Tag Archives: environment

Moderator Mardi’s Blog: Seeds of reckless love

Our worship this year has been framed by a Good Friday that fell on Earth Day last year and a Sunday in Easter that will fall on Earth Day this year. (I wrote about this in the Toronto Star on Good Friday 2011.

I took advantage of this coincidence to plan an Easter celebration of Earth Day involving

  • a new Earth Day liturgy
  • an invitation to create a new sacred song (there’s been an overwhelming response!)
  • fun, monthly Earth Day–related “challenges” appropriate to youth and others
  • a live, interactive webcast to take place on April 22—everyone is invited, and no one needs to travel!

More on these activities can be found on the United Church Earth Day page.

A gift of seed packets has been sent to all United Church congregations as a symbol of our participation in God’s healing of soul, community, and creation.

Notes of thanks for the seeds have begun to arrive and are lovely. “What a wonderful idea!” Northwest Barrie United Church posted on Facebook. “If we all adopted the idea of this program how beautiful would our communities look!”

Indeed.

There’s a parable yet to be written about the experience of offering this gift. It begins with the extraordinary generosity of Mr. Bev Simpson, President of Veseys Seeds on Prince Edward Island. Bev was pleased to provide the seeds at cost—and even to print special packages! Then, when we sent a note in February to let congregations know that these seeds would be coming, some of you were generous in expressing your concerns and advice about what kind of seeds would be appropriate for your part of the country. We ended up consulting with a number of passionate sowers of native plants—including a United Church member who belongs to the North American Native Plant Society —and changed the seed mix in response.

To begin our participation in this activity, this Sunday’s gospel lectionary passage from John 12:20–33 sets the context perfectly. I especially like how Eugene Peterson paraphrases this passage in The Message:

“Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never more than a grain of wheat.… But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.”

How better could one describe God’s love for the world in the movement from Good Friday to Easter?

We will plant seeds as disciples of the Risen One, reckless in our love.

Moderator Mardi’s Blog: The road to Durban—what Love requires

This morning as I finish packing for Durban, South Africa, where the United Nations climate talks will take place over the next two weeks, I’m cherishing the encouraging words in a message from one of our United Church ministers:

“I’m afraid this will be another tough session for you as a Canadian who cares about the planet,” he wrote. “I am sending you love, strength, and courage every day in Durban so you can stay focused and angry and hopeful enough in the midst of all that happens (and doesn’t happen) at the official sessions. Remember: you represent the majority of Canadians.”

That last sentence is provocative, but on reflection I believe it’s accurate. Canadians are a compassionate people. We care about the suffering of the world, and we want to respond. It’s important that these Canadian values be represented in Durban.

It’s not easy to be a Canadian in the international arena these days. During the climate change talks in Copenhagen two years ago, Canadian young adults sewed U.S. flags on their backpacks so they wouldn’t be recognized as citizens of the country with the worst record on carbon emissions. Durban will be no less embarrassing. As one recent Globe and Mail headline put it: “Amid dire warming warnings, Canada is MIA.”

“Canada’s delegates will try to keep the lowest possible profile in Durban,” wrote columnist Jeffrey Simpson, “while the government’s spin machine will be in high gear talking up a target no one believes will be achieved, and fighting off complaints about this country’s poor record by pointing fingers at others.”

And yet, as Simpson also notes, there is every reason to believe that Durban represents the world’s last, best hope to avoid what the respected International Energy Agency describes as “irreversible and potentially catastrophic climate change.”

This is why so many Canadian faith leaders have joined in our Canadian Interfaith Call for Leadership and Action on Climate Change.

Fair enough. But why spend the time, the dollars—and the carbon—to go to South Africa? Will my presence there matter? Might my efforts be better invested taking action here in Canada during the talks?

I’ve been wrestling with these questions since early last year, when the World Council of Churches began encouraging me to join its delegation.

