“Good Tidings”           
The Earth, Spirit, Action Team Newsletter
St. Matthew’s United Church   
May 12th, 2024                                    No._25_____   
Welcome to the Pentecost Season 2024 issue of “Good Tidings”, the ESA Team newsletter that 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 resources, and actions from other environment and climate change organizations; and faith reflections on creation, climate and environmental issues, and our calling as stewards of creation.   
We welcome feedback from readers who would like to share their thoughts with us.                                  Our email is: earthspiritaction016@gmail.com
In this Issue…    

Pentecost is a major event in the Christian story. It marks God’s Spirit coming to Jesus’ disciples so they could proclaim a new reality; that in Christ God had acted to transform and fill our lives and all creation. God’s Spirit also brought gifts; vision, courage, power, and union with Jesus in his work of making all creation new. Now, in the Spirit, we are recipients of these gifts. As Bishop Tutu once remarked, “we are on the winning side!” This is good news as we face the climate and environmental threats confronting us. God has promised a new creation, and as we await, what we do in the company of Jesus plays a part. 

This Pentecost issue will feature a Reflection on The Role of the Holy Spirit in Creation by Anne Marie Dalton. It will include a new “Did You Know?” column by Elaine Murray. Margaret Machum reports on a gathering of downtown United Churches for discussions about future UC ministry on the peninsula, and Paul Bowlby contributes a review of Reading Genesis by Marilynne Robinson. This issue’s Advocacy 
Section includes a report on the recent UN INC4 meeting on a Plastics Pollution Treaty and we   provide opportunities to participate in advocacy work.  And finally, the Earth Spirit Action Team gives advance notice of a congregational survey that we are asking the congregation to take part in near the end of May.

This will be our last issue until the Fall.  We hope you enjoy it. Good gardening until then!    

The Role of the Holy Spirit in Creation.                                  By Anne Marie Dalton
Anne Marie Dalton authors another of our several “Reflections” on the connection between our faith, our view of creation, and our place and discipleship in it. -Ed.
As with all theologies, a theology of the Holy Spirit and her role and presence in nature has changed over time. In particular, the challenges of new scientific discoveries have forced us to revisit and enlarge how we understand the relationship of the Holy Spirit to creation. 

The Spirit has traditionally been associated with two significant roles (among others) in the world:  the sacramental and the prophetic. Sacramentally, the Spirit is the presence of God in the world, including all created things. Created things reflect this presence, give glory to God, and show us something about God’s nature through their immense power, generosity, and beauty, for example.

Research on animals and plants continues to uncover new dimensions to the “consciousness” and “agency” of all living things. New questions regarding the way in which the Spirit is present in and guides all creation arise from these revelations. Some theologians now speak of the Holy Spirit as the energy of God. God is not only present, but also gracing and active in ALL of creation. This is not really a “new” notion; but it is a recovered and newly emphasized aspect of the work of the Holy Spirit. 

Pentecost set on flame the energy of God, invoking the prophetic role of the Spirit. The disciples were called to embody the prophetic role of the Spirit in the world. All of creation shares in this prophetic role. Trees and other plants, animals, even soil and rocks, and the whole universe participate by their unique contribution to the community of created things. We as humans have a unique role in honouring, respecting, protecting, and loving all modes of God’s energy and grace, the Holy Spirit, in God’s universe. 
Did You Know That?”                                 by Elaine D. Murray      

