Invitation to Vancouver climate change meeting for Christian leaders

Vancouver, BC
June 17, 2019

The Rev. Beth Hayward
Fr. Kaleeg Hainsworth

RE: Invitation to Vancouver climate change meeting for Christian leaders

Dear esteemed bishops, elders, pastors, priests, congregational leaders, lay and youth leaders:

As many of you are aware, we are in the midst of a global climate crisis, the magnitude of which is only now becoming clear. The science is beyond dispute and all but two governments in the world have begun extensive measures to address the situation. Put starkly, the central and defining challenge facing every living thing is that our earth’s climate is changing dramatically and drastically forever. The children alive today face imminent global transformative social change in the midst of catastrophic ecosystem collapse, mass species migration, and cascading waves of extinctions on a level not seen in earth’s history. In >accepting our true condition, we see God’s hand and the Way of Christ. Embracing the cross, we find the path to the resurrection.

What does this all mean?

Extraordinary times call for extraordinary actions. The City of Vancouver has declared a climate emergency and is assembling a climate action plan. To date, the Christian representation in the city, in conferences, and in climate meetings has been woefully absent. We are therefore convening an emergency meeting of representatives from every Christian denomination in the City of Vancouver on August 17, 2019 at the Canadian Memorial United Church and Centre for Peace (1825 W 16th Ave., Vancouver, BC V6J 2M3), and you are invited. This meeting will be co-chaired by The Rev. Beth Hayward of the United Church of Canada and Fr. Kaleeg Hainsworth of the Eastern Orthodox Church. The proposed schedule for this afternoon meeting is:

  • 1:00pm – Introduction
  • 1:30pm – Climate update
  • 2:00pm – Discussions/Questions
  • 2:30pm – Facilitated discussion on the Vancouver Christian response
  • 4:00pm – Appointment of roles
  • 4:30pm – Closing comments and summary

We are very aware that there are meaningful disputes among our denominations, substantial differences in doctrine and practice among us all, some of which have existed for centuries. We are not asking that these be forgotten, smoothed over, or even discussed. Whatever we believe, or don’t believe, is at this time both critical and unimportant. Critical because in times such as these we must bring the very best of our Christian witness, wisdom and theology to the table; and unimportant because this is about far more than what we bring. This is about the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat, about our children’s future and the earth itself, from which we all derive our very life. This is the time in history when the disciples and followers of Jesus Christ must assemble in our primal calling and work together, with our differences manifesting as our strengths.

How can we do this?

There are innumerable ways that we can respond together, and this meeting will be the opportunity to discuss them. One possible way forward that we are proposing initially is to respond as ‘chaplains.’ In wartime, chaplains have played a critical role in the hospitals, trenches and barracks. We serve in that capacity very well, and without prejudice or political allegiance – everyone knows what a chaplain is and we are not required to speak about pipelines, governments or movements. In the capacity of climate chaplains, we can effectively address the grief, the death, the challenges of a changing economy and infrastructure, and much more, providing non-partisan advocacy and support for every person or ecosystem living through this transformative time.

In preparation for this meeting, we are asking that you please RSVP to admin {at} canadianmemorial.org with the names of three (3) representatives from your denomination: a congregational leader, a lay leader, and a youth representative. Further information will be provided closer to the meeting date, but any enquiries can be addressed to Rev. Beth or Fr. Kaleeg at the contact information below. We look forward to meeting and hosting you on August 17.

Yours with prayer and gratitude,

Fr Kaleeg Hainsworth
The Rev Beth Hayward

Kaleeg W. Hainsworth

Dad of three kids, author (An Altar in the Wilderness), priest in awesome church, President of Bright Wing Media, designer, author, speaker, podcaster, backpacker, ecologist, film maker

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