Resources for Personal, Communal, and Collective Action in relation to the season of Christmas. Compiled by Tora Klassen for the Creation Care Vigil held on 1 December 2023 at Hillside Church of London.
Amazing things happen when we work together. The Community Level is where catalyzing change can take root. Wherever you are connected to other people in direct relationship, that is where you can have an impact. Think about where you are already connected. It might be your workplace, your school or your children’s school. It might be your church, your sports team, your neighbourhood. At the communal level, you and other leaders have the capacity to build language around climate action, model alternatives to capitalism and overconsumption, and to inspire others to join in an exciting, home-grown movement.
Be a Leader in Your Community, Build the Language of Creation Care
Browse through How to Have Better Conversations about Climate Change, a .pdf document put together by Tearfund Canada, which connects the dots between climate change and how it exacerbates the already harse living conditions of people in poverty.
Watch this TED talk by Katharine Hayhoe, Christian Climate Scientist. She explains that the most important thing we can do to fight climate change is to talk about it. Explore all of Katharine’s work via her website.
Ask your community to watch this Bible Study Video Series on Creation Care with you. Compiled by Lausanne Global Classroom for A Rocha International, this 12-part study includes brief teaching videos, Bible reflections, and discussion questions. It includes sections on Biblical Theology of Creation, Science and Environmental Issues, and How Christians and the Church can Respond.
Gift Economy: An Alternative to Christmas Consumerism
Many sustainable ideas draw on the idea of abundance and what is called a Gift Economy. If our mindset and habits are built on scarcity, then of course we need to Buy Lots! Buy Fast! and Buy New! because we might miss the good deal, right? However, a mindset built on abundance assumes that we already have enough, and therefore, we don’t need to accumulate more. We can live well even when (and perhaps especially when!) we live simply. There are enough goods already in existence on the face of the planet, so why buy new when we can share what we already have with friends, neighbours, and our community? There is enough time to share our abundance with others, to build connections through giving out of what we already have. This is where a Gift Economy comes in.
In a Gift Economy, people share what they have with others, freely and with generosity. No money exchanges hands, but your community tapestry is strengthened through relationships and sharing.
The Buy Nothing Project, Freecycle, and even posting items for “FREE” on Facebook Marketplace are easy ways into a gift economy.
Here are two ways to introduce Gift Economy to your community this Christmas season:
* A Clothing Swap *
The concept? Everyone brings clothing that they no longer wear or need; this can include accessories, shoes, jewelry, outerwear… anything a person would put on their body! Sort the items by type. Allow everyone a chance to look through and try on items they are interested in. Any leftover items can them be saved for the next swap or donated to a small, local thrift store. Clothing swaps can be organized for men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing!
* Gift it Forward *
A Gift It Forward Event is based on the idea that gently used goods can be passed on to others who can either utilize those items themselves, or utilize them as low-cost or free gifts for their families and households. At my children’s school, the Home and School Association (of which I am a member) puts on an annual Gift It Forward Market. Donations are collected from the community for a couple of weeks. Items are sorted and cleaned, and then set up “market style” in the school gym. Students come into the gym, class by class, and are able to select low-cost gifts for their family and household members. We intentionally price the items from $.25 – $2 because it is a fundraiser for the Home and School Association. However, you could just as easily allow the students to select 3-5 items for the people on their holiday gift list and not charge any money.
One of my very favourite events that I organized through my neighbourhood Buy Nothing Group, was a Back to School Gift Event. We held this in mid-August, and our local library gifted us the use of one of their large event rooms. We accepted and sorted donations for a couple hours in the morning, with a small group of volunteers. The donations were of school and office supplies: backpacks, lunch boxes, binders, paper, writing implements and art supplies. Everything was donated by members of the Buy Nothing Group. It was amazing to see the largest donations coming from grateful retirees looking to clear out their home offices and junk drawers! Then we had a couple of hours open first to the members of our Buy Nothing Group, and then the final two hours we made open to anyone walking into the library and to the broader neighbourhood. Students, parents, and caregivers came through and selected items that they needed for the upcoming school year. We even had a few boxes left at the end of the day which we sent home with a teacher who knew how to get the remaining supplies into the hands of students who could use them most.
Get Your Church Involved in Climate Action
Now, more than ever, local churches need to make connections with other churches who are doing the important work of climate action and advocacy. One of the easiest ways to do this is to get your church connected to Creation Collective. It is a network of like-minded Canadian churches and Christian organizations that want to act on creation care. Working closely with A Rocha Canada and Tearfund Canada, the Creation Collective provides accessible, practical, and faith-connected actions for your local church to take.
Add your voice in prayer and in action to Move the Mountain on Garbage.
Explore Creation Collective’s library of Resources.
Need more inspiration to start the conversation on a community level?
The young people in your life WANT the global Church to ACT on Creation Care.
A new, groundbreaking survey conducted by Tearfund and A Rocha, reveals that the majority of young, church-going Christians see Care of Creation as a gospel issue and are eager to see the church take leadership. Here are some key findings of the survey:
65% of respondents attend church weekly or more, and 77% attend at least once a month
91% are worried about climate change and nature loss
92% believe that caring for creation is an essential act of discipleship and the Church’s mission
84% of young Christians said they have friends that are concerned about climate change
75% want mentoring from their church to help them cultivate Christian hope as they face the world’s future