How am I Going to Take Care of the World?

'We care about the environment because God created it and we are part of this ecosystem' was the overall sentiment at Mennonite Fellowship of Montreal’s (MFM) recent fall retreat on ecotheology. The retreat centre just outside of Montreal provided the perfect setting for Wendy Janzen, MCEC Eco-Minister, to guide the congregation into a deeper conversation in what has been a central theme for them over the past year.

Annika Krause, pastor at Mennonite Fellowship of Montreal, said, “Our faith and understanding of scripture, and who God is and who he calls us to be, needs to blend into our practical lives. To separate them is to do a disservice.”

women out for a walk in sunny woodsThe command to love your neighbor as yourself expands when we begin to look at all of creation.

Throughout the weekend, people shared how enlightening it was to think about spiritual duty in creation care. Wendy challenged them to think about what it means to be a good neighbor. She shared her own experience of moving into her new home and finding the names of neighbours etched on the brick wall of her front porch. These names included next-door neighbours, animals and plants and were a gift from the previous owners of their home.

“The command to love your neighbor as yourself expands when we begin to look at all of creation as active participants in scripture,” Mary Lou Docherty, a participant, said. “We need to be aware of our surroundings, appreciate them and notice them. We need to feel that connection so that we are motivated by heart and not just by the head. The way to do that is by going outside. It’s a worshipful experience for me.”

James Bugden, another participant, offered advice to people who do not know how to begin thinking about creation care. He explained, “You don’t ignore a problem with your toe because it’s small and there are ten of them, you take care of your body. I think that goes broadly for the rest of the world.”

This is not just something that I should do, but this is a part of us.

Although many shared discouragement about the current state of the world, this retreat also gave them hope for the future. Dory Reimer expressed that “being sheltered from nature has made us destroyers of nature but that spirituality and ecotheology is a new path that could work to inspire people to care.”

“This is not just something that I should do, but this is a part of us. We often talk about what our footprint is, and that’s very practical. This is not usually part of my religious discussions but I see that change comes on a personal spiritual level,” said Margaret McDowell.

group in prayer outsideMel Shantz reflected that growing up in a theology that spends time asking what you are going to do as a group to make the world better has been beneficial for him. “I’m old enough to remember what life was like for my parents, providing their own food,” said Mel. “The idea of a garden is something that I grew up around and it made sense. I realized that we’ve gotten away from that. The question now is what my role is going to be. How am I going to make the world better? How am I going to take care of the world?”