By Mncedisi Masuku, Diocese of Swaziland
Wednesday March 2 has been a historic day in Manzini Parish, Mathanda when members of the church decided to have a short service under a marula tree which is one of the trees that has cultural significance in the Swazi Culture.
We gathered under the tree to share a bit about Climate Change before starting our tree planting around the church. We have been using Season of Creation II for prayers and readings; Rev. W. Dlamini led us into a brief Bible study and Mncedisi Masuku talked briefly about the scientific aspect of how Climate Change is connected to deforestation and green-house gas emissions, and how tree planting benefits the eco-system balance.
Readings for the discussion were,
After the readings it was discussed how in the gospel of Matthew we see Jesus calming the storm, which shows that Jesus is above all nature. We need to go back to Christ if we are to fight and win Climate Change, as he is the solution and can teach us how to be stewards of the earth.
After the short service under the tree, we moved forward and put faith into actions. We planted 31 trees which will serve as wind breakers for the church along the surrounding fence. It was a wonderful experience. We also planted five indigenous plant species that are now at risk of extinction due to deforestation; we are saving them for future generations. We saved one fruit tree to plant at the Good Friday service.
The main purpose of the day was tree planting but the service would not be complete if we left litter around the church compounds. It was then decided to do a clean up exercise to leave the church green.
Did you know cutting down on meat can save the environment? It is not easy for most of us but cutting down on beef can go a long way in saving our deteriorating environment. We shared a very nice chicken stew and some green vegetable. It was a wonderful fellowship.
We are so grateful to the government of Swaziland for providing us with these trees from the Environmental desk. We committed ourselves in taking care of them when we made our last prayer, blessing the work of our hands. So help us Lord.
After this last Sunday’s service, the Greek Orthodox youth once again took to the surrounding area for their second clean-up campaign.This is the report we received:
On Sunday 7th of June 2015 after the divine liturgy, we gathered the youth so as to address them about the Global Week of Action.
Firstly we informed them about what is climate change and its impact on our lives and its threat to our lives.They participated through answering some questions we asked them.
After that lecture, we distributed gloves, masks and bin liners and started our clean up campaign. We cleaned the church yard and in the trenches. We rounded the neighbourhood along Masothandlovu road and returned to church
It was a very successful campaign since everyone participated and showed interest in the activity.
However we only cleaned at Saint Nectarios Church, but the future plan is to go to Warren Park, Snake Park and Marondera.
By Angelic Molen, Greek Orthodox Church Zimbabwe
I would like to share with you how we, as people of faith at the Greek Orthodox Church in Zimbabwe, are working towards caring for the environment.
We as Greek Orthodox youth, in partnership with an organisation called “Youth Clean up Green up”, organised a clean-up campaign at Greencroft shopping centre in Harare on Saturday 28th of March 2015. This felt like a successful campaign since while we cleaned, we managed to inform the people about the issue of recycling plastics, paper and cans. Also we told the people about the importance of organic waste because there were a lot of dumped vegetables lying around the market place.
Besides the above, we were distributing posters and bin liners to the people for home use. Among the posters were the ones about Veld fires which is a topic we are planning to cover at a workshop equipping the faithfuls with knowledge on the effects of veld fires. This is critical in our context as we are in the season where the grass is dry. Look out for another story about our workshop! I believe that one step at a time we will reach our destination.
On 15 February 2015, St Mark’s Presbyterian Church in Môregloed, Pretoria celebrated Valentine’s day as a day to care for the Earth.
Our theme for Earth Keeper Day was “The Gift of Land and its Management” with the emphasis on God’s covenant with Abraham and his descendants, and the promise of land conditional upon responsible behaviour, justice and equity. The clear link between personal salvation and redemption of the earth as a whole was highlighted with reference to Romans 8:19-21. Children, teenagers, parents, grandparents and great grandparents pasted leaves for healing on an image of the “Tree of Life”. The heart-shaped leaves carried written commitments for action to bring healing, well-being and sustainability to the earth.
Some of the commitments included:
- Saving water and electricity
- Walking or cycling instead of driving
- Shopping less and using home-made or local goods
- Water-wise gardening & home-grown fruit & vegetables
- Rain-water harvesting
- Avoiding pesticides & products with harmful chemicals
- Recycling, re-using, composting: not wasting anything
- Having love, mercy & compassion
- Sharing with others, eg lift clubs.
The congregation is now planning a multi-generational clean-up of green spaces, especially along streams and stormwater channels in the area, the day after international River Action Day on 14 March 2015.
Rebecca Gurupira motivating the conference
Story from Tendai Rebecca Gurupira, United Methodist Church Coordinator, Ministry with Women, Children and Youth in Zimbabwe.
In 2014 I attended a Faith Leaders Environmental Advocacy Training (FLEAT) with SAFCEI. I learned a lot about being God’s stewards, and that we must continue to care for God’s creation.
After the training I sourced more than 1500 seedling trees from Nyaradzo Funeral Company. The company is helping our country by promoting tree planting. This company also raises awareness on issues of climate change.
On 13 December 2014 more than 500 seedling trees were planted by the resident Bishop E.K Nhiwatiwa and his cabinet, their spouses and all church leaders at Murewa Mission of The United Methodist Church. I spoke about climate change to more than 500 pastors and delegates. All pastors and delegates present at the conference were given trees to take home and plant in their communities. The same was also done at Old Mutare Mission on 20 December 2014 were more than 500 trees were given to pastors and delegates.
I am inspired to continue with this effort in 2015. Let’s continue to be good Earth Keepers!!
