Good Tidings : The Earth, Spirit, Action Team (ESA) Newsletter
St. Matthew’s United Church
April, 2022 _________No.11_____
‘After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. … The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid. I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee, there you will see him. This is my message for you.” So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings! And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshipped him. ’Mt. 28
Welcome to the eleventh issue of Good Tidings, a newsletter providing information on local and global environmental and climate change issues; suggestions for personal and political actions to build a healthy planet; information about symposiums, resources, and petitions from other environment and climate change organizations; and links to environmentally themed worship and prayer opportunities. We would like to hear from you at email@example.com.
Accessing the Defiant Hope of Easter Rev. Betsy Hogan
If you're anything like me, it's been taking a bit more intentional work these past few years to sustain the essential hope that grounds Christian faith and discipleship.
We are, after all, meant to be a people who believe in and bear witness to the power of Love to heal brokenness, to restore and renew, to raise new life out of death! But it would be disingenuous of me to claim, after these past few years, that the firmness with which I've believed for a lifetime that "the arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice" is wholly intact.
Speaking broadly, it's long been shaken by the ease with which we embraced the neo-liberal economic policies that absolved us of responsibility to and for one another. But lately it's particularly faltered as we've declined to challenge and overturn these same neo-liberal economic policies even despite their obstructing of decisive action on climate change as the crisis becomes more and more urgent. If the arc of history wants me to stay convinced it's bending toward justice in this regard, in other words, it had best get to work and start bending.
But it doesn't bend itself. Good people bend it, and good people are bending it, and when I concentrate very hard I do remember this. When I concentrate very hard and also locate a historical perspective, I do remember the tiny and incremental ways in which goodness and Godness tiptoe righteousness and renewal into being, and I do see these unfolding. And although decisive action on climate change will require of us a readiness to make sacrifices, I do think we can be capable of this.
But even the most defiant Easter hope we can access when we concentrate very hard, and breathe in the fresh newness of Spring unfolding around us, can definitely benefit from an article like the following, which appeared two weeks ago in the New York Times. Good people around the world are bending the arc of history, and we can join them.
Climate Optimism We have reason for hope on climate change. By German Lopez April 3, 2022
Among the headline-grabbing wildfires, droughts and floods, it is easy to feel disheartened about climate change.
I felt this myself when a United Nations panel released the latest major report on global warming. It said that humanity was running out of time to avert some of the worst effects of a warming planet. Another report is coming tomorrow. So I called experts to find out whether my sense of doom was warranted.
To my relief, they pushed back against the notion of despair. The world, they argued, has made real progress on climate change and still has time to act. They said that any declaration of inevitable doom would be a barrier to action, alongside the denialism that Republican lawmakers have historically used to stall climate legislation. Such pushback is part of a budding movement: Activists who challenge climate dread recently took off on TikTok, my colleague Cara Buckley reported.
“Fear is useful to wake us up and make us pay attention,” Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University, told me. “But if we don’t know what to do, it paralyzes us.”
In a climate change-focused survey of young people in 10 countries last year, 75 percent of respondents said the future was frightening. Some people now use therapy to calm their climate anxieties. Some have drastically changed their lives out of fear of a warming planet — even deciding not to have kids.
Climate change of course presents a huge challenge, threatening the world with more of the extreme weather we have seen over the past few years. And the situation is urgent: To meet President Biden’s climate goals, experts argue, Congress must pass the climate provisions of the Build Back Better Act this year.
But rather than seeing the climate challenge as overwhelming or hopeless, experts said, we should treat it as a call to action.
Reasons for hope
The world has made genuine progress in slowing climate change in recent years. In much of the world, solar and wind power are now cheaper than coal and gas. The cost of batteries has plummeted over the past few decades, making electric vehicles much more accessible. Governments and businesses are pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into clean energy.
Before 2015, the world was expected to warm by about four degrees Celsius by 2100. Today, the world is on track for three degrees Celsius. And if the world’s leaders meet their current commitments, the planet would warm by around two degrees Celsius.
That is not enough to declare victory. The standard goal world leaders have embraced to avoid the worst consequences of climate change is to keep warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2100. Unfortunately, that does look increasingly unreachable, experts said.
But every drop in degrees matters. One-tenth of a degree may sound like very little, but it could save lives — by preventing more wildfires, droughts, floods and conflicts over dwindling resources.
