines of climate catastrophe such as Hurricane Sandy, are hitting the streets
  • To show that amongst the many things we are doing in our communities, with our neighbors, with our families and with our friends, we are also ready to march!

 Why should you get involved?

  • Because you are ready to see a change in the trajectory of this planet.
  • It is time to do something big! And something new! It is time to show that we are coming together in NYC, and are being joined by people globally, for the largest climate march.
  • If world leaders walk away from that summit without seeing a strong, public demand for action, they’ll never take the steps necessary to address this crisis.
  • Personal stories—work on keeping your message short and sweet!

Look for more on the Connector in the coming weeks. This is important. Can First Unitarian fill an entire bus? Let’s set a goal of 20 members at the march—and exceed it!

What are your questions? Leave a comment on this post and someone will try to answer you.

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