The Earth, Spirit, Action Team (ESA) Newsletter
St. Matthew’s United Church
February 2023 Issue # 18
Lent– Season of Jesus’ Healings and Servanthood.
Luke 9: 21-25 “The Son of Man must undergo great suffering and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day rise.’ Then he said, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves?’”
Welcome to this Lenten edition of Good Tidings, St. Matthew’s ESA newsletter providing information on global and local environmental and climate change issues; suggestions for personal and political actions to build a healthy planet; information about petitions; resources from other environmental groups; and links to worship and prayer opportunities. We would like to hear your comments and views at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Season of Lent - Signs of God’s Reign – Jesus’ Servanthood, Sacrifice, Healing.
On Ash Wednesday, Christians around the world submit themselves to be marked with the sign of the cross, a visible sign that we want to join Jesus in discipleship aimed at bringing healing to the human family, to all creation and all creatures. In his healing ministry and self-sacrifice to redeem all creation, Jesus models discipleship in this era of climate emergency, and human suffering caused by a changing earth, poverty, wars, and natural disasters. Jesus sent his disciples out to heal, telling them to say ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you’, and today Jesus sends us and the Spirit to us, to empower, encourage, enable and direct us. Today, Jesus calls us to care for creation, to protect the environment, to address the causes of climate warming and change. He calls us to the healing of creation. This is a season when we may renew our discipleship.
In this issue of Good Tidings, Paul Bowlby reviews The Nutmeg’s Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis by Amitov Ghosh. We provide info on Lenten seminars and programs from the national church on climate emergency that you might participate in. We report on some recent work of the Earth Spirit Action Team, and Margaret Machum will share another of her delicious recipes for Lent. We also include scriptures and prayers for the season.
Prayer Poem by Malcolm Guite.
Receive this cross of ash upon your brow,
Brought from the burning of Palm Sunday’s cross.
The forests of the world are burning now
And you make late repentance for the loss.
But all the trees of God would clap their hands
The very stones themselves would shout and sing
If you could covenant to love these lands
And recognize in Christ their Lord and king.
He sees the slow destruction of those trees,
He weeps to see the ancient places burn,
And still you make what purchases you please,
And still to dust and ashes you return.
But Hope could rise from ashes even now
Beginning with this sign upon your brow.
Programs and Symposiums You Won’t Want to Pass Up.
Give It Up for The Earth! February 22–April 6, 2023 Lenten Campaign offered by Citizens for Public Justice and For the Love of Creation (UCC).
Give it up for the Earth! is built around two key elements: political advocacy and personal action for the environment to reduce Green House Gas emissions. Consider participating in this online Lenten campaign. Go to https://cpj.ca/fortheearth/ for a full description of the program and how you can be involved. (highlight control & click). Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ) is a Canadian ecumenical Christian organization working on social justice issues from a Christian perspective. For the Love of Creation is an environmental program of the United Church of Canada that co-partners with CPJ in “Give It Up For the Earth”.
Earth Week April 16th – 23rd Together for the Love of Creation.
St. Matthew’s Earth Spirit Action team would like to hear from congregational members who have ideas and suggestions for how we might participate in this nationwide action for climate justice.
“We invite all faith communities to be part of the movement across the country in: Earth Week 2023 – Together for the Love of Creation. During the week of April 16 – 23, engage in a climate justice activity…praying, learning, acting. This is a chance to reach out to other faith communities and neighbours with our climate justice initiatives. Change takes all of us. Each action brings hope.
Some ideas to get you started…
Praying: Include special prayers in your service. Hold a prayer service in creation.
Learning: Hold an open house to share the greening efforts on your property. Host a Faithful Climate Conversation. Invite a speaker (a youth or Indigenous COP delegate, an Indigenous land or water protector)
Acting: Meet with elected officials about climate policy. Organize a collective carbon footprint audit. Participate in Indigenous-led land based activity.” Any questions? Contact email@example.com.
For a direct link to the program, highlight, control and click https://fortheloveofcreation.ca/earth-week/
“Lord our God, You renew the face of the earth, and bring newness to our world: Restore the waters, Refresh the air, Revive the land, Breathe new life into all your creation, and begin with us.” (from Rhythm of Life by David Adams. Lindisfarne, Scotland.)
Earth Spirit Action Team Updates.
Follow-Up on Energy Assessment Review (EAR) of SMUC in May.
