By Jennifer Schrock
In May 2020, I invited MCCN’s pastors and creation care liaisons to respond to the following question:
If you could inspire your congregation to focus on a single response to the environmental crisis in the coming year, what would that response be?
When I put that question out there, I did not expect to get so many delightfully specific and diverse answers. I expected generalities. I thought perhaps the question would provoke an argument about the efficacy of personal actions versus political advocacy and then—failing to solve the dilemma—we would be free to do neither.
But that’s not what happened. People answered with conviction. They knew how many trees they wanted to plant, which chunk of land they wanted to save, which Styrofoam cups it was time to get rid of and what color the roof should be. Some of the answers reflected not just the germ of an idea but nearly completed projects. I call that progress over where we were 10 years ago.
We invited seven respondents to speak about their answers during the public sessions of the MCCN council meeting May 29-30. An edited version of the May 30 panel is now available. Or choose the speaker and topic below that interest you most. The intros of all the shorter videos are the same. If you watch more than one, you can skip the first 42 seconds.
See the May 30 panel video (30 minutes) It contains the first four panelists below.
Taftsville Chapel Mennonite Fellowship
Consider how environmental issues pertaining to food are issues of faithful living.
Connie Hepner Mueller
Seeds of Life Community Church, Altoona, Manitoba
Help our congregations fall in love with their local spaces and places and invite them into awe and wonder at the natural world.
West Philadelphia Mennonite Fellowship, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Create solar energy jobs in high unemployment neighborhoods.
Walnut Hill Mennonite Church, Goshen, Ind.
Plant trees on land held by congregations and their members.
Shalom Mennonite Fellowship, Tucson, Ariz.
Pray and act to help protect Oak Flat, an Apache sacred site that the government has promised to a copper mining company.
Community of Hope Grace Brethren Church, Columbia City, Ind.
Paint the roof of the church white to cut down on the carbon emissions generated by air conditioning.
First Mennonite Church, Indianapolis, Ind. coming soon
Explain Hoosier Interfaith Power and Light’s Cool Congregations Calculator to youth groups and set up competitions to reduce carbon footprints.
Mennonite Creation Care Network coming soon
Whichever actions we choose, let us root our responses in our shared story of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Additional responses from MCCN members are below. Note that there are clusters of responses related to climate change, food practices, other changes in lifestyle and a desire to reshape economic and political forces. If you are interested in connecting with other churches whose interests are similar to yours, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Encourage our congregation to eat more locally grown food.|
|Build new systems and light new lights.|
|Decide that it’s never ok to use styrofoam or plastic.|
|Participate in local climate actions alongside community-based organizations led by youth through the Sunrise Movement.|
|Decrease our culture of consumption, as much as is possible, cultivating a sense of “enough.”|
|I hope for my congregation to “bring it home”: for everyone in our church to apply some of the initiatives that have been done to our church building (weatherization, solar panels, composting, green-cleaning, gardening, etc). to their own living spaces.|
|Deepen appreciation for the natural world, strengthen commitment to be good stewards of God’s creation and also instill this appreciation and commitment in children and grandchildren.|
|The Lord God took the man (person) into the Garden (Earth) to work it and care for it.
|Continue moving toward a plant-based diet as a practical, specific, and meaningful response to global climate change.|
|Reset, out of our COVID experience, our thinking on measuring the economy, especially as it relates to the oil industry.|
|Have a focused discussion where we hear from a variety of people on how they are dealing with their feelings of anxiety and grief connected to the climate crisis (or any environmental or social ill), with the hope that action items in which the congregation feels ownership would be one result of the conversations.|
|Become active in changing public policy to become more climate/creation friendly.|
|Encourage our congregation to eat more sustainably by organic gardening, buying local, and eating a more plant-based diet.|
|Participate in a letter-writing campaign to our Members of Parliament, encouraging them to support Leah Gazan’s Private Member’s Bill C-232, the “Climate Emergency Action Act.”|
|Continue to focus on tree planting efforts and include matching funds for a tree-planting group in Haiti or where individuals are disproportionally affected by the climate crisis.|
|I’d like to see our congregation commit to sustaining a local food economy.|
|Commit to funding the installation of solar panels on our church roof as a witness to our community that we believe in sustainable, renewable energy. Teach our children to practice creation care.|
|Become politically active about addressing climate change: help to elect people who see it as an important moral and policy issue, and then pressure them to do something about it.|
|Use our economic privilege and leverage to influence change in the financial and corporate world.|
|Create awareness of the impact of their choices so that they can choose to change for the better.|
|Continue living as if pandemic restrictions are in place and use zero emission transportation.|
|Explain the Hoosier Interfaith Power and Light (HIPL) Cool Congregations Calculator to the youth and set up competitions within the congregation, and between congregations.|
|Paint our roof white.|
|Use washable plates and silverware.|
|Reduce our carbon footprint.|
|Realistically assess our response (or non-response) to climate change.|
|Encouragement to households: installing solar panels on their homes.
Encouragement to the congregation: using our extra land better (plant more trees, install a memorial garden for cremains, an outdoor baptistry, etc.).
|Drive or fly only when truly necessary|
|help our congregations fall in love with their local spaces and to be invited into awe and wonder at the natural world both on a micro and macro level.|
|Engage with deep curiosity in a challenging conversation about climate justice.|
|Be part of the movement to create solar energy jobs and solar power ownership in high unemployment neighborhoods and then pressure our local electric company to buy more local solar power from these communities. https://powerinterfaith.org/campaigns/climate-justice/|
|Plant trees on available land held by members and the congregation.|
|Our worship of economic growth as an indicator of economic and societal health has created a global system that rewards those who hoard wealth and ravage the finite resources of Creation. We call upon ourselves to bring into being a new economy that meets the needs of all people within the needs of the planet.|
|Hear testimony of persons already impacted globally and nationally by climate change.|