Sunday, June 26, 2011

Greening Sacred Spaces Awards-2011

Left: Representatives from the Eco Churches of West Hamilton (Eco-Wham) receive the Green Sacred Spaces Award 2011. Presenting the Award is Chief Energy Conservation Officer for Horizon Utilities Corp. Brian Smith. Bringing greetings from the City is Councilor McHattie.


Representatives from the Hill St. Garden Churches  receive the Green Sacred Spaces Award 2011. Presenting the Award is Chief Energy Conservation Officer for Horizon Utilities Corp. Brian Smith. Bringing greetings from the City is Councilor McHattie.




It was a day to celebrate.
While outside the sun shone soothingly and early summer displayed it's brilliant colours in all it's glory, inside Westdale United Church another celebration was taking place in keeping with the mood outdoors and in honor 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 Green Sacred Spaces Awards for 2011.

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. Chief Conservation Officer, Brian Smith of the utility company was on hand to present the awards.

In order to win the GSS Award, there are 3 stringent criteria that must be met and they are as follows:

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.

10 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.

Councillor Brian McHattie shared greetings from the City of Hamilton and the audience was rightly 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. Paul’s United Church in Dundas.

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 EcoWHam.

The entire collection can be found on the website: http://www.knoxdundas.com/newsletters.html

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

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.

Besides the community garden the faith groups are doing energy upgrades, getting to worsEco Churches of West Hamilton (Eco-Wham)hip 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.

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