Reconciliation in the Watershed Workshop- Oct 21 Regina

Reconciliation in the Watershed Workshop: free, all welcome!
Saturday, October 21st, 2017
9:30 am to 4:00 pm
University of Regina / First Nations University, Regina, SK Continue reading

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Home Garbage Audit

In Saskatoon, early August, we had a torrential rain storm that flooded basements. Since then we’ve had almost no rain. As I write this, hurricanes are ripping through Central America and the southern United States. Meanwhile fires rage through British Columbia, Alberta, and the western United States. This summer, unfathomable heat was killing people and crops in India, only to be followed by strong cyclones across India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. Someone needs to take action on climate change.

Regular readers of my column will know that the “someone” I’m referring to is “us.” It’s you and me. I think that we all want to do our part but sometimes we just don’t know what to do. That is the point of this column. It is about things you and I can do to reduce our energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. For the next several issues each column will be about how you can audit the energy or water consumption in your home (or office, or church, or…) and make some changes. To audit means to check something out to see what is happening.

You don’t often hear me talking about waste in this column (it is ENERGY Conservation Corner, after all) but waste is also an energy issue. It takes energy and water to extract resources, then manufacture, market, and transport products. When we throw out a product, we are effectively throwing out all the energy and water embodied in that product. For every kilogram of regular household waste we put in the landfill, 1.3 kilograms CO2e of greenhouse gas emissions are created.

For the first audit in this series, I thought we should start with an audit that is straightforward, and highly visible: waste it is!

Take a bag and hang it from your belt for a day (or a few days).  Each time you produce
a piece of garbage, put it in the bag on your belt. At the end of the day, look at what is in your bag, and think about what could have happened instead: Does your bag contain a disposable coffee cup, unwanted clothing, paper towel, empty containers, or spoiled food?

There are lots of variations on this activity:

  •  You can use a disposable plastic bag; or a reusable cloth one (which you wash after).
  •  You likely want to exclude bathroom garbage and messy kitchen garbage.
  •  If you are pretty good at the waste minimization thing, maybe you want to include things you would have thrown in the recycling.

I was talking to my neighbor the other day and she said, “Now that we have city recycling and compost pickup, we hardly have any garbage.” That is certainly the experience at our house.  With three adults, we produce one or two grocery bags a week of garbage.  That doesn’t include what we produce at work.

Now that you know what you are putting in your garbage, make some changes: use a reusable mug, donate unwanted clothing, use a rag, recycle containers or buy in bulk, and do better grocery planning. Then hang a bag from your belt again to see what you need to tackle next.

Hopefully, this audit, and the rest in the series, will help you make changes. If you learn something and you want to share, or if you have questions, you can always contact me at angieb@environmentalsociety.ca.

I’d love to hear about your successes!

Angie 220 photo

Angie Bugg manages energy conservation projects for the Saskatchewan Environmental Society, and is an active member of McClure United Church. You can contact her at angieb@environmentalsociety.ca “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it.” (Psalm 24:1)

Worship and action resources for World Food Day, Oct 16

Throughout this week in October we are invited to take action for food justice. As the harvest is gathered and as Indigenous and non-Indigenous people alike respectfully hunt and fish in preparation for winter, we give thanks for the beauty and the bounty of God’s Creation. Please set aside time in worship to give thanks, and to pray and take action for the millions around the world and in Canada who are hungry in the midst of plenty, or who are hungry because they are fleeing disasters and violence.

See the United Church’s national page for resources. The United Church and many of our own farmers are also partners with the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, which also offers a special 2017 worship resource.   Continue reading

Speaker opportunity: Global partner stories at home

Out of Many, One: bringing home stories of global partners in Kenya, Cuba, and Palestine

Three SK Conference members have been recent guests with global partners in Cuba, Kenya, and Palestine/ Israel.  These partners, our global family, share in our mission and in our givings to Mission and Service. Throughout the fall of 2017 and winter/ spring 2018, we encourage you to invite them to share their stories in worship, workshops, and at Presbytery. Some support for their travel is available through the Conference Generosity in Mission Fund.

Get in touch with Cindy, Brenda, and Sandra to find out how your ministry can host them for worship, workshops, and more. Or contact Laura Sundberg, Global Personnel Coordinator, or Julie Graham, Education staff. In order to protect email addresses, we ask you to use the Conference Directory or contact Julie if you need help finding contact information. Email her at jgraham(at)skconf(dot)ca

Rev. Cindy Bourgeois serves Wesley United Church in Regina. On behalf of the United Church and Affirm United, in 2017 she attended an historic church gathering in Cuba for the transgender community.

