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British Columbia Church Debates Northern Gateway Pipeline


West Coast Community Christian Reformed Church in Delta, British Columbia, is an emerging church of about 60 members situated where the mighty Fraser River empties into the Pacific Ocean.

In that setting, pastor Jim Berry wasn’t afraid to take on the biggest local environmental issue of them all: the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline, which would bring oil from Alberta to the west coast of British Columbia for shipping to other parts of the world. “The proposed pipeline is front and center in the minds and hearts of many folks in British Columbia,” said Berry.

In 2012 Berry led a month-long sermon series on social justice issues related to the proposed pipeline. “We looked at legitimate economic issues as well as legitimate environmental issues. Canada, British Columbia, and Alberta need to have healthy economies, but we also need to be stewards of creation and care for what God has entrusted to us,” Berry explained. “As a result we committed to doing more locally to care for our environment and to stay abreast of such issues provincially and nationally.”

The sermon series motivated church members to get involved in local environmental stewardship projects. In May about 20 people participated in a clean-up of Boundary Bay Regional Park, which is part of the most important bird migration route in North America. In September, another 30 church members joined the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup.

“People are very concerned about both the economy and the environment and are hungry to find ways of thinking about those issues and responding with integrity,” said Berry. “There are differences of opinion about the conclusion, of how to sustain a viable economy as well as a healthy environment, but the dialogue was excellent.”

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