Friday, January 30, 2015

Faith Based Environmental Leadership

Faith based communities are coming together around the shared understanding that protecting our planet is one of the most important issues of our times. In recent years, there has been unprecedented ecological action from a diverse array of faith groups.

This past summer, in an online campaign titled "Our Voices: Bringing faith to the climate," faith groups were urged to join the global conversation on climate change. 

This is an invitation to "people of all faiths around the world to raise their voices and add their perspectives in political discussions about climate change,” said the Canon Ken Gray, who is rector of the Church of the Advent in Colwood, B.C., and the ecclesiastical province of Canada's representative in the ACEN.

As a central part of their ecological advocacy efforts, faith groups are supporting a positive outcome at the COP 21 climate talks in Paris this year. The Our Voices campaign urges people of religious faith and moral conviction, “to sign and pray in their own tradition for the Paris 2015 UN Climate Summit to succeed where all past talks have failed.”

The UN acknowledges the important role of the world's faith based communities to add a much-needed moral dimension to ecological discussions. This point was made by the FCCC's executive director, Christiana Figueres, when she spoke at St. Paul's Cathedral in London, this past May.

"[We] have the responsibility to set the ethical foundation of our global society. We have done this with slavery and with apartheid. It is time to do it with climate change," Figueres said.

As explained in the Our Voices website, “the UN believes there is hope of global agreement in Paris 2015 if the moral call for action is so loud that politicians can't ignore it.”

The power of faith based communities was evident at the historic People's Climate March last September in New York City. At this march dozens of different religious faiths and denominations came together and were united in their call for action on climate change.

In conjunction with the People's Climate March an Interfaith Summit organized by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and Religions for Peace, invited Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Indigenous Peoples and others to share their support for UN climate negotiations. The diverse range of religious leaders that attended the Interfaith Summit hailed from all around the world. Despite their differences these men and women came together are were united by the cause of environmental stewardship.

The Declaration from the Interfaith Summit read as follows:

"As faith leaders, we believe that unchecked climate change is one of the greatest threats to peace and prosperity for our world."

The Interfaith Summit statement of 2014 addresses the threat posed by climate change and the importance of a "fair and ambitious outcome" of the international climate negotiations. They appeal for specific action including adaptation, low carbon development, climate change education, curbing consumption and reducing our use of fossil fuels. They also indicate their readiness to engage in, "dialogue with those who remain skeptical."

This declaration follows in the footsteps of similar statements that preceded it. This includes the Uppsala Interfaith Climate Manifesto (2008), the Interfaith Declaration on Climate Change (2009), and the Declaration on Climate Justice and Sustainable Peace in Africa (2011).

As with preceding declarations, it was signed by the participants and sent to heads of states, international negotiators and faith communities, as well as the UN Secretary General.

This summit was held in conjunction with Religions for the Earth where more than 200 religious and spiritual leaders from across the world gathered at the Union Theological Seminary in New York City. Leaders assembled to appeal for action on climate justice and encourage dialogue.

Speaking about these events, Reverend Fletcher Harper, the Executive Director of GreenFaith, said,

"... there has never been such a large amount of religious-environmental activity in one location in the history of the world. This week will mark a watershed in the history of religion. It will be the time that people remember as the time when the world's faiths declared themselves, irrevocably, as green faiths."

As explored in a Huffington Post article by Grace Ji-Sun Kim, the WCC have played a critical leadership role in faith based ecological advocacy. They have been stalwart supporters of sustainable communities, including lifestyle issues, overconsumption of natural resources and waste disposal. The WCC's emphasis on sustainability began in the 1970s and then seamlessly incorporated efforts to combat climate change as that issue came into focus.

"Religious leaders who feel called to protect Creation are feeling the urgency of this crisis and looking for ways to be effective," said Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, president of Union Theological Seminary. "Now is the time for us to come together across divisive issues and divergent traditions and use our reach and influence for the good of the earth we share."

Other recent interfaith summits include the Inter-Religious Eco-Justice Network which held its second interfaith Climate Stewardship Conference from October 12-13, 2014 in West Hartford, Connecticut. The summit included speakers, panels, breakout sessions and workshops on climate change.

The first such conference was held on November 7, 2013, it was a call to action, an opportunity to learn, and a chance to network with other faith-based climate activists. The second Climate Stewardship Conference focused on our shared moral responsibility to act in the face of a changing climate. It also emphasized strategies for empowering faith communities to communicate effectively and act decisively at the local, regional and national level.

