Good Tidings

The Earth, Spirit, Action Team (ESA) Newsletter

St. Matthew’s United Church   

February 3rd, 2022  No. 9 

Epiphany 2022

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of darkness, on them has light shined.”  Isaiah 9:2

“What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.”   John 1: 3b-5                                                                                                                   

Welcome to the ninth issue of Good Tidings. The ESA Team newsletter provides information on local and global environmental and climate change issues; suggestions for personal and political actions that will build a healthy planet; information about symposiums, webinars, resources, and petitions from other environment and climate change organizations; and information about environmentally themed worship and prayer opportunities.  We would like to hear from you at


In Epiphany, season of light, it seemed fitting to begin the newsletter with this prayer .

Lord Jesus Christ, In you will all things in heaven and earth find their completion.

You are beyond all things and in you the whole universe holds together.

All that is finds its fulfilment with you.

To you be all praise and all power.

Help us to be at one with the earth, so that we know it as home.

Help us to be reconciled to other living creatures,

so that we know them as neighbours.

Help us to be at peace with each other, so that we may live together in harmony.

Just as you hold the whole world in your hands, hold us too.

Bless us with strength.

Fill us with love.

And inspire us to care for all that is.

In the name of Christ, we pray. Amen

From the Church of England Worship Resources for Creation Care. Shared by Margaret Sagar.


At our recent ESA meeting we discussed  the recent movie “Don’t Look Up” and its analogy to the world’s lack of  serious action on climate change. Carsten Knox, son in law of Elaine and Gordon Murray, has written a Blog review of the movie and has kindly  given us permission to  reprint it.     

Don’t Look Up is a broad comedy, despite also being about the end of the world. The movie takes shots at politicians who wilfully obfuscate scientific truth, at members of the media more interested in distraction and trivia than reporting what’s happening in the world, and anyone more interested in personal wealth and power than the wellbeing of the planet.  If you hadn’t yet guessed, it’s a disaster movie laden with climate crisis allegory. Some have called it heavy-handed. It may be, but it's also hilarious.

Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) is a PhD candidate in astronomy at Michigan State. She’s the first to recognize a new comet in the heavens. Her professor, Dr Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio, as twitchy as he gets) calculates it’s on a collision course with earth, and will cause an extinction-level event when it arrives in approximately six months. Despite an audience with the president (played with a lot of enthusiasm by Meryl Streep) and the attention of the media they can't quite get anyone to take them seriously.

Director Adam McKay front-loads his film with his best ideas and sharpest gags but at no time does the clear concern underlying these laughs ever feel hectoring or misplaced. And if the movie isn’t able to work entirely over the 2+ hour running time, it still delivers plenty of chuckles, with an anxious undercurrent, more often than not. (This movie is available on Netflix). 
Review by Carsten Knox. Find more reviews on his blog, Flaw In The Iris, at

The Atlantic Region of the United Church just recently hosted a book study on Hugh Segal’s latest book “ Bootstraps Need Boots: One Tory’s Lonely Fight to End poverty in Canada”, On Point Press, UBC Books, 2019. The following is a review of this timely, interesting book. .                                                                                                          

The Covid Pandemic and lockdown in the spring of 2020, leaving many Canadians without work or income quickly raised concerns about the financial vulnerability of many workers and families in our society. Government saw the  need of families and businesses  and responded with financial support. Citizen groups across the country also focused on the financial  vulnerability of workers and families, and began calling for a “just transition” after the pandemic is over, including the call for a basic universal income for all Canadians. This is not a new idea.  Hugh Segal, tells us he was first inspired by the idea of a “guaranteed annual income” in 1969 at the Niagara Conservative thinkers conference.  Raised in a poor working class family in lower Outremont, in which both parents worked at low end jobs to make ends meet and his father faced long periods of unemployment, Segal knew what poverty was like as he grew up. In his book, both memoir, political commentary, and call to action, Segal describes his journey in the Conservative Party championing the cause of a ‘basic annual income’ for all Canadians.  As his understanding of poverty developed Segal grasped  that “poverty is the cause rather than the consequence of multiple social pathologies from ill health, to poor school performance, to family breakdown, to crime and drug abuse.” And his solution was, and is, straightforward.   “If people are poor… the immediate need…  is to make them less poor.”  Now, as we hear calls for a “just transition” with renewed discussion of  a universal basic income, Segals’ book is timely and informative.   

