Following a challenge to Anglicans in 2006, environmental justice has arrived on the Sunshine Coast.
St. Hilda's Anglican Church has the auspicious honour of being the first accredited green church in the Diocese of New Westminster.
"We've got to be out there. Jesus was a radical," said David Moul, environmental steward for the parish. "There are 80 parishes and we're the first to go green."
Moul, a retired Environment Canada employee, was encouraged to take on the stewardship and with the help of a green team, led the congregation in implementing projects in the eight action areas identified during the Synod of 2006.
The eight areas are: energy conservation, recycling, ground care, transportation, communication, education, worship and environmental justice.
Moul said St. Hilda's had begun the process before the challenge even started. In 2005, the church undertook an energy audit and prioritized changes to make the building more efficient.
Following the challenge, the church created and signed a green procurement policy and will reduce their energy consumption 10 per cent by the end of this year. Plans are to remove the fuel oil furnace and replace it with electric heaters. Low voltage halogen lamps went into the sanctuary and LED lights were put in exit signs and walkway lighting. Outdoor lighting was also refocused straight to reduce night sky pollution.
"The earth is not something we can use without consequences. It's Creation's gift," Moul said.
Moul said the congregation buys fair trade coffee and is purchasing an ecological dishwasher. They have also committed to buying locally and eco-friendly when possible if the cost differential is not more than five per cent.
A bike rack was installed and car-pooling to Sunday services is encouraged.
Many in the congregation receive their weekly bulletins by email rather than a paper hard copy and Moul added to an Anglican community mapping site so people looking for eco-friendly places to shop and visit on the Sunshine Coast can find them with the click of their mouse.
He said ground maintenance work parties have worked steadily to terminate invasive ivy species that could eventually weaken large trees around the church. They also planted native species shrubs and plants.
Moul also recently introduced World Water Day to local governments with support from the Sunshine Coast Conservation Association. St. Hilda's is the first faith group to take out a membership with the non-profit.
"There is a definite connection [in the Bible] that everything is interrelated; people, the environment," said Moul.
Moul compiled a book of prayers and songs of praise from around the globe and has support from clergy who incorporate environmental philosophy into their sermons. They also signed on to the Earth Charter that promotes a "way of living sustainably."
"We want to make our world into heaven. The Kingdom isn't the future. It's here now," said Moul's wife Stephanie.
Having the accreditation does not mean Moul's work or that of the St. Hilda's congregation is complete. Two glass sponge reefs, once thought extinct, have been discovered off Gibsons and Sechelt's coastlines and Moul wants to achieve protected status for them.
To access the community map of green resources and to learn more about the Anglican environmental unit, visit www.vancouver.anglican.ca/ and follow the links on the right hand side of the page.