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St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Cardinal hosted Bishop Michael Oulton on a Sunny Sunday morning in early October this year to celebrate the Parishes 150th anniversary. As part of his visit, the bishop offered a prayer of blessing for 50 pine saplings that were handed out to the congregation to commemorate the parish anniversary. The idea came from the bishop himself and his Lambeth call to action in our diocese for all parishes to participate in the Anglican Communion Forest Project.

Launched in early August at Lambeth this year, the Anglican Communion Forest project is a shared vision for the Anglican Communion to restore and renew forests across the Communion by committing to a wide range of creation care activities. One of these activities is to plant new trees. Bishop Michael, in a letter to our diocese at the end of August following Lambeth, invited each parish to commit to planting 160 trees—marking the Diocese of Ontario’s 160th anniversary.

Philip Bury, a warden at St. Paul’s, considered the bishop’s invitation and thought it would be a great initiative for their 150th celebration. “We only distributed 50, I’m afraid, because we knew that our tiny congregation couldn’t absorb 160, but it was definitely in response to the bishop’s request. Because it was also intended to mark St. Paul’s anniversary celebration, we didn’t include the other two churches in our parish [Parish of All Saints, South Grenville - St. John the Evangelist, Prescott and St. James, Maitland] but we intend to encourage them to make up the remainder of the 160 trees” says Philip.    

Purchased from Ferguson Forest Nursey in Kemptville, the Parish paid $1.60 for each seedling, a fast growing Norway Spruce. “Lots of happy children and serious grown ups took them away” says Philip.

Conifers like the Norway Spruce are best planted in Spring just as the ground thaws, when soil moisture is high and the cooler conditions help keep seedlings from drying out. Until then they can be planted in a container and transplanted in the Spring.

Hailing from Europe, the Norway Spruce did not actually originate in Norway. The tree grew in the Black Forest and other parts of the continent long before making its way to Norway around 500 B.C.

Philip will plant his on his property. “It isn’t easy for everyone to absorb a tree, I am lucky to live in a home that has a good sized yard” he says. For the seedlings that were not taken home that Sunday, Philip hopes to encourage his local municipality to find space for the remaining trees.

Bishop Michael took his own seedling from St. John’s that Sunday, planting it in his backyard. Through next Spring and Summer he hopes that all the parishes of the Diocese of Ontario will take up this challenge and inspire their parishioners to pick up a shovel and plant a tree. The bishop, in reflecting on the tree that the Archbishop of Canterbury planted at Lambeth this Summer to begin the project:May the seeds planted at Lambeth find good soil here at home, taking root as we continue our ministry together in the name of Christ.”

The congregation at St. Paul’s, Cardinal, has no doubt that like the trees they plant, Christian ministry will continue to grow in their community for another 150 years.

- Mark Hauser, diocesan communications