And while the best outcome now seems doubtful, so does the worst. Scientists have long worried about runaway warming that generates out-of-control weather, leaves regions uninhabitable and wrecks ecosystems. But projections right now suggest that scenario is unlikely, said Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State.
Experts and advocates want to capture legitimate concerns and funnel them into action. The world’s governments and biggest businesses have set goals to reduce greenhouse emissions in the coming decades, but they will need the public’s help and support.
A collective approach can work for climate change, experts said. Cutting individual carbon footprints is less important than systemic changes that governments and companies enact to help people live more sustainably. While individual action helps, it is no match for the impact of entire civilizations that have built their economies around burning carbon sources for energy.
The need for a sweeping solution can make the problem feel too big and individuals too small, again feeding into despair.
But experts said that individuals could still make a difference, by playing into a collective approach. You can convince friends and family to take the issue seriously, changing what politicians and policies they support. You can become involved in politics (including at the local level, where many climate policies are carried out). You can actively post about global warming on social media. You can donate money to climate causes.
The bottom line, experts repeatedly told me: Don’t give up.
Official Board Approves Motion to Establish a Task Group to work on Legacy Project.
Following Rev. Betsy’s April 5th Board Update on the Board’s establishment of a “Task Group to undertake a wide public Request for Proposals for a Legacy Project -- a development on our property”, Good Tidings has learned that the Task Group has had its first meeting, and has developed a list of assignments and pending contact meetings. The Task Group includes Ken Moors, Jill Rafuse, April Hennigar, Dan Campbell, and Beverly Miller, with Leonard Preyra as consultant. It is mandated to bring a report on its progress and recommendations back to the Board by June 1st. Rev. Betsy’s email to the congregation on April 5th provides more information about intentions for the Legacy Project. We congratulate the Board and wish the Task Force well as it pursues this important challenge for St. Matthew’s congregation..
Prayerpoems on Easter Hope by Rev. Gordon Murray
Gordon Murray has written and published many of his Prayerpoems in a collection entitled Sage © GORDON S. MURRAY, Limited Edition, 2018, ETC Press, Halifax, NS. Thank you Gordon for sharing your prayerpoems for the Easter Hope issue of Good Tidings.
We wait while the world rushes on.
while others turn away
"squander their 'wealth' in dissolute living".
Even his own betrayed him
Others captured him
mocked and spit upon him
nailed him down,
They wrapped him in pretty
hid him in a rock hewn tomb
even rolled great stone across the entrance!
But he burst free
escaped the icy, black grip of death
broke out of the chrysalis of Judaism
cracked the crucible of paganism
with irrepressible Life! lasting Life
We call it Easter
and sing our Halleluiah's
coming to his own
through locked doors
into fear-filled upper rooms
speaking soft words of peace
breathing the warm breath of forgiveness
to those who betrayed
brought them back from their grave sending
them out with a story
with a way, a truth and a life
walking with them
living in them.
Christ Eastered them
and Easters us
even when we forget
hide , betray
deny, run away
"squandering our 'wealth' in dissolute living".
Can there be any other cry
Big Green Dreams for St. Matthew’s
Interview with Gayle Reiner by Margaret Sagar. Gayle is the Chair of St. Matthew’s Worship Committee.
This is the third in a series of Good Tidings interviews with people at St. Matt’s inviting them to share their big dreams for greening our Church facilities, our lives, and our life as a faith community.
Gayle began by saying she is delighted the Official Board has just approved an energy audit which is essential for determining needs for repairs and changes in our facilities, and for making us eligible for funding from various sources.
Part of Gayle’s “big green dream”, and she has been focused on this for a long time, has been about waste of any kind – waste of food, (30% of food produced in Canada is wasted somewhere along the line); waste of fuel through the unnecessary use of cars; waste of energy by leaving lights on; (and one could also add waste of water in our daily routines). When Gayle was teaching she told her students that although the planet was in a mess, we had reached that stage one drop at a time. Similarly, if each of us were to act one drop at a time, the planet can be saved one drop at a time. She told them although each of our actions might seem too small or too insignificant to make a difference, they all add up. Though we might be overwhelmed by our planet’s problems such as waste in our lives caused by our over consumption or energy and fossil fuel usage, we need to continue to work at making change steadily. We can’t allow ourselves to be overwhelmed and do nothing. We can’t give up.