On January 25th, Elaine Murray and John Nesbitt from Earth Spirit Action met with the Property Committee (Ian Austen and Wayne Lynch) to review the Energy Assessment Review of SMUC (EAR) conducted by Tate Engineering in May. With regard to the EAR recommendations for upgrades, Property states that as issues arise or equipment or items need to be replaced, they will consult the recommendations in the Energy Assessment Review.
ESA was interested in EAR recommendations that might be incorporated into Budget for 2023. On insulating the sanctuary ceiling to cut down heat loss, we talked about the use of fiberglass batting rather than foam or cellulose to allow easy access to the lighting and fan fixtures in the ceiling. On windows, given anticipation of the Legacy Project, no windows will be replaced in the Addition, but Property is considering replacement of window hardware (where needed) so the windows close tightly. Insulation for the sanctuary ceiling and window hardware are to be considered for the 2023 Budget after research on costs.
Heating is a big issue in the EAR report, and for the Property Committee. Three boilers supplying hot water to radiant heaters throughout the building are close to 15 years old and are being are repaired as needed. They cannot be refurbished and will have to be replaced at some point. The five radiant heaters in the Sanctuary each have blowers requiring reconditioning or replacement, at a cost of about $4500. each. One has been done and another is budgeted for 2023. Property plans to repair or replace one each year until all have been attended to. We talked about the EAR recommendation for heat pumps. Property is willing to explore the feasibility of heat pumps but cautions that the boilers need attending to first because they are back up for a heat pump system. Elaine Murray volunteered to research heat pumps capable of heating the Sanctuary for Property and this research is underway.
Repairs to the South Wall have been completed. Staging has been left in place to accommodate the Sanctuary Windows Project. Storm windows to be installed in the near future will reduce heat loss and provide stability for the stained glass windows.
Green measures in our church life and facilities are an important priority for the Earth Spirit Action Team and we are grateful for every step we take as a church in this direction. Green measures reduce our carbon footprint, energy consumption, impact on the eco systems of which we are part, and reduce our financial costs. Green measures do require up-front investment for long term environmental benefits and savings and we understand the need for financial prudence. We also believe that ‘green investments’ are the right thing to do, for us and for creation.
God of all creation, we thank You that You have given us a world rich in resources and made us stewards of your mysteries; guide us to act responsibly, not wasting or destroying what we do not need, not polluting the earth, or sea or sky, that we may act with love towards all things, and so reflect the great love that You have for the world.” (from Rhythm of Life by David Adams. Lindisfarne, Scotland.)
Interesting Articles and Reports from Environmental Organizations.
David Suzuki Foundation. A new report from the David Suzuki Foundation on corporations and their purposes recommends that Canada, like the UK and France, start incorporating corporate purpose into legal frameworks. “Bringing Corporate Purpose into the Mainstream: Directions for Canadian Law” recommends major changes to the Canada Business Corporations Act to ensure that large companies prioritize people and planet over profit. Academics from the Faculty of Law at McGill University call for The Canada Business Corporations Act to be reformed to require corporate boards to have a statement of purpose, to extend the fiduciary duty of directors and officers to pursuing the purpose of the corporation in good faith with a view to its best interests, and to broaden those best interests to include impacts on the community in which it operates.
For the Report go to: https://davidsuzuki.org/story/why-do-corporations-exist/?utm_source=mkto-none-smSubscribers-readOnline-body&utm_medium then scroll down through the article to “Bringing Corporate Purpose into the Mainstream: Directions for Canadian Law” Click on the link. Once there, you will be able to download the PDF “Bringing Corporate Purpose…” and find other related reports.
Christ and Creation.
“Christ is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in Christ all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers – all things have been created through Christ and for Christ… in Christ all things hold together. For in Christ all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through Christ, God was pleased to reconcile all things, whether on earth or in heaven making peace through the blood of the cross.” Colossians 1: 15-17, 19-20.
ST. MATTHEW’S LUNCH AND LEARN SERIES 2023 by Anne Marie Dalton
Mark your calendars. Earth Spirt Action is inviting you to their Lunch and Learn 2023 Series after Worship on Sundays, February 26 and March 26 at 12:00. The series will provide relevant information and answer questions on current issues relevant to the climate emergency, and our attempts to live our Christian commitments through this challenging time of transition. Members of other churches will be invited. We hope to encourage further cooperation among communities of faith to strengthen our witness and advocacy on these issues. The first Lunch and Learn will focus on local food sourcing and the environment with Speaker Lil MacPherson. The second Lunch and Learn on March 26th will host Speaker Jim Abraham on the topic “Weather and Climate Change”. Watch for our posters!! To register: firstname.lastname@example.org
Community Garden. At their recent meeting, the ESA and Property Committee discussed the idea of a community garden on the north lawn. Making use of our land in this green way could provide an opportunity for people to grow some of their own food, an opportunity for church folk to grow food for local food programs, and could be a more faithful efficient use of our space. But first we need to know if there is enough sunlight on the north lawn to grow food. We are trying to find ways of answering this question. More to follow.
