Where the Waters Meet – Justice, Water and Theatre of the Oppressed

By Andrew Stephens-Rennie on Anglicanjournal.com

About 600 Anglican and Lutheran youth from across the country gathered in Kamloops,Clay14_620 B.C. August 14 to 17 for the third bi-annual Canadian Lutheran Anglican Youth Gathering (CLAY).

As part of a varied and engaging programme, one component ”Where the Waters Meet: The National Youth Project” explored the rich biblical imagery of water and its connection to water as a basic human right, and was led by Devon Goldie (PWRDF youth council member) and the Rev. Paul Gehrs (Assistant to ELCIC Bishop Susan Johnson). It also highlighted the gathering’s four-year commitment to engage water issues through education, reflection and practical response.

“The Right to Water was an aspect at the Joint Assembly [of the Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada] last July,” said Gehrs. “The Joint Assembly Declaration commits Lutherans and Anglicans to working on the issues of responsible resource extraction and of homelessness and affordable housing.” Joint Assembly delegates participated in a liturgy on Parliament Hill praying for those affected by the scarcity of clean water in Canada and throughout the world.

“The Right to Water is a youth expression of these commitments, because potable water is an aspect of affordable housing, and resource extraction can affect water quality and availability,” added Gehrs.

Where the Waters Meet is about more than providing young people with information about water security. Its two 90-minute sessions also engaged participants in creative problem solving, and provided them with tools to take back to their communities.

Goldie, who studies theatre at the University of Victoria, used an approach inspired by Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed.

“I love using theatre for teaching because it provides a whole new kinetic and visual way of approaching the topic,” she said. The group created a tableau depicting a community suffering a water-related injustice. They soon had a house, community members, an outhouse and a poisoned well.

With Goldie’s guidance, the group stopped to take a look at the image they’d created in order to identify what was wrong in that situation.

“Having an image in front of them helped them to identify a whole new set of problems,” said Goldie. Those who weren’t yet a part of the tableau were asked to join the others and help fix the picture in a way that was both relational and intentional.

“Slowly, we were able to turn the picture into a just model. Afterwards we discussed how they could use those same techniques when they went back home to engage their community,” said Goldie.

Read the full article at http://www.anglicanjournal.com/articles/youth-discover-that-ministry-is-worth-it



The sermon except below comes from a sermon preached at Christ Church Cataraqui Anglican Church in Kingston Ontario, Canada on  July 27th, 2014 by Rev. Dr. Ian Ritchie. The full sermon is found at http://ianritchie.wordpress.com/2014/07/27/summer-is-mustard-time-3/

What a glorious time is summer! I love everything about it. The smell of the air and the land is just different, sweet with flowers… birds chirping, squirrels scolding, even in the city, let alone in the country.

This summer has been a healing one for me. And I know many others have found it a healing time as well. Nature in itself, God’s Creation, is known to have healing properties. Many people report how healing it is to dig in the garden. But it is only recently I read that 7 out of 10 of the drugs prescribed for the most common diseases last year were originally developed from antibiotics found in the soil. So it isn’t just the psychological effect of being outside in nature, but also there is a scientific, medical reason for that “feel good” feeling that you get in nature too!

The wonder of summer and of our closer feeling to God’s Creation in summer may help us as a starting point to understand the parables of Jesus we hear this morning. So many of them use examples from the natural world: a mustard plant, a field, seeds being sewn on different types of ground. These were images certainly familiar to people in ancient times, and even to some who live in cities today, (though some who live in inner cities may need to get help to experience even that much of the natural world.)

Recently I read Leah Kostamo’s new book Planted [Planted: a Story of Creation, Calling, and Community, (Eugene, OR.: Cascade Books, 2013).]  I found it wonderfully encouraging to read there that their Christian conservation centre called A Rocha plays host to student interns and volunteers who experience the healing powers of time spent working in the soil, tending vegetables and animals, and also receives young people who have had a first psychotic break.

Leah Kostamo says [pg. 45]: “some of those we welcome are part of the Early Psychosis Intervention Program. EPI is a service offered by the Fraser Health Authority through which young adults aged thirteen to thirty-five receive help in regaining their mental and emotional footing after their first psychotic episode.” They volunteer time at A Rocha and find working there a healing experience.

