Great questions! I’ll answer them one at a time.
By now, you may have heard about me. I’m the singing vicar in Gibsons, at St. Aidan and St. Bartholomew aka St. Bart’s, working part time as Minister for Climate Justice (or Missioner for Climate Response, depending on what you’re reading) for our diocese. So, what qualifies me to take on this important role?
For years, in addition to my career as an artist, educator and now a clergyperson, I’ve also trained and engaged in public advocacy. Whether in Washington D.C. (did I mention that I’m from the U.S.?) advocating for the Affordable Care Act, or in California and Washington state advocating for housing rights, I’ve gained the skills to see, hear, and focus social justice issues from a faith-based perspective and to help mobilize communities for action. I also love the outdoors, having lived in the rainforests of Southeast Alaska, and now on the amazing Sunshine Coast. Enough about me, how about what I’m doing?
First and last: thank you. Thank you. My position springs from the passion in the Diocese of New Westminster to respond to the climate emergency, and I’m humbly aware of this responsibility. It’s a new position, and we’re all living into what it will look like. So far, I’ve met with more than nine organizations already doing great work around climate in this region and the nation. I’ve listened to church leaders and heard their stories about what they’re doing and what they want to do about the crisis. And I’ve been educated about processes and resources by colleagues at the Synod Office, chief among them our devoted Bishop John. So, now what?
It’s clear to me – after reading the resolutions and recommendations – that my job is not to re-invent the wheel. For one thing: its an emergency! We don’t have time. The time is now to mobilize ourselves and to move from a feeling of overwhelm to one of action! An image that came to mind as I read Naomi Klein’s book, On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal – an ol’ fashioned bucket brigade, where we all fill our buckets and mobilize side by side to put the fire out! So that’s how we’re organizing the Climate Response section of the diocesan website, and my position.
Here’s how –
THE INFORMATION SECTION – will connect you with scientific facts, legislation and resolutions, books, articles, blogs, etc. It will also provide an opportunity for you to comment or suggest other information! First up: share with me your church’s current method of heating (gas, oil, hydro) and sign up to do an energy analysis for our Net Zero Churches initiative!
THE INSPIRATION SECTION – will fill you with ideas and examples of projects, prayers, and stories that inspire you when times are tough. And they do get tough. This inspiration can come from other dioceses like the Diocese of Niagara and even the Worldwide Anglian Communion. First up here: Diocesan communications are collecting video footage of some church stories of climate action to share at this year’s Synod.
THE INTEGRATION SECTION – will link you with all the groups and initiatives that I learn about, in our region, our Province, and our country. For example, Net Zero Churches and the Climate Emergency Unit of the David Suzuki Foundation. Stay tuned for more!
Obviously, this is a lot! And, as a process person I understand that it all can’t happen at once, and no one person or group can do everything. My goal – and that of our diocese – is to create a platform to Inform, Inspire and Integrate our efforts as much as possible. To do that, I need your voice and your help! Please reach out to me: share your church’s energy strategies, and the name and contact info of your Environmental Steward (more on convening a training session to come). You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at my Synod office number of 604-684-6306, ext. 232. I’m generally at St. Bart’s from Sunday through Tuesday; Wednesdays and Thursdays are my “climate days". If you’re a clergy member, I hope to see you at Clergy Conference, April 24-26 for a chat over Climate Cocktails (on us).
For now, be of good Spirit. Don’t give up. Stay awake, stay active, stay connected. This is important and, together, we can do it!
Yours in the everlasting love of our Creator,