Sunday, December 28, 2008

Eco Church in the Spec

Church keen to lower its energy costs - Local - Church keen to lower its energy costs

Daniel Bird
Special to The Hamilton Spectator

(Dec 26, 2008)

The stained glass windows of Melrose United Church have brought light to worshippers for decades. They are now bringing something else in -- the cold.

No one knows how to fix the windows, said church member Mathew Xagoraris, but something will have to be done. Fixing the windows is part of a plan at the church on Homewood Avenue to save money by conserving energy. Other changes include replacing a 20-year-old industrial refrigerator for about $3,000.

In April, an environmental auditing company scoured the old stone building to find features that are driving up heat and hydro bills. The church is waiting for the results.

Saving cash isn't the only reason behind the push to cut energy use. "Reducing your personal footprint on the Earth is very much in line with religion and spirituality," Xagoraris said.

The church is also offering advice to members about cutting energy costs in their homes. Last month, about 50 people learned over breakfast how to fix a drafty house and cut their heating bill in half.

Beatrice Ekwa Ekoko is project manager for Environment Hamilton, a nonprofit group that put on the workshop. She said it is talking with 60 other faith groups about setting up similar programs.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Faith and Sustainability

Faith and Sustainability?

In a recent interview with Brain Vyn, a graduate student at the University of Waterloo (Theology), I was asked what my understanding of sustainability is. Immediately the idea of 'giving strength to----over a long period of time' came to mind.

Most of all, the idea of living within limits-creating boundaries so that we can support and nourish the planet for future generations- was foremost in my reply.

I was asked in what way faith groups can help make the transition from a destructive consumerist society to a sustainable one. I had a ready answer.

Faith groups have the advantage of already being organized units that share a commonality over the board- that is to honour and respect the Earth and the Creation.

Religions and spiritual philosophies all over the world have a long-standing tradition of ecological stewardship.

The answer then to his question is simple-follow the teachings of your faith. There should not be a problem.

Traditionally, faith groups have concerned themselves with social justice issues; now is the time to see the predicament of climate change as a social justice issue and act upon that. It's time to prioritize climate change in what ever context you feel most comfortable with.

Other ways that faith groups can help motivate their congregations is to include eco- tips in church bulletins. Every service, include a call to stewardship. At every service, set up a table with information about what individuals can do together or alone to move towards to sustainability and conservation.

Environment Hamilton offers free workshops on energy conservation for example. If one is being offered at your church or synagogue- show up. Set an example. Use our energy meters at home with your kids to show them how much energy appliances use.

Get involved. Conduct do- it -yourself audits on your homes and in your faith groups. Share your experiences and skills. Commit to one thing at a time (start with the energy planner we have made available to you). Educate your selves. Take responsibility.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Powered down Service-candle light service.

We are reaching out to over 40 faith groups in an effort to make this part of a Hamilton tradition. Contact me for more information if your faith group is interested in participating!

Powered down Service-candle light service.

Power down this holiday and light up your service with candle light.

What can your faith group do to conserve energy this holiday? Consider turning off the lights and having a candlelight service! Religions and spiritual philosophies all over the world have a long-standing tradition of ecological stewardship. A candle light service is a beautiful way to honour this sacred message.

Please sign up your faith groups and Join faith groups across the Hamilton area for one hour (your choice as to when) to symbolize your commitment to reducing energy use and promoting conservation and sustainability.

If you need a poster to advertise the event we will provide you with one. Let's make Hamilton a city of eco-faith groups!


Beatrice Ekwa Ekoko

Project Manager

Environment Hamilton

905 549 0900

Maker's Market at Christ Church Cathedral

Yesterday, Dec 6th, I attended the Maker's Market at the Christ Church Cathedral. I handed out over 80 energy conservation planners and 50 energy saving kits to holiday shoppers as they came into the cathedral to buy their locally made arts, crafts and foods. A very fitting event for our Energy Awareness Initiative- we plan to continue this as a partnership, since their position is to encourage local sustainability and community as much as possible- which is in line with our goals.
It was fun talking to up to 20 people directly about energy saving in the home.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Energy Workshop

Dec 3rd:
Another workshop. Since the turn out was so small, we not only presented the workshop but we took the opportunity to brainstorm on how to engage congregation members. We decided to try approaching the men's group, to have a table set out for the end of services, and to arrange bus energy meter demonstration for the youth component. Looking forward to trying these ideas out!