The Diocese of New Westminster’s first Green Synod ended with a call to all parishes to commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by reducing energy consumptions in churches and parish halls.

A resolution prepared by the diocese’s environmental unit and passed nearly unanimously by the approximately 300 members of synod, one-third of them clergy and the rest lay, urges parishes to set specific targets for reduced energy use.

It also calls upon parish leaders to report to their annual vestry meetings in February how far they have come in meeting the targets.

The motion was moved by the Rev. Nick Parker of St. Stephen’s, West Vancouver, and seconded by Sylvia Beech of St. Margaret, Cedar Cottage.

Prof. Sallie McFague of VST holds up report of a young Anglican concerned about the environment in a talk urging ecological awareness. (Julie H. Ferguson photo)

The motion came after three synod presentations by the Environmental Unit and synod keynote speeches given by Vancouver School of Theology theologian Sallie McFague.

McFague said that human beings can be and should be the caretakers of the planet. She urged delegates to become “ecologically literate.”

“Ecology is not a hobby like bird watching,” she said. “It is the most fundamental study of our planet. It is the study of our “house rules.”

She outlined as the planet’s house rules the following:

- Take only your share.

- Clean up after yourself.

- Leave the house in order for others yet to come.

“We need to see the earth as our home and not a hotel,” McFague said.

McFague defined salvation as the wellbeing of the whole planet, and paraphrased the early Christian theologian Irenaeus: “The glory of God is every creature fully alive.”

Synod delegates were involved in several table exercises by both McFague and by Rosie Hyde, chair of the Environmental Unit. One exercise by the unit involved blowing up blue balloons and cutting out and pasting construction paper continents on them.

The Rev. Craig Tanksley of St. Alban’s, Burnaby, blows up a balloon which will become a globe of the earth in a table exercise led by the Environmental Unit. (Wayne Chose photo)

Making globes, she said, was a way for delegates to remind themselves of the “broader geographic context” of which today’s Christians must be aware.

“Today, our focus is not on individual parishes, but on the interconnectedness of each of us to one another and all of creation.  And not only the creation we share the planet with today, but with past generations and with future generations,” said Hyde.

Later during Synod, a motion was passed asking Diocesan Council to reduce paper use by next year posting Synod reports on the website rather than printing and mailing them. Printed copies would still be available upon request, the measure stipulated.

For a copy of the Special Synod Edition of TOPIC (in pdf format), please go here.