The same therapeutic experience was also found by inmates who worked in the prison farms in Kingston, before the government closed them. We recently heard first hand [at a recent showing of “Till The Cows Come Home” a new documentary on the closing of Canada’s Prison Farms] the riveting story of Pat Kincaid, who had had nothing but brushes with the law until he was 16 when he went into juvenile detention. After some time in prison he was put with the farm animals, where he says, he eventually learned patience from working with the cows. Pat said: “I never learned any skills for living a normal life up till that time. And no human being taught me that important life lesson – it was the cows who taught me how to be patient!” he says.

Pat has now finished his time in prison and is gainfully employed because he has learned patience from the cows.

Creation has an inner intentionality about it, and humans are truly blessed by God’s Creation. Sometimes when no other human being can reach us, an animal, or something in nature does.


New York, New York – See you in September (wherever you are)

The information below is taken from a letter sent to all Anglican parishes in the Diocese of New York. Written by Dr. Jeff Golliher, chair of the diocesan environmental task pcm-id-1b-400-x-400-300x300force, it explains the actions taking place this coming September in New York City around a United Nations Summit and the Peoples’ march organized by Bill McKibbon and the secular group 350.org.

There is so much happening that it is confusing to know who is doing what and why. Concerning the latter, the situation is urgent. Earth’s climate and energy and resource management are going in a very dangerous direction. Dr. Golliher explains the details and reasons for the various actions very clearly. This is worth a careful read.

Also please consider how you can initiate local actions where you live and send your intentions to grayintheforest@shaw.ca so we at the ACEn can track and promote your local activities. This is a time for gathering, for reclection for advocacy and for prayer.

Modified text of diocesan letter now follows:

July 5, 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

If you haven’t heard already, the People’s Climate March will take place in Manhattan, Sunday afternoon, September 21. This will be a hugely important and monumental event. I’m writing to encourage you, members of your congregation, and other friends to participate and/or to be involved in whatever way is appropriate and possible – and know that I’m writing with the support and blessing of our Bishop, The Rt. Rev. Andrew Dietsche. In addition, a culminating interfaith service of worship, after the Climate March, will be held at 6:00 pm at our Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

Below are a few web links that provide all the practical information you need. Plus, you can sign up to endorse the event, even if you can’t be there.

More details are available online at http://peoplesclimate.org/march/
The Facebook page is at https://www.facebook.com/pages/People-of-Faith-the-Peoples-Climate-March/1462490230660137?ref=profile
Questions may be sent to info@peoplesclimate.org

It is worth taking a moment to underscore why the People’s Climate March is so important. Obviously, the Climate March is not really about the event. It’s about the dire, urgent situation we face as a result of the climate change/climate justice crisis. The Climate March and other related events on the weekend of Sept. 20 and 21 (organized by the World Council of Churches, Religions for Peace, Union Seminary, women’s groups, labor groups, and many others) are being held in connection with a one-day United Nations’ Summit (September 23), convened by Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

One purpose of the UN Summit (like the People’s March) is to bring even more attention to the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The whole point, to be blunt, is that we don’t have much time to do what needs to be done in order to avert the worst of a catastrophic environmental crisis that has already begun.

This message needs to be heard especially in the United States, where political action and leadership is needed on every level of government, in our financial centers, in our places of worship, and in our places of work. But not only in the United States: the Anglican Alliance has launched an Anglican Communion-wide campaign, called “Oceans of Justice,” to move the Australian government to put climate change on the global G20 agenda for November of this year. By going to this website — http://anglicanalliance.org/pages/8505 — and adding your name, you (and we) can show solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the Pacific too.

We also want to call your attention to the ecumenical, youth-oriented activities of the Franciscan Action Network and the Franciscan Youth Corps who are organizing events for the Climate March. Check their website periodically in the weeks ahead for updates about that:

If you can be in Manhattan for the Climate March, take your parish banner (or make one). We’re already involved, but it’s also a good idea to let people know who we are.

If you can’t be in Manhattan, you can still participate in your congregation on that day (Sunday, September 21) through reflection, discussion, and prayer. After all, prayer is a powerful form of action too. As our Anglican brother, Archbishop Winston of Tuvalu in the Pacific says, “We need to pray. We need to say very, very clearly to the church that we need to pray because this is something way beyond us. We need to pray that we will be empowered to speak clearly to our elected agents in government who make decisions about climate change.”

End of modified text.

Church of Bangladesh takes further action on climate change after Alliance advocacy webinar

15 July 2014

From the Anglican Alliance website at http://www.anglicanalliance.org/

Participants from Bangladesh, who took part in the Anglican Alliance’s recent advocacy webinar, later met to discuss how their church might take forward advocacy on climate change for the most vulnerable.

