To celebrate Earth Day, on April 22, four faith groups announced their support for 100% renewable energy in Kootenay communities no later than 2050 and pledged to transition their own church and centre operations to 100% renewable energy by mid-century. Kootenay Shambhala Meditation Centre, Nelson United Church, St. Saviour’s Pro Cathedral, and Yasodhara Ashram committed to transition their buildings and transportation to and from services to 100% renewable energy no later than 2050.

All groups are based in Nelson, BC, with the exception of the Ashram that is located on the East Shore of Kootenay Lake. These faith groups join other groups and cities, like Vancouver, Victoria and Oxford Country, ON that have committed to phase-out fossil fuels and transition to energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions.

All of us feel overwhelmed by the challenge of climate change. One person can’t make changes happen, but all of us, working together, can,” said Miles Parker, Kootenay Shambhala Meditation Centre. “Whenever that kind of change has happened in the past — like the civil rights or anti-war movements — it has been based around deep spiritual commitments. Movements for real social change require a shared view of trust and care for each other and a common appreciation for the sacred in all aspects of life.”

“With our old building, and with a complex heating system, it will be hard to transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy.  We are committed to this, though, because we are part of this community of Nelson and want – rather, we are compelled by our spiritual grounding – to do our part in healing the climate,” said Rev. David Boyd, Nelson United Church. “By taking this step to renewable energy together, we are showing leadership in the West Kootenay, as well as provincially, nationally and internationally.”

“Our interfaith group developed a plan to transition to 100% renewable energy,” said Julia Roberts, a volunteer with St. Saviour’s Pro-Cathedral. “The obvious starting point is to make our buildings as energy-efficient as possible. An energy assessor provided by FortisBC and funded by Nelson Hydro has recently visited our buildings.  We are looking forward to his reports and working together to implement recommendations.”

West Kootenay EcoSociety’s 100% Renewable Kootenays initiative is building resident and community groups’ support for the transition to renewable energy in Nelson and other West Kootenay cities. It has been working with faith groups as part of this initiative.

“I’ve been personally very inspired by working with the diverse faith groups across the region on climate action,” said EcoSociety’s Executive Director, Montana Burgess. “Our two year collaboration has proven to me the power of coming together around our shared values and making a real difference as a community, rather than focusing on our differences.”

The announcement was made during an interfaith climate vigil attended by over 100 people at Lakeside Park in Nelson organized by the Nelson Interfaith Climate Action Collaborative. The Collaborative is coordinated by the West Kootenay EcoSociety and composed of the following faith groups: Ascension Lutheran Church, Baha’i Community of Nelson, Cathedral of Mary Immaculate Roman Catholic Parish, Kootenay Shambhala Meditation Centre, Nelson United Church, St. Saviour’s Pro Cathedral, USCC Doukhobour, Yasodhara Ashram.

Images from the Earth Day celebration, interfaith climate vigil and 100% renewable energy announcement by 4 faith groups.

Photo Credits: Jeff Donnelly