One of the goals of the summit was to train attendees in the art of faith-based storytelling, so that all participants could speak about climate change in a way that is informative, effective, and compelling. The second goal was to inform attendees about direct actions and advocacy options.

As explained on the Inter-religious website, "In an age of growing cynicism about the role of religion in our society, the credibility of our faith communities as moral agents may increasingly rest on our collective response to the unfolding climate crisis. As its ethical and spiritual implications become more obvious, climate change is increasingly taking its place as a central concern of communities of faith. The interfaith community’s role as moral leaders gives us a real opportunity — and obligation — to move the call for climate justice forward in a powerful way."

Faith leaders are well positioned to leverage the ethical dimension of the discussion, amplify the call to action and press political leaders to act on climate change.

Increasingly, faith groups are coalescing around the realization that eco-advocacy makes them powerfully relevant. Even more importantly they are acknowledging that that they have a moral responsibility to assume a leadership role.

Source: The Stewardship of the Environment Committee of the Anglican Diocese of Montreal

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Answering the Call to the Godly Work of Environmental Stewardship

The Anglican Diocese of Montreal's Stewardship of the Environment committee is proud to announce the launch of its social media platforms. This launch signals our efforts to play a more active role in raising awareness about environmental issues and provide a platform for action across the Diocese. This initiative is informed by the Anglican Communion's fifth Mark of Mission: "To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew life of the earth."

Like faith communities around the world, Anglicans, Episcopalians and Lutherans are heeding the call to act on behalf of creation. We are inspired by the Pastoral Message on Climate Change which was released in September by the heads of the Anglican Church of Canada, the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.

The message began by saying, "We are united as Christian leaders in our concern for the well-being of our neighbors and of God’s good creation that provides life and livelihood for all God’s creatures."

These Christian leaders encourage involvement. Whether as consumers, investors or voters, we all make decisions that are directly tied to the health of our planet.

"The Holy Spirit’s work in us leads us as faithful consumers and investors in a global economy to make responsible choices to reduce energy use, carbon emissions, and the wasteful consumption of water and other natural resources," the message explains.

Despite the seemingly impossible task of righting centuries of environmental abuse, the four church leaders encourage us to have faith and believe that our efforts are not in vain.

"All who care for the earth and work for the restoration of its vitality can be confident that they are not pursuing a lost cause. We serve in concert with God’s own creative and renewing power," the message states.

In addition to our existing mandate to advise the Diocese and be a liaison on their behalf, we seek to expand our promotion of environmental stewardship and our service as a resource group to parishes. Our action oriented activities over the next year will focus on four key areas:

1. Encourage involvement: We will work together both within the church and with other faith communities to create an inclusive movement.
2. Educate: We will actively engage people on environmental and climate issues with a special emphasis on young people.
3. Communicate: In an effort to shape both public and private policy, we will communicate with a wide range of decision makers.
4. Support a Global Climate Agreement: Using social media and other efforts we will support efforts to secure a Global Climate Agreement in 2015.

We invite everyone to join us as we begin an exciting new chapter of environmental stewardship in the Anglican Diocese of Montreal. We welcome your involvement and your thoughts.

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Source: The Stewardship of the Environment Committee of the Anglican Diocese of Montreal

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Ecumenical Evening - Montreal Celebrates Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2015

On Sunday January 18, there was an evening of Ecumenical Evening at the Santa Cruz Portuguese Mission celebrating the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2015.

Barry Clarke, the Anglican Bishop of the Diocese of Montreal and other Christian leaders took part in the celebration. There were hundreds of people in attendance including Church dignitaries from many Christian denominations.

The master of ceremonies was deacon Brian Cordeiro and the word of welcome was provided by Father Cardoso of Santa Cruz. The sermon was delivered by His Grace Mgr loan Casian.

The theme for this year's Week of Prayer for Christian Unity have their origins in Brazil. We prayed and sang together with the help of choirs from various churches including beautiful Brazilian music and a gospel choir.

The 2015 theme passage was taken from the Gospel of John—“Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink’ ”(John 4:7).

The reading from scripture was from John: There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give Me a drink." For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Therefore the Samaritan woman said to Him, How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?" (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered and said to her, If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water. She said to Him, Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water? You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle? Jesus answered and said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life." The woman said to Him, "Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw."

Water was the theme that permeated the event from start to finish. At the start of the service Christian leaders and others processed to the front of the alter where they placed vessels containing water from thirteen Christian churches. The water was subsequently poured into the "common well."

There was also a slide show on water, showing its importance to life and well being and as a metaphor for Christian unification.

