In 2019, Synod approved two motions relating to creation care: Motion #10 encouraged parishes and individual Anglicans to curtail their use of single-use plastic products, while Motion #15 urged the Bishop’s Committee on Creation Care to develop a diocesan environmental plan that would address such matters as diocesan spending practices, travel policies, land use and development, helping parishes reduce their carbon footprint, helping clergy buy or lease zero-emission vehicles, developing modules for formation on the connection between creation care and the gospel, and promoting reduced consumption as part of a Christian rule of life.
While the Bishop’s Committee on Creation Care reports to Bishop Andrew Asbil rather than to Synod, it has made the following progress on these motions in 2021-22:
Concerning Motion #10 and single-use plastics, the committee has produced a colour poster suggesting alternatives to single-use plastics commonly used in parishes, especially in the kitchen, children’s ministry, and cleaning and waste management. This poster can be found on the Practical Greening page of the diocesan website, www.toronto.anglican.ca/creationcare.
Regarding Motion #15, the committee has focused primarily on promoting community gardens using the community garden toolkit it created in 2021; creating educational and liturgical resources to help make the connection between creation care and the gospel; and working with other dioceses on finding ways for parishes to reduce their environmental footprint. It has promoted this work in posts on a dedicated Facebook page and in monthly articles in The Anglican newspaper.
The committee is encouraged by the many parishes around the diocese that have embarked on new or expanded community garden projects in the past year. Several of these projects have focused on adding native plants to attract and sustain pollinator species of insects and birds. Garden projects have been especially popular during the pandemic as a lower-risk way for parishioners to work together. They also provide a visible witness to the local community of a parish’s commitment to caring for creation – and often a way for neighbours to participate in that endeavour.
A major piece of work in the past year was creating the resource “Ecological Grief and Creational Hope: A Lent Curriculum for all Ages.” Each unit of this six-week curriculum offers deep reflection on a scriptural text, questions for reflection, prayers, suggested activities, and resources for digging deeper. It also identifies adaptations for using the resource with children and youth. Several parishes in the diocese offered the curriculum during Lent, and it has been picked up by dioceses across Canada and the United States. It’s also being adapted for use during other seasons of the Church year, including the Season of Creation.
Work continues on updating the Green Congregation Guide, with input from the Diocese of Niagara and the interfaith organization Faith & the Common Good. The committee is also exploring how our diocese might become involved in a Net Zero Churches network proposed by members of the national church’s Creation Matters Working Group. The goal of the network is to connect dioceses across the Anglican Church of Canada, provide recommended solutions for parishes looking to reduce their carbon footprint, and help connect parishes with the expertise and financial incentives to implement those solutions. The committee is talking with Bishop Andrew Asbil and the diocese’s Property Committee to see how the Diocese of Toronto might participate in this initiative and how it might fit in with the diocese’s strategic planning and vision.
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