This encouragement is about more than making up numbers. As I know from my experience in Copenhagen, there will be strong faith leaders from all other parts of the world. African church leaders, for example, who are already experiencing the devastating effects of climate change (as in the drought and famine in the Horn of Africa), demand to know that North American faith leaders stand with them. They demand to know they are not alone.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu reminds us that our response matters: “Apartheid seemed an overwhelming challenge that could not be defeated but we mobilised and defeated it. We need the same passion and determination to defeat climate change.” Tutu and other African church leaders have organized a campaign called We Have Faith—Act Now for Climate Justice. Check it out.

Ultimately, the call to keep faith with our partners around the world had the greatest influence in my decision, but there are also other reasons to be present in Durban. There will be many opportunities to connect with like-minded Canadians. In Copenhagen I spoke with provincial premiers and mayors who committed to action. All of them spoke about the importance of having the church present and engaged. In turn, I was able to encourage them in their efforts.

It’s also likely that youth—including Canadian youth—will again bring a strong voice. I want them to know that our church supports them and they are not alone.

Whenever I face difficult decisions I consult with many advisors and I ask myself and pray with a number of probing questions. One of the best is the deceptively simple question, “What does Love require?”

In reference to the road to Durban, I believe Love requires standing in solidarity with those who suffer.

Love requires the courage to be honest when we feel like we’re losing ground.

Love requires that we act to preserve a healthy future for our children and theirs.

The way of Love heals our souls, our communities, and creation. May we travel the way of Love with words of our faith: We are not alone… We are called…to live with respect in Creation.

My bag is packed. Your prayers are welcome.

Moderator Mardi’s Blog: Changing the climate is gaining momentum

As I prepare to join faith leaders from around the world at the United Nations climate change conference in South Africa (COP17), I am watching the cascading effect of our Canadian faith leaders’ statement and efforts of last month. Here are a few of the things that have happened since then:

    • Our Canadian Interfaith Call for Leadership and Action on Climate Change, released October 25, 2011, has been lifted up by many global church networks and reproduced in Embassy magazine. Signatures have been added to it, including those of the Canadian Religious Conference and many religious congregations of men and women. A couple of Catholic papers, for example, picked up a recent article by Joe Gunn. If you or your congregation are willing to add your signature to our Interfaith Call for Action, please do, as signatures are still being received. Willard Metzger, General Secretary of the Mennonite Church Canada, and I will carry this statement with us into the witness of the World Council of Churches during the talks. This week I accepted an invitation from the World Council of Churches to make a presentation about this statement during the WCC’s event within the COP17.
    • Members of our varied faith communities are signing a petition to add to others from around the world, and to be offered to world leaders on our behalf by Desmond Tutu, at the November 27th interfaith rally in Durban. There is still time for you and your community to sign the petition. See the end of this blog for more information about the petition.
    • Senator Grant Mitchell has spoken to the Senate about the significance of our work, and has drawn attention to presentations that Willard Metzger and I made to the Deputy Speaker’s breakfast with parliamentarians.
    • Former Moderator Bill Phipps will be fasting as a prayerful discipline throughout COP17, and you may wish to join him in solidarity. In particular, Phipps says he will be “holding The United Church of Canada’s current Moderator, Mardi Tindal, in his prayers,” as well as others of the World Council of Churches’ delegation of which I am a part.
    • During his fast, Phipps also plans to visit the constituency offices of various political leaders, including those of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Alberta Premier Alison Redford. The schedule of those visits can be found on Phipps’ website.
  • A Canadian All-Party Caucus on Climate Change has now been formed and will be especially interested in hearing from you. Members are:
  • Michael Chong, Conservative MP – Wellington—Halton Hills, ON
  • Denise Savoie, New Democratic Party MP – Victoria, BC
  • Kirsty Duncan, Liberal MP – Etobicoke North, ON
  • Maria Mourani, Bloc Québecois MP – Ahuntsic, QC
  • Elizabeth May, Green Party MP – Saanich Gulf Islands, BC

My plan is to blog from the COP17 talks, so please stay tuned for further developments.

May we encourage one another in this fast-growing and necessary movement to participate fully in God’s healing of creation.

Finally, here’s more about that petition:

The petition has been designed to conform to House of Commons rules so it can be presented in the House of Commons by Members of Parliament. That is why it is a hardcopy petition, not an electronic one. This petition has been certified as correct by the Clerk of Petitions of the House of Commons.