A group of priests, development practitioners and church leaders from Bangladesh who took part in the Anglican Alliance’s advocacy webinar in June 2014 were so excited by the discussion that they then met to take forward the insights that were shared.

With the Church of Bangladesh’s critical action on climate change, the group discussed a number of areas where advocacy would help take action on climate change.

Key areas highlighted for advocacy included:

  • Fulfillment of financial commitments by developed countries
  • Stronger monitoring systems for the effective use of climate adaptation and mitigation funds
  • Significance given to community based adaptation
  • Funding allocations to be the same for adaptation and mitigation
  • A focus on issues related to climate change, such as food security.
  • Women, children and the most vulnerable should be considered as a priority in climate justice.
  • Anglican eco-bishops* should have strategic lead roles in climate change advocacy.

The participants proposed that the Church of Bangladesh should take more action on climate change and related issues.

One climate prone area in the country may be chosen to initiate a pilot programme, which will seek more effective interventions to address the effects of climate change.

A community based adaptation approach (CBA) would be taken, and learning from the pilot would be shared, firstly to other areas of Bangladesh and then through the Anglican Alliance family of churches across the Anglican Communion.

The moderator Bishop of the Anglican Church of Bangladesh, the Most. Rev. Paul Sarker is keenly aware of the need to respond to the effects of climate change. Archbishop Sarker is a member of the Eco-Bishops’ Initiative, a project initiated by the Anglican Communion Environmental Network, which connects bishops to take action for the environment.


Anglicans learn social justice and reaching out – News from Tonga

Nuku’alofa-July 1: 3.18pm (TDN): Members of the Anglican Church here in Tonga went through a week-long training on Social Justice in Pahu last week, aimed at helping the church carry out its social programs and obligations with more vigour.

tonga 1Program facilitators Aisake Casimira, the Programs Manager with the Pacific Council of Churches in Suva and Mr Joe Saniqa, the Social Justice Coordinator for Diocese of Polynesia, ran the workshop for priests, lay preachers, church officials and members.

Mr Saniqa said the workshop is the second phase which was approved in 2010/2011 by the Diocese of Polynesia, under the Bishop of Polynesia, Bishop Winston Halapua.

“And the workshop really aimed at helping the church members and officials in their different work of taking Christ’s gospel to the people, to the community,” Mr Saniqa said.

Workshop participant Mr Laiseni Fanon Charisma Liava’a told the Tonga Daily News that the workshop was an eye-opener.

“I learned a lot from the workshop, especially in how we can be more effective in reaching out to the societies and communities we live in in the physical sense,” he said.

“I think it was timely for the church to have this kind of workshops and training and I hope that we will have some more follow up programs in the future.

“The workshop has helped me understand the importance of having a structure where we can have different departments and their duties that they need to carry out to be able to meet the church’s vision and mission statement.

“And more importantly to be able to show the people out there Christ’s Gospel of love, of reaching out.”

Mr Liava’a said the church and other religious organisations in Tonga have an important task of reaching out to the people and helping them become better people.

“The gospel is not only about preaching it in church. It is about reaching out to help people get better, live better and be able to look after themselves,” he said.

“That’s the social aspect of the gospel that we need to live.

ORIGINAL POSTING at    http://www.tongadailynews.to/?p=7067



“And the workshop has helped me see that and what we can do to make it happen.”

WCC announces September Interfaith Summit on Climate Change

From the World Council of Churches, via the Anglican Communion News Service

The World Councilwcc sept 2014 of Churches (WCC) announced it will hold an Interfaith Summit on Climate Change on September 21-22 in New York City. At the summit, organized together with Religions for Peace, more than 30 religious leaders will take a united stand to encourage international and political leaders to address concretely the causes and consequences of climate change.

The interfaith summit is being held immediately before the United Nations (UN) Climate Summit, called by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, to galvanize and catalyze climate action, bringing bold announcements and actions that will reduce emissions, strengthen climate resilience, and mobilize political will for a meaningful legal agreement in 2015.

WCC members said they hoped their united voice would be also heard at the upcoming Conferences of Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Lima in December 2014 and in Paris in 2015. “We will join our voices in the call for human rights and climate change to be addressed systematically,” said Daniel Murphy, campaigns assistant at the UK-based Environmental Justice Foundation. Murphy spoke to the WCC Central Committee, the governing body of the WCC which is meeting this week in Geneva.

