Over 170 people participated in Rooted and Grounded: A Conference on Land and Christian Discipleship, offered at Anabaptist Biblical Mennonite Seminary September 18-20. With 56 presentations to choose from, the event was a feast for the mind and heart, with a year’s worth of ideas packed into one weekend. For those of you who missed the conference, or those who attended and couldn’t take it all in, we offer a snack-size review of some of the questions encountered there. This is part three in a series of four reflections.
Presentation: Green Disciples: Faith-Based Environmental Work in Canada
Presenter: Joanne Moyer
Question: Where do we find hope?
Wrestling with our land-human relationship and working to effect change on environmental issues are difficult endeavours. Exhaustion and discouragement can lead to burnout, despair and apathy. People engaged in this work at faith-based organizations often turn to spirituality and faith as sources of hope and spiritual resilience in the face of these challenges. These comments on hope come from staff and participants involved with several Canadian organizations:
- “The spiritual energy that different traditions bring to this problem is really inspiring and hopeful. I think it’s exciting to help more people understand that spiritual energy, because I think we’re all in need of a real dose of hope for the future. So much is going on out there that people don’t know about. If we can play a part in getting those stories out, it can really help people be more hopeful about the future.” Lucy Cummings, Greening Sacred Spaces
- “People of faith don’t need to feel that everything is up to humans to “fix.” Because we believe in a Creator who has created life and continually redeems it, we as humans don’t need to feel that we alone are responsible for remedying the situation. Certainly we must do all we can. But restoring creation is not all up to us. Something much larger than us is at work. (See Romans 8.) This is freeing and liberating.” Esther Epp-Tiessen, Mennonite Central Committee
- “When you are in a secular environment, you need to be your own saviour. No one is going to save the earth unless you do something. But the little thing that you can do is not going to save the earth. Suppose you make 200 people change their ways. That would be radical, to affect that many people as a single person. But that still isn’t going to save the earth. So, the fact that we have a saviour that is not ourselves means that I’m doing my work out of faithfulness, and I’m being faithful to be like Christ and to work in a way that’s bringing redemption to creation because that’s what I’m called to do. But I’m not called to save the earth; that’s not my role. I find great hope in that not landing all on my own shoulders.” Danae Whiteside, A Rocha Canada intern
- “I think that the story of the resurrection is a pretty powerful story. However you take that story, I think it’s important to realize that even the empire couldn’t silence God’s promise of abundant life. Contemporary empires attempt to do the same thing; that’s kind of the direction things go. Yet there is a resurrection. So how the crucifixion happens now, and how the resurrection happens, I have no idea, but we have this story that it will happen, so I hold onto that.” Mark Bradshaw, KAIROS participant