Canadian Lutheran, Anglican Leaders offer message for Earth Day

April 17, 2018

In recognition of Earth Day on April 22, 2018, we invite you to join us in praying for the humility and discipline to use Earth’s resources wisely and responsibly.

We begin by praying the rule of Life, from Gospel-based Discipleship of Indigenous Ministries of th Anglican Church of Canada:

    Creator God, we acknowledge and give thanks that:

In Jesus we know we belong to a Sacred Circle with the Gospel and Baptismal Covenant in the centre.

In this Sacred Circle:
We are all related;
We live a compassionate and generous life;
We respect all life, traditions, and resources.
We commit ourselves to spiritual growth, discipleship, and consensus.(1)
Amen.

As we read this prayer today, we are reminded of the importance of relationships, including our relationship with Mother Earth. We are also reminded that through prayer God calls us to action.

Consider what you might do to use Earth’s resources more responsibly. Some possibilities are:

  • Being more mindful in your use of water;
  • Eating locally grown food when possible and eating meat less often.Taking more trips by walking, biking, busing or car-pooling in order to reduce your carbon footprint
  • Reducing your use of plastics by not taking a straw or a shopping bag. See 17 Tips to Use Less Plastic for more ideas; www.greeneducationfoundation.org/nationalgreenweeksub/waste-reduction-tips/tips-to-use-lessplastic.html.

Consider what your faith community might do to nurture responsible and sustainable relationships to water, land, home, and each other. Some possibilities are:

  • Finding ways for your community to reduce its environmental footprint. Greening Sacred Spaces offers a variety of resources: www.greeningsacredspaces.net.
  • Listening to children, youth, adults and elders to discover innovative approaches to the challenges that we share.
  • Joining with partners in your community and neighbourhood who are inspiring and implementing
    new ways to care for the earth.
  • Making safeguarding the integrity of creation a regular part of your worship life by using worship
    resources that celebrate God’s creation.

Consider what we all might do to advocate for a more equitable world that recognizes the need for communities to define their own development goals and objectives. Some possibilities are:

  • Encouraging your Member of Parliament to support Bill C-262 which would insure all Canadian
    laws are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
    www.anglican.ca/news/primate-endorses-bill-c-262-letter-prime-minister-trudeau/30020361/
  • Upholding the principle of free, prior, and informed consent for all communities impacted by resource extraction.
  • Commending the recent announcement of a new Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Business Enterprise. (https://www.kairoscanada.org/what-we-do/ecological-justice/open4justice)

Recent important legislative initiatives are a reminder for all of us to continue to work for human rights and to care for creation every day. As the recent collaborative report from Auditors General across Canada highlights, there is need for much stronger federal and provincial relations to meet important emissions reductions targets in order to begin addressing the very real impacts of climate change already being felt in Canada and around the world.(2)

On this Earth Day, let us pray together:

Creator, we stand in awe and wonder at God’s great creation, at the diversity of beings, and at the intricate balance of relationships that sustains life.

We recognize the need and basic human right for each person to have a place to which to belong.Inspire in us the will to live in responsible and sustainable relationships to water, land, home, and each other are part of realizing our full humanity.

Gather us together for the love of the world, and send us out, with patience and persistence, to act as your disciples. Amen.

We are confident that through your prayers and discernment you will discover a multitude of ways to learn, raise awareness and make difference for the Earth.

The Rev. Susan C. Johnson
National Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

The Rt. Rev. Mark MacDonald
National Anglican Indigenous Bishop, Anglican Church of Canada

The Most Rev. Fred Hiltz
Primate, Anglican Church of Canada

——
(1) https://www.anglican.ca/im/introgbd/
(2) http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/English/parl_otp_201803_e_42883.html

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With hearts for Humboldt

With thousands of other Canadians, we watched CBC’s coverage of the Vigil for all those impacted by the horrible Friday night crash that killed fifteen of the Humboldt Broncos Junior A Hockey Team and left the rest of the team with very serious injuries. As families grieve, a community grieves with them. As a community grieves, a nation grieves with them.

In the face of such tragedy as this people come together. In tears they embrace one another. They listen to messages of condolence and feel the sympathy offered. They join in prayer. Some bow their heads. Some lift their heads. Some close their eyes. Some look out as if to a distant horizon looking for the tender mercies of God. When invited to hold hands they do. They know their need for each other and for God. They share their pain and seek comfort through one another and in the balm of God’s kindness.

That vigil in the arena that is home to the Humboldt Broncos was preparation for what will be a very hard week….a hard week for that community and several others where funerals will be held, a very hard week for the world of hockey. Let us then remember in our prayers all those who will conduct these services and all those to whom they are ministering.

