Green Churches Forum 2017
May 11, 2017 - Ottawa
With many thanks to the Forum's 106 enthusiastic participants,
from 6 Christian denominations,
and 4 Canadian provinces!
The day started off with these poetic opening words from Mr. Norman Levesque, Director of the Green Churches Network: "In the beginning was the Word of God. Everything was created by the Word and everything we find in our environment, the Ottawa River, the Gatineau and Rideau rivers, trout and eels, iron and oil, everything was created by the Word. This is why we Celebrate the Spirit of Creation." Full speech here. (PDF, 371 kb)
Elder Barbara Dumont-Hill, from the Algonquin village of Kitigan-Zibi, welcomed us to the unceeded traditional territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabeg. She particularly stressed the importance of sacred places and traditional knowledge that educated about the protection of Creation. She ended with this wish: "I hope you are living in a good way".
The circle Every Woman's Drum sang to the rhythm of their drums to start this day of celebrating the Spirit of Creation. Two drummers, Michelle and Victoria, began by explaining that their drums were made to make reverbarating healing sounds.
Archbishop Terrence Prendergast from the R.C. Archdiocese of Ottawa, welcomed all Forum participants to Ottawa. He stressed that Creation was at its best thanks to the Canadian Tulip Festival. Returning from a trip to Rome with other Canadian bishops, Archbishop Prendergast told how Pope Francis reminded them of the importance of caring for God's Creation. The Archbishop congratulated the participants of this Forum who "take care of life in every form."
As the Honorable Catherine McKenna, Canada's Minister of Environment and Climate Change, was unable to attend the Forum personally, she sent a video to encourage the participants. “I think there’s a huge opportunity for churches across the country, for faith groups and faith leaders to work with our government to do what we need to do to protect the planet for future generations.”
Our keynote speaker was the Most Reverend Mark MacDonald who spoke about "Celebrating the Spirit of Creation". Bishop MacDonald became the first National Aboriginal Bishop of the Anglican Church of Canada in 2007. He is a third-order Franciscan and has contributed to numerous publications, including "Holy Ground: A Gathering of Voices on Caring for Creation" (Lyndsay Moseley, Sierra Club Books, 2008)
A few quotes from his speech:
“All these principalities and powers are conspiring against the environment.” “This climate of injustice is something that we, as religious people, have to say is one of the great moral and spiritual issues of our time.”
“It is absolutely essential that we understand this component of our progressive alienation of the environment around us.”
“Some Christians say their theology needs to be updated to make it more green.” “I’m all for that. But what I’m saying is that it fails to recognize the progressive alienation.”
“As Christians, with the gifts that the Creator has given us, we are called to live our lives in a fundamental, powerful, intimate, courageous, compassionate commitment to the world that God has created for us.”
Notes from his keynote address (PDF, 222 kb)
Forum Theme : "Celebrating the Spirit of Creation"
We want to celebrate in conjunction with the celebrations taking place throughout the National Capital for Canada's 150th anniversary. As believers we see Creation manifested in abundance in our home and native land. This event will also be a thanksgiving for the beauty and greatness of God's work from coast to coast to coast.
City of Love and Eco-Spirituality
by Prof. Mahmoud Masaeli, University of Ottawa
Download the slideshow (PDF, 1.6 Mb)
Theology of Creation in the Christian Orthodox Tradition
by prof. Paul Ladouceur, Université Laval
Download the notes (PDF, x kb)
Sustainable Finances & Investing for Faith Communities
by Ms. Kristina Inrig, Faith and the Common Good
Creative Christian Engagement in Canadian Climate Policy
by Karri Munn-Venn, Citizens for Public Justice
by Rev. Jessica Hetherington, Glebe-St. James United Church
Beyond Greening - Embracing Change & Ensuring Sustainability
by Robert Pajot and Bob Richards, Faith and the Common Good
The Green Pages of the Bible
by Mr. Norman Levesque, Green Churches Network
Download the slideshow (PDF, 14 Mb)
Objectifs du développement durable (French only)
par prof. Philippe Crabbé, retraité Université d'Ottawa
Télécharger le diaporama (PDF, 1,2 Mo)
- Green Churches Network, www.greenchurches.ca
- Citizens for Public Justice, www.cpj.ca
- Faith and the Common Good, www.greeningsacredspaces.net
- Kairos, www.kairoscanada.org
- Development and Peace, www.devp.org
- A Rocha, www.arocha.ca
- Centre justice et foi, Revue Relations www.cjf.qc.ca
- Ecology Ottawa, www.ecologyottawa.ca
- Office of the Auditor General of Canada, www.oag-bvg.gc.ca
Saint Paul University was especially ecologically sensitive throughout the day in offering fair trade coffee and fresh cakes at coffee breaks. For lunch, the participants could choose sandwiches and salads that were pefect for ethical eating, usually organic and locally grown.
The ecumenical service which brought together Christians from 6 different denominations (Catholic, United, Anglican, Lutheran, Baptist and Orthodox), was held in the Chapel of Saint Paul University. Sections of blue fabric were arranged to depict the layout of the rivers in the region: The Ottawa River, the Rideau and Gatineau Rivers. A cross and a bowl of water were in the center of the display.
First, participants from remote areas poured a small quantity of water they had gathered from their homes into a large bowl. Then, the circle Every Woman's Drum opened the service with the sound of their drums. The participants sang several Taizé hymns and there were several readings from the Bible. This day to Celebrate the Spirit of Creation ended in joyous singing and dancing in praise of and thanskiging for God's mighty works.
Download the service outline (DOCX, 95 kb)
A Few Comments
- “Bishop Mark MacDonald was excellent.”
- "It was ecumenical with an excellent integration of francophones and anglophones.”
- “Coming from different churches, we were one.”
- “The workshops were most useful with encouraging ideas to take back to my parish.”
- “Excellent presentations by interesting speakers.”
- “Appreciated having the indigenous speaker and drummers. Keep them!”
- “Very well organized. We could sense the passion of the organizers.”
- “Good idea of organizing the Forum in a different city each time.”
To see the Forum 2017 pictures in our Facebook album, click here.
The next Green Churches Forum will be held...
in Trois-Rivières, QC in Autumn 2018! Spread the word!
Check out our previous forums (conferences):
Green Churches Conference 2015