The Greening of St. Matthew’s

Last year’s Blessing of the Bicycles at St. Matthew’s Anglican Church

Photo: Randi Gaddard

By Neville Nankivell

Now taking off among houses of worship worldwide, the climate-change “greening movement” has been embraced solidly by St. Matthew’s Anglican Church in the Glebe.

By meeting certain yardsticks over the past year, it has been certified at the “light green” level by the Canadian non-profit group Greening Sacred Spaces (GSS). “This organization encourages all denominations to commit to caring for the environment,” says Bill Nuttle, St. Matthew’s sustainability coordinator and co-chair of its property committee. “All parts of our church are now involved in this project.”

The goal is to reach the medium and then deep-green level by completing activities set down under GSS requirements. For many years, St. Matthew’s had already been recycling and composting waste but meeting the light-green certification level involved an updated eco-audit of its energy and water use. Nuttle says this identified ways to reduce the church’s energy use in areas such as lighting and weather sealing. Most of its basement lighting is being replaced by more energy efficient LED lighting under Ontario’s Save on Energy Program. Discussions on options for a more reliable and “greener” heating system are also underway. The possibility of solar panels will be part of this but nothing specific yet.

To make parishioners more aware of what’s happening, a “Greening St. Matthew’s Tree” is now on display in the front of its pews. Made out of a composite panel left over from church renovations, its branches “sprout” cardboard green leaves for each milestone reached. “Watch it grow,” Nuttle says of this visual eco-progress reminder.

St. Matthew’s also now has an environmental working group whose scope involves several of its parish committees and draws on a Zero Waste Church program used by other Canadian and U.S. churches. Margaret Terrett, the St. Matthew’s co-ordinator, says this year’s activities have included a salad garden project at the church where participants plant seeds in pots and take them home, an Earth Day Fair and a Blessing of the Bicycles service. The fair involved exhibits on ways to reduce carbon footprints and become better eco-stewards of the planet.

On Saturday, June 8, a Bicycle Clinic will be held in the church’s First Avenue parking lot between 10 a.m. and noon with minor repairs available, such as oiling and proper tire pressure. A keen cyclist herself, Terrett says more complicated repairs will be noted down for participants “so cyclists can go to a bike shop with the correct lingo for their two-wheel friend.” She will be helped by Mark Lindsay, the event’s co-leader. Places can be reserved on the website:

Nuttle says the most important thing the church has accomplished so far “is to bring our commitment to be better stewards of the environment front and centre through an increasing number of activities.” It’s encouraging, he adds, to see that many other churches are responding in similar ways amidst a growing sense that we need to be doing more.


Neville Nankivell is a long-time St. Matthew’s parishioner.

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