Light shining down from heaven on the garden at Holy Cross.
As I write this, the Holy Cross Eco Ministry nears its first anniversary, and what a blessed year it has been! Deo gratias!
Our eco team has just arrived back from watering our native pollinator garden and our vegetable gardens. Watering these gardens is often a peaceful task: admiring the growing fauna, greeting passersby, and surveying the bees and caterpillars and butterflies who have found a new happy home.
A Commitment to Sustainable Food: Islington United Church’s Giving Garden enters its 7th year
Islington United Church has long been a “green beacon” in its Etobicoke neighbourhood, demonstrating how a faith community can operate in an environmentally responsible manner. The congregation’s work has garnered community recognition including Faith and the Common Good’s Greening Sacred Spaces Award in 2013 and has been referred to as “the greenest church in Toronto.”
Mission and Background: St. Brigid’s Parish is a faith community that comes together through Christian ministry and community celebration. We live our faith through diversity, inclusion, compassion, justice and commitment. By welcoming, giving, and sharing, we demonstrate our faith in God, both within and beyond our Parish.
We are located in the Danforth (298 Wolverleigh Blvd) and have been worshipping and serving our community since 1927. St. Brigid Catholic School is located nearby.
Our building is 20,800 square feet of space, and is well used by our parishioners, school, and community groups. We run Out of the Cold (OOTC) and St. Vincent de Paul Society programs at our building. Our OOTC program provides safe refuge, hospitality and emergency shelter to the homeless community, every Monday night from April to November. St. Vincent de Paul Society volunteers provide home visits and education for those in need.
We have been actively seeking to reduce our footprint for the past 7 years. We do our best to reduce waste, promote recycling and composting, and have taken active steps to increase energy efficiency at our building.
Toronto is particularly susceptible to extreme weather disasters simply because it’s booming: the more concrete the city, the hotter the city. The urban heat-island effect is caused by tightly packed buildings and paved surfaces boxing in the heat. And when the rain comes, the lack of green spaces and growing number of impermeable surfaces mean there’s nowhere for water to go but into our ancient, overloaded pipes.
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.”
Faith & the Common Good recently launched an energy benchmarking program and Toronto Hydro and Enbridge Gas Distribution are assisting us in the City of Toronto. Hamilton, Halton, Peel, and York regions are also participating in this program.
The 2017 Ontario150 Youth Partnership Program was an opportunity for Ontario youth to participate in their communities in ways that would reflect their creativity, cultural expression, diversity, environmental stewardship, entrepreneurship, and civic engagement.
Playwright Marcus Youssef, upon accepting this year’s Siminovitch Prize for playwriting, gave a speech that clarified for me why I am interested in the intersection of faith communities with the broader community. Youssef wrote about his interest in points of intersection and the space between people, spoken and unspoken. He wrote about moments of unexpected connection between people, across culture and groups and about learning from these liminal explorations and the richness that comes from these moments.
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).
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.