The words to the song, "There's a River," (lyrics by Darvel Garvin and Music by Dieter Ferworn) illustrated the importance of water as a symbol for Christian unity:

There's a river we must share
Though many will call it their own
This river that runs freely
To many may never be known
It flow through me, as it flows through you

The Intercessory Prayer called for unity as follows:

"God of eternal compassion, teach your children that charity, hospitality and unity are expression of your revelation and will for humanity."

"God of eternal compassion who spoke to us through creation, then through the prophets and at last through your Son Jesus Christ, grant us your wisdom to listen to your voice that resounds through our diversity and call us to unity."

Monday, January 19, 2015

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2015

Each year Christians all over the globe set aside a week of prayer for Christian unity. Through prayer, the faithful call for the healing of division and the deepening of understanding throughout the church.

For more than one hundred years, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity has been celebrated from January 18 to 25. This eight-day period marks a special time for Christians from different denominations and traditions to come together in prayer, reflection, and fellowship for the sake of unity in the midst of diversity.

Each year the World Council of Churches and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity prepare a theme. A team from one country then prepares liturgical and other resources based on this theme. The materials for 2015 find their origins in Brazil.

The Canadian Council of Churches, like many other national and regional ecumenical councils around the world, adapts these resources for local use. This involves creating theological resources grounded in the Canadian context, with hymn suggestions drawn from familiar hymnals such as Common Praise and Evangelical Lutheran Worship.

The 2015 theme passage from the Gospel of John—“Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink’ ”(John 4:7)—speaks to opportunities for radical hospitality in everyday moments. In this story, Jesus arrives at a well, tired, thirsty, and a stranger in the land. The woman he meets there owns the bucket and even access to the water itself. It is a moment that, draws them into a relationship of acceptance, dialogue, and coexistence.

Archdeacon Bruce Myers, General Synod’s Co-ordinator for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations, encourages all Anglicans to celebrate the Week of Prayer. “Common prayer with Christians of other traditions is one of the most underrated aspects of ecumenism,” he reflects. “We need to constantly pray for the unity we seek, and to offer those prayers as often as possible alongside those very Christians with whom we’re seeking to reconcile.”

The resources prepared by the Canadian Council of Churches are designed for groups of varying sizes and experience. Even if your community or congregation is small, or has never celebrated the Week of Prayer, the resources can be tailored to your needs.

Myers stresses that the “worship materials are very user friendly, and communities of all kinds and of all sizes can adapt them as seems appropriate. You don’t need to have a cathedral full of people…Jesus himself promises he’s present in even the smallest gatherings in his name.”

The Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton, General Secretary of the Canadian Council of Churches, echoes this enthusiasm for the opportunities found in celebrating Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. “As members of the Body of Christ in time and space, we have been given a cup of life, an opportunity to pray through the words and particular expression of the faith of our sisters and brothers in Brazil,” she says. “Through their own context, which is one that currently includes violence and intolerance, they are challenging themselves and challenging us here in Canada to overcome divisions.”

The Anglican Church of Canada works for Christian unity through full communion relationship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, through membership in the Canadian Council of Churches, the World Council of Churches, and KAIROS (Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives), and through national and international bilateral dialogues and shared ministries across Canada. To find out more, please visit our Ecumenical Relations webpage or contact the Ven. Bruce Myers, Co-ordinator for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations.

Source: Anglican Church of Canada

Friday, January 16, 2015

Gifts of Mission Guide

The Gifts for Mission full colour guide and companion website has more than 40 meaningful options. Gifts for Mission lets you give gifts that answers God’s call to mission and make a difference in the life of someone in need.

Gifts range from $25 to $600 and are suitable for any and every occasion. You can choose to give the gift of a trained midwife to an Indigenous community in Mexico, or provide a safe place for mothers to give birth in Mozambique, or support Anglican clergy in Canada’s north, and so much more!

Be sure to check out the full range of giving opportunities. To receive a print copy of this year’s Anglican Church of Canada Gifts for Mission gift guide write to Jacqueline Beckford at or call 1-866-924-9192. To order from the same guide online, please visit

To learn more about the gift guide and the ministries and communities it supports, please visit the Anglican Journal’s recent story on Gifts for Mission.

Friday, January 2, 2015

New Year's Sermon by Archbishop Fred Hilz

A sermon by Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, delivered on New Year’s Day 2015 at Christ Church Cathedral in Ottawa.

