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Fix What We Already Have: Renovate today’s buildings for a carbon-neutral tomorrow

When we think about the year 2050 and our climate goals of being carbon neutral in all of our activities, including operating our buildings, we often have this utopian vision of space age buildings. That vision is not what 2050 will look like; not even close. 

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The Best of Faith & the Common Good

by Lucy M. Cummings, ED 2013-2019

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Lucy

I have always been deeply humbled by the incredible people of faith and spirit across our network, most of whom are volunteers, who give so much of themselves to build green, resilient communities.  

It’s impossible to choose, but a few of the greatest hits for me include the following projects:

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How we Began: Our Founders, Dr. Ted Reeve & Dr. Bill Phipps Remember

Written by Dr. Ted Reeve, Executive Director 2000-2013.

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Bill (left), Ted (right), circa 2000.

This idea of engaging interfaith groups in ethical or common good issues emerged from our cross-country travels in the late 1990s when Bill Phipps was Moderator of The United Church of Canada (UCC). Bill gave special attention to a national consultation on Faith and Economy and so we travelled from coast to coast (unfortunately, not to the third coast) holding town hall meetings on regional economic challenges and how faith communities were responding.

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A Prayer Offering from Faith & the Common Good at the Conclusion of National Indigenous History Month

Creator, we know you hear all prayers, no matter the language or the belief of those who pray.

Give us the courage to create and protect the right relationships we know you want all peoples to enjoy. 

Help us recognize and work on the sources of discrimination that separate Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and that threaten your creation.

We confess that we often ignore and even protect systems that privilege some and hurt others.

Open our hearts with love and compassion to walk together on the path of true justice and reconciliation.

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How can rural and isolated faith communities take climate action?

As Canadians, when it comes to actions we can take to protect the climate, we automatically think about energy conservation. We head over to the local hardware store for some caulking, insulation, a new Energy Star window etc., to fix up our buildings that will in turn, help lower
maintenance costs, save energy, and save the planet.

But that only works if you live in a city or close to a large hardware store. Have you thought about how difficult it is to get an energy audit for a fishing port village church on a remote coast of Newfoundland, with the nearest energy auditor over three hours away? Have you though  about trying to fly in new windows and doors to a remote northern Manitoba reserve’s church without any being damaged?

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We turn ourselves inside out for the benefit of the community

A guest post by Doug Daley, Greening Initiatives Lead & Don Atkinson, Past Chair (St. Paul’s United Church, Orillia).

When Rev. Ted Reeve joined St. Paul’s United Church in 2014 as our new minister, the congregation was looking for opportunities to increase the use of the 150-year-old building. 

With input from Rev. Bill Phipps, a very close collaborator of Rev. Reeve’s on numerous initiatives, a vision to “turn ourselves inside out for the benefit of the community” as the friends described it, was adopted.

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What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You: When your faith building is wasting energy and money!

Within our faith communities we all help out; that’s the ‘community’ in faith community. Some people take care of the building — often the most thankless job, because if they do a good job, no one notices anything. These dedicated people care about the building, but unfortunately don’t always understand how their building works, which is completely normal. In highschool, we were not taught how to maintain our homes let alone maintain and operate large, oftentimes massive places of worship. For example, the huge decorative ceiling grilles in many places of worship are, from my experience, 95% of the time open to the attic. One church I worked with had four 8-foot diameter ceiling vents and the congregation couldn’t worship in the space in the summer because the heat coming off the roof drove them out! How would people know this? They wouldn’t, since we don’t have anything comparable in our homes. So to the building maintenance teams reading this, don’t be hard on yourselves.

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Greening Canadian Mosques: Program Launch

In partnership with EnviroMuslims and with generous funding from Olive Tree Foundation, Faith & the Common Good has launched Greening Canadian Mosques, the first program of its kind giving Canadian mosques the tools and resources they need to embed sustainable practices and policies within their facilities.

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