Green church program aims at environmental awareness

  • November 25, 2010
Green ChurchesTORONTO - More help is being offered to churches that want to do something about climate change.

The Montreal-based Canadian Centre for Ecumenism has launched the Green Church program to advise churches on ways to reduce their carbon footprint and lower heating bills. Joined with Toronto-based Greening Sacred Spaces, Green Church will offer certification to churches that achieve a high level of environmental awareness and act on it starting in April 2011.

Joining Green Church with Greening Sacred Spaces should ensure that the certification program has national reach, said Green Church director Norman Levesque.

While giving parish councils and pastors tips on energy use and guiding them through the process of applying for government grants is important, the real job is theological, said Levesque. A large part of the Green Church web site ( is dedicated to biblical reflections and theology.

Levesque plans to expand the theological side of the web site in coming months.

“You won’t get this neutral stuff, which looks Protestant but is supposed to be ecumenical,” said Levesque.

He is collecting sermons and other environmentally themed materials from Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant sources so that anyone interested in the environment can find material in their own tradition.

Trained as a meteorologist and a theologian, Levesque’s own path to environmental faith began with a pilgrimage to Assisi and Subiaco in Italy — where both the Franciscan and Benedictine orders began. Then there was the 2008 Eucharistic Congress in Quebec City, which confirmed Levesque’s conviction that he should work in the Church on the environment.

In the last year, Levesque has given 125 presentations to parishes and student groups. He has also been invited to World Youth Day in Madrid next summer. Before that happens his book, La Page Verte de la Bible, should be out in French from Novalis.

Two years ago Levesque encountered mostly skepticism when he approached parishes to speak about the environment. Today he receives almost universal enthusiasm.

In Quebec many churches are being sold or closing, but parishioners and pastors see investing in green technology as a step toward making their churches economically viable in the long term, said Levesque.

While it can cost thousands to install geothermal heating systems, they pay off in 10 years for a church that is counting on being around longer than that, said Levesque.

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