“The fruit of faith is love, and the fruit of love is service...spread love everywhere you go.”
― Mother Teresa
More Great Reading.
The Nutmeg’s Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis by Amitov Ghosh, Reviewed by Paul Bowlby.
One of the first lessons I learned upon entering university was “libraries are made for browsing”. Some of the most important books I have read have come to my attention while browsing and just letting the titles and the colours and the letters on the books grab my attention. Browsing leads you to pull a book off the shelf and look more closely. Amitov Ghosh’s The Nutmeg’s Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis (2021, University of Chicago Press) came to me that way. Then that book led me to an earlier book by Ghosh, The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable (Review to come) and to his novels.
What, you may ask, does nutmeg, that wonderful spice we add to eggnog at Christmas, have to do with climate change?
Nutmeg and the roots of European colonialism go together. Nutmeg was an early part of the spice trade conducted by Europeans in their colony building. Together with opium, the spice trade funded European conquests in Asia. The story of nutmeg begins on the Banda islands in the Indian Ocean. In the unique sub-climate of the islands, nutmeg flourishes. Colonization involved a quest for monopolies. To create such exclusive control the European nations captured and virtually eliminated the Banda Island peoples whose livelihoods were in the cultivation of nutmeg. The Europeans could take over the cultivation once the indigenous peoples were evicted or killed.
Here, argues Ghosh, is the root parable. Colonialism models for the future, the capitalist mindset. The current standard of that mindset is set by Exxon and other carbon producers. Knowing for decades the destructive power of carbon in the atmosphere, the oil industry ignored what it knew, in order to continue its quest for more and greater profits. Like colonial conquest, Ghosh argues, climate change is the outcome of a mentality, a conviction, that there are no limits to what “must” be done to garner more in the name of profit.
Ghosh explores this parable in detail. He takes us to the Banda islands to see what remains. As an excellent scholar, he tells the story of the colonial assaults deemed necessary to make the profits from nutmeg. As a native of Bengal (and frequent resident in the United States) he tells his story and how it has been shaped in the wake of colonialism. I recommend this book to you. It is wonderfully written, lucid in its exposition, and provides an insight into the climate crisis that is new (at least to me) and insightful. Paul Bowlby
Oil and gas companies in Canada produce more emissions than any other sector in our country. There is a federal policy initiative that would limit and cap the emissions that the oil and gas industry is allowed to produce, and reduce these emissions over time. This will help Canada reach zero emissions by 2050. Fossil fuel companies are fighting hard to kill this policy initiative, and can use their lobbying power to delay and weaken it. Letters are going to the leaders of our government. It is one way to tell them we need to reduce emissions and make the environment a priority over profits and the wishes of corporations and industry. (from the Anglican Diocesan Environmental Network newsletter) See: https://act.environmentaldefence.ca/page/100416/action/1?ea.tracking.id=action
“Almighty God, Creator of all things and Maker of all people, grant that we may find unity in You, that we may be joined together in a bond of peace, that we may share, with justice, the rich resources of the world, that no one may be in hunger, or oppressed, that none of your creation may be spoiled or misused. We ask this in the name of the One who gave himself for the world, Jesus Christ our Lord. (from Rhythm of Life by David Adams. Lindisfarne, Scotland.)
From Margaret Machum’s Kitchen
Makes 6 servings; preparation time: Overnight + 10 minutes
6 oz. lentils
6 cups stock
1 Tbs vegetable oil
1 onion chopped
2 carrots chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1. Soak lentils overnight in 2 cups of stock.
2. Heat oil in large saucepan.
3. Add onions and carrots and saute gently.
4. Stir in lentils with liquid they were soaked in.
5. Add 4 cups stock.
6. Bring to boil and cover.
7. Simmer for 1-2 hours.
8. Add salt and pepper to taste.
9. The soup can be reheated to serve later.
Christ and Discipleship. “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with god as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness, And being found in human form, humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross…” Phil. 2: 5-8