As we pray for those who have died and for their families in anguish and sorrow at this time let us also pray for those who survived the crash and for their families who keep vigil at their bedsides. Let us remember the medical teams who are tending to their sons and brothers and all who support them through their presence and professional care. Pray too for the young men whose beds are positioned in a way that enables them to hold hands so bravely in their fight for life.

And finally let us remember before God those called to Emergency Health Services and to Policing Services. Collectively known as The First Responders in the wake of tragedies, they face carnage and chaos with great courage. They do all they can to save lives and they indeed do save many. They go about their work with an efficiency of skill that is remarkable. But they also go about it with a huge heart for serving those in crisis. They know trauma and it’s immediate and lingering impact.They know it for individuals, families , and communities. They know it for themselves too. They work and they weep…they weep and they work time and again.

As we turn our hearts to the very wide community of the Humboldt Broncos, we turn them to God in prayer for mercy and comfort in the midst of their deep sorrow.

In all we see and hear and think and feel in a time like this we are reminded of the simplicity yet full measure of our faith in God and our care for one another. We have come to know that faith and care as The Summary of The Law. In response to a question concerning the greatest of all the commandments Jesus said, “The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord you God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this ,“you shall love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)

In these and all our days we pray,

“Lord, have mercy upon us and write both these your laws in our hearts.”

The Most Rev. Fred Hiltz

Primate, Anglican Church of Canada

The Rev. Susan C. Johnson

National Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

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Lent Devotions offered by heads of Episcopal Church, Anglican Church of Canada, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

Set Free By Truth

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop and Primate Michael Curry joined the leaders of the Anglican Church of Canada, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in preparing Lent Devotions for the upcoming liturgical season.

Named Set Free By Truth, the Lent Devotions begin with Ash Wednesday on February 14 and continue through Easter Sunday, April 1. Each segment of Set Free By Truth presents Scripture citations, a reflection, and a prayer.

Set Free By Truth is available for free downloading here. https://www.episcopalchurch.org/ecumenical-lenten-reflections

Ash Wednesday: “Return to me with all your heart”; by Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Lent 1: “An appeal to God for a good conscience”; by Archbishop Fred Hiltz,
Anglican Church of Canada.

Lent 2: “Take up their cross and follow me”; by National Bishop Susan Johnson, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.

Lent 3: “But we proclaim Christ crucified”; by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, the Episcopal Church.

Lent 4: “The LORD sent fiery serpents among the people”; by Presiding Bishop Eaton.

Lent 5: “Purge me from my sin”; by Archbishop Hiltz.

Palm/Passion Sunday: “Hosanna!” by Bishop Johnson.

Triduum: “Until he comes again”; by Presiding Bishop Curry.

Set Free By Truth can be downloaded for websites, bulletin inserts, church programs, and used as discussion points.

For more information, contact the Rev. Margaret Rose, mrose@episcopalchurch.org.

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World Interfaith Harmony Week February 1-7, 2018

From February 1-7, 2018, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada will observe World Interfaith Harmony Week.

2018 will mark the eighth World Interfaith Harmony Week uplifted globally. The ELCIC will join with others around the world in this week of reflection and public witness on what it means to be people of faith, regardless of religious affiliation. Being in dialogue with people of other faith traditions enriches our own mission and ministry, and helps us create a climate where we can work together for peace and justice.

In 2012 ELCIC’s National Church Council endorsed a request from The Lutheran World Federation to observe World Interfaith Harmony Week. In Canada, World Interfaith Harmony Week has been observed by Lutherans, Presbyterians, Uniteds and Roman Catholics, together with Muslims, Jews, Baha’is and many others in secular, civic and religious contexts.

ELCIC congregations and worship leaders may choose to augment the Prayer of the Day or Prayers of Intercession in early February with the following: For the Human Family: “O god, you made us in your image…” (EvLW, pg 79) or A Prayer attributed to St. Francis: “Lord, make us instruments…” (EvLW, pg 87). Additionally, people may want to pray one of these prayers as part of their daily devotions.

Resources for World Interfaith Harmony Week can be found below:

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2018 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins January 18th and carries on through January 25th. This is a time of shared or personal prayer, reflection, and fellowship. Christians of all different traditions and practices are asked to consider praying on the theme of this week’s verse from Exodus 15:6, “Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power”. The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is a time to deepen our relationships and to live as witnesses together throughout the year.

You can find resources and prayers for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity here:  https://www.weekofprayer.ca.

