Canadian churches go dark for Earth Hour

Published March 31, 2008

Canadian Anglicans joined millions of people around the world in switching off electric lights for 60 minutes on March 29, as part of Earth Hour, a global campaign to address climate change.

At St. James Church, in Dundas, Ont., the church door opened at 7:30 p.m. for quiet prayer, followed by a candlelight vigil that signalled Earth Hour.

In Berwick, N.S., Anglicans joined members of the Roman Catholic, United, and Baptist churches at an ecumenical prayer service at Christ Church Anglican.

Candles were lit at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Toronto as the faithful gathered in darkened pews and listened to a series of readings and reflections. Morgan Baskin, 12, led a prayer for the healing of the Earth and underscored the importance of caring for the environment for present as well as future generations.

The Toronto event was co-sponsored by Kairos, an ecumenical justice group that challenges churches across Canada not only to reduce their carbon footprint but also urges the Canadian government and public to move “beyond a petroleum-based economy” towards the use of “more sustainable and renewable energy resources.”

United, Presbyterian and Roman Catholic churches also held Earth Hour events across Canada.

More than 380 towns and cities in 25 countries initially signed up for Earth Hour, now on its second year after it began in 2007 in Sydney. But World Wildlife Fund International, which ran the campaign, said Saturday’s event exceeded expectations. “In pretty much every country in the world, someone has signed up. Whether it be one, two, three or 3,000 individuals,” WWF-Australia’s Greg Bourne told Agence France Presse. Landmarks such as Sydney’s Harbour Bridge and Opera House, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, Bangkok’s Wat Arun Temple, Rome’s Colosseum, Chicago’s Sears Tower, Toronto’s CN Tower and Montreal’s Mont Royal Cross also went dark during Earth Hour.

In Canada, about 150 communities and 4,000 businesses joined the event. Power dipped by more than five per cent across Ontario, and by 8.7 per cent in Toronto, local media reported.

Organizers said the event, although largely symbolic, demonstrated that people want to address the issue of climate change.

“Climate justice is the ethical and moral issue of our time … the life and future of our planet is at stake,” said Dan Hildebrand, international human rights and peace building team leader at Kairos, at a news conference on his organization’s energy campaign. He said that climate change is linked to a host of other issues including “oil and conflict,” which gives rise to humanitarian crises.

“We’re challenging our network to change our behaviours individually and collectively,” said Adiat Junaid, communications co-ordinator for Kairos.

This fall, as part of its energy justice campaign, Kairos will launch its Carbon Sabbath Initiative, which will see the formation of “congregationally-based groups” that will “cut their carbon consumption, continue to learn more about fossil fuels, and advocate for a just and sustainable energy policy for Canada.” (For more information, please contact Kairos co-ordinator Sara Stratton at [email protected] or 1-877-403-8933 x 241).


  • Marites N. Sison

    Marites (Tess) Sison was editor of the Anglican Journal from August 2014 to July 2018, and senior staff writer from December 2003 to July 2014. An award-winning journalist, she has more that three decades of professional journalism experience in Canada and overseas. She has contributed to The Toronto Star and CBC Radio, and worked as a stringer for The New York Times.

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