Across the country, United Churches are doing their part to address the climate crisis by getting their own house in order by working to reduce their own carbon emissions. Through a partnership with Faith & the Common Good, the United Church of Canada is offering grants and support for churches to measure their energy use and reduce their climate pollution, in ways that save money and strengthen congregational renewal.
St. Cuthbert, Leaside is an attractive red brick church, but in environmental circles it’s known by another colour — dark green. The church has won the Green Sacred Space Award for 2018, given to the most environmentally friendly place of worship in Toronto. It is only the second Anglican church in the city to receive the award since it was established in 2000.
“We’re delighted and pleased that our efforts are making a difference,” says Heather Conolly, a member of the church and its property coordinator. “We’re keepers of the world and we want to pass on to the next generation what was handed down to us.”
For the past four months, I have been a co-op student working with Greening Sacred Spaces (GSS) Halton-Peel, a program of Halton Environmental Network (HEN) and a chapter of Faith & the Common Good (FCG). My focus was helping to develop and implement the Energy Benchmarking Program in Halton and Peel. This program allows our team to monitor and measure the energy consumption of faith communities and help them reduce or become more efficient energy users.
With this program I had the amazing opportunity to be put into an environment that I was not used to. I am used to speaking about the importance of the environment and saving energy. However, until I started to speak with the different faith communities that we worked with in Halton and Peel, I never realised the important role the environment plays across faiths.
Guest post by Marlie Whittle, St. Anselm’s Ecology Group in Toronto.
GSS Certification Team
In 2015, Pope Francis wrote an encyclical called Laudato Si: Praise be to You. This encyclical was a call to environmental action from the highest authority of the Catholic Church. Since 2015, many Catholic orders, churches and people have found different ways to respond to this call. I have had the privilege of being on St. Anselm’s Church’s ‘Green Team’ for over a year. We call ourselves St. Anselm’s Ecology Group and in the past three years our team has grown from two parishioners to 13!
At Faith & the Common Good, we were fortunate to receive an Ontario 150 grant. It provided the opportunity for youth of different religions and cultural backgrounds, to create 8 native plant gardens in 3 regions this spring; Ottawa, Halton, and Toronto. Toronto FCG chapter chose 3 faith sites: Shaarei Shomayim Congregation, Manor Road United Church, and the International Muslims Organization of Toronto (IMO).
***French version follows – La version en français suit***
St. John’s Anglican Church South March, is a small, well-maintained limestone church on the periphery of Ottawa, Canada that was first established in 1832. It is located on a large parcel of land and has an adjacent heritage cemetery as well as a newer one. Now it is located in the midst of suburban Kanata. Large sugar maples were planted in the old cemetery many years ago and they help to create a park land that is a peaceful place to walk. Many of the graves are lovingly tended.
Climate change. It’s worse than we thought. That was the message we heard from the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, Dr. Dianne Saxe, who joined us on three separate occasions over the past months — a June event in Hamilton and September events at Church of the Incarnation in Oakville and the Jaffari Community Centre in Thornhill.
Getting down and Dirty: Manor Road “Messy Church” Youth
As with the First Peoples who inhabit this vast land, native plant species are the originals. This was the theme at the Faith & the Common Good (FCG) and Ontario 150 native garden plaque presentation, “First Peoples, First Plants,” held on September 29, 2017 at Manor Road United Church in Toronto.
Tucker House is one of three youth gardens in Ottawa participating in Faith & The Common Good’s “Growing Community” Garden program funded by Ontario 150 Youth Partnership Program. Tucker House is located in Rockland, ON. This centre focuses on environmental teaching and host Summer Camps for kids and teenagers. Over spring and summer, the kids learned about, created and took care of the gardens. Below is the testimonial of one of the young gardener, Erin Whittingham.