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London's First Interfaith Tree Planting

More than 160 volunteers representing twelve London faith groups braved steady rain to plant 650 native trees and shrubs at a London park. The Interfaith Tree Planting was organized by the twelve faith groups and coordinated by ReForest 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. (Scroll to the bottom of this page to see photos of the event.)

The following organizations participated in the interfaith event:
•    Al Mahdi Islamic Community Centre
•    Anglican Church of St. Jude
•    Congregation Or Shalom
•    First St. Andrews United Church
•    Greening Sacred Spaces, a committee of Thames Regional Ecological Association
•    London Muslim Mosque
•    Muslim Association of Canada
•    Richards Memorial United Church
•    St. James Westminster Anglican Church
•    St. Luke the Evangelist - Broughdale
•    Temple Israel of London
•    Trinity United Church Community Centre   

Following blessings offered by Muslim, Christian, and Jewish leaders, volunteers planted trees and shrubs at McCormick Park, located near Oxford and Highbury Roads. Participants were invited to visit displays and activities from many of the participating faith groups, and sample food.

Trees planted at McCormick Park contribute to London’s Million Tree Challenge, a community initiative to plant one million trees in the city of London. Funding for the planting event was provided by the participating faith groups and Environment Canada.

Faith leaders offered the following statements about their participation:
“As we gather on April 28 to participate in the interfaith tree planting event in cooperation with ReForest London, we come together as people who are interdependent with the earth and inter-reliant with one another.  The Abrahamic faith traditions believe that God created everything in heaven and earth.  Anglicans believe that we are to ‘strive to safeguard the integrity of creation’. When we preserve creation, we preserve our existence on earth; when we support our neighbour, we preserve the order that ‘sustain(s) and renew(s) the life of the earth’.   God calls us to work together to care for his creation.  In our actions today, we heed that call.” – Bishop Robert Bennett, Diocese of Huron

“Since we all share the same home on planet earth and our spiritual traditions all share the same values of respect, compassion and fairness, it will be a great occasion and a lot of fun to plant trees together." – Rev. Paul Browning, Trinity United Church Community Center

“In the rabbinic elaboration on the Book of Genesis, Bereishit Rabbah, we learn that ‘There is no plant without an angel in Heaven tending it and telling it ”Grow!'"  Today, there are over 180 ‘angels’ from many faith groups telling these trees to grow.  May their work be successful!” – Rabbi Catharine Clark, Congregation Or Shalom   

“As partners with God in the work of creation, we welcome the opportunity to fulfill our responsibility for environmental stewardship. As people of faith we recognize we share this commitment with our brothers and sisters across the religious spectrum. We are thrilled to join in such an important project with our local community.” – Rabbi Debra Dressler, Temple Israel

“The United Church of Canada has a commitment to ‘live with respect in creation.’   Through our community partnerships, an enthusiastic ‘green team’ from Richards Memorial United Church is very happy to join with other faith groups to put our faith into action by participating in the Interfaith Tree Planting at McCormick Park.” – Rev. Janet Fradette, minister of Richards Memorial United Church

“London Muslim Mosque fully supports the interfaith tree planting initiative. More than fourteen hundreds years ago, the Prophet of Islam not only admonished his followers not to cut a tree but he also urged them to plant trees. The Prophet commanded Muslims neither to cut a tree nor to pollute a running stream. Muslims were also told that a perpetual charity guarantees a perpetual reward in heaven long after one passes away. A perpetual charity is a good deed that benefits humans or animals after one has passed away. An example of a perpetual charity is planting a tree. Each time a human or an animal eats of the fruits of the tree, hides from the heat of the sun under its shades, or breathes the oxygen it produces God will reward the person who planted the tree.” – Dr. Mahmoud Haddara, acting Imam of London Muslim Mosque

160 volunteers gathered for an opening and training.

Rabbi Debra Dressler, Temple Israel, Dr. Mahmood Haddera, London Muslim Mosque, and Rev. Adele Miles, St. Luke the Evangelist - Broughdale, offered blessing for the day's events.