Moderator Mardi’s Blog: The world gathers

Last-minute updates from Copenhagen are arriving on my Blackberry in these minutes leading up to the official opening of the Fifteenth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP15).

By now you may have read David Hallman’s excellent article in this month’s United Church Observer, setting the stage for the United Church’s participation as part of the World Council of Churches’ delegation. As David says, “The churches’ message is that securing a forceful treaty that can reduce the threat of climate change is urgent, made even more so by the failure of the most wealthy nations to live up to their Kyoto commitments. From the very beginning of the churches’ work on climate change, we grounded our education and advocacy in recognition that climate change is an issue of justice.”

What a gift to have David’s wise counsel on the Moderator’s Advisory Committee! He has wonderfully chaired preparatory meetings for our United Church delegation and will do the same following our return from Copenhagen, in order that we may stay true to the road of faithful action, participating in God’s abundant healing of soul, community, and creation.

Two of our United Church folks are already in Copenhagen: Joy Kennedy and David MacDonald. Joy has faithfully and creatively carried on the national and international church staff work for which David was responsible before his retirement. Joy’s job title speaks to our United Church priorities: Program Coordinator, Poverty, Wealth and Ecological Justice. David MacDonald has made his way to Copenhagen due to his personal commitments to the urgency of this work, and is another strong advisor and treasured friend within the United Church delegation. You may know of David’s long career in public service as a parliamentarian, and in his now 11-year role as the United Church’s Special Advisor on Residential Schools. David served as chair of Canada’s first Parliamentary Committee on the Environment, so he has been at this for a long time.

On Friday (Dec. 11th), three more of us will travel to the international gathering, including Alanna Mitchell, who has joined our group of United Church folks there. While accredited with the International Institute for Sustainable Development, Alanna is a well-known environmental journalist and another friend who’s willing to guide the Moderator in my attention to water and oceans. Her book, Sea Sick, was one of the most compelling books I read over this last year, and you can find out more about Alanna at

Finally, the church wisely encourages the Moderator to invite a close family member, usually spouse, to accompany her on international travel. While Doug wasn’t available to come with me to Copenhagen, our son, Chris, was. And while his official role is “supportive family member,” Chris is coming as much more, and will be doing so much more. Chris’s day job is Content Manager for, so he’s an editor of online news and someone who understands Web communication. Chris will assist me and our team in week two as we blog, tweet, and upload videos to YouTube (assuming accessible on-the-ground technology). Chris is also well known in Toronto for his environmental activism and political action, and his French-language skills are far stronger than mine! You can find out more about Chris at

Together we will do our best to keep you up-to-date about what’s happening, and where your prayers and actions might focus over the next two weeks and in the weeks to come.

Please continue to pray and act with me so that we might all participate fully in God’s abundant healing of soul, community, and creation.