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Local Churches win Greening Sacred Spaces Awards 2011

Showing great leadership, hard work and perseverance, the Eco-Churches of West Hamilton and the Hill St. Garden Faith group are making a difference in the communities where they live.

By Beatrice Ekwa Ekoko
Published June 15, 2011

It was a day to celebrate. Outside, the sun shone soothingly and early summer displayed its brilliant colours in all its glory. Inside Westdale United Church, another celebration was taking place in keeping with the mood outdoors and in honour of the environment.

After years of working hard to green their places of worship and their practices, two community faith collaborations received the much coveted Greening Sacred Spaces Awards for 2011.

Greening Sacred Spaces

Started in 2006-2007 in Ottawa, the Green Sacred Spaces awards recognize faith communities who have made great efforts to reduce the environmental impact that they have on the earth.

The awards are chosen by the facilitators of the Greening Sacred Spaces program - itself is a practical program designed by the interfaith network - Faith and the Common Good. Chapters of Greening Sacred Spaces can be found all over Ontario and in Hamilton, the program is rolled out by Environment Hamilton.

Greening Sacred Spaces works with faith communities, helping them make their buildings more energy-efficient, and their members more environmentally aware.

This year, Eco Churches of West Hamilton (Eco-WHAM) and The Hill St. Garden Churches received the awards at a reception organized by Greening Sacred Spaces/Environment Hamilton.

Partnering with the group was Horizon Utilities Corporation. Brian Smith, Horizon's Chief Conservation Officer, was on hand to present the awards.

In order to win the GSS Award, the following stringent criteria must be met:

  1. Practical actions such as completing an energy retrofit, microfit or community garden;
  2. Engagement in numerous local sustainability and energy conservation educational events;
  3. Involvement in outreach programs in the community at large; educating and engaging other faith communities to take actions in their communities and households at large.

Ten GSS awards are granted in areas across Ontario where Greening Sacred Spaces programs are active (Hamilton, Waterloo Region, Wellington County, Toronto, Ottawa and Eastern Ontario and Peterborough).

In past years, Green Sacred Spaces awards have been presented to faith communities in Ottawa, Toronto, Peterborough and Waterloo Region. This year, for the first time, the GSS awards are being awarded in Hamilton.

Eco-WHAM and Hill Street Garden Churches

Councillor Brian McHattie shared greetings from the City of Hamilton and the audience was impressed by the presentations given by the award recipients.

The Eco Churches of West Hamilton (Eco-WHAM) Churches include Westdale United Church in Hamilton and Knox Presbyterian Church, Christian Life Assembly, St. Augustine's Roman Catholic Church, St. James Anglican Church, St. and Paul's United Church in Dundas.

Eco-WHAM representatives receive Greening Sacred Spaces Award
Eco-WHAM representatives receive Greening Sacred Spaces Award

Their mission statement: To practice and advance ecological sustainability in keeping with Christian principles of stewardship.

The team meets regularly to learn, exchange ideas, plan public events, distribute newsletters, support local environmental events, and provide encouragement to like-minded community groups.

The congregations are doing energy audits, installing compact florescent lighting and LED lighting, weather-proofing, eco- film screenings, climate change action, eco-walks offering water and energy conservation workshops, using rain barrels, using programmable thermostats, green and blue carting, growing community gardens, using green cleaning products and more.

Since July 2008 they have produced newsletters for Eco-WHAM. The entire collection can be found on the Knox Presbyterian website.

The Hill St. Garden Churches include First Hamilton Christian Reformed church, New City Church, St. John the Evangelist Anglican, Central Presbyterian and First Unitarian.

Hill St. Garden Churches representatives receive Greening Sacred Spaces Award
Hill St. Garden Churches representatives receive Greening Sacred Spaces Award

The garden has well over 40 different households utilizing the space. They built the raised beds in mid April 2010 with over 100 volunteers, including nearly all the gardeners, their friends & family, and volunteers from the partnering churches.

Aside from the community garden, the faith groups are doing energy upgrades, getting to worship without vehicles, canning workshops, hosting meetings for the Green West Hamilton Group, using fair trade products, xeriscaping, hosting many green community events, putting up solar panels and retrofitting their buildings.

Showing great leadership, hard work and perseverance, our award winners the Eco-Churches of West Hamilton and the Hill St. Garden Faith group are making a difference in the communities where they live. We will be watching these faith communities as they continue to inspire and lead by example.

Beatrice Ekwa Ekoko is a member of the dedicated team at Environment Hamilton.

6 Comments

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By Art Brut (anonymous) | Posted June 15, 2011 at 11:34:11

Councillor McHattie is making a bid for Photoshop meme.

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By scrnchjxy (anonymous) | Posted June 15, 2011 at 16:41:22 in reply to Comment 64890

you go run for office and get council to encourage these projects. then you can be in the picture. if him being in the picture is what it takes, it's an awful small cost--or are you Andreww Drechel?

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By Art Brut (anonymous) | Posted June 15, 2011 at 17:39:04 in reply to Comment 64902

No argument from me. Love Brian, but was equally smitten by the dimensionality of his pose.

To wit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUa9WthUJdU

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By BeulahAve (registered) | Posted June 16, 2011 at 11:41:00

Congratulations on the awards -- so great to see churches taking these initiatives and out there in the community, especially around the Hill Street Garden which is quite a lovely and amazing space! These partnerships set a positive tone for broader community relations.

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By daven (anonymous) | Posted June 16, 2011 at 14:06:19

here is a link to the garden's website:
http://hillstreetgarden.org/

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted June 17, 2011 at 06:19:19

Not only this but a great neighbourhood presence day in and day out. As many activities going on here as any other church and more than most.

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