What is “Conversations of unCommonGrace?”

“Conversations of unCommonGrace” is an initiative of Grace Presbyterian Church seeking to connect the faith community with the broader society in areas of shared interest and concern that encourages each participant to take action as they best see fit.  It is also an invitation to our community and our city to give purposeful thought to the role that spirituality plays in our life and in the common life of our community.

At Grace, we believe that we are well situated as a community that is progressive, Protestant and Reformed in our theology, yet rooted in the ancient practices of the church that continues to bear much meaning today. “Conversations of unCommonGrace” is an opportunity to represent and re-present the idea of a loving and generous God and the compassion of the Divine for all creation and for those created in the Divine image.

“Conversations of unCommonGrace” attempts to re-introduce our faith tradition into the conversations that are taking place in our society, in our communities, through a time of conversation, invitation and hospitality.  We hold multiple events each year on topics of interest to our society and on issues which are at the forefront of discussion and debate in our society and community.  These would not necessarily be issues around religion, but would all be issues where a Reformed, Protestant, Mainline contribution could be made and would be meaningful.

Since 2013 we have held three series of conversations: human trafficking both locally and globally; physician assisted death and most recently, eco-theology .

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The October 27 panel discussion considered how our faith informs our approach to environmental and conservation issues. Beyond the current hotly contested debate over the issue of climate change there are growing global and local issues of water scarcity, decline of water quality, loss of biodiversity, air pollution and land use that are having an increasing impact on our lives.

The participants heard from a panel of diverse voices, including Christyann Olson, Executive Director of the Alberta Wilderness Association; Dr. Brenda Kenny, Past President of the Canadian Energy Pipelines Association; and Rev. Ray Aldred, Director of the Indigenous Studies Program at the Vancouver School of Theology. The panel was moderated by Rev. Dr. Jean Morris.

Among the unique viewpoints was a fierce agreement that we are in the midst of a “slow crisis”, as Dr. Kenny aptly phrased it, about the world’s environment. Rev. Aldred reminded the audience that it is not a question of “saving the planet” but rather ensuring that we sustain a viable environment for humanity. In speaking about the sanctuary that people find in church and in wilderness, Christyann Olson referenced Henry David Thoreau: “in wilderness is the salvation of the world”.

Rev. Morris closed her questioning of the panel by asking what part faith-based leadership can offer to the question of environmental sustainability. Each panelist said at the core, these are deeply spiritual issues and people of faith should play a central role moving humanity towards viable and lasting solutions. The audience was encouraged to consider what contribution they can make to ensure a healthy environment for all.

To listen to the audio recordings of this discussion, please click on the links below:

Part 1 (65 minutes)
Part 2 (25 minutes)