All Souls Interfaith Gathering: Establishing thread between environment and the divine
All Souls Interfaith Gathering, Shelburne, since its foundation in 1999, has been devoted to the worship of the Almighty in an innovative way. By taking care of God’s greatest creation: The Earth. The ASIG is an epitome of ecological sustainability and environmental correctness. Its spanking new sanctuary building, opened in October last year, contributes generously towards magnifying its glorious reputation.
The church, an amazing work of art, has been constructed entirely out of locally harvested wood, bamboo flooring, compact fluorescent lights and a furnace that will heat the facility using grass, corn or wood pellets. The congregation expects to go through 30 to 35 tons of wood pellets this first winter in the new building. Even the air conditioning is provided by using water from an artesian well.
Rev. Mary Abele believes that the unique environmental approach is the reason behind the steady growth in the number of members of the congregation. The perpetrators have searched out and presented the most refined ways of beautifying the worshippers’ experience in this sacred house.
Don Stevens of the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi even used feathers from a red-tail hawk to wave sage and tobacco smoke over members at the opening service in October. The ‘smudging’ ceremony is an American Indian purification ritual to drive away evil spirits. This winter, the church’s programs will focus mainly on environmental messages, inspiring devotees to become an environmentalist, along with providing them with more satisfaction in their spiritual journey.
The architect, Marty Sienkiewycz of SAS Architects in Burlington, is understandably proud of his creation. Says he,
The building needed to blend with the surrounding site rather than stand out. (We needed to) play the building down, make it inviting, make it calm, play on the beauty of the site and surroundings, let the building be the shelter from which one can appreciate the whole.
We only hope that the ASIG succeeds in its voyage of establishing the bridge between the environment and the divine, and imbibe the much-needed love for the environment in hearts worldwide.
Source: USA Today