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Flat Luther – A study in member engagement at Sherwood Park Lutheran

As seasons change, so do church attendance numbers. Over the past calendar year, the Manitoba/Northwestern Ontario Synod’s Sherwood Park Lutheran Church in Winnipeg, Manitoba put together an action plan to maintain member involvement, even when physically away from the church.

Led by Sherwood Park’s Family Ministry Coordinator, Candace Kostna, Flat Luther was born. In an attempt to remain ‘connected’ with other congregation members, a cross-generational activity, ‘The Adventures of Flat Luther’ kicked into high gear over the past summer months, ultimately concluding with a Reformation 500 social on October 14, 2017.

“This past spring, we talked about the challenge for all churches in summertime as attendance numbers go down.” Kostna said. “People are out and about, exploring all of God’s creation, so we wanted to do something that would highlight what the many members of our church are doing, while staying connected in our faith community.”

So how did that idea of remaining connected become ‘The Adventures of Flat Luther’?

“Simple,” said Kostna. “Believe it or not, this is all based off of a chapter book for kids – Flat Stanley. I had heard about something called Flat Jesus before, and that sounded appealing. We started talking about it and thought that we would incorporate Luther into this as we are Lutherans and celebrating Reformation 500 this year.”

Some may wonder what effective purpose a six-inch by three-inch cardboard cut-out would actually serve within the lives of congregation members who spent parts of their summers away from the church, but for Kostna, that thought never even crossed her mind.

“The goal was to help us stay connected over the summer months,” she reflected. “First we had to realize that we live out our faith all the time – not just that hour or so we spend in church on Sunday mornings. We wanted to find something fun for younger families to participate in, but something that would also draw full participation of members across the board.”

What started off as a cross generational activity to stay connected morphed into also being a way to commemorate Martin Luther and Reformation 500. For the members of Sherwood Park Lutheran, ‘The Adventures of Flat Luther’ opened up the opportunity for meaningful conversations inside and outside of congregational walls.

“People would take photos of them with Flat Luther and throw a hashtag on it and write a caption for posting on social media,” Kostna said. “That’s just how people stay connected nowadays. We actually started to use Flat Luther’s travels as a part of our Sunday morning announcements. We would show the weekly photos on slides and provide updates on what Flat Luther had been up to each week. It certainly led to many conversations even at coffee hour.”

Although some of the best pictures from ‘The Adventures of Flat Luther’ came from photoshoots in and around the city of Winnipeg, some members of Sherwood Park really embraced the challenge of taking Flat Luther nearly everywhere they went.

“It was incredible some of the places that Flat Luther went,” Kostna said. “Flat Luther had the chance to check out a bit of Norway as one congregation member took him with her when she went overseas to visit her granddaughter. He also went to Aruba and on a cruise. One member took him to New York.”

‘The Adventures of Flat Luther’ began on Mother’s Day 2017 and found itself extended through its original proposed conclusion of Back to Church Sunday, as many of the photos taken were featured in a joint Reformation 500 social hosted by the congregations of Sherwood Park, Abundant Life, Prince of Peace and St. Luke’s Zion.

“Our original plan was to share some of this at our Back to Church Sunday barbeque that we always host,” Kostna said. “But then we thought, “why don’t we tie it into our Reformation Sunday,” because it is Flat Luther after-all! We are definitely still looking for other ways to stay connected throughout the year, but this experiment has been a wonderful opportunity to build relationships throughout the church within all age groups and generations.”

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Canadian Lutheran, Anglican leaders lift up National Housing Day; call for reflection, care for our neighbours and prayer

In a letter from Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada National Bishop Susan C. Johnson, Anglican Church of Canada Primate Fred Hiltz, and Anglican Church of Canada National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald, the leaders lift up National Housing Day and call on the two churches, "to reflect on our calling, as Christians, to care for our neighbours and to offer prayers for affordable housing for all."

The full text of the letter follows. Download a pdf version here.

November 2017

November 22 marks National Housing Day in Canada, an opportunity for Canadians to reflect on the need for safe, adequate, and affordable housing, and to learn about the social, economic, and health impacts of homelessness in our communities. National Housing Day is also an occasion for members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and the Anglican Church of Canada to reflect on our calling, as Christians, to care for our neighbours and to offer prayers for affordable housing for all.

More than 235,000 Canadians experience periods of homelessness every year, with as many 35,000 people finding themselves homeless on any given night. Thousands of others live in precarious housing, struggling month after month to pay rent or remaining in unsafe or inadequate housing because of a lack of appropriate options.