Segal introduces us to Canadian political leaders and academics who have influenced his thinking and inspired his determination to overcome poverty in Canada. Two well known Maritimers were among this group; Robert Stanfield and David MacDonald. Conservative Party Leader Robert Stanfield backed the idea of an annual basic income as early as 1969. David MacDonald, MP for Egmont, PEI, inspired Segal with his tireless efforts to alleviate poverty and make life better for the people of the farming and fishing communities he represented. MacDonald’s instinct and ability and  to work collaboratively across the aisle, and with provincial ministers regardless of party affiliation for the common good across the country, imprinted on Segal and set a template for how he would collaborate increasingly on his pursuit of a GAI, both in and out of government. 

Segal describes his work with the Davis Government of Ontario, with the Mulroney Government in Ottawa, and his work as a Conservative Senator, appointed by Liberal PM Paul Martin.  Davis and Mulroney were both supportive of a GAI and instinctively inclined, Segal writes, to try to make the lives of struggling people better. He recounts his ongoing efforts while teaching at Queen’s School of Public Policy and Business School, and at the Institute for Research on Public Policy in Montreal to promote the reduction of poverty” and the GAI. At the IRPP he convened a “blue ribbon” team of health experts from across the political spectrum chaired by Monique Begin to research health issues in Canada in preparation for PM Martin’s Meeting of First Ministers on reinvesting in health care. Segal’s conviction was “reducing poverty was obviously the best health care policy choice that any rational government might pursue.”

Segal has developed insights on how change is accomplished in this country, based on his and others’ attempts to transform the proposal of a ‘guaranteed annual income’ into law. Providing a history of attempts federally and provincially he concludes, “as with other constructive reforms, the impetus for anti-poverty reform (needs) to come from a province or several provinces. From there, it could spread across the country, as (was) the case with universal health insurance in Saskatchewan during the 1960’s and Ontario’s guaranteed income supplement for seniors in the mid-1970’s.” 

In the end, he remains hopeful that a GAI will eventually become part of the economic structure of the country.  He cites the support of several political parties; the pilot projects both in Canada and abroad generating evidence that reinvestment in people is best for a productive healthy population; and economic data pointing to the cost efficiency of replacing welfare and disability programs with a GAI. He believes evidence based research will overcome old biases, and the “Protestant work ethic” so deeply embedded in our culture. Perhaps Segal is right. We shall see. For those interested in a basic universal income, the book is an insightful and inspiring  read.   Reviewed by John Nesbitt

Dreaming Big Green Dreams at St. Matthew’s

In view of recent discussions at St. Matthew’s about maintenance and renovations  to the buildings, The ESA Team,  mandated to explore green ideas  for our personal lifestyles and the way we “do church”, decided to invite several  St. Matthew’s folks to share their “big dreams” about  greening  our church.  Their responses  will be featured in this and the next  issues of Good Tidings.  The question we asked was:       “If you were to dream big about greening St.Matthew’s, with no obstacles in your path, what would your dream look like?”   We hope  their responses will open the gates to a flood of ideas from all of us about greening life and “doing church” here at St. Matthew’s.

Elaine Murray interviewed Allan Mills. This was  Allan’s response to our question. “That is a big questions!  I guess the dream is to have a net 0 carbon footprint but how to get there, I don't know. Right now when we heat the building, we heat half the outdoors as well. A good place to start would be replacing doors and windows. There is one window in the sanctuary that does not close so in the winter, I have learned not to sit in that aisle. So to work on the leakage in the building would be a start. Getting people and materials to complete the work has been a huge challenge. Even getting companies to give us quotes has been difficult. There really isn't much we could do with the property as it is. There isn't much land to develop. There was a church in Toronto that built a condo building surrounding the original church, only the bell tower remained of the original structure but I don't think St. Matthew's congregation would go for that. We will just have to to work at making this existing building energy efficient.”