This is a big power game”

The WCC has been addressing climate change issues for more than two decades, and now the effects of climate change on human rights has reached an urgent level, said Kirsten Auken, an advocacy advisor at DanChurchAid, a Danish nonprofit with the mission of supporting the world’s poorest people. Auken said the main message of the interfaith summit will be that “political leaders need to act to close the gap between what is needed and the lack of action on a political level. We, as church-related and faith-based groups, have an important role to play in pushing our leaders to be brave.”

In this case, “pushing” means capturing the attention of political leaders who are in a position to make a difference within the UN. “This is a big power game and we have to admit that,” said Auken. “We have to be the moral voice in this.” At the same time that WCC members challenge political leaders, they also need to take the initiative in their own lives to care for the earth around them, said Metropolitan Serafim Kykkotis, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa. “We must unite through our common action to save the planet and give our children a better future,” he said.

The 30 participants at the summit will represent groups made up of Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Indigenous Peoples, and others, said Dr Guillermo Kerber, coordinator of the WCC programme on Care for Creation and Climate Justice. “The relevance is unprecedented because of the crucial moment we are living today. We have called for years to have a fair, ambitious and binding treaty on climate change.”

Kerber and the other summit organizers agreed that the USA is first among the nations that must lead the effort to take climate action, based on science, that can help protect the basic human rights of individuals in this generation and in future ones. US-based pastors and churches are adding their voices to the calls for action, said the Rev. Everdith Landrau, who serves with the Presbyterian Church (USA). “There are conscious programmes that have been trickling down to our local churches,” she said. “Those seeds are being planted.”

WCC’s work on climate justice and care for creation

Why the climate issue is a question of global fairness and justice

Food shortage is one of the most serious consequences of climate change. And the poorest people are affected most. The Church of Sweden wants Sweden and the EU to take much greater responsibility.


Changes in the climate can make dry areas even drier. There is a risk that harvests will decrease dramatically in countries such as Ethiopia. Habibe Yimer, 13 years of age, ploughs the land with his father. Foto: Magnus Aronson/IKON

Climate change involves ethics, fairness and justice, because the poorest people in the world risk being hit the hardest by the food shortage, although they have contributed the least to the carbon dioxide emissions that have led to global warming.

“The consequences of climate change are already evident today: drought and floods are wiping out people’s opportunities of providing for themselves,” says Jacob Risberg, the Church of Sweden’s climate advisor.

Farmers in Ethiopia, Malawi and India, for example, are reporting major changes to rainy seasons and monsoons, which make it more difficult to live off farming.

Flee when the sea level rises
The same applies to those affected by rising sea levels. Many people by the Bay of Bengal have already been forced to flee when their land was submerged by the sea – and many others are in the danger zone.

Emissions and pollutants do not stop at national borders. What happens in one part of the world has repercussions in totally different areas.

Risk of larger numbers of refugees
The food shortage and extreme weather risk leading to an increase in refugee numbers and more conflicts.

The Church of Sweden’s approach is that people in developing countries have the right to develop and to improve their living conditions. If, however, they are to be able to provide for themselves and if the world is to avoid an alarming increase in the lack of food, substantial support is required from the surrounding world so that the most vulnerable countries can adapt to a changed climate.

Developing countries must receive help to avoid becoming fossil fuel dependent. To enable us to stop climate change, developing countries must also receive help to avoid becoming dependent on fossil fuels, so large sums of money are required.

“The richest countries in the world must take much more responsibility for the costs of climate change,” says Jacob Risberg.

The lifestyle of the industrialised world is untenable. We can influence the development to a certain extent through individual choices, but we must also react as a church in a global society.

Harvests can increase despite a poorer climate
The Church of Sweden has a close relationship with people and churches in economically impoverished areas. The challenge is to create commitment to climate issues. The work consists of both mitigating the consequences of and influencing the basic causes of our altered climate.

The Church of Sweden’s international mission and diaconia supports sustainable rural development that boosts harvests, despite the changing climate.

The Church of Sweden wants Sweden to shoulder its responsibility
We are also encouraging Sweden and the EU to shoulder their responsibilities, for example by substantially reducing their emissions and assisting adaptation to climate change in developing countries.

The Church of Sweden’s work continues. Our goal is a fair and just climate agreement that both stops global warming and gives financially disadvantaged people the right to development.