A Path Forward: Regenerating Places of Worship
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A Path Forward: Regenerating Places of Faith

Message from the ED

Dear Friends—

National Trust Conference, 2016

Our places of worship anchor and shape our communities. Knowing that, how do we support the many congregations who are struggling with declining attendance and insufficient funding to maintain and operate these vital community assets?

This is the focus of this newsletter: from sustainably retrofitting your place of worship, to generating new revenue streams, to meeting community needs under a new ownership structure — there is plenty here to get your innovation juices flowing. We are particularly excited to introduce our partnership with the National Trust for Canada on a new service offering — Regeneration Works: Places of Faith.

Our hope is that you will be inspired by how congregations around the country, in both rural and urban settings, are opening their hearts to new ways of partnering with a wide array of community stakeholders, and working together to insure that their faith buildings are retained as vital building blocks to resilient, healthy communities. It is an exciting time to be part of a community of faith.

In peace, 

Lucy Cummings, Executive Director, Faith & the Common Good

FCG & National Trust Partnership
The future of sacred spaces depends on urgent collaboration among faith group leaders, community organizations, elected officials, heritage and business communities, universities, and more. That's why we are so excited to be partnering with the National Trust for Canada.
Recently, in a half-day workshop at the National Trust for Canada’s Conference 2016, entitled Building Strength: Regenerating Places of Faith, we shared proven regeneration strategies, tools and inspiring examples from across the country, that can be applied to all types of places of faith, regardless of their ownership.

The workshop was led by our advisor, Kendra Fry, and Robert Pajot from the National Trust. The duo covered critical first steps, including gaining a clear understanding of what the faith group wants to be (whether it remains faith/missional focused, or has an alternative vision for the site), understanding one’s property in order to make good real estate and business planning decisions, constraints & opportunities, what revenue generation options are realistic to be considered for places of faith, and much more. 

To find out more about how we can meet your faith property's regeneration needs, click here or contact Stephen Collette at
Enhancing Mission Per Square Foot: Making the Most out of Your Space!
With support from the Ontario Trillium Foundation in Ontario and the Culture of Efficiency project in Nova Scotia, we're helping faith groups maximize the “mission per square foot” of their buildings.
In early June, Fairlawn Avenue United Church (North Toronto), held a community partners workshop, with the help of John Ryerson from Fairlawn, Donna Lang (FCG), and Jill Strapp from EDGE. Workshop participants identified the needs of the community and suggested opportunities for the faith building to be used to provide outreach to vulnerable populations, such as newcomer support for refugees, youth, and seniors’ groups. These opportunities are now being evaluated.
The Hare Krishna Temple was looking for ways that their faith property could better serve its mission of giving back to the neighbourhood. They decided to initiate a mini-farmer’s market project this fall, in Toronto’s Rosedale neighborhood, their base for almost 50 years. They are testing the waters to see if this will be expanded next spring.
Like many places of worship around Canada, Beacon United Church was struggling to make ends meet in a rural town in Nova Scotia with a declining population and a declining congregation. However, this church has taken a leap into the future by becoming a hub for community growth and environmental justice amongst its congregation and the local population. Read more…
Sharing “Green Audit” Learnings 
On October 1, 2016, St. Mark’s Anglican in Brantford hosted an interfaith workshop in response to our Green Audit. Two big take aways emerged from this session. One was that we need to protect our precious building assets through intelligent and informed care. The other is that a building is a system in which all elements work together and affect each other.

Yes, we need to work to reduce our carbon footprint, but we need to do this in an informed way. Panelists were aware of examples in which well meaning renovations had been made to worship spaces in order to make them more efficient, but damage had been done to the asset through unexpected moisture build ups in ceilings, heating of double glazed stained glass panels, and so on. Read more…

To find out more about having a Green Audit in your place of worship, click here or contact us at
Outdoor Sacred Spaces
As within, so without. Community gardens are a great way for city-dwellers to gather. It’s an opportunity to meet neighbours, learn about what’s happening locally, share a common passion to be outdoors and active with others and, in the end, gardeners also reap an amazing reward for their toils.These gardens in a sense are a community hub similar to what faith communities are, so it is not surprising that faith communities have started looking at their own properties with new eyes and seeing the potential. 
There’s an intriguing sign that can be found on Laurier Avenue in Ottawa. You will see it along with twenty or so raised garden beds in front of a large old stone church, the former All Saints Anglican. The sign says “Urban Shades – Communal Community Garden.” In smaller print the sign explains further “We’re Hosting Work Bees Every Sunday at 2 pm. Come and garden with your community.” It’s an interesting new twist to the familiar concept of community gardens. Read more…
Waste Reduction in Action
Did you know that waste disposal makes up about 20% of the carbon footprint of an average faith community? The Jaffari Community Centre (JCC)’s Eco-team has been an inspiring example in our Greening Sacred Spaces network of how to make our places of faith less wasteful. A vibrant mosque and community centre in Ontario’s York Region, the centre serves as a spiritual and social hub for its members. We were honored to listen to eco-team volunteer and JCC board member Aziza Amarshi-Meghjee share her faith community’s learnings around effective waste management practices at an October 1 “Climate Change and Faith Town Hall” in Toronto, sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph.

Aziza described how their eco-team’s journey was motivated both by a sacred calling to care for creation and “an innate sense within our hearts of the ‘wrongness' about all the garbage that we created at events that were designed to bring us closer to God.” With perseverance (and much prayer!), they have helped their faith community work together to reduce the number of bags of waste from 20 to 4 on high holidays, with all other waste diverted from landfill. An incredible accomplishment given that high holiday services can include meal services for close to 3,000 persons! They are also seeing more and more people bringing their own mugs to the mosque and a wide-spread appreciation for this work among the congregation.
Set Your House in Order:
The Case for a National Carbon Reduction Program for UCC Faith Buildings
Laidlaw UnitedThe United Church of Canada (UCC) believes that change begins at home. Given its sacred calling to care for creation and moral responsibility to be a credible climate change leader, it asked itself, how can the Church reduce the carbon footprint of its own activities?

While carbon emissions stem from many sources, the UCC was keen to focus first on reducing carbon emissions from its places of worship.  Why? The energy used to light and heat UCC faith buildings is one of the UCC’s largest carbon contributors – and also one of its biggest expenses.

To guide this effort, the UCC’s General Council ordered a six-month study, by Faith & the Common Good (FCG) and Build Green, seeking to answer the following key questions:
1. What amount of carbon are UCC faith buildings collectively producing?
2. How could a national carbon reduction program support congregations in reducing their carbon footprint?

To find out more and read about the findings of the study, click here.


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The new list enables you to sign up for one or more of our local chapter newsletters and⁄or our national newsletter.

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Our Greening Sacred Spaces project offers a variety of tools and resources to assist you in greening your sacred space!
Our order resources include: 
Guides & Workshops
Videos & DVDs
Green Rule Poster and Study Guide
We also have a green certification program which helps you work through a checklist to benchmark and recognize your progress and goals. 


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