This article first appeared in the Feb. 2013 issue of Anglican Journal.
As an Anglican lay person, and a grandmother, I have experienced a journey of faith around advocacy and climate change. I am neither a scientist nor a politician, although I have always been concerned about environmental issues such as lobbying to protect old growth forests and supporting aboriginal communities in their need for safe drinking water. I drive a hybrid car.
In 2007, however, I began to grasp what it means to be an “earth keeper” in a time of climate change. While participating in an inter-faith Earth Day event, I had a profound experience about what it really means to care for creation. I learned that climate change is a major cause of poverty and famine in the developing world, especially in the Global South, and that the industrialized world is a major contributor to this. Importantly, I realized that I was not living in a way that was sustainable; nor had I thought through the moral and ethical dimensions of a culture of sustainability.
With my new awareness, I joined a small group of Anglicans within our diocese which began to meet regularly. The goal was to educate ourselves on the climate crisis, and how we, as a national church, could respond with political action and advocacy. We worked with the Anglican Church of Canada’s eco-justice committee to formulate Resolution A180 on Climate Change, which was ultimately passed at General Synod 2010.
The worldwide Anglican Communion’s fifth Mark of Mission calls for us to “strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth.” Thus, by advocating for more significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, by offering worship resources for our communities, by learning to pray more intentionally for the earth and by examining our own lifestyles through the lens of caring for creation, we are called to be responsive to God’s call.
And yet, as Canadians, we have not kept pace internationally. Among many other shameful things, we continue to be one of the world’s top 10 nations when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, and we do not have a federal climate action policy.
If our Christian calling is to “speak the truth in love,” then speaking to government is part of justice-seeking. We need to begin to ask ourselves: How do we advocate for the earth, and “safeguard the integrity of creation?” And how do we help to “sustain and renew the life of the earth?”
I believe that we must speak out on behalf of creation. Those of us active in this movement, and in the church, believe that we have a moral responsibility in the international arena to bring about a fair, ambitious and legally binding agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
We are members of the “beloved community” that has struggled throughout history for class, racial and gender equality, and justice in the church and in society. Our voice now needs to be heard in advocating for the earth, our island home in the universe.
Diane Marshall has been a family therapist for more than 35 years and is part of the Environment Working Group of the diocese of Toronto. She is a member of St. Peter’s (Carlton Street) in downtown Toronto.