Marietta Ohio Congregation Installs Solar Panels

solar-panel-installationThe First UU Society of Marietta, Ohio (FUUSM) has gone solar! Solar panels were installed at the First Unitarian-Universalist Society of Marietta (FUUSM) during the week of October 17.  This installation establishes FUUSM as the first religious organization in Washington County to have solar panels as a major source of electrical power in its main worship building, located at the corner of Third and Putnam streets in Marietta. The 1.2-kilowatt solar panels will be placed on part of the new roof, which was installed in May of this year. The solar panel installation will be done by Pickering Associates of Parkersburg , W.V. The cost of acquisition and installation of the solar panels will be covered by a private company, Golden Rule Associates, LLC, owned by FUUSM member, Dave Ballantyne. The reason for this arrangement is that only individuals or organizations subject to federal income tax liability can claim the 30 percent federal income tax credit available for solar-panel acquisition and installation, not nonprofit or religious organizations.

The solar panels will generate approximately 66 percent of the annual electrical usage of the church building. Initially, FUUSM will save about 10 percent on its electricity bill annually because of the solar panels. Members and friends of FUUSM may purchase additional solar panels for placement on the roof of the church building, and they may also buy portions of Golden Rule Associates’ ownership of the original solar panels. Golden Rule Associates will donate the solar panels to FUUSM after such time as the original investment has been repaid, or 25 years, according to a formal agreement between Golden Rule Associates and FUUSM. Then, when FUUSM fully owns the panels, the electric-bill savings will be the full 66 percent.

George Banziger, president of the FUUSM Board of Trustees, noted that the installation of solar panels is a momentous event for FUUSM and helps to fulfill its commitment as an official “Green Sanctuary” congregation, a designation it received in 2014 from the Unitarian Universalist Association, its national denominational organization, after a rigorous application process.

“We are very grateful to Golden Rule Associates for its support of our solar panel project. This will allow us to live out one of the principles of our FUUSM affirmation: To ‘cherish the universe and its resources, and recognize the unity of all life,’” Banziger said.

“I am pleased to support FUUSM’s commitment to its Green Sanctuary status with this initiative, which I hope will be exemplary to others for increasing use of renewable energy and decreasing use of fossil fuels. The solar panel project represents our serious spiritual engagement in environmental sustainability,” Ballantyne said.

The Rev. Kathryn Hawbaker said those at the church feel that what they are doing with the solar panels truly represents what they believe in. “We really feel like we are putting our faith into action,” she said, adding that they are committed to clean air, clean water and environmental issues. “In a way, it demonstrates our commitment and is an example to others.”

Marietta is on the border with West Virginia and is deep in heart of coal country, however the congregation has not experienced any pushback from other groups in the area.

FUUSM’s building was built in 1857. However the location of the  modern solar panels are not visible to those who are in and around the historic building. You can learn more about FUUSM at their website

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Cleveland UU’s Part of Interfaith Effort on DOJ Report

Why are all those yellow shirts marching in Cleveland? They’re not all UU’s, the story is even better than that. And might help you know what to work on in your city.


You’ve probably heard about Tamir Rice, the 12 year old armed with a toy gun killed by Cleveland police. You have probably also heard about how Michael Brelo was acquitted last week after shooting 15 rounds through a car roof at an unarmed couple. You may not have heard Tanisha Anderson, a mentally ill Black woman, killed in police custody the week before before Tamir Rice was. Or Brandon Jones killed a few months ago. But perhaps you’ve read reports of the Department of Justice report on Cleveland police’s pattern of unreasonable force.


In other words–like many US cities, Cleveland has a problem. Unlike many US cities, Cleveland is able to turn out religious people from across the city–white Protestants, Black churches, Synagogues, and UU’s. You may have seen the great picture in the New York Times of this scene:


Cleveland religious leaders marching

That’s Rev. Wayne Arnason over on the left in the red stole. In some pictures Rev. Kathleen Rolenz is also visible. The local Episcopal Bishop is there. The leaders of the Black church are there. The leaders of the Cleveland Jewish community are there. This line is only a small fraction of the clergy that were marching in Cleveland on May 26th.


Together, they are the Greater Cleveland Congregations, a group that can do things like turn out 1100 people in February to present clear demands for things to be included in the eventual DOJ consent decree. And turn out these people on a work day to be on the streets when the announcements were being made, reminding leaders that they will be held accountable.


View a video from the march.


