Adventures in yet more Texas-caused headshaking…

Whilst driving to the vet tonight, my friends and I were discussing carbon offsetting as a way to reduce our carbon footprints. (For more information on carbon offsetting, check out Carbon Footprint here. I was amazed that my flight home this summer was going to produce about 2,000 kg of CO2!) During the conversation, one of my friends mentioned that some seminaries in the US now have coined the phrase “Creation protection” instead of just “Environmental Protection” like everyone else is using. I wondered why they were distancing themselves like that. Is it because some Christian groups have got it into their heads that only hippies and granolies protect the environment? Perhaps not, perhaps I’m being overly sensitive.

When I got home, I decided to google “Creation Protection”. The first thing I came across was a seminar being held at a church in Texas. I realize I know nothing about this church, it’s mission or it’s beliefs, so the following criticism may be made in haste. Even so, one of the seminar topics started that sad ol’ resigned headshaking:

The Great Moral Issues of Our Times
Should global warming be a moral issue for Christians? This discussion takes up the debate as to whether or not the focus of Christians should be solely on a core set of predefined moral issues or whether Christians should look issues such as poverty, hunger and environmental protection as moral issues as well.

Ignoring the utterly ridiculous bit about focusing “solely on a core set of predefined moral issues”, I wondered how far off base is a church that actually has to ask if issues such as poverty, hunger and environmental protection should be moral issues. I am just hoping and praying that the person leading the seminar either asked it as a rhetorical question, or else stated unequivocally in the seminar that yes, indeed, poverty and hunger should be priorities for the church.

This post sounds much more vitriolic than I’d intended. In some ways, I’m grateful that at least the issues are being discussed. In other ways, I’m sad that there’s an underlying assumption that if poverty, hunger and environmental protection really aren’t moral issues, then the church doesn’t have a responsibility to act on them.

As you can tell, I’m getting disheartened. For all my church-going readers, can you help balance my perspective by telling me things that your congregations are doing to alleviate poverty and hunger in your area? For all my non-church going readers, are you involved in any projects to help do the same?

Thanks.

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9 thoughts on “

  1. As for the whole Texas connection, it’s surprising that the seminar is taking place in the same state that Bush once governed. Didn’t he say “There is no such thing as global warming”? When I was doing my B.ed I was short on cash and needed groceries, gas, etc. . I was attending Moncton Wesleyan at the time and asked them for help. This huge church, this pillar of “Christendom” in Moncton, told me they had no program set up to help the needy in Moncton. That blew my mind, and needless to say I never went back. The church was so focussed on their building campaign that they had forgotten what Christianity was all about. Jesus was a man of compassion, and we are called to be the same. It could be a listening ear, an available shoulder or even a smile. Somehow a massive glass building doesn’t shout compassion. Had I stayed in Moncton I may have pulled pastor B aside and had a discussion with him about the whole issue. I think every church, big or small, should have it’s doors open to the rich and poor. Jesus didn’t hang out with the rich rulers of the day. He was with the blind, the beggars, the prostitutes.

  2. I can think of at least half a dozen programs our church has, and I know there’s more. Our favourite is the Reverse Offering, where parishioners can take a slip of paper from a plate. (We take 4-one for each of us.) On each slip is printed something the Food Bank is in need of. We pick the items up with our regular groceries, and bring them back the next week. It’s really helped the kids see how fortunate we are. -Jen

  3. Thanks Jen, That’s the type of thing I was looking for. 🙂 It’s been so long since I’ve been involved in a Canadian church, I don’t know what’s happening.

  4. At the Pool this is a constant struggle with us because we’ve got people with huge passions in this area but sometimes it’s hard to get people out to the events. However one that we’ve continuously had success with and are now going to be entering our fourth year in a row of doing it is an event called “the Homeless Hotel”. It’s where Moncton residents raise pledges and then spend the night outside “living homeless” on the waterfront in Moncton. All the money raised goes to YMCA’s reconnect program for homeless people in Moncton. Those who participate always enjoy themselves and have their eyes opened. Another thing that our church is quite involved with and supportive of is Ten Thousand Villages and the whole idea of fair trade. It amazes me how many people ask me questions on a regular basis about this stuff and what it’s all about (I’m working for TTV in Atlantic Canada). There are so many who are interested in fair trade and want to do more in our community together to work towards that. There are also many who already do completely fair trade in their homes. In fact just last week I finally found a place in Canada that I could order fair trade chocolate chips from (YAY), one of the girls at church was so excited. She’s been craving peanut butter balls but has not wanted to make them for the past two years because she couldn’t do it with fair trade chocolate (the bars don’t melt well because the seperate). Anyways that really inspired me so I wanted to pass it on. Thanks for opening the floor to your readers I think this is the longest comment I’ve ever left on a blog 🙂

  5. Hey Erin, Thanks for your input! I volunteered at TTV when they had a shop in Moncton. I really liked it. Thanks for the heads up on fair trade chocolate too.

  6. Somehow my comment from last night did not make it onto the blog, so I will try again. Here in Regina our church has a fund for helping the poor and the homeless in our neighbourhood; we hald to support a school for the native population; we have one woman who knits and distributes dozens of toques and mitts and scarves to the children in our community who have no protection from the cold. We are also involved directly with about a hundred refugees and new comers to Canada, helping them adjust to Canadian ways, learn how to do things for themselves in Canada, take them grocery shopping and to the doctor and dentists. Although this does not cost much in money, it costs a lot in dedication and participation, requires a lot of time and effort and ingenuity on the part of our members. I think this hands-on work is evenmore valuable than giving a dollar to unknowns without any personal involvement. I could go on at length, but this might help to show that not all churches are like the one Mike contacted in Moncton.Dad

  7. Thanks everyone for your replies. I feel much better now! I think the saddest thing about Mike’s comment is that he’d actually been attending that church for a couple of years. Every week, they would announce how many thousands of dollars they had raised for their building fund, but couldn’t manage to help one of their regular attenders with a weeks worth of groceries. Shameful.

  8. just before I came to Korea, I was struggling for rent/food all sorts of stuff too.I was meeting with the Pastor of St. Andrews church which I had been attending and it came up, he said “Well why don’t you raid our food bank in the basement, we keep it for people who come by needing some food, but if you need it help yourself.”this has always impressed me.the Korean church that I am involved with has a few programs in place to help those in need, they have partnered with several orphanages, and some members have even opened a hakwon for North Korean refugees.There’s still not enough for a church of about 50,000people but it’s a start. couple that with several short term missions each year, and partnering with several long term missionaries and you might have something.

  9. I’m so glad you wrote about that! It was so disheartening to think that folks can’t just be on the same side of something as simple as ‘creation protection’ regardless of religion. I’d like to think that we could find leadership among the church perhaps, but that the church would welcome the non-religious on ‘creation protection’ day. Or that the church would show up to support ‘environmental protection day’!!

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