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Churches take pipeline views into the pulpit

Aug 15 2012

Rev. Logan McMenamie is speaking out against the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, saying it doesn't respect the interconnectedness of living things.

McMenamie, of Christ Church Cathedral on Burdett Avenue, is one of many religious leaders across Canada focusing on the pipeline - something McMenamie says concerns "the sanctity of the Earth."

"What I preached on was my own perspective," he said of his Sunday sermon, adding that he doesn't speak on behalf of the Anglican Church of Canada. "I think [the sermon] resonated with many in the congregation."

He's not alone in bringing the debate to a religious forum. On Tuesday, the United Church of Canada decided to publicly oppose the project.

The pipeline proposed by Calgary-based Enbridge Inc. would do severe environmental damage, traversing waterways where salmon spawn, said Ray Jones, the chair of the church's aboriginal ministries council. And the potential for an oil spill in the port of Kitimat is very real, he said.

"The current federal government along with the provincial government of Alberta are doing everything they can to make sure the construction of the Northern Gateway pipeline goes through," Jones said in Ottawa on Tuesday.

The proposal from the British Columbia Native Ministries Council, stating the group's opposition to the pipeline, was one of about 130 proposals commissioners from Canada's largest Protestant denomination are discussing at the 41st General Council in Ottawa. The council meets every three years to elect the church moderator and approve policies.

The proposal prompted much debate, but it was a clear majority in the end.

"We are united in our belief that this project and others like it will do a disproportionate amount of direct harm to the life-sustaining air, food and water that we all share on Earth," the proposal says.

The British Columbia Native Ministries Council, which is primarily made up of aboriginal members, took its proposal to the church's All Native Circle Conference in July. That conference then asked the United Church's General Council to publicly support the native ministries council in categorically rejecting construction of the proposed pipeline, and to communicate that decision to government, industry and the public.

McMenamie said he respects aboriginal views. "We need to talk about how we respond to the relationship with the Earth," he said.

"We have to go beyond economics."

cclancy@timescolonist.com

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