Mennonites hold service of lament in front of tax man’s door, slow traffic, call for climate justice

The following invitation comes to us from our friends in the Mennonite church here in Winnipeg. In response to the arrests for climate justice in Washington, and to support the planned demonstration in Ottawa on September 26, some of us will have a public worship service and lament for the lack of climate justice in downtown Winnipeg on September 24. Details below. See you there! – Aiden Enns, editor, Geez magazine.

Dear friends, you are invited to a special worship service. Here are all the details you need. Please invite your friends along.

What: A Worship Service for Climate Justice
When: Saturday, September 24 at 2:00 p.m., 2011
Where: Canada Revenue Agency building, 325 Broadway, downtown Winnipeg
Who: You!
What, exactly?: We will meet together for a time of prayer, hymn-singing, confession, foot-washing, and – for those who choose – an opportunity for civil disobedience (by blocking one lane of Broadway)
Why: see below

Want more? We have a few events this week leading up to the Saturday worship service.

Tuesday, September 20, at 7:00 p.m., we will go to 52 Alloway Street in Wolseley, to watch Tipping Point, a documentary from The Nature of Things about the Alberta tar sands.

Friday, September 22 at 7:00 p.m., we will meet at Charleswood Mennonite Church (699 Haney) for a choir practice and time for spiritual preparation for Saturday’s event.

On Saturday, those who wish to start early may choose to join a walking and biking parade from the Legislative Building to the Forks. This is organized by Moving Planet Manitoba and is culminating in an Eco-Fair at the Forks. Meet at the Leg at 12:00 noon.

Why are Mennonites worshiping in front of the Canada Revenue Agency building?

During the last two weeks of August, more than 1200 people were arrested in Washington, DC as they protested the construction of a pipeline that will carry Canadian tar sands oil to refineries in Texas. As Canadians, we lament our government’s ongoing support for the tar sands and for the obstructionist role we continue to play in Climate Change negotiations. Together with those who will gather on Parliament Hill on September 26, we want to draw attention to the dire consequences of the climate crisis.

As Christians, we believe God created the world “good” and entrusted humans to care for it. We are aware that our fascination with speed and unending growth has irrevocably altered God’s good creation. We know that the changing climate, including drought, famine, and increasingly volatile weather, causes our sisters and brothers in the Global South to suffer.

As church people, we confess that we too are addicted to fossil fuels and long for healing.

As consumers, we lament rising CO2 emissions associated with the production and consumption of oil.

As Canadian citizens, we ask that our tax dollars not be used to subsidize oil companies and particularly the dirty oil of the Alberta tar sands.

“During a recent seven-year period, 1996-2002, the Canadian government spent $8.3 billion on subsidies to the oil and gas industries. For the most part these subsidies continue today at around $1 billion a year. A tax break allowing tar sands operators to defer taxes on 100% of capital spending will not be phased out until 2015.” — Pumped Up, KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, 2008

“If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, … CO2 [concentration in the atmosphere] will have to be reduced from its current 385 ppm [parts per million] to at most 350 ppm, but likely less than that.” – NASA climatologist James Hansen

What can I do? Write your Member of Parliament and the Prime Minster. Ask for: * government subsidies for Big Oil be re-directed to clean energy alternatives. * the Canadian government to play a constructive role on the international stage regarding greenhouse gas emissions, rather than the obstructionist role it has been playing. – Consider steps you can take in your own life. Can you walk to where you’re going?

“The objective,” says David Suzuki, “is not to stop the tar sands, it’s to make them redundant.”

Learn more:
CBC documentary on tar sands

Diana Epp-Fransen, member, Charleswood Mennonite Church
Kenton Lobe, member, Charleswood Mennonite Church
Aiden Enns, member, Hope Mennonite Church

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  1. Why is canadian tar sands oil labelled “dirty”, while the opec oil from saudi arabia, venezuela, & etc. is not labelled “dirty” oil? What’s the difference? Why not hold a church service in front of the Saudi king’s palace in Riyad? See what kind of “fantastic” response/reaction you’d get there! I dare you to. I dare you to go after them as viciously as you are going after your own government, which has granted you these fabulous freedoms. Otherwise, you’re nothing but hypocrites disguised as “jesus lovers”. And alternative “clean energy” is a myth! Alternative energy sources are fine for small towns and individual farms, but It is not a sustainable idea for the mega-million populations our nation-states need to service today. You’ll have to come up with some viable solutions other than merely to “protest”. And, please, don’t besmirch the name of “christianity” with such loosey-goosey nonsense.

    Moll October 8th, 2011 1:27pm

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