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Mount Vernon Unitarian Church Hosts Earth Day Fair

Earth Day is long gone, but the lasting importance of it is not forgotten by members of The Seventh Principal Project, a group of environmentalists sponsored by the Mount Vernon Unitarian Church.

This program recognizes the moral imperative to live in harmony with the web of life through personal, congregational and denominational practices.

To foster that premise, the group hosted an Earth Day service a few weeks ago which focused on the diminishing natural resources and spoke about what individuals can do to sustain the earth. After the service, the Mount Vernon Unitarian Church held its second Earth Day Fair.

A warm, sunny day greeted congregation members and friends as they participated in a variety of activities, gained environmental information, and shared a picnic lunch provided by a church youth group.

Activities included: labyrinth walk on an individual labyrinth designed by Kathy O'Neill; Huntley Meadows information and artifacts; Little Hunting Creek Watershed information; rain garden demonstration by Velora Jernigan-Pedrick; Bluebird houses for sale, hand made by Bob Schultz; Fair Trade coffee sales sponsored by the Green Sanctuary Committee; tour of the church greenhouse and native plant sale; childrenís activities, including making wind spirals with Linda Jemison; demonstration of earth-friendly hybrid cars, including Honda and Toyota cars owned by church members and those shown by a local Honda dealership; Demonstration of worm farms by Robin Roberts; and information about the Green Sanctuary Committee and the Seventh Principal Project, sponsored by the Unitarian-Universalists.

AS PART OF THE Seventh Principal Project, Mount Vernon Unitarian Church sponsors a Green Sanctuary Committee. Its purpose is "to build awareness of environmental issues, encourage lifestyle changes and work to heal environmental injustices." Energy conservation, reducing consumption and religious education about ecology are all part of the Green Sanctuary program. In May, the church is holding a childrenís religious education program about honoring Mother Earth.

Suzanne Cleary, one of the church environmentalists who organized the Earth Day Fair, said, "It is heartening to see the Green awareness that is growing at our church. As we plan for a church expansion, our plans include minimizing the impact to church grounds and existing trees, incorporating Green building components, and adding dishwashers to the renovated kitchen so we can avoid the use of Styrofoam cups during coffee hour.

"Our church mothers and fathers incorporated earth-friendly techniques when they built the church, so we are continuing their wise tradition. It's part of the Unitarian commitment to the Seventh Principle, which is 'respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.'"

Cleary is also involved in a group titled EcoSteward Alliance, which recently held their EcoStewards Alliance's Annual Awards Dinner, Concert and 10th Anniversary Celebration at The Campagna Center.

Honored at the dinner as EcoSteward of the Year — 2004 was Jeanette Stewart of Falls Church. The EcoSteward Organization of the Year — 2004 was Co-op America, a national nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C.

"Stewart and Co-op America have been selected as models of ecostewardship, ecological and economic choices individuals can make in their homes, businesses and communities to improve their local environment and enrich the quality of their lives for the mutual benefit of all species and future generations," said Peter Kelsey, founder of EcoStewards Alliance.

EcoStewards Alliance, in concert with its allies, the Center for a New American Dream (CNAD) and the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), also unveiled their new EcoChampion Honor Roll initiative at the event. This honors those committed to improving the environment in the Chesapeake region by fulfilling one program offered by each organization: a discovery circle offered by EcoStewards' Chesapeake Earth Institute; CNAD's Turn the Tide Program; and volunteer service as an NWF Habitat Steward or Habitat Ambassador.

After the dinner, guests proceeded to The Lyceum Museum for dessert and a concert, "Somewhere in the Wild," which was performed by the Alexandria-based EcoVoce Ensemble — a Musical Voice for Nature.

Mount Vernon Unitarian Church is located at 1909 Windmill Lane Alexandria, VA. For information about the church or its support for the environment, call 703-765-5950. EcoStewards Alliance is a 501(C) (3) non-profit, regional stewardship organization operating in the Chesapeake region since 1994; they can be reached at www.ecostewardsalliance.org.