This is a new feature column suggested several issues ago when we asked contributors for ideas about what might help in their efforts to live earth-friendly lifestyles. -Ed. 
Water Recycling.                             World Economic Forum Greywater from sources such as sinks, showers or washing machines accounts for a significant proportion of the total wastewater produced by households across the globe. Its reuse can have a big impact on both water security and resource efficiency.
By repurposing greywater for non-potable needs like irrigation, filling toilets and cleaning, AQUAKIT's compact wastewater treatment systems transform wastewater into a valuable resource that conserves water, energy, and nutrients.
The Bolivian company's technology can be tailored for large-scale residences and commercial buildings and is capable of reclaiming up to 3000,000 litres of water a month in a single 12-storey building.
Seaweed's new uses.                             World Wildlife Foundation Seaweed can be slimy around the legs on a swim and gives off a rotting stench on shorelines that can dampen the mood of any beach day. We have all had our reasons to grumble about it. But did you know this humble algae could be an incredibly useful tool for tackling the climate crisis?
Most of the world's oxygen is produced by seaweed ~ 70% including phytoplankton, kelp, and algal plankton. Beyond its ability to absorb carbon dioxide, seaweed also reduces water pollution by absorbing excess toxins, according to the Marine Conservation Society.
Seaweed production has grown to over thirty-five million tons, more than doubling in the last decade. Packing a nutritional punch of minerals, amino acids, and iodine, it is used in human and animal food, and can be found in a variety of medicine and beauty products, biofuels, and packaging. 
Halifax Recycles.    There is an app that you can install on your phone that tells you all you need to know about our recycling program in HRM. It has a calendar to remind you if this is green bin or garbage week or if your collection is being rescheduled for another day because of a holiday or storm. But the best part of the app is the Wizard. If you are unsure if what you have in your hand can go in the blue bin or needs to go in the garbage, you can type in the name of the item, and it will tell you where to put it. It also tells you about the schedules and places for hazardous waste. I find it a very useful app which you can get from your favorite app store.
Spiritual Coalition on Climate Action (NS).                               by Anne Marie Dalton
Anne Marie Dalton has long been a proponent of working on environmental and climate crisis issues with other faith and environmental groups in the community and was at the initial gathering of SCOCC, representing ESA. -Ed.
On March 5, 2024, the Ecology Action Centre hosted a meeting of members of religious communities at Hindu Temple Vendanta Ashram Centre. The purpose of this meeting was to bring together diverse faiths and spiritualities working on climate change issues. This was a preliminary meeting to establish relationships and common goals. Patricia Betts (St. Andrews), Hassan Bari (Umma Masjid), Hannah Minzoff (EAC) and Anne Marie Dalton (St. Matthew’s) volunteered to act as a temporary executive group; EAC volunteered to set up and host a website for the group; and the name for the group (Spiritual Coalition on Climate Action… SCOCA) was agreed upon. Hannah spoke to the group about the EAC program to conduct free audits of church buildings. The group also undertook to write a letter to T. Halman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, protesting the Nova Scotia Government’s refusal to enact the Coastal Protection Act. This has been done. SCOCA will meet again in fall 2024; tentative dates and possible location Sept. 21 or 28, Saturdays, Rockingham United, to enable working folks and students to attend. Anyone from the congregation interested in attending this meeting and being part of the group is most welcome. Speak to Anne Marie Dalton for further info.
“Reading Genesis” by Marilynne Robinson                  Reviewed by Paul Bowlby    Paul asks how we are to understand the meaning of God’s promise defined as” loyalty to the inherent Goodness of all that has been created” in the midst of the climate crisis. -Ed.
I have been reading Marilynne Robinson’s new book, Reading Genesis. Over the years, I have read almost all her novels and essays. I have collected them: Housekeeping, The four Gilead novels (Gilead, Home, Lila, and Jack), her various collected essays. Robinson writes as a Christian whose faith has been formed in her mid-western, Iowa Church community and in a close reading of many of the great Christian writers.

Reading Genesis has been Robinson’s retirement project. She hints late in the book at a coming reflection on Exodus. But Genesis is enough for now. Its mythic contents pose enough questions for a lifetime. Here is one. In the midst of the dire, apocalyptic, warnings arising from climate change, how are we read and understand the myth about Noah, and most particularly, God’s covenant with his family and the generations to follow? When the deluge has passed, signed in a rainbow, God’s promise, is spoken in first person speech: (Genesis 8 KJV as reproduced in Robinson’s book) “I will not again curse the ground any more…neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.” 

How are we to read this promise now? Do we see ourselves, in company with Jews and Muslims as inheritors of that promise? Does the promise change anything about our view of climate change as crisis? The covenant is spoken as Noah and his family, and the legions of rescued animals leave the ark to start again the story of the natural world and civilization. Are we, as Betsy suggested in her sermon this morning (May 4), imagining ourselves to be standing on the shoulders of generations embedded in a promise defining God’s loyalty to the inherent Goodness of all that has been created? 

