Since the earliest Christian communities, Christian spirituality has been founded on having a heart for the poor, the sick, the excluded and for Creation. Increasingly aware of the extent of the current environmental crisis, Canadian Christians are taking steps to reduce their ecological footprint and care for Creation.
In 2006, St. Columba House, a United Church mission in Montreal, Quebec, hired student Fannie Couture for the summer to prepare some activities in this area. She suggested a number of actions with the environment in mind, such as recycling in every room, composting, and a garden along the side of the building. The Green Church project soon became a priority for the Reverend Patricia Murphy, the director of St. Columba House. She shared the project with other pastors in the Montreal Presbytery of the United Church of Canada.
In 2007, the Justice and Global Ecumenical Relations Committee, chaired by Roger Snelling, founded the Green Church Project Committee. Two other congregations quickly joined the project: the Montreal City Mission and Cedar Park United. Ms. Claire Lyke was the coordinator that year.
In 2008, the new coordinator, Isaac Mundy, consolidated the network by organizing activities in collaboration with four locations: Beaconsfield United, Summerlea United, Camino de Emaus and the United Theological College. A website was launched, offering churches an opportunity to share tools they had developed.
In 2009, Isaac Mundy left to go back to finish his Master’s, and Norman Lévesque became the project’s first Catholic coordinator, with the mission of the making the project ecumenical in Greater Montreal. Catholic and Anglican churches soon came on board.
In February 2010, the 1st Green Church Conference was held at Église St-Charles in Montreal, attended by 150 people. The ecumenical aspect was highlighted. In September, the project found a natural home with the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism and took the name of the Green Church Program. It became a national program, from coast to coast.
In 2011, the Green Church Project launched the Green Church Toolkit, featuring resources to help guide faith community environmental committees in going green. The toolkit has three sections: action, awareness and spirituality. That same year, the Program helped local Quebec winery Domaine Côte d’Ardoise to authenticate one of its wines as a Mass wine, thereby avoiding having to import sacramental wine over great distances from California.
In 2012, the 2nd Green Church Conference was held at Église St-Nicéphore (Drummondville, Quebec). A crowd of 130 came to hear speakers Steven Guilbeault and Sister Esther Champagne. Faith communities from Ontario, Nova Scotia and British Columbia joined the Program, broadening its scope across Canada.
In 2013, Norman Lévesque, the Director of the Green Church Program, led a week-long retreat in Pickering, Ontario on “Creation Care” for 50 Scarboro missionaries. Quaker and Evangelical faith communities joined the Program and its ecumenical outreach expanded.
In 2014, the Green Church Program started asking its partnering faith communities for an annual contribution. In exchange, they received a password for the new Members’ Section, containing valuable resources. The Program also offered a Training and Workshop service.
In 2015, on April 14, the 3rd Green Church Conference was be held in Quebec City, with the participation of Cardinal Gerald Cyrien Lacroix. The Green Churches Network also went through the process of becoming a registered charity.
In June 2016, the Green Churches Network celebrated its 10th anniversary at the Saint-Columba House. 10th anniversary gala retrospective
In 2017, on May 11, the Green Churches Forum was held in Ottawa, during Canada’s 150th anniversary. The First Nations were present, as well as a virtual message featuring encouraging words from the Minister of the Environment, Catherine McKenna. Many workshops and talks were given in Alberta. The “Season of Creation in a Box” was also launched for the first time.
In 2018, the organization launches a new website and launches its Three-Year Plan with its objective of reaching 200 churches in 2020.
The Green Churches Network is intended for all who belong to Christ and to the Earth. It is a mission to which God calls us, not only to praise the Creator, but also to care for the Creation He loves (Ps 145).