Climate leaders talk spirituality, forests and fresh water

Tail of a humpback whale breeches the water with forests on the background.
Humpback whale breaching the water near Vancouver Island. Photo by Regien Paassen via Shutterstock.
 on February 3, 2022

John Albert lecture series returns 

The John Albert Hall lectures provide us as a diocese with the opportunity to find questions in common with our colleagues at the Centre for Studies in Religion and Society and hear from some of the leading experts in their fields in addressing these questions. Over the past few years this has led to enriching encounters with Diarmaid MacCulloch, Christopher Hedges, Miroslav Volf and Noam Chomsky to name a few. These conversations both challenged and enriched our own conversations and questions related to our ongoing vocation as witnesses to the work of God in our midst.  

Living on these islands and inlets puts us in nearly daily contact with waters and forests under pressure from forces that are at once both global and local, political and biological, spiritual and scientific. We feel these forces too.  


It has become apparent that if we do not place these elements of the nature world in the foreground of our concerns, the impacts will be profound. Across the globe forests are quickly becoming central to movements of resistance and ecological protection, as well as being central in reconnecting people to a sense of transcendence. Water is, of course, a feature in ritual and ceremony across religions and spiritual practices.  

On March 3, the John Albert Hall lecture series will be hosting a conversation entitled “Watershed Moment: Spirituality, Forests, and Fresh Waters.” Prominent climate leader and activist Tzeporah Berman, international program director at, will be joined in conversations with Christiana Zenner, associate professor of theology, science and ethics at Fordham University in New York City, who specializes in fresh water values and ethics; and Deondre Smiles, assistant professor of geography at the University of Victoria, whose expertise is in critical Indigenous geographies, human-environmental interaction, political ecology, and tribal cultural resource preservation and protection. Together they will explore the topic of water, forests, spirituality and the role of human community; a conversation we began in our diocese in 2019 when we as a diocese read Watershed Discipleship together 

Faithfulness involves deep attending to the created world we inhabit. Indeed, in our baptismal covenant we commit (with God’s help) to “strive to safeguard the integrity of God’s creation and respect, sustain, and renew the life of the earth.” Our hope is that through this conversation we would be able to lend ourselves to the task at hand.  

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