When you have 25 or more signatures, contact your MP and ask him/her to present the petitions from his/her constituents in the House of Commons. If you have a petition signed by 25 or more people, it can be presented to the House of Commons. There is a 15-minute time slot in the agenda of the House every day for presenting petitions. Generally MPs are expected to present petitions from their constituents even if they don’t support the cause. You can find your MP and contact info on the Parliament of Canada website.

The best thing would be to arrange a meeting with your MP when you could discuss climate change as a moral issue and hand over the signed petitions. Ask for a commitment on presenting the petitions to the House of Commons, and ask to have a report back on the date they will be presented so you can check in the record of debates (or Hansard) online.

If a meeting cannot be arranged, try to set up a phone call with your MP, or failing that, send a letter with the petitions attached asking that they be presented in the House of Commons. Be sure to ask for a reply on whether the MP will present them and, if so, on what day she/he plans to do so.

If your MP refuses to make a commitment to present the petitions, send them to Citizens for Public Justice at 501–309 Cooper St., Ottawa, ON, K2P 0G5, and they will arrange for another MP to present them to the House of Commons. Please report back to CPJ by sending an e-mail to Melodi Alopaeus at melodi@cpj.ca telling her how many signatures you gathered and which MP you have sent your petitions to.

For more information, or if you have any questions, please contact Melodi Alopaeus by e-mail or phone 1-800-667-8046.

Moderator Mardi’s Blog: Encouragement from Mennonite friends

I’m travelling to Epiphany Explorations today, thinking about Epiphany as a season for renewing our response to Christ’s call, and encouraging one another in our respective responses to Christ’s call.

During this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, it is heartwarming to see Mennonite encouragement of The United Church of Canada in their Creation Care Crossroads blog. We give thanks for our brothers and sisters in Christ, and for the many ways in which the Mennonite community inspires us with their faithfulness. Over the years I’ve come to know and appreciate Mennonite witness in a number of manifestations. These days I pay particular attention to their work in restorative justice, especially through their Circles of Support and Accountability program.

Perhaps I’ll tell you more about that another day, but for now, I thought my United Church followers would like to read this commentary from Mennonite friends. As we reflect on 1 Corinthians 1:10–18 this Sunday, we rejoice in being “united in the same mind and the same purpose,” with gloriously diverse expressions of that purpose.

In the spirit of passing along good news about diverse expressions of Christian unity, you might enjoy seeing how Holy Family Cathedral in Saskatoon is responding to Christ’s call with the help of innovative stained-glass designer Sarah Hall.

What’s becoming clearer about Christ’s call to you?

How are you supporting others in their response to Christ’s call?

Moderator Mardi’s Blog: Epiphany resolutions

So you’ve resolved to go on a diet. After a year of church dinners, I’m with you! But have you considered putting your church on a diet—an energy diet? You’ll be in good company if you do.

Richards Memorial United Church in London, Ontario, for one, is among the growing number of churches that are exercising good energy stewardship. They will dedicate their cross-shaped array of new solar panels on January 6 to mark the Christian celebration of Epiphany, when wise men are believed to have followed the light to find young Jesus. They describe it as a visible sign of hope and a statement to their community—especially to children and youth—about their commitment to be a light to God’s future for this world that God loves. Their annual greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by 11 tonnes, compared with energy produced by fossil fuels. (Read the full London Free Press story, which includes a photo.)

I’ve lost track of how many United Church congregations have been in touch over the past year describing similar initiatives. I find it interesting that they often also describe how these globally minded initiatives have reignited spiritual renewal and community interest.

At every time of year Christians look to the Light of Christ to guide our resolution-making. Sometimes we begin with renewed commitments to our prayer practices, improving the health of our souls; sometimes we begin with resolutions focused on improving relationships with those of our “village,” addressing the health of community; sometimes we begin with resolutions for the sake of the whole of God’s world, the health of creation. Thankfully, Spirit moves through each of these renewed practices in ways that bless the other two.

