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From Our Bishops

Letter to the Diocese from Bishop Andrew

Dear Friends,

It was an accident of scheduling that brought the Canadian House of Bishops to Niagara Falls this past week. Along with an estimated one million others, we drove into a city that had preemptively called a state of emergency, and even as we bishops arrived at Mount Carmel Monastery, countless others thronged to the banks of the Niagara River and the nearby parks to watch the solar eclipse. The bishops who arrived in time joined in the viewing.

Hearing people on the news use such words as “moving,” “profound,” “spiritual,” and even “life-changing” to describe the experience of observing the totality reminds me that the natural world – God’s creation – is an awesome thing that we don’t often take the time to truly appreciate. Events that are especially rare – whether an eclipse, the birth of a baby, or those dramatic occurrences that the insurance companies used to call “Acts of God” – can stir us to that realization of God’s power and majesty in creation. But hopefully many of us can bring that same sense of wonder and awe to the regular, everyday miracles of life cycles and natural rhythms. This world and the whole cosmos is of God’s making, and indeed, it is very, very good.

Easter is the time of renewing our baptismal vows, one of which is to safeguard the integrity of God’s creation, and to respect, sustain and renew the life of the earth. Spring presents us with some obvious ways to do so: gardeners are starting their seedlings and planning out their plots, while the melting of snow and slush reveals trash to be picked up in parks and ravines and along roadways. But we are invited to go deeper, to go beyond spring plantings and clean-up, to learn how we can make tending and caring for creation part an integral part of our lives as Christians.

The nationwide faith coalition For the Love of Creation invites faith communities across Canada to pray, learn and act for the love of creation during Earth Week (April 21-28, 2024). Their web page includes helpful suggestions, as well as an interactive map where you can post your local event.

To pray: You might hold an Earth Sunday service with prayers, hymns and a homily focused on the care of creation. Or you might choose to hold a special service during the week, perhaps a Hiking Church in a local park or other natural area.

Take the opportunity to learn by reading a book or watching a film on environmental issues and discussing it in the parish. You can also host a Faithful Climate Conversation to learn and talk about climate change together with others in your parish and neighbourhood.

Finally, we need to act. Your parish might participate in a local municipal clean-up, plan a new or expanded community garden on church property, or advocate with local representatives on climate change. You can also take action to reduce the carbon footprint of your own parish property. Our Diocese is working with Zero Emission Churches to gather information on the age and type of parish heating systems so that we have a clearer picture of where we are at present and where the opportunities are for us to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Nearly 50 parishes have already completed a survey on congregational heating systems that was distributed at Synod in November. If you have not already done so, you can use this link to submit your parish’s data.

You can find links to many resources for prayer, learning and action for the love of creation this Earth Week on our website at May the hope of this Eastertide renew you in your care for creation!

Yours in Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil
Bishop of Toronto