Gloucester Unitarian Universalist Church
The present-day congregation is the owner of the the historic 1806 Meetinghouse on its handsome tree-lined green, built for the First Universalist Society in America under the leadership of Rev. John Murray and his wife; author, playwright and early champion for gender equality, Judith Sargent Murray. The first service was conducted in the Sargent family home in 1774. Murray was the Chaplain to the Rhode Island Regiment under George Washington during the Revolutionary War. Incorporated as the Independent Christian Church in 1792, Murray and his congregation played a central role in one of the landmark court cases establishing the separation of church and state. The grand Federal Style building with a 5-storey tower, Paul Revere bell and 600-seat sanctuary with outstanding acoustics on Middle Street is the home of a very active Unitarian Universalist congregation devoted to spiritual exploration, equality of all persons, care of our environment, and social justice activism.
Modeled on the relationship between the Old North Foundation and Boston's famous Old North Church, the Gloucester Meetinghouse Foundation is a separate, secular non-profit organization from the the Gloucester Unitarian Universalist Church. The GMF is devoted to fund-raising and execution of the large preservation projects necessary to sustain the building as a civic hub, entertainment venue and community center for centuries to come. The Foundation is proud of its partnership with the Church, working together for the good of the whole Cape Ann community.
TownGreen2025, a program of the Gloucester Meetinghouse Foundation, has devoted its efforts to addressing the challenges and opportunities presented by the effects of climate change. For the past five years, TownGreen2025 has been leading the coastal communities of Cape Ann to carbon neutrality and effective adaptation through four focus areas: energy efficiency; renewable energy; climate education; and carbon sequestration.
The 1806 Meetinghouse, home of Gloucester Meetinghouse Foundation, is one of very few historic New England buildings that have achieved “net zero” status through extensive thermal insulation, reduced energy use, switching to cleaner sources, and carbon sequestration. Thanks to a gift by the Hintlian family of three hectares of land planted with highly carbon absorptive trees in Costa Rica by Reforest the Tropics, all remaining CO2 created through energy use by the building is sequestered in the trees, resulting in carbon balance with “net zero” emissions into the atmosphere by the Meetinghouse.
TownGreen2025’s successful programming includes climate change curriculum workshops for K-12 teachers, annual Sustainability Fairs, a solar challenge resulting in the installation of 100 residential PV systems, and the Big Roof Solar program assisting local businesses and non-profits in securing and installing affordable solar arrays.
In 2019, a group of concerned citizens began gathering to seek a comprehensive and coordinated approach to Cape Ann’s climate crisis. The first large scale public meeting attracted approximately 125 residents, business leaders, and representatives from local and state governments. TownGreen/2025 has served as a leading sponsor of this group, known as the Cape Ann Climate Coalition, which has formed seven action groups to address a wide spectrum of climate related concerns.