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GSS London Chapter Launch: Spiritual Walk For The Earth

M. Tracey Whiteye and companion. Photo credit: Matt Martin

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It Takes a Village: Planning, Planting, Blessings and Blooms at Metropolitan United Church’s Entry Gardens.

Guest post by Dorcas Beaton, Chair of the Outreach Pillar at Metropolitan United Church.

Blooming bellflowers.

During the fall of 2021, in the midst of the fourth wave of the COVID pandemic, tiny bellflowers in our newly planted entry beds bloomed. The product of planning, planting and blessings, this was the first sign of our garden settling into its new home.  

Planning the Garden 

The planning for the garden began back in 2019 with a nudge from our arts leader, Lisa Hems and Rev. Karen Bowles, to reach out to the Garden Club of Toronto and see if they could help us on a project to renew and refresh our garden beds. The Garden Club agreed. They set up a project group led by Sayeh Beheshti and her talented team, to liaise with us. Many months of planning followed. We helped the Garden Club understand what we are as a church, and our hope to see these gardens as a statement of our values.  They would be welcoming to all, affirming, and embrace living with respect for creation. The result? The Garden Club presented a plan to have a pollinator garden, all native species (pre-settler plants needed by our local pollinators and suited to living in this place), and features that supported the pollinators themselves – seats that served as bee houses for gentle solitary native bees, and water reservoirs (bee baths). 

The PRIDE garden, a banner across the front of the west garden, would bloom in the colour of the rainbow during the PRIDE month of June and would sing out a statement of our commitment to be an affirming church.  The Garden Club jumped into action with regular posts to our church newsletter and website, and the running of a seed planting workshop. 

The other part of the planning was funding.  We were successful, thanks to a grant from TD Friends of the Environment via Faith & the Common Good, and rich organic soil donated by Scott’s Canada. The Rotary Club Toronto and Pollinate TO also provided grants, which helped us purchase  native pollinator plants. Planning involved improving the earth as well and Met members and Rainscape TO tended to the soil in 2020, weeding and enriching it with organic worm castings and letting it rest under inches of cedar mulch and leaves from our own park canopy.   

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Greening Canadian Mosques: Climate Conversations

We are delighted to announce that our Greening Canadian Mosques (GCM) program in partnership with EnviroMuslims has received new funding from Olive Tree Foundation.

Launched in 2020, GCM empowers mosque management teams, as well as mosque-goers, with the tools they need to understand environmental issues and take appropriate action.

Greening Canadian Mosques: Climate Conversations is phase three of the GCM program. 

It will build upon the communications package and toolkit developed in the previous phase of the project specifically for Canadian mosques to help guide them in improving sustainable practices, reducing carbon emissions, and reducing costs. 

“The first program of its kind in Canada, Climate Conversations will continue engaging a broad range of community partners and stakeholders that include both Imams and management teams, as well as youth leaders from Canadian universities and colleges who will share inspiration and best practices,” says Michelle Singh, FCG’s Executive Director.

“Climate Conversations will not only give Imams an opportunity to participate in peer-to-peer learning sessions and trainings, it will offer a platform to a generation of diverse Muslim youth to share their concerns but also, solutions to challenges their local mosques are facing when it comes to implementing sustainability programs and engaging with their local communities,” says Saba Khan, Co-Founder and Director of Community Outreach at EnviroMuslims.

Ten GCM Community Ambassadors (Muslim Canadians) from across the country will be selected through an online hiring process and trained to recruit mosques in their provinces to sign up for the program. They will help facilitate webinars for Muslim leaders and community members that align with the content of the toolkit, as well as encourage participation in workshops and trainings related to taking climate action and learning about environmental sustainability.

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Growing Gardens at Wellspring Worship Centre

 Guest post by Sarah Murley, Green Team Co-Leader.

Our GardensOur Gardens

Our church has always had congregants who love gardening and planting at home, and two years ago we took the plunge to start gardening at church.

Our vision for Wellspring is to have an abundant food and native plants garden that invites and welcomes our neighbours onto our grounds. We want to make our space inviting and fulfilling for human beings, as well as butterflies, birds and wildlife. 

Growing food will feed human stomachs, and growing native plants will feed pollinators and encourage biodiversity within North York. Our property also houses a beehive, which we have enjoyed the past 2 years. Thanks to our TD Friends of the Environment Grant, we were able to expand our existing garden with native plants, and give the bees more to feast on.

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May We Not Waste This Moment

“This is the first time that the three of us feel compelled to address together the urgency of environmental sustainability, its impact on persistent poverty, and the importance of global cooperation. Together, on behalf of our communities, we appeal to the heart and mind of every Christian, every believer and every person of good will. We pray for our leaders who will gather in Glasgow to decide the future of our planet and its people…

All of us—whoever and wherever we are—can play a part in changing
our collective response to the unprecedented threat of
climate change and environmental degradation.”

“A Joint Message for the Protection of Creation.” September 2021, Pope Francis,
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury.

“May we not waste this moment”

The leaders of the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Anglican Communion joined together in a historic “urgent appeal for the future of the planet” leading up to the two significant United Nations conferences taking place this fall on biodiversity and climate change. This is a critical time for calling on global leaders to take the urgent action needed to protect our common home.

In a joint message for the Season of Creation, Pope Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop Justin Welby call on everyone to do their part in responding together ”to the unprecedented threat of climate change and environmental degradation”. They warn that climate change is “an immediate and urgent matter of survival” which “tomorrow could be worse” for the children and teenagers of today. The statement emphasizes the profound injustice that the worst consequences of biodiversity loss, environmental degradation and climate change are affecting the poorest on the planet who have been least responsible for causing them. 

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Energy Star for Congregations: A Guiding Light

The United States (US) Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created and manages the Energy Star program. You may know the brand when buying an appliance for your home, selecting the most efficient appliance possible. They also work with buildings, and specifically congregations! (As an aside, Natural Resources Canada created the EnerGuide program, which we sold to the US, and they rebranded it as Energy Star, and now we use both programs here in Canada). Although US- centric, their resources are really great tools to help Canadian congregations take on energy saving actions and activities. 

To start, we, at Faith & the Common Good (FCG) are the only Canadian faith-based organization to have co-branded with EPA, producing the amazingly helpful Energy Star Action Workbook. It even has Dundas United Cardigan, NS on the cover replacing windows! Paired with our DIY Energy Audit Walkthrough Guide, these two resources are an outstanding way to take energy savings action in your congregation.

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Hope is Growing at St. Cuthbert’s Leaside

Guest blog by Kathleen Davies, garden team member


It seems that every year at St. Cuthbert’s Leaside Anglican Church a new garden “springs up.”  As we began a second planting season under Covid restrictions, our gardening team needed a little inspiration. Motivated by Communities in Bloom Canada’s pronouncement that YELLOW is the garden colour of 2021, we created a HOPE planter.   It joyfully sits on St. Cuthbert’s front steps for all the community to see.  Our message of HOPE inspired more than our own gardeners…photos of our planter have been shared online and in community news!

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Pandemic Planting

Guest blog by Elaine McKee

In the hour when the Holy one, blessed be He, created the first man, He took him and let him pass before all the trees of the Garden of Eden and said to him: "See my works, how fine and excellent they are!
Now all that I have created, for you have I created. Think upon this and do not corrupt and desolate My world, for if you corrupt it, there is no one to set it right after you." 

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