Old Ottawa South Community Association

A Green Lent at Southminster
Photo by Brendan McCoy.

A Green Lent at Southminster

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A Grassroots Approach to Climate Action

In a world of 24-hour news coverage and instant communication, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and anxious about the events that unfold before us. Sound bites about the impending doom and gloom about climate change are a constant reminder that we live in a precarious world. I peer out the window and ponder.

Creation – diverse, complex and interdependent – is a reflection of the Creator’s will. This idea resonates in all faith traditions. Humans are “one strand in this web of life,” contributing to the “integrity of creation.” A consumerist society bent on limitless growth now strains the planet’s finite resources, threatening planet Earth. The “mending of creation” is an essential part of the work undertaken by faith communities.

Returning to my “inbox,” one message catches my eye. “Bring your sewing machines!” What do sewing machines have to do with the environment? Leading up to Lent, members of Southminster will be busy producing reusable produce bags. These are meant to replace single-use, non-recyclable plastic bags found so pervasively in our supermarkets. Southminster will also be offering a workshop on how to make beeswax wraps. (For details, visit the Church website at www.southminsterunitedchurch.com.)

During the five Sundays of Lent – March 1 to 29, 2020 – Southminster United Church will present a Lenten Series focused on the environment and the use of plastics. Traditionally in Christendom, Lent has been a time to reflect and prepare for Easter. Most associate Lent with giving up something, like chocolate for instance, as a way to identify with the sacrifice that Christ made for all. At Southminster, we’re giving up single-use plastics, as an approach to end pollution.

Why a Lenten Series about the environment? Southminster’s Reverend Steve Moore has this to say: “I am convinced that faith communities need to, and can, contribute to climate action in a very significant way. We cut across all sectors of society, which places us in a position to influence change for good. Much lasting change that has taken place in our world began at the grassroots. With intentional and well-directed initiatives, we can all make a difference.”

While the Lenten Series will be rooted in a biblical-theological theme of creation, the environment and stewardship, each Sunday service (10:30 am) will incorporate a specific topic, including:

  • Plastics in our oceans: a case study on our obsession with plastic;
  • The need for dramatic reductions in supermarket plastics usage;
  • Practical suggestions on how to reduce the use of single-use plastics; and
  • Alternatives to plastics typically found in households, particularly cleaning and personal care products.

Southminster will conclude its Lenten program on Sunday, March 29, 2020, with the play “12” by Kristina Watt, Artistic Director and Founder of 100 Watt Productions. An award-winning theatre artist, Kristina’s many works involve youth, and are inspired by her passion about nature, our planet and our relationship to it. The theatre production “12” is such an example. The play is performed by and about young people giving them a voice in the current climate crisis.

All are welcome. Please also join us for coffee hour, where you will have the opportunity to share and discuss the environment themes covered during worship service. Coffee hour will showcase, amongst other things:

  • A table with various plastic alternatives on display and for sale, including the produce bags made by members of Southminster United Church;
  • Beeswax wraps, also for sale, made at Southminster’s Beeswax Wraps Workshop;
  • A visual display and exhibit on plastics and the environment; and
  • Refreshments and baked goods.

This Lenten Series touches on just one aspect of the environment. Southminster is committed to dialogue and action, by engaging its members and the community at large in a broad, multi-faceted, grassroots approach to address today’s environmental issues. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

For more information about Southminster’s Lenten Series and how to join in, visit the Church’s Website at: www.southminsterunitedchurch.com.

Chantal Amundsen is a resident of Old Ottawa South and a member of Southminster United Church.

Originally published in the February 2020 OSCAR.

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