Care of the Earth event
Attended by over 100 people, the second annual Care of the Earth event, took place at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, co-sponsored by the Museum and the Regina Multi-faith Forum. There was much interest and support from our member religions.
The entrance to the Museum was filled with displays from eight religious communities. Each community had information about themselves, with a picture of their place of worship and scripture passage that has instructed them to look after creation. They shared what they, in their church, synagogue, mosque or temple, had been doing and would be doing, to make their worship place more eco friendly. Their actions ranged from changing light bulbs, recycling, using washable plates instead of disposable styrofoam, to changing the water system used for ablutions at the Mosque.
Several of the communities had involved the youth in preparing the displays. There was a display about the United Nation’s Earth Charter, another on water conservation, resources, pollution and its connection to world poverty in the southern hemisphere. The Interchurch group Kairos also had a display.
The speaker, Rev. Bill Phipps, Calgary, from the Canadian Earth and the Common Good network, gave a realistic presentation of the serious situation in which we find ourselves today. He said that our life style “has made us oblivious to the consequences of climate change and environmental damage”. He called on the religious and spiritual people present to think and act creatively to change, remembering the lessons from our scriptural teachings. The"experts" have had their say, he said . “We see the results today. The solution must include spiritual people of faith, all of us.”
Short videos were shown and visitors were taken through the Museum's" Human Factor" display, which dramatically demonstrated the mess we have made in our world. An afternoon event took place at St James United Church, on the theme Peace Lessons focusing on the situation in Israel and Gaza. The panel consisted of Fathi Hamad from Muslims for Peace and Justice, Jeremy Parnes, spiritual leader of the Beth Jacob Synagogue and Rev. Bill Phipps. The event was moderated by Rev Laura Sundberg. In 2004 she spent 3 months in the Ecumenical Accompaniment initiative for Palestine and Israel, part of the World Council of Churches peace programme. Her involvement as a volunteer was to walk children to school past the Israeli border forces. Rev Phipps shared stories of Peace Groups he had visited in Israel. He is presently working with others, to establish a Friends of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam (Oasis of Peace) chapter in Calgary.
This is an amazing community where Palestinians and Israeli citizens live together. Their children go to school together where they are taught in the two languages about each other, and how to live in peace. Both of the other speakers spoke passionately about their opposing views. Mr. Parnes explained that there were two views among Jews themselves, about what is happening in Israel .
Two Palestinians spoke at some length as did members of the audience, some of whom had made frequent visits to Israel in peace making capacity and were strongly against Israel's action. It was agreed that as long as there was no dialogue between the two sides there would be no solution.
A Muslim woman who had immigrated to Canada from South Africa, spoke of her experience under apartheid. She said if someone had not taken the first step nothing would have happened there. One side or the other must risk and take the first step. I immediately thought of the film The Imam and the Pastor. The positive thing out of the afternoon is that the topic was able to be talked about in a safe setting.
In response to a Palestinian who asked what good are the peace groups? Rev Phipps asserted that our support and prayers were important, “The solution will have to come from the people on the ground".
We hope there will be further discussion and support for us to listen to one another to hear and respect our differences and still be friends. We are all needed to make Canada a kinder, caring place. Jean Parker, local resident and member of IofC.