Healing of Soul, Community and Creation   Leave a comment

The following item was originally published by the Chronicle Herald in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and posted on the blog of Mardi Tindal, Moderator of the United Church of Canada( www.wondercafe.ca/blogs/moderator-mardi ). The article was written by Monica Graham, whose e-mail address is at the bottom of this posting.
Concerns for Earth cross all faith boundaries, says outgoing moderator
Mardi Tindal, outgoing moderator of the United Chruch of Canada, will lead a retreat at Tatamagouche Centre, Sunday to Tuesday, to help people imagine new ways of caring for creation as part of living out their faith. (Staff)

Mardi Tindal, outgoing moderator of the United Chruch of Canada, will lead a retreat at Tatamagouche Centre, Sunday to Tuesday, to help people imagine new ways of caring for creation as part of living out their faith. (Staff)
 The environmental movement reflects Christian values, and needs support from Christians, says the outgoing leader of the United Church of Canada.

“I think people have a deep longing to talk about their concerns for the Earth,” moderator Mardi Tindal said in a recent telephone interview from Toronto. “They need faith spaces where they can talk.”

The strong spirituality typical among faith traditions can help the environmental movement overcome its despair at trying to heal creation, especially after the federal government’s April 17 announcement that it will reduce the environmental assessment process, Tindal said.

“They feel melancholy and unable to deal with it,” she said. “We can’t deny the truth, but we need to find a way through to deeper healing.”

During an April 29-May 1 retreat at Tatamagouche Centre, entitled Gathering with the Moderator: Soul, Community and Creation, Tindal will lead participants into imagining new ways of caring for creation as part of living out their faith. That may take the form of congregations helping youth with environmental projects or sponsoring community ecology events, reducing consumption, awakening the spiritual aspect of caring for the world or offering spiritual support for advocates of change.

“I hope they can each identify their own part in this work,” Tindal said.

The focus on connecting environmental and spiritual issues has been a trademark of her three-year term that ends in August. Concern for the Earth was instilled in her more than 35 years ago when the United Church set caring for the Earth as one of its goals, she said.

Jesus told followers to love God and love each other as much as they love themselves, a commandment that echoed an ancient instruction to the Jews, she said.

“We can’t fulfil that commandment unless we care for and act on behalf of God’s Earth,” she said. “I’m deeply committed to a right relationship with creation, in and beyond our faith community.”

The soul, community and creation are intertwined, and when one aspect is injured, all are injured, she said. Also, healing in one helps heal the others, she added.

“The personal, the communal and the global are absolutely inseparable,” she said.

Meeting with other world faith leaders at United Nations climate change conferences at Copenhagen, Denmark, and at Durban, South Africa, showed her that concern for the Earth crosses all faith boundaries.

As well, mainstream Canadian faiths publicly acknowledged their concern about the environment in the Canadian Interfaith Call for Leadership and Action on Climate Change. Signed last fall in Ottawa before the Durban conference, the signatures of more than 30 Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and aboriginal faith leaders fill three pages, along with Tindal’s.

“I wouldn’t have predicted a year before that all those signatures would be on that document,” she said, adding that the environmental crisis has become a unifying issue among faith traditions.

“Heart and soul can initiate change in the world where logic can’t,” she said.

Churches are well-placed to begin change in the world because their basic tenets, although ancient, are always contemporary enough to engage current spirituality, she said. During the Tatamagouche retreat, she hopes participants find support for a sense of hope in creation for the next generation.

“Everyone needs to live according to what they know to be true, and work together,” she said. “It always works. It’s not easy. That’s why we need each other – and in the church we have each other.”

(mgraham@herald.ca)

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