So Epiphany resolutions to any one of these—soul, community, or creation—represent a commitment to them all. May you be blessed as you renew your commitments in response to the Light of Christ breaking into the world that God loves.

Moderator Mardi’s Blog: Spirit Express #1 rolls into the station

As I rolled into Toronto’s Union Station yesterday, I felt too overwhelmed by stories and reflections to pull them apart for telling quite yet. After 52 discrete events or gatherings in 27 days, they will take some time to sift and sort. Visits throughout Alberta and Northwest Conference were as extraordinary as the others, and different of course.
More stories and reflections from the past month will come, but as I now move into four days of meetings of the General Council Executive, I will share only a few today:

In Winnipeg I met Elliot, a university student, who told me churches are in the best position to inspire hopeful action on climate and ocean change because we know how to build community. When people feel a strong sense of community, he points out, they take more responsible environmental action.

Elliot is only one of many amazing people I’ve met while travelling Canada by train to host town hall meetings on the challenge of climate change and our response as people of faith. The “Spirit Express” is one of the ways I can reduce carbon emissions.

I’ve also met:

Rosie, a civil engineer and Christian who has travelled only by train since 2006 in order to reduce her carbon footprint.

Megan, a young church member, who said, “This is something my generation will have to deal with.” When I asked Megan what she needs from us, she said, “To listen; to support us and help us.”

Paul, an engineer working in sustainability studies, who said “Science isn’t enough to change minds. We need people of faith to change hearts.”

The journey and conversation continue. Perhaps you and I shared one of those 52 events over the past month. If you happen to be here, I’d love to hear your comments in addition to the many wonderful follow-up e-mail messages to our conversations I’ve already received.

Moderator Mardi’s Blog: Farewell to Saskatchewan

It’s hard to say goodbye to Saskatchewan Conference after a wonderful week of visiting.

Mike Milne of The United Church Observer joined me at the Winnipeg train station a week ago Monday to travel on the “Spirit Express” for the first few days of my Saskatchewan Conference visits, beginning with our stop in Melville. The train arrived early yet again, as it has everywhere so far. Not only has VIA Rail been on time, but its generosity in providing the Moderator with a free pass for the “Spirit Express” has also been applauded at every mention.

Hospitality in this Conference was much warmer than temperatures during the first part of the week. Blizzard-like conditions had us staying overnight with Jerry and Janet Kessler in Kipling following the town hall, to which almost 60 people braved the blowing snow and treacherous sidewalks and roads.

The next day we headed for Regina—slowly—and not without adventure. We had to be dug out of a snow drift on the highway. Staying on the road was in itself an achievement. Thank goodness Executive Secretary Bill Doyle is such a careful driver, and Saskatchewan drivers are accustomed to jumping out to help others.

Intergenerational and intercultural opportunities were inspiring in events such as

  • town hall meetings in Kipling, Kindersley, and Saskatoon
  • a Regina meeting with CGIT girls and leaders
  • earning in Melville about SARCAN, Saskatchewan’s unique approach to recycling, which for years has benefited community members with intellectual challenges
  • a city-wide environmental fair in Regina
  • a “Soul, Community, and Creation” evening at St. Paul’s United in support of Saskatoon’s Integrated Community Ministry
  • the blessing of a new wing at Oliver Lodge, followed by an evening with River Bend Presbytery in celebration with music, word, and drama on how “Home is where the heart is,” being at home in our bodies, our faith, with the earth, and in God
  • a day at Craik Eco-Centre and Eco-Village with Multi-Faith Saskatchewan, dedicating a designated sacred space with representatives of more than 10 different faith/spiritual traditions (someday soon a solar-powered fountain will be added to this sacred space; find more information and photos of the event)

October 30, 2010 – Designated Sacred Site Dedication

Saskatchewan_1

Memories of many met at these gatherings keep flooding my mind, such as these few:

