And all who live in it

From regular flooding in Miami to unprecedented fires in the Arctic, climate change is making itself known everywhere. meunierd/shutterstock

Welcome to this first edition of EPIPHANIES from the Anglican Journal. The Anglican Journal continues in print—the publication you’re reading is an experiment, a first attempt to see how readers feel about efforts to translate the Anglican Journal into a digital periodical. While our aim is to provide printed material to readers for as long as possible, I think it’s important that the Journal explore new products and methods of reaching people. As Paul says to Timothy, we must carefully prepare to share the Word in all seasons.

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As you can see, we’ve formatted this edition in the style of a magazine. This affords us a few opportunities otherwise unavailable in a newspaper format, including the ability to tell in-depth, long-form stories and to provide an underlying theme for our work. This format also allows us to supply a file ready for your home or parish printer, should you need a physical copy.

In this paper-saving issue, we’ve decided to venture into a meditation upon the environment.

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;
for he founded it on the seas
and established it on the waters.

Psalm 24:1-2

When I was in my early 20s, I accompanied a friend to a screening of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth at a movie theatre in Orlando, Florida. In the course of the film, the former U.S. vice-president presented several simulations of sea-level rise expected to occur within the next century. One such simulation showed Florida’s transformation into something unrecognizable—a wasteland seemingly 50 per cent of its previous size, in which every coastal city was inundated.

Seeing that Orlando would remain on high ground, I loudly proclaimed to the theatre, “We’re fine.” My commentary was met with laughter and jeers. In any event, I’m sure my interjection boosted few spirits in the midst of such grim prophecy.

The realities of climate change can be overwhelming—gallows humour, grief and denial are pretty natural reactions to the changes that are both here and ahead. But as people of faith, I believe we are called to respond prayerfully to something that seems unmanageably complex at best and irreversible at worst. Worldwide, the earth appears to be entering—or already coping with—environmental catastrophe. The earth is the Lord’s, but humans have contaminated its surface. God breathed the air, but internal combustion has changed its nature. God founded the seas, but we have filled them with single-use plastic. The psalmist reminds us that the earth and all its inhabitants belong to God—but living into such a call is more easily said than done. So far, our performance as a species leaves much to be desired. We have lived as if the planet is ours to dispose of as we please—and consequences are emerging at a frightening pace.

How, then, should the church respond? How should individual Anglicans respond—or repent? In this issue, we look at a few ways to answer these questions, from the practical to the theological. From bees to community gardens to melting permafrost to the relationship between Indigenous peoples and the land, we’ll look at how Canadian Anglicans are relating to God’s environment—and how they struggle with the looming spectre of climate change.

While the subject matter can be intense, we hope that you find this meditation provocative in thought, prayer and action. The answers won’t be definitive, but perhaps they’ll help us along the way—even if we don’t agree on our contribution to the changes occurring around us. Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to us all.

Cover photo: From regular flooding in Miami to unprecedented fires in the Arctic, climate change is making itself known everywhere. Photo by Meunierd/Shutterstock


  • Matthew Townsend

    Matthew Townsend was editorial supervisor of the Anglican Journal from 2019 to 2020, and served as editor from 2020 to 2021.

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