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

The March Becomes a Movement

The September 27 March for a Culture of Peace in Wilmington is becoming a movement. (It’s even changed its name to Movement for a Culture of Peace.) The energy and spirit of the march are captured in this report by WITN channel 22. Organizers and co-sponsors will be meeting again today to plan future actions together.

Peace March Sets Route

FB Page or Header CroppedThe March for a Culture of Peace in Wilmington, set for Saturday Sept. 27, has designated its starting and ending points.

The one-mile march will form at 18th and Washington Streets, at the southern edge of Brandywine Park, the site of the war memorials. The march will cross through several East Side neighborhoods, both above and below Market Street, and end at Brown-Burton Winchester Park at 25th and Pine streets.

First Unitarian Church’s Social Justice Forum is one of three principal organizers of the march, which will culminate with a half-hour rally in the city park, also known to local residents as Price’s Park. The church has joined longtime Delaware peace activists Pacem in Terris and the community group Wilmington Peacekeepers in organizing the march. Weekly meetings of the steering committee are being held at First Unitarian on Tuesdays at 2:00 pm in Room 25.

A downloadable pdf of this map is available here.

A downloadable pdf of this map is available here.

The march is gathering an impressive list of co-sponsors—church and community groups concerned with the impact of gun violence on our city and its families, especially young people. Labor Day Weekend saw the 19th and 20th fatalities on our streets in 2014, a record-setting pace of murders.

A list of the sponsoring organizations is found at the march website along with a call for additional sponsors. Our goal is to build a new statewide coalition of individuals and groups who will work together to solve this heartbreaking problem.

The march will begin at 3:00 pm on Sept. 27. Unitarian Universalists are called to show how they are truly standing on the side of love by turning out in large numbers to support our neighbors.

For up-to-date information on the March for a Culture of Peace in Wilmington, go to the march website. Subscribe for regular email updates. Come to meetings. Put the march on your calendar and get to 18th and Washington by 3:00 on the 27th.

Remember, showing up is the first step in healing our city. You may not live in Wilmington, but you can make a difference.

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.

Peace, Love, and Wilmington

July 10_IMG_3091

These UUs marched for peace and love in Wilmington on July 10. Will you join us on Sept. 27 as we demonstrate our commitment to a culture of nonviolence in our city? First Unitarian Church is a primary organizer of this groundbreaking event.

Sept. 27: March for a Culture of Nonviolence

Save the date to demonstrate your commitment to peace in our city. 

Pacem in Terris, Wilmington Peacekeepers, and the First Unitarian Church Social Justice Forum are the lead organizers of a community march as part of national Campaign Nonviolence Week (Sept. 21–27). Plans are rapidly developing for a significant response by a coalition of faith and community groups to violence in our community—an event that will begin to build a culture of peace in Wilmington by involving the broader community in opposing all violence.

Whether you live in the city or the suburbs, no matter your circumstances or your address, it’s time to show unconditional love for Delaware families who daily face the risk of violence in their neighborhoods. We’re all one community. Every Delawarean needs to bear witness to the toll taken and the lives shattered—to rise up against this senseless violence whether or not you are personally affected by it.

The march will begin at 3:00 pm and end at 4:30. Watch the Connector for the starting and ending points of the march and information on how to participate. If you have suggestions or wish to help, leave a comment on the Connector or email Jeff Lott. The church and its organizing partners—Pacem in Terris and Wilmington Peacekeepers— are seeking additional sponsors and participating organizations, especially churches. The next planning meeting will be Tuesday, August 19, at 2:00 pm at First Unitarian Church.

Want to make a difference in our city? Showing up is the first step.






Dialogue to Action: Ending the New Jim Crow

New Jim Crow bookStarting tomorrow afternoon, our friends at the YWCA will kick off a Dialogue to Action Study Group to read about, discuss, and take action on the issue of mass incarceration of people of color. The group will her explosive book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, author and civil liberties lawyer Michelle Alexander argues that reforms and timid civil rights activism must give way to a sweeping transformation based on a recognition of the massive injustice against black America and on compassion for the stigmatized young African Americans.

You can join the group tomorrow from 12:00 noon until 2:00 pm at the YWCA’s Home Life Management Center at 709 North Madison St. in Wilmington. It will meet every Friday at this time until September 26. For more information, contact Faye Bonneau at or visit YWCA website. Faye has told us that it’s OK to miss a session or two—including the first one.

First Unitarian Church has co-sponsored similar study groups in the past along with Mother Africa A.M.E. Church. Let’s support the YWCA in its work to further this effort in Delaware.