2nd Green Church Conference
October 16, 2012 - Drummondville (Quebec)
At St-Nicéphore's Church in Drummondville, on Tuesday, October 16, 130 people from the Anglican, Catholic and United Churches took part in the 2nd provincial Green Church Conference with the theme “Inhabit the Earth”. They demonstrated their solidarity and pledged to do more to make their respective communities aware of the need for environmental action. The participants represented a dozen regions of Quebec.
Two eminent speakers gave keynote addresses: Sister Esther Champagne, President of the Regroupement pour la responsabilité sociale des entreprises (RRSE), and Mr. Steven Guilbeault, staff member in charge of the climate change file at Équiterre. They each in turn showed how people can intervene at different levels to improve the future of the planet and the people who inhabit it.
Acting out of their convictions
“As shareholders, we use the power of money to protect human rights and the environment, and to promote sound governance,” said Sister Esther Champagne. To do this, the RRSE focuses on three main types of action, starting with an analysis of the situation. In every development project, whether mining, energy or industrial, it is important to ensure that the surrounding community has given full, free and informed consent. Next, militant shareholders continue their intervention by entering into a respectful – but persistent – dialogue with the company concerned and, if necessary, will carry out a public intervention. “Sometimes, things take time,” she pointed out, but the success they have had in projects like the Suroît make her optimistic. In her opinion, the time she invests is a vital necessity because, as a Christian, Sister Champagne is motivated by the conviction that justice comes before charity.
Mr. Steven Guilbeault picked up the thread by focusing in on the status of global climate change and its impact on populations. “Global warming isn’t something that affects only the Arctic and the polar bears,” he pointed out. For instance, because of the droughts that caused intense forest fires in summer 2011 in Russia, the world’s 4th largest grain exporter, that country’s grain exports were greatly affected. As a result, primary commodity prices rose by 15 % globally. “For some people, that makes the difference between eating or not eating,” he said. “Think globally and act locally” is the slogan that prompted Steven Guilbeault to get involved in achieving concrete results. He has long been an advocate for the environment and finds men and women of vision, identified in the Bible as “prophets”, a source of inspiration for his own commitment.
The panelists who followed came from different backgrounds but all shared a desire to express their concern for the environment in their everyday activities. Deacon Clément Beauchemin, a farm producer from Saint-Cyrille-de-Wendover, makes use of agricultural practices that are adapted to environmental needs. Working the soil, crop rotation, protection of riverbanks and moderate fertilization are some of the ways we can not only inhabit the Earth that has been loaned to us, but make it fruitful. Mr. Alain Rayes, the mayor of Victoriaville, shared some of the convictions underlying municipal programs that promote environmental protection. Selective collection of recycling and compostable materials makes it easier for the citizens of Victoriaville to live green. The city intends to carry on its efforts in order to remain a cradle of sustainable development. Ms. Karine Langlais, in charge of environmental animation at the Collège de Shawinigan, capitalizes on her training as a biologist to rally students to the environmental cause. To further improve the performance of this institution, which has been certified as a “Green Cégep”, she is working hard to integrate sustainable development into the school curriculum and include a green aspect in the college’s real estate development.
Ecological Groups at their stands
Many environmental organizations in the region were present to build bridges with the Churches who are getting on board the environmental current. There were: Alonvert (Diocese of Nicolet), Bloc Vert, CFER, Earth and Environment (Natives from Odanak), Eau Secours, Équiterre, Green Church Prog., Greenpeace, Pauline Bookstores, Panier santé, Récupéraction.
In the afternoon, the 130 participants at the Green Church Conference had an opportunity to attend two of six interactive workshops presented in Saint-Nicéphore church and in the Lessard and Traversy buildings. Here is a short description of each workshop:
- The Green Pages of the Bible : Discover how stories from the Bible teach to care for Creation. There were also useful tools for catechesis or preaching.
- Your Ecological Footprint : This activity builds awareness. It is simple to prepare and helps the whole community to take care of Creation.
- New Ways of Building Awareness : These new ways include group discussions after a movie (like a documentary) and help Christians become aware of modern day challenges.
- Ecojustice, Solidarity, Development and Peace : How can we stop being accomplices of impoverishment? How can we share the Earth's goods with all?
- From Eco-words to Eco-actions : Discover the fruits of a renewable approach with Creation thanks to the 5 Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle, repare, revere.
- Action-Youth-Environment : How can the Church integrate youth in the environmental movement? What activities mobilize and nourrish?
The Ecumenical Worship Service
The opening and closing ceremonies for the day were led by Nicole O'Bomsawin to the sound of the drum. The Abenaki anthropologist, from the Catholic tradition, used symbols from native spirituality to pay tribute to the Earth. These moments of looking inward were nourished by Christian texts in praise of Creation, with the participation of pastors from the United Church (Rev. David Fines), the Anglican Church (Rev. Yves Samson) and the Catholic Diocese of Nicolet (Bishop André Gazaille).
The 2nd Green Church Conference was the product of close cooperation between the diocesan group Alonvert, which promotes environmental action in pastoral ministry, and the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism, which pilots the Green Church program. The activity received support from Citizenship and Immigration Canada as part of the Inter-Action program.
Thanks to Jacinthe Lafrance for this review and Belva Webb for the translation.
To learn more about the 1st Green Church Conference (Montreal, 2010), click here.