Joanne Moyer, Edmonton, Alberta, is the 2023 recipient of Mennonite Creation Care Network’s (MCCN’s) Art and Jocele Meyer Award. The award recognizes Joanne’s longstanding service to MCCN as a council member, her commitment to greening Mennonite Church Canada and her enthusiasm for faith-based environmental work more broadly. The award includes a $500 grant for further environmental work. Joanne is a member of Edmonton First Mennonite Church.
“Remembering working with Joanne on the MCCN Council between 2009 and 2012, I am filled with warmth,” Karla Stolzfus Detweiler, MC USA’s new climate justice coordinator says. “ Joanne is an inspiration to me and to the church. Climate change does not observe borders, and our work to care for our planet must transcend human-made boundaries. I am grateful for Canadian partners in the work of climate justice and look forward to collaborating with Joanne in my role as Climate Justice Coordinator for MC USA.”
Dave Hockman-Wert, Corvallis, Ore., another longtime MCCN council member, has this to say:
While many environmentally-minded people can be dour or greener-than-thou, Joanne is neither. She is passionate without being absolutist, energized without being strident, and committed without being crabby. In the face of ecological damage and the climate emergency, Joanne doesn’t waste time blaming or complaining. She just gets to work at living and building and teaching the vision of a whole, healthy, sustainable world, filled with good fellowship and good humour.
Whether or not one uses the Canadian spelling we use here in honor of Joanne, “humour” is often lacking in climate circles.
Formative youth experiences
Like many Mennonites, Joanne grew up with a mother who reused plastic bags and a church community that talked about justice and poverty. The summer jobs she held as a teenager were also important stepping stones for her. One day, while working on a mundane office task at a local social service agency, a lightbulb went on for her as she examined the clippings she was filing.
“I said to myself, ‘Oh…destruction of the environment also harms the poor!’” she recalls.
Working at church camps also fueled Joanne’s interest in environmental issues, eventually leading to a B.A. in environmental studies, and a master’s and Ph.D. in the field. Joanne currently directs the environmental studies program at King’s University in Edmonton, Alberta, and teaches courses such as Living Sustainably, Natural Resource Management and Human Geography.
A founding MCCN Council member
In 2003 to 2004, Joanne worked with Mennonite Central Committee to write Earth Trek: Celebrating and Sustaining God’s Creation. This led to her appointment to Mennonite Creation Care Network’s first council when the organization began in late 2005. She never left.
It is hard to make administrative competence sound like an exciting accomplishment, but anyone who has borne with inept administrators knows that life without it is one missed opportunity after another. Joanne is a model council member: she answers emails promptly, follows through on tasks outside of meetings, comes prepared with thoughtful comments, and diligently advocates for the constituents she represents. Whether her message was, “Remember Canada!” when U.S. members of the council missed the mark on cultural sensitivity, or a call to Mennonite Church Canada to add staffing for creation care, Joanne’s consistency and patience eventually brought results.
Between Church and University
As a professor, Joanne is a cross-pollinator, challenging young people to think congregationally and sharing her professional expertise with the broader Church. In 2020, Joanne worked with one of her classes and MC Canada’s Sustainability Leadership Group to research best practices for churches interested in earth care. In 2021, they published a booklet entitled, God’s Green Church: Becoming a Creation Care Congregation. She has also been a frequent contributor at MC Canada assemblies, presenting on topics such as climate change, watershed discipleship, and voluntary simplicity.
Joanne brings a global perspective to the vocation of earthkeeping. For her doctoral thesis, she studied sustainability efforts among faith-based organizations in Kenya, spending time with groups such as A Rocha Kenya. In 2022, Joanne attended the Mennonite World Conference in Indonesia, offering a workshop where participants could share creation care initiatives at their churches.
An All-Weather Biker
Last but not least, Joanne lives out her convictions by doing without a car. In Edmonton, this means biking in sub-zero weather with snow tires and mummy-like attire, and more recently, biking with industrial masks due to air quality levels made dangerous by wildfires. Joanne says that living without a car puts her in touch with the natural environment, limits purchases and requires a slower pace of life–all of which she finds satisfying.
Thank you, Joanne, for 18 years of service to Mennonite Creation Care Network; for your witness to an alternative lifestyle; for the courses you’ve taught, the young people you’ve inspired; the many meetings you’ve attended and the patience you have displayed with the human condition.
– Jennifer Schrock, outgoing director of Mennonite Creation Care Network, on behalf of the MCCN Council.