Robinson wants us to explore in detail with her what a careful reading of Genesis entails. Living during crises and tragedies is perennially so. Floods and climate change happen. Our civilization has created this crisis. But reading with a great teacher like Robinson allows us to ask tough questions about what we think Genesis is saying, who we are, and how we see ourselves in the midst of troubled times we are given to live in.
From The Source of Life: The Holy Spirit and the Theology of Life, by Jurgen Moltmann.
“People who ask for the Holy Spirit to come to us – into our hearts, into the community we live in, and to our earth -don’t want to flee away into heaven or to be snatched away into the next world. They have hope for their hearts, their community, and this earth. We don’t pray ‘Let us come into your kingdom’ either. We pray, ‘Your kingdom come on earth as in heaven.’ The petition for the coming of the divine Spirit to us frail earthly people implies a great, unbroken affirmation of life.”  
Advocacy. What is Happening in the World of Other Environmental and Climate Change Organizations?  In each issue we look at the work of some eco and climate change groups to see if and where we might add our support. -Ed. 

INC4 Negotiations on Plastics Treaty Inconclusive, Production Limits are a Key Stumbling Block.                                                    Not only do Unrecycled Plastics pollute oceans and waterways, landfills, and even the air we breathe, they are in the food chain invading our bodies and causing health problems. -Ed.
The UN’s International Negotiating Committee (INC4) on Plastics Pollution met in Ottawa April 23-29th to continue working on a Treaty on Plastics Pollution but found that negotiating limits on global plastics production is a very contentious issue. 2500 people including representatives from 170 member states, and 480 civil society organizations and industries attended. 196 of the registered delegates represented fossil fuel and chemical industries. One delegate remarked that it was difficult to reach any progress on the production of plastics when faced with so many representing those responsible for creating the problems. 
UN Climate Summit.org, a civil organization, https://unclimatesummit.org/support-for-global-plastic-reduction-target-growing-ahead-of-inc4/  outlined the reasons for the meeting, stating that 100 organisations from across the world are calling on governments to introduce a Global Plastics Treaty to reduce plastic production because “plastic pollution is fuelling the climate, ecological, and health crises.” “Plastics cause habitat degradation, chemical contamination, death and injuries through entanglement, … (and they) break down into micro and nano plastics, comprised of toxic chemicals that enter the food chain, causing health problems for wildlife and humans.” 
Industry has advocated for more recycling and “massive efforts have been made to increase recycling… with little impact.  Currently only 9% of global production is successfully recycled, while 22% evades waste management systems altogether and is simply dumped into the environment. The rest goes to landfill or is incinerated.”
“Disappointment” over the outcomes of INC4  characterizes the reaction of environmental    groups.  Greenpeace stated, “The fourth session of (INC-4) for a Global Plastics Treaty ended with world governments failing to agree on the inclusion of any reference to plastic production or polymers despite strong support by various countries, scientists and civil society groups.” 
For further reactions to INC4 see:                                                            Greenpeace: https://www.greenpeace.org/aotearoa/press-release/ottawa-plastic-treaty-talks-end-in-weak-compromise/                                                                               Center for International Environmental Law: https://www.ciel.org/news/outcome-plastics-negotiations-inc4-ottawa/                                                                                                                                        and Ecojustice: https://ecojustice.ca/news/as-international-plastics-treaty-negotiations-conclude-in-ottawa-fight-over-domestic-regulation-rages-on/  
Greenpeace observed that INC-4 wrapped up “without a clear path towards securing a Global Plastics Treaty that ends plastic pollution at the point it begins: production”. The organization   was critical of Canada’s failure to push harder for what the government has committed to publicly, and of the Minister’s post-meeting musings on whether a cap on production is attainable. Greenpeace argues that this is out  of sync with (Canada’s) High Ambition Coalition membership, with what the public is demanding, what scientists are calling for, and Canada’s commitments to protect biodiversity and stay within 1.5C. Canada has a job to do and that is to support strong measures across the board”. 
Please click the links in this article for more detailed information, and if you are interested in sharing your thoughts with Minister Steven Guilbeault about a Plastics Pollution Treaty, you can write him at Steven Guilbeault, House of Commons, Ottawa, ON, K1A 0A6, or Steven.Guilbeault@parl.gc.ca   JN.