Rev. Brenda Curtis serves Humboldt pastoral charge. In the spring of 2017 she participated in a clergy “Come and See” visit to the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel.

Sandra Fowler is a licensed lay worship leader at Spirit Hills pastoral charge.  She represented SK Conference in March 2017 on the Mission and Service Pilgrimage to Kenya.

 

Resources-World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel

World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel, 17 to 24 September 2017

During this week, which includes the International Day of Prayer for Peace on 21 September, church organizations, congregations, and people of faith are encouraged to bear a common witness by participating in worship services, educational events, and acts of support in favour of peace and justice for Israelis and Palestinians. Resources:

Call for prayers: In just 68 words… (pdf, 400 KB)
This year marks the 100th year since the Balfour declaration. That declaration was just 68 words. But those 68 words have had a dramatic impact. We know prayer can also have a lasting impact. We invite you to give a prayer in support of all people seeking justice and peace in Palestine and Israel in just 68 words. More information is posted in the flyer; follow the PDF link above.

The Statement by The United Church of Canada on the Legal Settlement for Omar Khadr

The United Church respects the decision of the federal government to apologize to Omar Khadr   Published on July 12, 2017, accessed on Facebook

The United Church of Canada respects the decision of the federal government to apologize to Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen, for its role in his ordeal that began with his detention by the United States in Afghanistan.

Since 2008, the United Church has written to the federal government on several occasions regarding the miscarriage of justice in the treatment of Omar Khadr, who was 15 years old when he was detained and considered a child soldier under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Canada is a signatory. At that time, the church requested that an independent review of the Canadian government’s involvement in Khadr’s detention be implemented.

In a unanimous ruling in 2010, the Supreme Court found Khadr’s human rights were being violated at Guantanamo Bay: “The deprivation of [Khadr’s] right to liberty and security of the person is not in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice,” the court ruled.

“The interrogation of a youth detained without access to counsel, to elicit statements about serious criminal charges while knowing that the youth had been subjected to sleep deprivation and while knowing that the fruits of the interrogations would be shared with the prosecutors, offends the most basic Canadian standards about the treatment of detained youth suspects.”

There is much brokenness in this story. However, as followers of Christ, we find our hope in the power of restorative justice to mend deep divisions between individuals, peoples, and nations.

Church leaders must be willing to pay a price for Palestinian solidarity

The Christian community in Occupied Palestine has just called time on 70 years of world-wide Christian/Jewish collusion in their oppression and slow demise. In an open letter to the World Council of Churches, they’re demanding a different course of action from their Christian sisters and brothers because, they write, the situation is now “beyond urgent”.

The exasperation of the National Coalition of Christian Organizations in Palestine is understandable. The Church around the world has failed them.

They’ve seen year after year of Holy Land reports, theological reflections, pilgrimages, conference debates, and the occasional divestment commitment. But all this softly, softly solidarity has failed to improve their condition, let alone win their liberation.

Yes, there’ve been plenty of carefully worded and balanced calls for “justice” and “security” for Christians, Jews and Muslims. But no calling out of who has the power, who uses it to oppress, who allows it to continue, who excuses it, who remains silent.

Nor has there been much willingness to incur a collective cost to any Palestinian solidarity, either financially or reputationally from the leadership of Church denominations.

The Ecumenical Deal
Much of this comes down to what the Jewish theologian Marc Ellis long ago described as ‘the ecumenical deal’. It amounts to this: the unwillingness within formal Christian Jewish encounters to question Jewish support for Israel for fear of unpicking decades of inter faith reconciliation following the Holocaust.

Ellis, writing for the journal of Americans for Middle East Understanding back in February 1992 summed up how this has become an obstacle to justice:

“The foundation of the dialogue rests on Christian repentance for anti-Jewishness and acceptance of Israel as central for Jewish identity. Those involved in the dialogue know that it has essentially turned into what one might call the ecumenical deal: eternal repentance for Christian anti-Jewishness unencumbered by any substantive criticism of Israel. Substantive criticism of Israel means, at least from the Jewish side, the reemergence of Christian anti-Jewishness.”

The outcome of the ecumenical deal, Ellis went on to say, is that debate about the oppression of the Palestinian people by Israeli Jews, and its support by “commission or omission” by Jewish and Christian communities around the world is left unchallenged.