  • John, a young adult in Regina who’s begun a car share cooperative, speaking up about the important role religious leaders must play in care of creation
  • Christopher, a tween who’s caring for creation in all kinds of ways and spoke of his congregation’s pilgrimage of presence to Fort McMurray
  • Alexander, a babe in arms, the centre of the community as he sleeps in the midst of loud and lively children and adults dancing and swirling ’round
  • Sheila, the granddaughter of the fourth Moderator of The United Church of Canada, Edmund H. Oliver, in whose name Oliver Lodge provides special care for elderly residents
  • Willa Karnan, resident of Oliver Lodge and long-time United Church overseas personnel, who greeted me in Korean
  • 6-year-old Hannah, who shared in a dramatic Halloween-related dialogue with me in worship at Grosvenor Park United in Saskatoon
  • Janet Sigurdson, a minister weaving the gifts of her Aboriginal community with those of her farming community
  • Nathaniel, a university student focused on religious and environmental studies and finding a new home community in his United Church congregation, far from his family home in Sudan
  • Zarqa Nawaz, one of the creators of Little Mosque on the Prairie and Joseph Naytowhow, creator of #141 in our More Voices hymn collection

Grosvenor Park United Church, Saskatoon, Oct. 31, 2010

Hannah, Grosvenor Park United Church. Photo by Glenn, a member of the congregation.

Hannah, Grosvenor Park United Church. Photo by Glenn, a member of the congregation.

The connecting tissue among soul, community, and creation has been evident in all of these encounters and more, reminding me of words from Revelation 21:3–5 as paraphrased by Eugene Peterson:

I heard a voice thunder: “Look! Look! God has moved into the neighbourhood, making a home with men and women and children. We belong to one another and to all creation.”

I have a strong sense of belonging to those I’m visiting throughout these four Conferences this month. As we sing, pray, and share stories of suffering and hope, that sense of belonging to one another and to all creation deepens. And the practice of belonging to one another as community and creation brings varied healing blessings. Thanks be to God.

Now I’m rolling into the Edmonton train station at almost 7:00 a.m., anticipating more encounters and stories.

What are your stories of belonging to one another and to all creation?

Moderator Mardi’s Blog: Choosing life and hope

Spirit prompted me to reflect on the nature of hope during my final offering of theological reflection at this past weekend’s national justice-making Turn! gathering in Pinawa, Manitoba.

Biblical words that have been turning within during this first leg of Spirit Express journeys include these from Deuteronomy 30:19: “I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live.” Choosing life is the essence of hope.

I’m gathering too many stories of people choosing life and hope to keep up with in this blog, so they’ll wait for further writing. But here are a few:

Shortly after some moose hunters and I flagged down the train to get on in Foleyet in northern Ontario, I met Rosamund Hyde at table in the dining car. Turns out she’s a civil engineer who’s chosen to travel by train since 2006, choosing abundant life for the Earth—and for herself, as she says in this article in the June issue of Canadian Consulting Engineer.

As you can see, the article begins with the question about what has made her choose the train, to which she says, “Like other people, I feel called to explore, ‘What is the life abundant?’”

Yes, she’s an active church member, until recently at St. Andrew’s United in Vancouver, and since her recent move to Ontario, she and her family are now active in the Anglican church, not only locally but beyond (the Anglican church is the church in their new community). Rosie chooses life—and hope.

Bruce Faurschou, Executive Secretary of the Conference of Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario, drove me to Pinawa for the TURN! conference and suggested we leave early to meet with the Pinawa Christian Fellowship. I’m so grateful he did!

Since 1963, this shared ministry of Mennonite Church Manitoba, The Presbyterian Church in Canada, The Anglican Church of Canada, and The United Church of Canada has blessed the community with a strong sense of mission and outreach. They contribute to the mission funds of all four of their parent denominations in addition to local and ecumenical projects that they support financially and through service. They worship in the school and have their office in the local business centre. Instead of constructing a church building, they’ve decided to build housing for those who need it. Talk about choosing life and hope! They offer an inspiring model. I’m delighted that their minister, Robert Murray, posted photos and words about our visit together.

With members of Pinawa Christian Fellowship. Photo: Rev. Robert Murray.

With members of Pinawa Christian Fellowship. Photo: Rev. Robert Murray.