Homelessness and a lack of affordable housing affects every community in this country, from large urban centres to remote northern communities, and is experienced by diverse populations including young people, seniors, families, veterans, and more. Indigenous people are disproportionately represented among homeless populations in Canada, and many Indigenous communities continue to experience acute housing crises such as overcrowding, lack of sanitation, and poor condition of existing housing stock. Many Indigenous people in urban contexts also continue to experience discrimination in access to housing.

Canada remains a wealthy country, with the capability to eliminate homelessness in our communities and to ensure access to safe, adequate, and affordable housing for all. Meeting this challenge requires collaboration between all levels of government, faith communities, the private sector, and civil society organizations. The upcoming release of a national housing strategy by the federal government will be an important step in insuring this collaboration. We encourage you to lift up National Housing Day in your communities, to advocate for improved access to housing for those in need, and to pray for the action necessary to address this need. Toward this end, we commend to you the following prayer:

Creator,
You give us land and neighbours and all our relations to provide for all our needs.
We give you thanks.
You give us land and neighbours and all our relations that we might demonstrate your love through kindness, care and service.
Inspire our hearts and minds that we may discern where and how we can make a difference.
You give us land and neighbours and all our relations that we might live in justice and peace.
We ask for courage and wisdom to transform unjust structures of society and to work for reconciliation.
Inspire our actions, that we may promote equitable and innovative approaches to the challenges that we share.
We remember before you the homeless, the under housed and refugees.
We pray for safe, affordable and adequate housing for all.
You give us land and neighbours and all our relations to teach us to rely on you.
Bless us with faith and hope.
In Jesus name we pray, amen.

Fred Hiltz, Primate, Anglican Church of Canada
Susan C. Johnson, National Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
Mark L. MacDonald, National Indigenous Anglican Bishop, Anglican Church of Canada

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In a letter from Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada National Bishop Susan C. Johnson and Anglican Church of Canada Primate Fred Hiltz, the leaders lift up National Housing Day and call on members of the two churches, "to reflect on our calling, as Christians, to care for our neighbours and to offer prayers for affordable housing for all."

The text of the letter follows. A pdf version can be downloaded here.

November 2017

November 22 marks National Housing Day in Canada, an opportunity for Canadians to reflect on the need for safe, adequate, and affordable housing, and to learn about the social, economic, and health impacts of homelessness in our communities. National Housing Day is also an occasion for members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and the Anglican Church of Canada to reflect on our calling, as Christians, to care for our neighbours and to offer prayers for affordable housing for all.

More than 235,000 Canadians experience periods of homelessness every year, with as many 35,000 people finding themselves homeless on any given night. Thousands of others live in precarious housing, struggling month after month to pay rent or remaining in unsafe or inadequate housing because of a lack of appropriate options.

Homelessness and a lack of affordable housing affects every community in this country, from large urban centres to remote northern communities, and is experienced by diverse populations including young people, seniors, families, veterans, and more. Indigenous people are disproportionately represented among homeless populations in Canada, and many Indigenous communities continue to experience acute housing crises such as overcrowding, lack of sanitation, and poor condition of existing housing stock. Many Indigenous people in urban contexts also continue to experience discrimination in access to housing.

Canada remains a wealthy country, with the capability to eliminate homelessness in our communities and to ensure access to safe, adequate, and affordable housing for all. Meeting this challenge requires collaboration between all levels of government, faith communities, the private sector, and civil society organizations. The upcoming release of a national housing strategy by the federal government will be an important step in insuring this collaboration. We encourage you to lift up National Housing Day in your communities, to advocate for improved access to housing for those in need, and to pray for the action necessary to address this need. Toward this end, we commend to you the following prayer:

Creator,
You give us land and neighbours and all our relations to provide for all our needs.
We give you thanks.
You give us land and neighbours and all our relations that we might demonstrate your love through kindness, care and service.
Inspire our hearts and minds that we may discern where and how we can make a difference.
You give us land and neighbours and all our relations that we might live in justice and peace.
We ask for courage and wisdom to transform unjust structures of society and to work for reconciliation.
Inspire our actions, that we may promote equitable and innovative approaches to the challenges that we share.
We remember before you the homeless, the under housed and refugees.
We pray for safe, affordable and adequate housing for all.
You give us land and neighbours and all our relations to teach us to rely on you.
Bless us with faith and hope.
In Jesus name we pray, amen.

Fred Hiltz, Primate, Anglican Church of Canada
Susan C. Johnson, National Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

 

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Interview with Don Storch, recipient of the 2017 ELCIC In Mission for Others Leadership Award

As part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada’s (ELCIC) commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, a Leadership Award was introduced at the 2017 National Convention. Don Storch was selected to be the first recipient of the award which is presented to individuals committed to advancing the mission and ministry of the ELCIC, and demonstrating Leadership In Mission for Others.