Ecology Action Center, Halifax.                                                                                                                                    The EAC is inviting friends and supporters to take part in their first annual Hike-A-Thon, at Sandy Lake Regional Park from 8 a.m.–12 p.m. on Saturday, June 15, or to head out for a hike wherever you are anytime between June 9 and June 15!  This is a fund raiser to support the EAC’s wide-ranging environmental work and hopes are that participants’ entrance fees, and sponsors’ donations will raise $10,000. You don’t have to walk the Sandy Lake Trail; you can secure sponsors and walk any trail in Nova Scotia between June 9th-15th and help raise funds for EAC.  To register please follow this link: https://ecologyaction.ca/hike-a-thon    And for more details and information go to: https://the-ecology-action-centre-hike-a-thon.raiselysite.com/en/sandylakeregionalhike
Nature Canada. From April 29-May 2 Nature Canada hosted the 6th annual “Nature on the Hill” in Ottawa, a gathering of people from more than 1200 nature organizations whose purpose is to care for and protect nature for future generations. This year they were united in calling for a “National Biodiversity Strategy and Nature Accountability Act because global biodiversity is collapsing. Species populations have decreased by nearly 70% in the last 50 years, the greatest mass extinction since the dinosaurs.”  Nature Canada stated, “These initiatives will ensure that we protect 30 per cent of land and water by 2030, that we support Indigenous leadership, and that we fight climate change by protecting carbon-rich ecosystems.”  For more information on Nature Canada, Nature on the Hill, and the biodiversity action plan go to https://naturecanada.ca                                                                               Nature Canada invites your support for their National Biodiversity Strategy campaign by sending a letter to your MP.  Their email letter to MPs is at: https://act.naturecanada.ca/page/146337/action/1?ea.tracking.id=enews&ea.url.id=7073585&forwarded=true
Report on the United Church Workshop on the Collaboration of the Peninsular United Churches at Atlantic School of Theology, March 16th, 2024.                 by Margaret Machum
We were interested in this meeting about the future of UC ministry on the peninsula and whether environmental or climate change issues might be part of the discussion. Discussion did touch on maintaining aging facilities, and issues of parking and transportation, environmental concerns.  -Ed.
The purpose for this all-day workshop was to discern the potential for deeper collaboration between 7 Halifax’s churches and one incorporated mission. Many attended with representatives from St Matthew’s, St Andrew’s, Fort Massey, Brunswick Street, St John’s, Fairview, Hope, St Paul’s, as well as from Stairs United in Dartmouth. The event was facilitated by Alison from British Columbia who led us in a sensitive and creative way.
The goals were: To create opportunity to know each other better; To identify realities that encourage working together; To engage spiritual practise and imagination; To indicate willingness to pursue a new way together.
Over the course of the day, we discussed and contemplated things that affect our vitality and the realities over which we have no control including an aging population and buildings, parking and transportation issues, city infrastructure, increasing secularism and a multi-faith society. At the same time, there is a growing need for being in community.
As we continued our discussions, several aspects underlined the environmental impact of the status quo with benefits for the environment with collaboration. These included cost-cutting with sharing clergy and congregants, having a net-zero building with parking and facilities to meet the needs of newcomers, and even survival of the United Church presence in Halifax.
Our discussions concluded on a hopeful note with creating a path where we are called to a new mission and vision, with better facilities to support our work, and survival in order to provide leadership in a world affected by climate change and cost of living issues, We all wanted something more than ending well. We recognized that our community needs the church to show up well, that there is a need for faith and community in the world, and that a new way of being might attract new people.

Earth Spirit Action Team Wants Your Reactions, Thoughts, and Suggestions.

We would love your feedback on the work of the Earth Spirit Action Team. Near the end of May, we will be handing out a short evaluation form at church that will give you a chance to tell us what has been helpful and any ideas you have for future work we could take on. So, stay tuned for that opportunity.

The Whole Earth Shall Cry Glory                                         by Rev. George F. MacLeod, Iona Community            In his book of prayers, George MacLeod, founder of the Iona Community offers these words to the Holy Spirit in his prayer entitled “The Whole Earth Cries Glory.” 
“Holy Spirit, Enlivener: breathe on us, fill us with life anew. In your creation, already upon us, breaking through, groaning and travailing, but already breaking through, breathe on us.      Till that day when night and autumn vanish, and lambs grown sheep are no more slaughtered: and even the thorn shall fade, and the whole earth shall cry Glory at the marriage feast of the lamb.                                                                          In this new creation, already upon us, fill us with life anew.”