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Interfaith Tree Planting Celebrates Shared Values

Project type: 
Park Naturalization

(Scroll to the bottom for more photos.)

More than 160 volunteers representing twelve London faith groups planted over 430 native trees and shrubs at a McCormick Park on Saturday, September 20, 2015. The Interfaith Tree Planting was organized by the eleven faith groups and coordinated by ReForest London. This is the third event in three years; this group has now planted over 1,400 trees and shrubs in London.
The environmental action recognizes the shared values of stewardship for the earth that these religious groups share. In addition to improving the environmental health of London, organizers hoped to create a space for positive interfaith fellowship and activities. Family activities and sharing of food were part of the day’s events. Three faith leaders from Jewish, Muslim and Christian congregations offered reflections and a blessing on the day's events.
The following organizations participated in the interfaith event:

  • Al Mahdi Islamic Community Centre
  • Calvary United Church
  • Christ the King University Parish/ King’s University College
  • Congregation Or Shalom
  • First-St. Andrews United Church
  • London Muslim Mosque
  • Muslim Association of Canada
  • St. James Westminster Anglican Church
  • St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church
  • St. Peter’s Cathedral
  • Temple Israel Synagogue
  • Trinity United Church Community Center

Faith leaders offered the following statements about their participation:
"See you not how Allah sets forth a parable? – A goodly word is as a goodly tree, whose root is firmly fixed, and its branches reach to the sky." [Holy Quran: Ibrahim 14:24]
The Al-Mahdi Islamic Community Centre is proud to participate once again with ReForest London and other faith-based groups in London in the 3rd Annual Interfaith Tree Planting Event. As the Holy Quran teaches us, trees not only provide a source of nourishment, protection, healing and beauty, they are also at the essence of life and goodness. As Muslims, we will gather with our brothers and sisters from the Abrahamic faiths to exchange words of friendship as we stand side by side to plant good deeds that will one day provide the fruit of a vibrant community and a healthy ecology for future generations. Al-Mahdi Islamic Community Centre
I see the trees and churches as being very similar:  rooted in one place, reaching up and out, growing to make a difference.  The shade, shelter, food, and oxygen from trees are like the sanctuary, nurture, and life-giving spirit of a faith community.  Rev. Kenji Marui, Calvary United Church
A few years ago The United Church of Canada felt it was so important to protect the environment that we added a new line to our creed.  The line now reads, “We are called to be the Church: to celebrate -God’s presence, to live with respect in Creation,…”   I can think of no better way, “to live with respect in Creation,” than to plant trees with people from other faith communities. Rev. Tom Hiscock, Minister First-St. Andrew’s United Church
In the Islamic tradition, planting a tree is seen as an act of perpetual charity.  Every time a person or even an animal benefits from a tree planted, whether from its fruits, seeds or shade, the one who originally planted it will be rewarded accordingly by God.  The Interfaith Tree Planting Event is a great opportunity for people of different faiths to come together and perform a charitable act that benefits the earth and its inhabitants for many years to come.  It’s always a great joy to participate in this wonderful annual event. Abd Alfatah Twakkal, Imam of London Muslim Mosque
The Talmud observes that we plant trees for the benefit of our children since the trees often will not mature in our lifetimes.  It is fitting that London's many faith groups are coming together to plant trees that will benefit all our children.  I'm excited about this project. Rabbi Catherine Clark, Or Shalom
Part of our baptismal covenant for Anglicans is maintaining the integrity of creation. The stewardship of the earth is fundamental for Christians. After all, the Book of Genesis says that in the beginning God created a garden, not a garbage dump. Rev. Dr. Gary Nicolosi, Rector, St. James Westminster Church

Francis of Assisi said, "Everything is mine because nothing is mine."  His life of radical poverty included a sense of complete, profound ownership of the whole of creation, and thereby reminding us that we have a responsibility to live sustainably upon the Earth. Rev. Lyndon Hutchison-Hounsell, Rector, St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church

Two people were fighting over a piece of land.  Each claimed ownership.  To resolve their differences, they agreed to put the case before the rabbi.  The rabbi listened but could not come to a decision.  Finally he said, “Since I cannot decide to whom this land belongs, let us ask the land.”  He put his ear to the ground, then straightened up. “My friends, the land says that it belongs to neither of you – but that you belong to it.”  Rabbi Debra Stahlberg Dressler, Temple Israel

Our holy scriptures begin in a garden and end in a city with gardens throughout. One of our central stories speaks of rainbows as a sign of the Creator's covenant to bless the natural world. In a time when Mother Earth is straining under the weight of human greed and conflict, there is no more hopeful and helpful a response than to join with people of good will from many faiths to plant trees. It is our way of partnering with God, to help fulfill the Divine desire for a healthy, flourishing creation.  Rev. Paul Browning, Trinity United Church Community Centre
This project was funded by the Government of Canada and the participating faith groups.