In this interview, Storch shares his reflections on the award and also speaks about his current involvement at the Shelbourne Community Kitchen, located on Vancouver Island, B.C.

The leadership award was presented to you at National Convention in July. How do you feel now that you have had a few months to reflect on this award?

It still is very humbling, and I have continued to get emails and letters from people across the country that I have known from over the years. The major tie in for me is with the Shelbourne Community Kitchen, as there was a cash contribution made in recognition of the award to the kitchen. But as I said, it has been a very humbling feeling and I’m just very pleased.

Can you share a little bit about the ministry at Shelbourne Community Kitchen?

The kitchen is located in Saanich, on the island. It is open Tuesday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. for people to come in, access the food bank, or to ask for some assistance. During those hours and beyond those hours there are lots and lots of cooking classes. When I was there yesterday there was a group of six people learning how to make dumplings. The youngest in the group was about eight years old, while the oldest would have been probably mid-fifties.

How did you first get involved with this program?

Back in 2012, we had a pastoral intern and for a project, the Lutheran Church of the Cross, Victoria, B.C. was running a food pantry and providing cash to individuals who came to the door. St. Luke’s Anglican across the street was doing a similar thing, as was St. Aidan’s United – which is about three blocks away. The intern wondered if there was a way that these three groups could work together.

Through her initiative and the original organizer and chair, Laura Cochrane, meetings began and we decided to work together to develop a kitchen. My interest was that I thought it was a great idea. I helped edit some of the paperwork in the background, and provided support. I just thought that it was a marvelous idea working together and it would really help out more than just providing food or cash but actually teaching program participants how to cook. I also liked the idea of having the kitchen in a house close to the bus route, making it easy for people to get to.

How has the community at the kitchen grown since it first started?

One of the good stories from the kitchen is how the canisters in the kitchen initially had the words ‘sugar’, ‘flower’, and ‘salt’ written on them. After a while, we began to tackle some international cooking and a group of Syrian people were coming in, so had to figure out what ‘flour’ was in Syrian. So now on the canisters ‘flour’ is written in three languages: English, Syrian and Mandarin. It has certainly been quite a great learning experience just to get to know some of the 455 or-so people are that come to our door regularly.

How do all the volunteers, instructors, and teachers work together to make this function?

Kim Cummins is the hired coordinator and she is a marvelous teacher. She is a trained chef, she loves gardening, and is a very easy to relate to person. She is in charge overall, but there are lots and lots of independent cooking courses and other teachers or chefs that come in. Remember, it’s just an ordinary house, so it’s only 6-8 people per class. In 2016 there were 104 cooking classes in all. If you go to the house, the backyard is almost a huge garden. There is a big deer fence all around it so the veggies go to the people and not the animals!

Walking down the street, would anything about this place jump out, or is it just another house on the street?

It’s just another house on the street. There is a little sandwich board on the front with a sign saying “Welcome to the Shelbourne Community Kitchen”. Other than that, there is a sign in the window signifying if it is open or closed, but if you walk down the street you wouldn’t have any idea.

Can you touch on the importance of giving back to the community?

I grew up in a rural area in an Alberta farming community, and people needed each other to survive. This was before Medicare. So I can remember fundraisers to provide money so that someone could get the kind of operation or medical care that they needed; it was just what you did as a part of the community. Church was also a large part of the community. Churches served as community centres – all kinds of things happened there. For me it is just a way of life. In a rural area, you knew all of your neighbours. That doesn’t always happen in urban areas, so we need to find ways in these urban areas to build community. How can we connect? How do we find a sense of place, and a place where we can say, “I can help you, can you help me, how can we work on something together?” Shelbourne is a place where that happens.

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Live on Reformation Day

On Reformation Day, join Lutherans around the world and across seven Lutheran World Federation regions to witness how the Reformation has become a global citizen.

A live stream of worship services from 11:00 – 23:00 CET (5:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. CDT), will show the rich diversity and unity of the Lutheran churches as they commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

This journey will also feature three ecumenical services, demonstrating the spirit of ecumencial accountability with which the LWF has commemorated the 500th Reformation anniversary.

Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada National Bishop Susan C. Johnson will preside at Holy Communion at the service taking place in the LWF North American region. She will join Evangelical Lutheran Church of America Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation on Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.         

For further information, visit: www.lutheranworld.org/content/live-reformation-day

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