Hard-Working Team Prepares for Council
British Columbia forest fires never threatened to derail the United Church’s General Council meeting at the University of British Columbia Okanagan in Kelowna.
The fires were never close enough to threaten the venue, says the Rev. Kent Israel, co-chair of the Local Arrangements Committee for the Council. “There’s never been any concern,” says the Summerland, British Columbia, minister. The committee never discussed a change of location, he adds.
Israel says the biggest challenge has been to calm people with anxiety over the forest fires, which are still burning. Reports on the fires were an ongoing national news story during the weeks leading up to the meeting.
To reduce people’s anxiety, he wants people to know that the university has a natural fire guard, a vegetation-free area around the campus as a buffer against forest fires.
As the General Council gathers there’s a hint of smoke in the valley from the fire across the lake.
Another area of emphasis for the local arrangements team has been making it a green Council, including a serious attempt to reduce paper. The meals, as far as possible, will reflect a 100-mile diet, using locally produced foods.
“In the Okanagan we are conscious of water conservation,” says Israel. To reflect that awareness, each table will have on it a drought-resistant plant from a local nursery.
“We are conscious in the Okanagan of planting with local drought-resistant plants. So people will have that kind of experience with the plants on the tables,” he says. Israel points out that the university campus has used landscaping and gardening that reduce or eliminate the need for supplemental watering.
Many others have also been at work preparing for the Council. Members of the Sicamous United Church in British Columbia sewed 700 tote bags for use by all those attending the Council.