Despair
25 years of failed peace process, a wave of Palestinian terrorism at the turn of the century, three major Israeli assaults on Gaza and a Jewish Settler population of now more than half a million has done little to shift the interfaith dynamics that Ellis described a quarter of a century ago.

So it’s hardly surprising to see Christians in Palestine despairing of the endless “hiding behin78d the cover of political neutrality” and the unwillingness of Church leaders “to offend their religious dialogue partners.” In Palestine they learnt long ago that liberation doesn’t come cheap. What’s required from us they say is “costly solidarity” not “shallow diplomacy”.

And in practice that means:
“That you revisit and challenge your religious dialogue partners, and that you are willing to even withdraw from the partnership if needed”   So brace yourselves. Jewish-Christian dialogue is about to go through the wringer. And not before time.

The cost of Christian solidarity
To reset the Christian interfaith relationship with the Jewish Community will take boldness and courage on the part of Church leaders, local ministers and their congregants. It will take them far from their ecumenical comfort zone.

Long standing relationships with Jewish neighbours and clerical colleagues will deteriorate long before they can be rebuilt with new foundations.

But costly solidarity requires no less.

It means refusing to allow your local Jewish communal leadership to set the boundaries of permissible debate on Israel.
It means listening to the Christian voice under occupation before the Jewish voice living comfortably, with full equal rights, many thousands of miles from that same occupation.
It means refusing invitations to Balfour Declaration ‘celebrations’ this November.
It means you, not them, deciding what forms of protest are appropriate and fair.
It means you choosing to invest your funds in ethics not in companies profiting from Occupation.
It means your next pilgrimage to the Holy Land may be turned back at Ben Gurion airport.
It means you WILL be branded Israel haters.

You WILL be branded antisemitic.

And when that happens you should refuse to be bullied (because that’s what it is).
You must call the Jewish officials to your office. Ask them to clarify their position. Seek legal opinion. Demand an apology.  Insist that those that accuse you of ‘unfairness’ and ‘lack of balance’ make clear their own position.

What’s their view on the legality of the Occupation and Settlements? Do they recognize the inequality of political, civil and human rights in Israel itself and the Occupied territories? Can they confirm their commitment to freedom of speech in a democracy?

And do all of this publicly.

This is what costly solidarity will look like until things change.

Because silence and collusion on a great injustice of our time cannot be the basis of healthy interfaith dialogue.

But what about the Jewish side?
We still don’t have an accepted Jewish vocabulary or conceptual thinking that will enable us to recognize our complicity in Palestinian suffering. That makes the idea of Palestinian solidarity almost impossible for most Jews to contemplate let alone sign up to.

We’re still stuck in a mindset of powerlessness and victimhood that no longer holds true. The dilemma for Jews is that questioning the State of Israel within our Jewish communities risks unraveling the collective sense of who we are and what being Jewish means in the 21st century.

The recalibration on Israel required from Jewish communities around the world is now just as profound as the soul searching that took place within Christianity after the Holocaust. Just as Christians had to look Jews in the eye and ask for forgiveness so that Christianity could move forward, the same will be true between Jews and Palestinians. Again, this is ground well covered in the writings of Marc Ellis.

The future for Jews and Judaism itself is now entirely bound up with our relationship to the Palestinian people. However, we are still a very long way from being ready to confront this truth.

Costly Christian solidarity with the Palestinian people has the potential to speed up a change in Jewish attitudes. But it requires turning the tables over in the temples of ecumenical deal making.

I’m not underestimating how difficult this will be. The Jewish response to costly Christian solidarity with the Palestinians will be hostile and intolerant, at least to start with. The current Jewish leadership of our communities around the world is conditioned to react like this. They have no other language or thinking available to them.

But changing the language of interfaith dialogue is what needs to happen, and the sooner the better. Shallow diplomacy has had its day.

A new basis for Jewish/Christian understanding
So what should the new dialogue look like? How do we keep the good progress made over the last 70 years but throw out the politics of a silent collusion of injustice?

Perhaps a celebration of our creation mythology that makes clear that all humanity is equal in God’s eyes.

Maybe a common commitment to building communities where all faith traditions are respected and honoured.

How about a shared understanding that national chauvinism will always undermine building the Just and Righteous society that Jews and Christians pray for each day.

Or how about a firm belief that solidarity with the oppressed comes with a cost that’s always worth paying.

–Robert Cohen, July 8, 2017