We also asked Carol Smillie for her thoughts on the question. Carol taught on the Faculty of the  School of Nursing at Dal and her research and focus was on Community Health Science.  Collaboration with other community partners and entities is a strong theme in how Carol thinks, and envisions how we might “green” our church. Her dreams for greening St. Matthew’s  took her in the direction of community based services guided by our understanding of Jesus’ call to us, particularly to social justice.  She wants to develop these programs, if possible, with other community partners.  Carol’s green dreams include collaborating with local farmers in the formation of a food co-op in which St. Matt’s folks would support local food producers by buying their produce and even assisting in farm operations. On our own  church  grounds, she envisions raised garden beds where for a small fee, local residents could plant small gardens.  Carol sees possibilities for a community kitchen program for local families and students. Staples could be purchased in bulk and participants could gather to prepare meals which could  be “taken out”,  shared together in a community dinner, or both. Leadership for this would be developed with other churches or community groups. She had other green dreams including operating our own bus shuttle service for worship, thus reducing CO2 levels and gas consumption; and finding a local business  to partner with, possibly with space, to re-sole used sneakers to be sold inexpensively. Carol’s dreams include collaborating with Immigrant Services Association Nova Scotia to provide translation and one on one help with basic language needs to immigrants settling into new lives in Halifax;  sponsoring youth sports teams with an eye to inviting youth to participate in  church programs  such as the Breakfast Program;  and perhaps a Scholarship Program in which St. Matthew’s  partners with the Dal. School of Music to recruit students for participation in the St. Matt’s Choir and other music programs.   

Thanks to our first two respondents, Allan Mills and Carol Smillie. They have given us lots to think about as we consider how to green our Church and attempt to follow our calling to build a just, healthy, and vibrant community around us.  Please share your ideas with us at: .

Elaine Murray and John Nesbitt


An Evening with St. Andrew’s Linda Scherzinger ,  on Covenanting to Become a Green Church. 

Following up on the its initiative to network with other churches with green teams and green interests, St. Matthew’s ESA Team hosted  a Zoom event on Jan. 31st with Linda Scherzinger of St. Andrew’s – Halifax who presented on their 2011 decision to covenant to become a  Green Church, and the actions they have taken since that decision. They have changed their heating system, they have insulated and made changes to their lighting, they have hosted “Lunch and Learn” events after worship on a wide range of environmental issues, they have built gardens on their property, and they are planning to replace their hall with a new building that will include affordable housing and space for community and church events. Linda  told us about UCofC national programs to assist local churches to make green changes to their facilities.  Our thanks to Linda Scherzinger for sharing this “good news” story with us and  about 20 others. What a great beginning to our networking efforts! 


Lentil-Barley Stew Shared by Margaret Machum

Makes 4 servings; preparation time:15 minutes;  cooking time:1 1/2 to 2 hours


1/4 cup vegetable oil   

3/4 cup celery, chopped

3/4 cup onion, chopped   

clove garlic, minced/p>

6 cups water

3/4 cup lentils

1 can (28 oz) tomatoes (or 4 fresh)

3/4 cup barley (or brown rice)

1/4 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp rosemary

1 tsp basil

1 tsp oregano

1/2 cup carrots, shredded


1. Place lentils in cold water. Soak for 20 minutes.

2. Sauté celery, onion, and garlic in oil in Dutch oven until softened.  

3. Add water and lentils and cook for 20 minutes.

4. When softened, add tomatoes, barley or brown rice, pepper, and herbs.

5. Simmer 46-60 minutes.

6. Add carrots. Cook for 5 more minutes.

7. Serve.