Alberta event explores wild hope for creation

July 5, 2024 | News | Volume 28 Issue 9
Margaret Kruger-Harder |
Leng Thang (left to right), Tim Wiebe-Neufeld, Bill Christieson and Elizabeth Wall at the Griffith Woods Natural Environment Park, as part of an MC Alberta creation event. Photo: Margaret Kruger-Harder

Don’t get “stuck in rage or paralyzed by fear,” said Joanne Moyer. “[Be] defiantly hopeful, despite the odds.” Moyer, associate professor at The King’s University in Edmonton, was presenting at a Mennonite Church Alberta event called “Wild Hope for God’s Garden.” The May 28-29 event was held at First Mennonite Church in Calgary. Approximately 25 people attended. 


Referring to various scripture passages, Moyer showed how all parts of creation are included in God’s desire for reconciliation. “Love for God and care for God’s creation are closely intertwined,” she said.


Moyer advised attendees to learn about their local environments, focusing on watersheds. She explained that knowledge of the local environment and our relationship to it helps us “connect to our place” and “live well in it.” Through evaluation of our ecological footprint and information about human-driven changes to Earth’s systems, Moyer raised awareness of the imperative for action.


We are in a “moment of time in which we must act,” she said. “People cannot thrive if the ecological systems they depend on are not thriving.” We need to act “for human justice, to honour God, and for the sake of creatures themselves.” Moyer suggested reducing food waste, teaching, advocating, learning and working together in countercultural communities of faith.


Attendee Debbie Bledsoe, pastor of First Mennonite Church in Edmonton, finds hope in “the power of the individual to make a difference.” As a queer and neurodivergent woman, Bledsoe worried about not being able to contribute to the climate movement. However, stories in the book All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis, one of resources at the sessions, changed Debbie’s outlook. She was encouraged by the power of people of all kinds whose faith and experiences led them to action. Stories of their success gives Bledsoe hope that marginalized people can and do make change in the world. She shared that, “people acting together, with purpose, especially marginalized peoples, brings me hope amid despair.”


Liesel Retzlaff and Charlene Lauzier, young adults and co-chairs of the Creation Care Working Group in Alberta, described the hope they find in connecting with others who care. Lauzier finds hope, in part, from the support their working group receives from other regions. “Seeing what they’ve been able to accomplish” helps us believe we will be an “influence to make a difference in Alberta, though we are younger.” Retzlaff adds that leaders in the church provide encouragement and make them feel seen. 


The network of support encourages Retzlaff and Lauzier to initiate opportunities for conversations in Alberta about the need for creation care. “There are people out there already wanting to do things and we can meet them in that place,” said Retzlaff.


In the final session, Moyer shared Sandy Plett’s story of driving through a blizzard as a young girl. Plett serves as Mennonite Church Canada’s climate action coordinator. Since the way ahead was difficult to see, Plett’s mother opened the car door for a visual of the edge of the road so they could keep going. Plett uses this story as an example of moving forward in difficult circumstances. “You know where you are going but you don’t know how you are going to get there,” reflected Moyer.


“Hope and spiritual resilience,” along with community, undergird us, Moyer said. She encouraged those in attendance to continually find ways that are within each of our control to care for the “good gifts our Creator put on Earth.”

Leng Thang (left to right), Tim Wiebe-Neufeld, Bill Christieson and Elizabeth Wall at the Griffith Woods Natural Environment Park, as part of an MC Alberta creation event. Photo: Margaret Kruger-Harder

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