Today, dear friends, we celebrate the naming of the Lord. Second only to the joy of the birth of a child is the delight of parents in naming their new born and announcing that name to the world. “A name,” writes Curtis Almquist “is what uniquely distinguishes us from others and also unites us to others”—in a family, in a circle of friends, among classmates and with colleagues in the places where we work or play. A name endears us to others. It gives them access to our intellect, our feelings, our love, our generosity. By a name we are baptized and confirmed, married, ordained or commissioned for ministry, remembered in prayer, and at the end of our days, commended into the gracious keeping of God.

Like our name, Jesus’ name distinguishes him from all others. He is the very Son of God and our Saviour.

“His is the name,” writes St. Paul, “which is above every name, so that at his name every knee should bend, in heaven and on the earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess him Lord” (Philippians 2:9-11). Great is the music of the church that extols the glory of Jesus’ name, none so beautiful as that penned for Christmas itself. One need only think of Handel’s Messiah and the musical rendering of those magnificent words from Isaiah—“and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

In as much as all these names for the Christ child honour his glory, they also draw us to him in his mission of love, reconciliation, and peace in the world.

In this mission stands one whose life and labours I want to single out today. His name is Jean Vanier. Fifty years ago in 1964 he invited two men, Raphael and Philippe who were developmentally challenged to live with him in an old house in the tiny village of Trosly—Breuil in France. From that little household has grown a movement the world knows as L’Arche, a community shaped by the love, compassion, and peace of Jesus. 130 of these communities can be found in 30 countries on six continents.

In their houses life with all its physical, developmental and emotional challenges is celebrated. “To love someone,” says Vanier, “is to show them their beauty, their worth, and their importance.” Accordingly, birthdays are big celebrations! Times for work and play are balanced. And hallowed each evening is the time for prayer for each other and for the world. The quality of life lived there has much to teach us about life in our own homes and life in the household of faith.

In extraordinary ways L’Arche models such a straight forward living of the vows of our baptism:

Celebrating and sharing God’s love in Jesus.
Saying we’re sorry when we’ve hurt each other.
Helping our brothers and sisters in need.
Building a world that is kind and just for all.
Taking delight in the wonders of God’s creation.
Pictures of life in L’Arche represent such a sharp contrast to so many horrific others from the year 2014.

Here are but a few:

Nigerian school girls kidnapped under the cover of darkness.,
Innocent victims killed through the use of chemical weapons in Syria and thousands of Syrian refuges now facing starvation.
Children of Gaza killed while playing at the beach.
Men and women and children beheaded for refusing to denounce the name of Jesus.
A soldier bleeding to death at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at our National War Memorial.
Young men and women recruited and radicalized for the terrorist activities of ISIS.
Thousands of young people mostly women being trafficked for the sex trade where they are used, abused and trashed.
Hostages pressed against the windows of a café in Sydney, Australia.
132 children slaughtered by the Taliban in their classrooms in Peshawar Pakistan.
All these images, and so many more, reveal such a total disregard for the sanctity of human life. By contrast, a beautiful contrast, L’Arche represents a hallowing of the wonder and dignity of human life.

One need only read some of Jean Vanier’s writings to know that at the very core of his labours of love for humanity is his intense love of Jesus. His life’s work is shaped by the Jesus of John’s Gospel. “There’s a music behind the words and stories and flow of this gospel,” he writes, “I have listened to that song which has warmed and stirred my heart and opened up my intelligence, and given hope, meaning and orientation to my life with all that is beautiful and broken in me and meaning to this world of pain in which we live.” He goes on to say, “I want to sing this song even if my voice is weak and sometimes wavers, so that others may sing it and that together we may be in the world singing a song of hope, to bring joy where there is sadness and despair.”

In this deep personal desire of Jean Vanier, I see the very vocation of the Church, to be in and for the world—Singing a song of hope in the name of Christ.

We are called to sing this song with heart and soul and voice in the sanctuary, in the streets, and amidst the masses of humanity who suffer so much at the hands of others.

On this New Year’s Day as we enjoy this choral Eucharist in this lovely cathedral church, I am mindful of all who work behind the scenes in the preparation of liturgy. Knowing that worship is our first work as the People of God, let us be grateful for all whose life’s work is to gather the church in song and sacrament, in preaching the Word, and in living that Word. Accordingly, I invite your prayers for all our bishops, priests, and deacons; all our lay readers and catechists; all our lectors and all who lead us in our prayers for the Church and the world; all our musicians and choristers; all acolytes and all who serve on our altar guilds: yes, those who polish brass, wash linens and arrange the flowers in their respective ways. All these people contribute to worship that is complete in the beauty of holiness. Each in their own way enables the Church to sing its song of hope in the grace of God revealed in the face of Jesus.

