Slideshow image

Faithfully responding to the climate emergency turned urgent this year with record-breaking heat domes and highway busting, flood-producing winter storms. The Diocese of New Westminster is offering $1,000 grants for parishes to begin responding to the Climate Emergency.

To apply: • please read the Recommendations of The Climate Emergency Working Group (you may find this on the Diocese Web site)

• Fill in the (very short, very easy) grant application also found on the Diocese Website.

The Climate Committee will read your application and confirm that the project responds to Climate Emergency. We will then reply with a couple of suggestions to make your project successful or authorize $1,000 to be sent to you within the month.

A final report of pictures and a short story about what you did is requested to share the project ideas and insights throughout the diocese.

To help get parishes started, we share a tale of two communities. 

St Hilda's, Sechelt

Last summer, the drought prompted the Sunshine Coast Regional District to impose the highest level of water use restriction for 41 days, the longest in the District’s history. All outdoor use of tap water was prohibited, affecting gardens, ponds, pools, hot tubs, vehicles and boats. As Michael Starr put it, we at St Hilda’s in Sechelt were faced with “watching our rhododendrons slowly die.” A heroic bucket brigade of volunteers managed to save most shrubs, but hot, dry summers are now normal in Sechelt, and clearly this was no long-term solution. After exploring alternatives, Michael settled on a rainwater storage system as the most feasible and effective answer. Discussions with the rector, wardens, Bruce

Pond (recently appointed Creation Care Coordinator), and Christine Pawley merged the rainwater project with other ideas on developing a much broader Green Parish Action Plan for St Hilda’s.

The new rainwater system consists of a 9,000 litre (2,500 gallon) storage tank, piping to convey water from the roof of the parish hall to the tank, and plumbing connections to outside faucets for watering and indoor toilet tanks for flushing. Ambitious? Yes, and St Hilda’s was the fortunate benefactor of a bequest directed at the grounds and gardens. We also had diocesan support through the Climate Response Grant program. We were guinea pigs for the granting forms and process, but the application was not onerous, and the grant decision was made quickly, in our favour!

Saving a relatively small amount of treated municipal water is a step on a path to climate change adaptation. The new infrastructure will make our grounds more drought tolerant, and we hope to share the rainwater with neighbouring gardens. Moreover, it is a model for water use that we expect will engage our parish and community in wider-ranging discussions about climate change, the climate emergency and what collective and individual actions we can take. A side benefit, one perhaps with a bigger payoff, is that the rainwater project has served as catalyst for moving ahead with our larger Green Parish Action Plan. The plan encompasses diverse fields of action including spirituality, education, and advocacy, as well as use of energy, water, land, and investments. We will bring a motion to our Annual Vestry meeting in just over a week’s time asking for parish support for the direction we propose.

Click HERE for Green Parish Action Summary 

Holy Cross, Vancouver

Holy Cross Japanese Canadian Anglican Church in Vancouver is my parish (Rev. Alecia Greenfield chair of the Diocese Climate Emergency Implementation Group). Holy Cross does not have a Creation Care Coordinator and does not have a call specifically to environmental ministry at this time. Holy Cross has an amazing mission to address racism and raise awareness, especially of anti-Asian discrimination. I notice that people who can devalue other people by race can also dismiss the life value of other living beings in Creation. Being in right relationship with God is to work to be in right relationship with all people and all Creation. This anti-racism mission is a vital ministry. I am aware that climate justice is a social justice emergency.

Back to the Climate Emergency Response Grant. Holy Cross will apply to replace one single-paned and broken window. This change will immediately reduce our climate emissions (tiny change but still true). This small, doable will also be discussed in parish council and in worship with an invitation to all members to consider what changes in their lives might reduce climate emissions. We will also watch

and learn from what other parishes are doing this year and then next year take one more step towards climate justice.

Other projects may include replacing an old gas-burning furnace with a heat pump (St Steven’s West Vancouver). Alternatively, consider replacing a grass lawn that needs weed kill, fertilizer, and watering. (All of which require energy emissions to collect, produce or deliver) Native plants might encourage the parish to be in relationship with the plants and insects of this place. Educational programs, bringing in speakers, for example, on climate and finance and investments would be options. Or inviting Salal and Cedar into your parish to reimagine how your parish worships in Creation. Finally, if there is a project that fits your parish’s unique ministry, gifts -or, like St Hilda’s adaptation requirements. We (the Climate Emergency Implementation Group) would love to hear how your parish will engage in the work of responding to the climate emergency in your (easy and short) grant application. 

(This article was prepared with files from Bruce Pond)


St. Hilda's parishioner, Michael Starr with the rainwater tank.

Photo: Bruce Pond