Making lasting change is long, hard work. It is not work we Unitarian Universalists can do alone. Greater Cleveland Congregations is an Industrial Areas Foundation community organizing style organization that has put in the long hours starting in 2011 to know who the “we” is and what the “we” cares about. Greater Cleveland Congregations’ members don’t agree on everything–actually there are substantial disagreements. But they’ve identified key issues they do agree on through one on one meetings and small group forums in member congregations. They’ve come together for actions, combining behind the scenes pressure with public events that demonstrate the numbers of committed voters involved. Each congregation gives a not insubstantial amount of money to support a small staff. And the religious leaders on the Strategy Team, the Executive Team, the issue teams, and the core teams have worked hard to move their agenda forward. It’s hard work. And our three UU churches in Cleveland had been in the trenches with everyone else. And now, on key issues facing Cleveland, you’ll see Greater Cleveland Congregations’ influence, influence far beyond what UU’s can do alone.


And Greater Cleveland Congregations has a t-shirt–it’s yellow. You have to look closely at the pictures to see the difference between a Standing on the Side of Love t-shirt and a GCC t-shirt. There’s a message there somewhere.


So, what is your congregation doing to build a foundation so that if the Department of Justice is negotiating with your city police, the religious community has a strong and unified voice and can make a difference?


Evin Carvill-Ziemer

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Spring Forward Into Action

And Spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth’s dark breast
rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.
—Percy Bysshe Shelley

It has been a long, cold, hard winter for all of us working in the North, but the signs of spring are everywhere. The enormous mountains of snow are finally melting away and crocuses & daffodils are popping their little heads above the ground getting ready to burst forth into color. The clean, fresh air excites the nostrils with every inhale of breath. Thoughts are turning to sprucing up the backyard and getting it ready for summer enjoyment and fun in the sun.

As Mother Earth is preparing to awaken from the dark winter and birth new life, we too should awaken. Spring is as good a time as any to shake off all old thoughts and ideas that no longer serve a purposeful duty. As the Earth becomes covered in lush green grasses, the breeze moves the newly sprouted leaves on the trees, and a vibrant rainbow of colors appear in the garden beds from every flower imaginable, we too should become sheltered in thoughts and ideas that emerge from our soul so that we are inspired into action to populate our world and community with the colors of love, fluidity, and a willingness to help others.

Commit2respond - We Hold the power right here to create our vision of a healthy and just world - Tim DeChristopherOne hue in this rainbow is the campaign Commit2Respond.  It is a great program where Unitarian Universalists and other people of faith, who care about environmental justice, take action. The goal of Commit2Repsond is to create a better world by shifting to a low carbon future, advancing the human rights of affected communities, and growing the climate of the justice movement to help preserve the beauty of Mother Earth.

April was highlighted as Climate Justice Month to bring attention to and urge people into action that would make a real impact on our home planet. Each week focused on a different principle aspect with a focus on rejoicing, reckoning, reconnecting and committing work. The month will close with the celebration of Earth Day on April 22.

Commit2Respond is a program designed to encourage life-long commitment. There is tremendous work to be done to keep our living home, Mother Earth, vital and alive. I encourage you to bloom where you are planted and spring forward into action with the people around you in the world!

Sue Tabone
St. Lawrence District Administrator

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Living Our 7th Principle – Earth Day Meditation

I recently had the pleasure of participating in an online earth day meditation presented by The Master Shift. The group’s purpose is to unite the world through global meditation and positive living. In the earth day meditation, the soothing voice of Julian Lennon guides you through an amazingly beautiful, relaxing journey of colors, vision and love of mother earth and all her children. The incredible sound effects of nature and music add to the intensity of the meditation making you feel the connection to earth’s nourishing energy and making you feel alive!

7th principle
Photo: iStockPhoto Standard License
Creator: Jessica Ferguson
Use: Non-profit, Sharing. Not for resale.

This is a very moving meditation as Julian’s melodic vocal tones direct you to envision yourself as a firmly planted tree with the sensation of roots digging outward and deep into the soil grounding yourself with mother earth. Branches burst through to the heavens and take you through the life cycle of the tree. You have purpose!

You are then guided to transfer your energy into a bird to gain the bird’s eye perspective of earth as you soar through the air and into the sky. Your feathers pick up different colors as you scan the surroundings and the magnificent views while making different observations before returning back to your human form. You are encouraged to think about the following when seeing the different colors in relation to the earth.

  • Red – air is clean
  • Orange – technological advances in harmony with earth
  • Yellow – clean organic food
  • Green – plant a tree
  • Blue – clean, clear blue water
  • Indigo – reminder to do something kind for someone
  • Violet – reaching apex of who you are – What does your heart say? Follow it.

You can’t help but come away from this meditation with a greater understanding of your place on this big blue planet and a strong urge to do anything within your power to help keep her in balance. There is no denying the intimate connection to our home.

The earth day meditation is available free at

Sue Tabone, Administrator
St. Lawrence District

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