On this New Year’s Day, let us also give thanks to God for all whose life’s work is to call the church assembled into loving service among the poor. “Jesus,” says Vanier, “is the starving, the parched, the prisoner, the stranger, the naked, the sick, the dying. To live with Jesus is to live with the poor. To live with the poor is to live with Jesus.”

Here is a theology rooted in God’s special regard for the poor and in the Psalmist’s prayer that the hope of the poor not be forgotten (Psalm 9:18).

In partnering with places like The Well and Centre 454 here in Ottawa, the church is singing a song of hope in the midst of much sadness and despair. When we Christians provide a nutritious breakfast for kids before they go to school; when we open the doors of our churches and welcome people in from out of the cold; when we set up for the Saturday night community supper; when we turn our parish halls into overnight shelters for the homeless, we are singing songs of whispering hope for the dawning of a better and brighter day and the peace of a quieter and safer night. Here’s a form of evangelism as one of our retired bishops, Michael Ingham, has written that “shows forth the Lord Jesus in acts of love and compassion rather than winning souls we deem to be lost… It is designed for service not conquest.”

Accordingly, let us pray that the church always be graced and challenged by those who call us out into the streets and neighbourhoods of our communities—those who remind us of our vocation in the world as the body of Christ—his eyes to see, his ears to hear, his hands to feed his heart to love.

On this New Year’s Day, I am mindful that at the turn of the millennium, world leaders declared a number of Millennium Development Goals and set 2015 as an achievable time line. While there has been some significant measure of success in eradicating extreme poverty, it has been very uneven across regions and indeed within countries. There is much more to be done “Until all are fed,” as the World Council of Churches Assembly sang in Busan, Korea in 2013:

"How long will we sing?
How long will we pray?
How long will we write and send?
How long will we stay?
How long will we make amends?
Until all are fed
Until all on earth have bread
Like the one who loves us each and everyone
we serve until all are fed."

From an assembly of churches that numbers some 345, this is a song of hope for the millions of people who live in poverty.

On the long road to improving maternal health and reducing child mortality, two other MDGs, I am delighted to say our own Church, through the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF), has been singing a song of hope for twenty-five years. Within the last few, that song has swelled to a chorus of great joy through substantial government funding from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Development (DFATD), enabling expanded work in Mozambique, Tanzania, and Burundi.

On the long road to ending gender-based violence in our world, the Anglican Communion has called on all its member churches to not remain silent, but to speak out against such violence, to make sure our churches are promoting and modeling safe, equal and respectful relationships between women and men, boys and girls. Here in Canada, there are more than a few Highways of Tears, back alleys, and wooded paths where women are abused and dumped. Of particular concern is the trend of ever-escalating statistics regarding beaten and battered, missing, and murdered aboriginal women. The church’s support of shelters for those who suffer domestic violence, and for second stage housing for those gaining the courage and counsel they need in leaving behind the vicious cycles of abuse in which they have been trapped, is a song of hope for many.

As this year marks the conclusion of the work of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, our church has already affirmed its continuing commitment to walk with Indigenous Peoples along paths of healing from their experiences in the residential schools. Deeply aware that this journey is a long and difficult one, “We are,” as former primate Michael Peers said, “committed for the long haul.” Thankfully, along the way we can cite together some very sacred moments of apology, reconciliation, community healing and self-determination. Each in its own way is a song of hope that has lifted the hearts of all and moved us forward in good ways.

In the world today, there are more than 50 million refugees. Our Church has a long standing commitment in accompanying those who live in camps for many years—indeed, for some, a lifetime. Our church has a strong record in settling refugees through diocesan sponsorship agreements. Our church speaks out in pressing our government for more open policies in welcoming new refugees to Canada. All these actions are songs of hope.

In the great festival of Christmas, the scriptures turn our thoughts to the land of the Holy One: the land of his birth, death, and resurrection. A land sadly caught in age-old conflict. As we strive to understand its complexities, and as we pray for a just and lasting peace for Palestine and Israel, we sing however “weak or wavering” a song of hope.

As we greet this new year, let us pray that Jean Vanier’s deep desire to sing a song of hope in the world be the deep passion of our church. In the sanctuary, in the streets, and throughout the world may our ministries in the name of Jesus make known “the glories of his righteousness and the wonders of his love” (Hymn 154).