The way Milly Malavsky tells it, the people of Trinity United in Winnipeg and Fort Richmond High School—on the other side of the street—used to be engaged in a war over parking. After some incidents of vandalism, they decided to resolve things through mediation. That was the turning point from which Trinity now offers students pancake lunches during exam weeks (when their cafeteria is closed) and the students offered to help Trinity with their big vegetable garden that serves the broader community. Consequently, the Moderator was invited to speak with Ms. Moses’ World Geography class last week! It’s unusual for any religious leader to be invited into a public school class these days, but the relationship between Trinity and Fort Richmond has clearly grown into one of trust—of choosing life and hope.

Earlier in that same day of six events in 10 hours, I met with 101-year-old Gertrude Whetter, who reflects the very essence of life and hope. What a lovely visit we had recalling the significance of CGIT in our lives, and more. (I’m tweeting daily about such events and visits, so please find me on Twitter.)

With Gertrude Whetter. Photo: Milly Malavsky.

With Gertrude Whetter. Photo: Milly Malavsky.

And the Spirit Express is catching the media’s interest by which our stories of life and hope can be more broadly cast. Saturday’s Winnipeg Free Press devoted a full page to life and hope.

What’s your story of choosing life and hope these days? I offer this question as a way to reflect and give God thanks. I also ask so that you might share your stories here with me and with one another. I may or may not be able to respond directly, but your stories will be a gift to community, and to me. In the Life, Hope, and Peace of Christ!

Moderator Mardi’s Blog: “You’ve given me hope”

Groups are gathering in various regions of the world today, June 8th, to mark World Oceans Day, learning and taking action about ocean change, along with climate change.

Recently I spoke with Senator Grant Mitchell of Alberta. He and Senator Elaine McCoy (also an Albertan) have sponsored critically important legislation that is now before the Canadian Senate—and they need help to encourage a majority of Senators from across the political spectrum to support the Climate Change Accountability Act (Bill C-311).

This bill was passed by the House of Commons on May 5, 2010, with 149 votes for and 136 votes against. I asked Senator Mitchell if he would find a letter of support from me to Senators helpful.

“That would be enormously helpful,” he said, and was amazed and grateful that I might also encourage United Church members to write to the Senator from their province.

He added, “You’ve given me hope”—hope that enough Canadians might encourage enough senators to do what needs to be done. He would love to hear a chorus of Canadian voices in support of this bill that would ensure Canada meets its global climate change obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate.

The bill:

a) sets out science-based targets for reductions in Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) of 25% by 2020, and 80% by 2050 (relative to an internationally recognized base year of 1990)

b) requires the Minister of the Environment and the federal government to draft five-year plans on how to accomplish these goals, with interim reports every two years, thereby ensuring public accountability

c) requires review of government plans and reports by the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy

You can learn more by reading Senator Mitchell’s speech.

Following is a copy of my letter sent to Senators, the Prime Minister, the Minister of the Environment, and Marjory LeBreton, Leader of the Government in the Senate. Perhaps it will inspire you to consider adding to Senator Mitchell’s hope by writing a similar letter—or phoning or e-mailing Senators from your province—for the sake of today and tomorrow. Your children and grandchildren will thank you for speaking up at this historic moment.

To find a complete list of Senators by province, see the Parliament of Canada website.

Senators don’t get mail nearly as often as Members of Parliament, and there’s every reason to trust that our letters will make an impression.

Please feel free to share the link to this blog with your network. Senator Mitchell and I are hoping we can “go viral” with this effort.

What might you do for the sake of soul, community, and creation given this legislative effort?

FYI, here’s my letter:

Dear Senator XXXXXXXX,

As Moderator of The United Church of Canada, the largest Protestant denomination in the country, I write with deep hope and anticipation that you will support Bill C-311, the Climate Change Accountability Act, as sponsored by Senator Grant Mitchell (Liberal, Alberta) and seconded by Senator Elaine McCoy (Progressive Conservative, Alberta).

I was encouraged to see the House of Commons support this bill in two successive Parliaments. Canadians will be greatly encouraged to see a majority of Senators from across the political spectrum also support this significant legislation.

