On April 14th Christ Church Cathedral sent two representatives, Jeffrey Mackie and Ben Stuchbery, to the Green Church conference in Quebec City.
Jeffrey Mackie writes:
Green Church is an ecumenical organization based in Montreal that aims to empower faith communities to adopt environmentally aware practices. I had first read about them in the Anglican Journal during Lent and saw that they had a conference happening in our province. At the time we in the Cathedral were working on reducing our carbon footprint and raising our awareness and I thought it important that we have representation at the conference both as witness and to learn.
The theme of the conference was ‘Creating a Climate of Hope’ and there were workshops and also a keynote speaker. I believe the workshops definitely stayed true to the theme, they were fun and interactive while also showing the participants positive steps that were being taken in communities to help the environment and their communities.
A personal favourite of mine was about the small farm at the Anglican Cathedral in Quebec City. The farm on the Cathedral property has not only opened the church to the wider community but has aided many visitors who have found healing by encountering this oasis in the middle of the city.
I also enjoyed Paul Mackey’s workshop on transportation. He outlined for us the issues but also emphasized that there are positive steps we can take in this area. I enjoyed the conference because it emphasized practical steps we can take in our lives and communities to help the environment and also because it took place in an atmosphere of spirit filled fellowship.
I also picked up Green Church director Norman Lévesque’s book ‘Greening Your Church’ which outlines the importance of the natural world and creation in our tradition as well as practical things one’s church can do. I believe this will be a great resource for us at Christ Church.
Benjamin Stuchbery writes:
The following statement is an exposition of the themes and issues raised at the Green Church conference as set forth both in the key-note address and in the workshops.
The effects of climate change are real and are already being felt by the most vulnerable on this planet, human and animal alike.
This fact alone cries out for action. It imbues climate change with a moral urgency, an urgency the church is particularly well-placed – and dare I say required – to act upon. The church has a role to remind each of us that the climate crisis is more than a scientific truth regarding the state of our ecosystems; it is a crisis that is having real and tangible adverse effects on human life. The moral responsibility lies in our willingness to “open our eyes” and perceive the uncomfortable truth of the situation, to take responsibility for the well-being of our planet, and by extension the well-being of our neighbours.
At the Green Church conference delegates representing at least five Christian denominations were asked to sign a solemn declaration regarding the role and witness of the church towards the reality of climate change. In this declaration, we are reminded of our role, given to us by God, of having dominion over the earth with the requirement of tending to God’s creation. Our role is to till the land, not to destroy.
Among the more useful and thought-provoking practical questions posed to delegates involved the use of church land. How can the church use its physical land-holdings to visibly witness to care for creation? We were provided with the example of a community garden which has numerous advantages:
1. It visibly expresses the virtue of care, 2. It demonstrates to the wider public that there is an active community within the church, 3. It generates community networks by attracting volunteers both from within the church and from without, 4. It demonstrates the church taking ownership of care for the environment through sustainable food production.
One of the frustrations expressed during the conference was regarding the lack of conviction and commitment on the part of religious organizations to stand for climate action which made it difficult to participate in public environmental awareness events under the banner of a church.
Implicit both in this frustration and in the movement to “green” church land is a broader yearning for the church to be more visible and vocal in the public sphere. There was a general sense at the conference that delegates wished the church would stake out a clearer position and be more vocal about issues that affect the wider world.