By Joanna Reesor-McDowell

The adult Sunday school class at Warden Woods Mennonite Church, Scarborough, Ont., devoted a year to studying issues related to climate change, a process that culminated in a passionate letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, calling on him to go beyond the Kyoto Protocol to address “one of the greatest moral challenges of our time.”

Dale Hildebrand, co-teacher of the class, says that after studying the theological basis for caring for creation, the group agreed that these issues are an “integral part of faith” and they asked themselves, “What is God calling us to do?” Before looking at what action is needed from Canada’s political leaders, church members did their own homework by turning a critical eye on their own lifestyles.

Some of the changes that individuals and families committed to include:

• Reducing car and air travel.
• Improving energy efficiency in homes.
• Purchasing energy from more environmentally
friendly power sources.
• Eating more locally produced foods.
• Reducing consumerism in general.

In its letter to the Prime Minister, thegroup shared that while living a simpler lifestyle “may mean some sacrifices, thereis also a joy to be found in leaving behind the frenetic pace of life that often accompanies high-speed, high-consumption lifestyle that has come to characterize many societies.”

In the letter, the congregation also linked concern about the environment with justice issues and caring for the poor in our world. It made the case that environmental changes appear to have the greatest immediate impact on vulnerable groups such as Aboriginal Peoples and those in sub- Saharan Africa.
Hildebrand reports that there was a “standard response” from the Prime Minister’s Office.