Discussion event to explore the climate crisis

April 27, 2022 | Opinion | Volume 26 Issue 9
Canadian Mennonite
(Photo compilation by Betty Avery)

Canadian Mennonite is launching an online discussion series exploring current events that are impacting the church and wider world, and the climate crisis is the subject of the first event.

Hosted by Aaron Epp, CM’s online media manager, the first event takes place on Wednesday, May 25 at 8 p.m. ET. You can register to attend at canadianmennonite.org/events.

We asked the three guests who will be joining Epp on May 25—Joanne Moyer, Ian Funk and Anthony Siegrist—to write a few paragraphs introducing themselves and to identify a question they hope to bring to the discussion.

Joanne Moyer
The roots of my love for God’s creation were planted during my childhood through family treks in the Old Man River Valley in Lethbridge, Alta.; game drives through parks in Tanzania, East Africa; and summers working at Camp Valaqua in the Alberta foothills.

Especially at Camp Valaqua, my faith was nurtured in a setting with intense connection to nature, and I developed a strong understanding of God as Creator and a conviction that my response to God’s love must include attention to, and care for, God’s creation.

These convictions are closely linked with justice concerns, recognizing that the vulnerable in our societies frequently suffer the greatest harm from environmental degradation while often contributing the least to causing it.

After completing a theology degree at Canadian Mennonite Bible College, I pursued environmental studies degrees at several levels, culminating in a PhD. During my studies, I was invited to serve as one of the Canadian council members for the newly formed Mennonite Creation Care Network, and I have served with the network for almost 20 years.

I currently work at The King’s University in Edmonton, teaching environmental studies and geography, and conducting research on faith-based environmental engagement in Canada.

I try to walk all this talk in my personal life, choosing not to own a car; considering my purchases and travel carefully; gardening; and eating lots of beans.

My question: Which is more important for addressing climate change: personal lifestyle choices or political advocacy aimed at creating systemic transformation?

Ian Funk
I have been a pastor for the last six years at Langley Mennonite Fellowship in British Columbia, and I have also been studying at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Ind.

In both my studies and in my formation as a pastor I am finding more and more that every dimension of faith intersects with how we relate to creation. In creation we experience grace, incarnation, revelation, goodness, forgiveness, redemption, life, providence, calling, shalom and a connection with Creator God.

I pray that, in a time of climate crisis, the church does all that it can to tune into every dimension of our faith that connects us with creation; creation is calling for this.

I am a part of the Mennonite Church B.C. Creation Care Task Group and MC Canada’s Sustainability Leadership Group.

I was recently a part of a Mennonite church community learning series—”Creator’s Call in a Climate Emergency”—in which it became abundantly clear that there is a very deep sense of urgency among church folk to respond to the climate crisis. In this series, we learned that creation has suffered largely because of a prevailing worldview that justifies extraction and conquest, and that the church needs to actively participate in a dramatic, imaginative shift in our thinking which realizes our intimate connection with creation.

My question (from the MC B.C. Creation Care Task Group): Who is ready to actively engage with creation care in the church community? Is the church viewed as a venue where we can respond to the climate crisis?

Anthony Siegrist
Being involved in creation care means putting our hands to the local work of rejuvenating habitats and reducing the harmful aspects of our ecological impact. It also means contributing our voices and our votes to the task of changing the systems that make damaging consumption seem normal and victimless.

My work with A Rocha is part of this, but I hope my everyday oikological work is as well. Like many others, I was initially drawn to environmental concerns because it was in nature that I encountered God’s peace. There is something about natural landscapes that makes me feel like I know what it means to be a human. These places, and the wild ramble of flora and fauna that make them up, deserve our care.

I’m motivated by the connections as well: the fact that almost all of us are upstream from somebody else, the fact that our lives depend on natural systems and organisms we didn’t create, and for which we could not pay. We live in a world of gifts and grace. The only right response is to extend that grace, to live in wonder and care.

My question: Which biblical lens, which story or theme, puts the climate crisis into the right focus?

For more information, visit canadianmennonite.org/events.

This article appears in the May 2, 2022 print issue, with the headline “Canadian Mennonite discussion event to explore the climate crisis.”

(Photo compilation by Betty Avery)

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