Gayle appreciates Earth Spirit Action and the work the group is doing. She thinks that its contribution to St Matthew’s congregational life is important because we need constant reminders of who we are on Earth, our place, why we are here and the imperative of our faith to care for God’s creation. Gayle appreciates Good Tidings and applauds the efforts to bring suggestions for action and information to the attention of the congregation. She also likes the recipes! She does have some suggestions… a “Did You Know” column offering tidbits of useful information, such as the information Anne Marie shared with the Official Board about solar panels being removable. This has encouraged Gayle and Craig to think again about solar panels at their home. Gayle also suggested Good Tidings might try to include more information on local events, for example, the date of Seedy Saturday held in the spring in Spryfield, and other activities. She wondered about including more Ecology Action Centre information, or more links to relevant web sites. Great suggestions Gayle!
Thanks for sharing your hopes, your ideas for how we can grow in our efforts to become a greener community of faith, and for your support. And thanks to Margaret Sagar for this encouraging interview.
Official Board Approves Energy Audit.
St. Matthew’s Official Board approved a motion from the Property Committee, supported by the Earth Spirit Action Team, at its meeting April 3rd authorizing and funding an Energy Audit of the St. Matthew’s facilities. We asked Elaine Murray who has researched energy audits for the ESA to tell us what an energy audit is, why its important, whether others in the Church were working on an audit, who would conduct it, and what it would cost. We also wanted to know what the Church would do once it had the information and recommendations generated by the audit. This is what she told us.
Q: Elaine, what is an energy audit?
R: According to those who conduct energy audits, an energy audit is an inspection and analysis of energy flows in a building with the objective of understanding the energy efficiency of the home or building being audited.
A qualified inspector analyses the building to determine how tight it is, how much energy is lost through leaks in doors, windows and walls as well as how the building is heated and cooled. Then recommendations are made as to what can be done to make the building more efficient. When changes are made, there are rebates available to offset the cost of the work done. When the building is more efficient, the cost for heating and cooling is reduced and the carbon footprint is reduced as well...
Q: Why did ESA get interested in an energy audit?
A: The ESA Team was looking for ways to reduce the carbon footprint at St. Matthew’s and thought an energy audit was the way to begin. An audit could tell us what repairs and changes needed to be made to the facilities. An audit was also required for rebates from Efficiency Nova Scotia, and generally for grants or funding for environmental renovations from other sources.
Q: At the congregational meeting in the fall, members of the ESA raised questions about the feasibility of installing solar panels on the roof. A: Yes, we were interested in exploring the possibility of solar panels to reduce energy consumption.
That discussion at the congregational meeting and other discussions revealed that the Property Committee also thought an Energy Audit was a necessary first step, but efforts to find a company to do an audit revealed long waiting lists.
When Elaine contacted St. Luke’s in Tantallon to find out details about their solar panel project she discovered they had contracted Tate Engineering for their energy audit and highly recommended them. So on behalf of ESA, she contacted Roxanne Tate requesting an estimate on an energy audit at St. Matthew’s. With Tate Engineering’s estimate and information on the specifics an audit would provide, ESA and the Property Committee developed a motion for the Official Board. The audit would cost $3,750. and provide recommendations on necessary changes to reduce our carbon footprint. The Board gave its approval to proceed on April 3rd.
Once St. Matthew’s receives the report it has one year to complete changes for which it will apply for rebates. Receipts are required, and rebates depend on the nature of the work and/or equipment installed. The project will be managed by the Property Committee which has already been in contact with Tate Engineering. The audit will be done this spring.
We thank Elaine, the ESA Team, the Property Committee, and the Official Board for researching and taking this important step to address our carbon footprint and develop a plan to pursue a greener presence in our community and world. As Gayle Reiner has observed, “One drop at a time.”
Earth Day 2022. By Anne Marie Dalton
Did you know?
The First Earth Day was April 22, 1970. At least it is now the officially recognized one. Previous to that John McConnell proposed March 21, 1970, the beginning of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere, as a day to celebrate the Earth. He was inspired by the NASA’s photos of the Blue Dot, the first photo of Earth taken from space. McConnell’s suggestion was taken up by the United Nations and continues to be celebrated by the UN by ringing of the Peace Bell. It is considered a day of meditation, prayer and celebration for peace with the earth and among each other. McConnell is also responsible for designing the Earth Flag. However, April 22 won the day. Senator Gaylord Nelson, a young senator from Wisconsin, called for this day to be set aside across the United States as a day to focus on environmental issues. Gaylord recruited Republican Congressman, Pete McCloskey, to join him and hired a 25- year old activist Denis Hayes to organize teach-ins across college campuses. Hayes was successful beyond anyone’s prediction.
