NEWARK, Del. – A religious congregation, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Newark, is the first in the state to receive the National Wildlife Federation’s Sacred Grounds certification. The Sacred Grounds program supports houses of worship in building outdoor spaces for congregants to enjoy while supporting wildlife habitat and native plants.
“The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Newark’s expansive wildlife habitat on its grounds and its nature-based educational programs make it an excellent partner for the Sacred Grounds program,” said Natalie Cohen, conservation programs coordinator at the National Wildlife Federation Mid-Atlantic Regional Center. “We are thrilled to support this critical wildlife habitat through our Sacred Grounds certification and look forward to collaborating with other faith communities in Delaware to recover wildlife and conserve vital habitat throughout the state.”
The National Wildlife Federation and the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Newark partnered with Delaware Interfaith Power and Light in the Sacred Grounds certification process. Trained habitat stewards from the Delaware Nature Society, one of the National Wildlife Federation’s 53 state and territorial affiliates, will conduct site assessments for houses of worship in Delaware for Sacred Grounds certifications.
"It has been exciting to help introduce Delaware faith communities to the Sacred Grounds program," said Shweta Arya, outreach director for Delaware Interfaith Power and Light. "As fears over both COVID-19 and climate change weigh especially heavy these days, this program offers practical actions and hopeful visions – intimately reconnecting us to the wonders of nature, to a sense of place.”
While Unitarian Universalists are not required to accept a dogma or creed, they choose to live by seven principles, the seventh of which calls members to “affirm and promote respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.”
“The Sacred Grounds program is a perfect fit and an exciting way for us to live our principles,” said Karen Barker, a past president of the congregation. “The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Newark has been a National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat for many years and the spiritual piece of Sacred Grounds pulls all of this together. It has been inspiring to have adults, teens and children all learning and working together to remove non-native species and nurture our woodland habitat. We are looking forward to continuing our work in the spring, with both Zoom classes and also socially distanced gatherings at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Newark, continuing with non-native removals, planting more natives, mapping our property for important plants and perhaps even developing a labeled nature trail."
A Garden for Wildlife program, Sacred Grounds engages people of all faiths and houses of worship in caring for wildlife and the environment. To achieve a Sacred Grounds designation, houses of worship undergo a certification process, which includes creating a Certified Wildlife Habitat on their grounds, connecting their teachings to environmental stewardship, sharing educational opportunities with community members and sustaining these commitments into the future. Visit the Sacred Grounds page to learn more.
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