David Moul, environmental steward at St. Hilda’s, Sechelt, and the Rev. Michael Batten of St. David’s, Vancouver, with the first “Green Parish” awards. At right is the Rev. Neil Ferynhough of St. Hilda’s. (Julie H. Ferguson photo)
St. Hilda's Anglican Church (Sechelt) has become the first parish in the Diocese of New Westminster to become accredited as a "Green Parish" under a new program that gives recognition to churches that have demonstrated a commitment to environmental stewardship.

Shortly afterwards, St. David of Wales, Vancouver, became the second parish to receive the accolade. Both were presented certificates at Diocesan Synod by Bishop Michael Ingham.

At its Synod of 2006, the diocese called upon all churches to set targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Through the work of its Environmental Unit, several innovative programs have been created to assist churches in setting targets and achieving them. Green Parish Accreditation (GPA) is one of them.

A church can call itself a green parish when it documents completion of eight action areas which include energy conservation, recycling, ground care, transportation, communication, education, worship and environmental justice.

St. Hilda's has taken several steps to reduce energy consumption and green house gas emissions. These include energy efficient light bulbs, weather stripping on outside doors, insulating hot water pipes and a commitment to replace the old fuel oil furnace with electric heaters.

The church actively practices recycling and has taken steps to conserve water. They have planted many native plants and have begun the removal of an invasive ivy species. Their landscape and exterior lights are "dark skies" friendly. A bike rack was installed to encourage emissions free transportation.

Environmental themes have been incorporated into the worship and liturgy at St. Hilda's and several Sundays of the year are dedicated to creation spirituality. David Moul, the Environmental Steward at St. Hilda's, has used the Anglican Community mapping project to include many Sunshine Coast environmental features.

This has become a unique way of educating the congregation and local residents to the whereabouts of local green services and areas of environmental concern. Moul and the Rev. Neil Fernyhough, rector, received the award at synod for St. Hilda’s.

St. David of Wales was among the first parishes to install solar heating on their roof in order to cut the energy used in heating hot water. The Rev. Michael Batten received the award for the parish.