In a twist on the traditional practice of giving something up for Lent, Anglicans across Canada are pledging to make personal lifestyle changes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions—and challenging the federal government to match them by pursuing policy changes to fight climate change.
Fourteen Anglican churches have agreed to participate in Give it up for the Earth!, a campaign organized by Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ), a national faith-based organization lobbying for a greater emphasis on justice in Canadian public policy, to “increase climate justice in Canada.”
The campaign encourages participants to use a postcard or an online pledge form to indicate something they are personally committing to giving up for Lent and challenge the government to make certain policy changes.
For example, individuals can pledge to commute by foot, bicycle, transit or carpooling to cut down on fuel use, or cut down on their meat intake, and ask the government to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies and provide retraining for laid-off energy workers.
For some of the Anglican churches involved, the issue of climate change hits close to home For example, the parishioners at St. Mary with St. Mark Anglican Church in Mayo, Yukon, are currently trying to shore up the foundation of their building, which is in danger of collapsing due to melting permafrost.
Valerie Maier, who serves as a licensed lay minister at St. Mary with St. Mark with her husband Charles, said she thought the CPJ project would be a good cause to take up for Lent because of the importance the land holds for her community, which is predominantly Indigenous. As a personal contribution, Maier said the parish is planning to cut out use of one-time-use plastic cutlery, bowls, plates and cups: “I just thought that this was something that we could take seriously during Lent, something to do that would be a bit of a sacrifice for each person, but also had a bigger effect too,” she said.