Most of us have been aware of a climate emergency for many years now and see that the urgency has only increased, to the point where action is essential to avert the worst consequences of human-caused climate change.
How do we respond? Getting to know the place where you live and serve is one way. The Bishop’s Committee on Creation Care is inviting every parish in the diocese to participate in a joyful and challenging project called “The Watershed Pilgrimage.” The project is rooted in the principles of watershed discipleship and pilgrimage and will help parishioners get to know their place, tell its stories and see where the land is flourishing and where it is suffering.
The committee is working on a resource that will guide parish groups. A series of explorations will help people learn about their watershed and create a pilgrimage walk, starting from the door of the church, so that others can connect more deeply with the land. The guide will be divided into six units, and parishes can take as long as they need to complete each unit.
Each parish will also be encouraged to reach out to neighbouring parishes to see if they can connect the routes of their pilgrimage walks, creating longer walks throughout the diocese.
The ancient spiritual practice of pilgrimage calls us to journey on sacred paths to holy places in order to come into a deeper relationship with the land and with God. Anglicans are no strangers to the idea of our parishes serving our neighbourhoods; watershed discipleship encourages us to widen our definition of neighbour beyond the human community to include the plants, animals, birds and even the soil that supports life in the place where we live. One of the principles of watershed discipleship articulated by environmentalist Baba Dioum is to love where you live: “In the end we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we are taught.”
These two practices — watershed discipleship and pilgrimage — deepen our relationship with our place and inspire us to respond to the impact of climate change where we live.
The guide for the “Watershed Pilgrimage” will be shared in the spring and is designed to be suitable for use in any season. Each unit will be rooted in biblical reflection on our relationship with creation as we experience it at the local level. It will include practical advice about uncovering the hidden stories and unique aspects of our watershed and culminate in the creation of a parish-based pilgrimage walk that can be shared with others, offering friends and visitors the opportunity to know and love the watershed as well.
“Our hope is to launch the watershed pilgrimage with a walk led by Bishop Andrew Asbil, from St. James Cathedral to the parish church of St. Andrew by-the-Lake,” says the Rev. Susan Spicer, co-chair of the Bishop’s Committee on Creation Care. For more information, contact [email protected]