You may recall my January 18, 2010, letter to Canadians entitled “Where Is the Hope after Copenhagen?” I have been overwhelmed by hundreds of positive responses to this letter, not only from United Church members, but also from Canadians of all backgrounds. I am in close contact with Christians from a variety of denominations, as well as leaders of other faith communities. We share deep concerns about the moral challenge of climate and ocean change.

The bill before you is reasonable. It is an example of moral leadership, and we are counting on your courage to ensure that Canada plays its full role in combatting climate and ocean change. Setting strong targets for greenhouse gas emissions will enable effective government planning and monitoring, and help us take national action to mitigate the threat of ecological and economic consequences.

I will soon meet with other religious leaders from around the world to finalize a statement encouraging the G8 leaders to work toward the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, which include long-term environmental sustainability, halting climate change, and addressing impacts on the poor. Your support for this bill will demonstrate the inspired leadership we encourage and support. I look forward to being able to share with our networks of concern and action news that the Senate has passed this crucial bill.

Thank you for taking your leadership responsibility so seriously, for today and for tomorrow.

Sincerely,
Moderator Mardi Tindal
The United Church of Canada/L’Église Unie du Canada

c.c. The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister
The Honourable Marjory LeBreton, Leader of the Government in the Senate
The Honourable Jim Prentice, Minister of the Environment
All Senators
All Members of Parliament

Moderator Mardi’s Blog: More prayers for the Gulf

My prayer times are extended these days with so many troubling incidents of violence and distress calling to be held in God’s love, peace, and justice.

In the midst of such troubling concerns, you have been writing about the prayers you are offering for creation. As you may have seen in her comment here, Kathryn Randsdell has created a Facebook page called Say a Prayer for All Life in the Gulf of Mexico in response to one of my earlier blogs. And this week the following gift of prayer arrived from Saskatchewan, from United Church minister Margaret McKechney. She has given me permission to share this breathtakingly beautiful way of holding the distress of creatures in the Gulf in our prayers:

A Prayer for the Gulf Waters
Blessed Eternal Presence, sustaining all life from vast ocean depths, we acknowledge with humility the sacred wisdom of the living oceans. The oceans are the lungs of our planet, absorbing carbons that destroy life and resurrecting it in beauty: as coral reef and luminescent creatures of the deep. O Bounteous Generosity—you give us our very breath. Life’s essence abounds in minute plankton, that carry the very spirit of your being—nurturing all life in the sea. The fragile balance of ocean life, tenuously sustained, lies open and vulnerable to human activity.

We lament, with deep regret, the damage done to ocean and land by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. This wound upon the very soul of your being, unprecedented in human history, is a cross of unimaginable proportions. We name with reverence those creatures and habitat, for whom these lands are their womb and sustenance. Magnificent frigate birds, piping plover, royal and sandwich terns, brown pelicans whose nesting grounds are sensitive to disturbance, gadwall, shoveller, green-winged teal and snow goose. With great delight the uniquely adapted swimmer, the green sea turtle, swims this Gulf but must find air at the surface. Already endangered, we pray it will find breath.

In wisdom, these waters and marshes, with their cypress trees, spider lilies, swamp roses, cattails, and mesquite brush—gave sanctuary to thousands of migrating song birds, whooping crane, and ducks. Almost no place on this vast continental land will be untouched by wild life of the Gulf region. To us they bring song and beauty, wisdom and a hint of the original bounty of this our Earth. We are reminded also of other living creatures who depend on the life spawned by Gulf waters: the Louisiana black bear already in danger, the estuaries that are nurseries to fish and shellfish.

You, whose dream enlivened these waters with unimaginable richness, help us to catch this delicate vision of life. So vast is the list of beauty and wonder that it sustains, we cannot help but recognize that life itself is suspended in this disaster—gasping for breath. Through the ancient love that brought this universe into being—may the miracle of rebirth and renewal be born again. In the abiding hope that is our faith, we pray. Amen

What poetry of prayer might this inspire in you for the mending of creation in other bioregions?