St Andrews Anglican Church at the Strand had a special service on the 19th October, as part of their Season of Creation. This was the 5th week, the theme being “Creation and Redemption – Faith like a Mustard Seed”. During communion they put on a CD of nature sounds – birds and whales! Here is their pew leaflet: St Andrews – Season of Creation
When it was time for coffee, congregants walked into the church hall which was filled with artwork by the children which have been working with the new Ryan the Rhino Sunday School resource. The Sunday School program focuses on the Story of Creation, relating it to our care for God’s creation. This is a new resource which is being piloted by the Green Anglicans in collaboration with SAFCEI and funded by WWF Nedbank Green Trust.
‘n Kerk basaar met ‘n groen krul? Eko-ekspo’s of Eco-kermisse is ‘n nuwe manier waarop kerke gemeenskappe bewus maak van verskillende ekologiese kwessies , asook die wye verskeidenheid maniere waarop mens vandag ‘n eko-vriendelike leefstyl kan handhaaf.
Alhoewel gelowiges bewus is van hulle verantwoordelikheid om na die aarde om te sien, verksyn daar steeds vraagtekens as dit kom oor hoe ons ons verbintenis tot aardesorg prakties kan uitleef. Daarom dat volhoubare, groen besighede hulle produkte by hierdie kermisse kom bekendstel – vanaf sonpanele en watertenks, tot by eko-vriendelike kosmetiese produkte en skoonmaakmiddels.
As daar een ding is wat ons groenes goed ken, is dit herwinning. Maar wie sou kon dink dat mens klimrame, stoele, speelgoedkiste en blompotte van herwinde material kan kry! Gee ‘n ou motorband ‘n tweede lewe, in die vorm van ‘n speelgoed kis. En dit is nie net plastiek en glas wat herwin word nie, ook hulpbronne soos water kan meer effektief benut word – soos met die handige 2-in-1 wasbaktoilet.
Hierdie geleenthede is egter nie net vir “groen” loerkopery nie, dit is ook ‘n geleentheid waarby gemeentelede kan leer oor die aardesorg inisiatiewe van organisasies soos WWF, Lucky Lucy, Princess Vlei Forum en SAFCEI
SAFCEI het by die eko-kermis in Christchurch Constantia die bevindings van hierdie kerk se energie en water oudit ten toon gestel – hierdeur kan mens sien hoe klein intervensies en gedragsveranderings ‘n groot verskil in jou beursie en jou voetspoor op hierdie aarde kan maak.
Hopelik steek die inisiatief van hierdie twee gemeentes ook ander geloofsgemeenskappe aan om groen-ekspo’s te hou, of selfs net hulle kermisse en basaars eko-vriendelik in te rig.
By hierdie geleenthede vind mens bemoediging, sien mens dat om te sorg vir die aarde nie moeilik hoef te wees nie, en vind mens inspirasie om met dieper integriteit en groter harmonie ons lewens as deel van hierdie aarde te leef.
For the second year, JAEI screened eco movies on a wintery Saturday evening, this time at St Francis of Assisi church in Parkview, Johannesburg. Since the eco-movies are a fundraiser for JAEI, our intern, Michelle, popped and bagged corn, and we shared wine, sparkling Oros (for the young and brave), and hot soup with rolls. We had home potted plants (mostly indigenous but that is a work-in-progress and a rather humbling exercise) on sale (see pic).
First up was “Jane’s Journey”, the autobiographical story of Jane Goodall, primatologist and activist. Ms Goodall’s organisation Roots & Shoots is primarily aimed at young people and requires any projects to be concerned with each of people, animals and the land. Her compassion is riveting and inspiring, even as she ministers to folk who hunt her beloved chimpanzees for food!
The second movie was “The 11th Hour“, a series of conversations on the urgency of our environmental plight linked together by Leonardo DiCaprio. Bart, one of our viewers, was so impressed by the arguments made in the movie that he advised it be ‘mandatory viewing’ for congregations. The video holds supplementary interviews, the ‘religious’ section of which interviews a rabbi, a priest, and an imam, with other faith traditions also represented in the movie. Faith was a linking asset in the fight for Mother Earth’s (and our own) life.
We raised funds, modest though at R860 and as compared to last year, as our attendance was poor (was it the cold, or the French Open women’s tennis final?). Publicising is a ‘growth’ and a challenge area for us. We would welcome a skilled volunteer! We look forward to next year and the ongoing evolution of this event.
Dr Diek van der Zel, aka DokDiek, of Die Strand NGK sent in this photo: “This photo is of me, bringing two bags of tins and plastic bottles which I pick up on Saturday nights at 9 o’clock on the beach. I collected all this rubbish within half an hour!”
Wasteplan picked up 1015 kg of recyclable material, providing us with funds to finance our missionary in Limpopo Province. We collected paper, cardboard, tins and plastic bottles. Fortunately some of our church members host a farmers’ market every Friday, which contributes recyclable material to our project. After all, the whole process is just a good habit and it doesn’t cost a cent to those that give. Most importantly, a ton of so called rubbish did not end up in the sea or on a rubbish dump! I am sure God smiles down on us, seeing our little contribution to help maintain His creation.
Eco-congregation, Die Strand Dutch Reformed Church in the Western Cape recently held a ‘colouring competition’ with the children. The picture was of one of SAFCEI’s posters “Churches caring for Creation” It was difficult to choose a winner, but in the end they all enjoyed it and were encouraged to colour-in the world around them.
You can download your own free colouring-in poster under Tools. Organize a colouring-in competition with your church!