Groups who had been already protesting regionally and locally mostly against pollution and oil spills joined together. About 20 million Americans took part in protest movements, still among the 10 largest protest movements on record. Earth Day went global in 1990, again under Hayes’ leadership. 200 million people across 141 countries, Canada included, joined to call for greater and stronger efforts to confront the growing environmental crises. Earth Day 1970 is considered the official beginning of the modern environmental movement.
For further information, see the Earth Day official website: https://www.earthday.org/history/, Earth Day Canada at https://earthday.ca/?stay=true and Denis Hayes, Rays of Hope: The Transition to a Post-petroleum World, 1977.
A St. Matthew’s we will observe Earth Day Sunday in our Worship Service this Sunday, on April 24th . Please check below for some Earth Week events.
Upcoming Events, Links to Environmental and Justice Groups, Petitions You can Join.
Webinar from Corporate Knights Charting the Path to 2030, Earth Index, events@corporateknights April 20, 9:30-11:00 am, ET
Earth Week Event Apr. 20 1:30 EDT. Learn about “Give It Up for the Earth” campaign and General Council 44 Climate Proposal.
Halifax Northwest Trails Association Earth Day Cleanup at Belchers Marsh, Saturday April 23rd 10-noon. Please come and join us in showing some love for Belchers Marsh. Meet at the corner of Langbrae and Parkland. Supplies provided. Family and friends welcome. firstname.lastname@example.org
Universal Dental Care. https://you.leadnow.ca Petitions federal government for universal rather than conditional dental care.
Just Transition. http://cpj.ca Citizens for Public Justice
IPPC Report on Climate Change. https://www.un.org/
David Suzuki Foundation https://www.davidsuzuki.org/david-suzuki/foundation
Links to Ecology Websites.
Ecology Action Center https://ecologyaction.ca
Sierra Club https://www.sierraclub.ca
From “TheWhole Earth Shall Cry Glory” by Rev. George MacLeod, Iona.
“Holy Spirit, Enlivener, breathe on us, fill us with life anew. In your new creation, already upon us, breaking through, groaning and travailing, but already breaking through, breathe on us … “
Again, we read Gordon Murray’s hopeful words as he prays the Spirit to breathe Creation into wholeness, the world into peace, the Church into unity, and brokenness into wholeness, that the Life of God may live in us.
Formed of the ancient mists of the cosmos light and dark,
form and shape,
colour and texture
alive planet and star,
sea and soil
Formed in the womb of Mary -
head and trunk
hand and arm
leg and foot
eye and ear
mouth and nose
Pinned to a hand-hewn cross –
pain and blame
blood and tears
sigh and cry
death and tomb.
risen and glorified
radiant and resplendent
exalted and uplifted
ascended on high.
Knit together by Your Spirit –
Man and woman
adult and child
stranger and friend
wealthy and poor
able and needy
broken and divided
selfish and cowering
shrinking and dying
crying to live,
afraid to die
forgetting the tomb and the power of God
forgetting the Spirit and the power of life
forgetting to let go, instead is grasping
forgetting the renewing power of love
the love that spun creation out of chaos
light out of darkness
form out of nothing
forgetting the womb and the tomb
that life and birth overpower death
forgetting that You are the One who
breathes life, abundant life, eternal life.
So, breathe on us again
breathe the Creation into wholeness
the world into peace
the Church into unity
the future into hope
brokenness into wholeness
the forgotten into belonging
the needy into satisfaction
breathe, Spirit, breathe!
blow, Wind of God, blow!
live, Life of God, live
redo us for You.
This has been a dark spring with a shocking war in the Ukraine, a resurging pandemic, and another UN IPCC report telling the world it has only until 2025 to get its carbon crisis under control if we are to save the environment from catastrophe. It is hard to be hopeful.
But as Rev. Betsy reminds us, Easter is the season of ‘defiant hope’ that God’s love and new life has overcome death, alienation, and despair, with a compassion that dissolves the brokenness separating us from one another and from creation that offers us life and home.
We hope this Easter Good Tidings issue with its articles, reports, and prayerpoems, will remind you of the risen Christ; the hope, new life, and power God brings us; and the new creation that will surely come. Happy Easter!