A resolution passed by General Synod ‘will truly challenge people’ in the church to address earth’s climate emergency, writes Brynne Blaikie—youth delegate and co-author of Resolution C003.
On July 9, I asked my fellow youth delegates to raise their hands if they believed climate change was a real, serious and important issue. Everyone’s hand went up, and I continued to discuss with everyone in the room if they were interested in putting forward a resolution on climate change. Before I could finish expressing some of the points I wanted the Anglican Church of Canada to affirm, many people around the room expressed an interest in helping write, move and second our potential resolutions.
And so, with help from new friends, I began to write up the resolutions while providing some background information for both documents. As a group, we decided to present our ideas in two separate resolutions: C003 and C004.
A week later, I stood before a roomful of General Synod delegates to formally introduce the first of our two resolutions. While the entire speech can be found online, I would like to reiterate one key point. Resolution C003 may look simple upon first glance, but the resolution will truly challenge people. So I wanted to make sure everyone took a moment to think about what they were committing to. For the future of this planet, everyone needs to commit to helping prevent climate change from advancing.
My seconder, Alexa Wallace, continued with another very important point. We did not want the members of synod to vote in affirmation of our resolutions simply because it was the youth putting the resolution forward. We wanted everyone to vote in favour because of the fear we have over our futures, our kids’ futures and our grandkids’ futures. We wanted everyone present in that room to pass this resolution so that the earth could thrive in the future.
By passing Resolution C003, Anglicans have affirmed that it is our duty to safeguard creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth. We are called into the stewardship of creation.
We can do this by cutting out single-use plastics in our churches, using more efficient lighting, reducing emissions where possible, looking into carbon offsets and so much more.
It is amazing how quickly these lifestyle changes become built into one’s mindset. I have already begun reducing my impact by paying attention every time I get a drink or go to the grocery store—to not take that plastic straw, to bring my own reusable containers, to not use that plastic bag just because it is handy. I hope that others start to pay attention, too.
Unfortunately, as the clock ran out of time, we did not get to bring our second resolution (Resolution C004) to the floor. While this will end up in the hands of the Council of General Synod, it will be too late for Anglicans to act upon by the time they next meet. The second resolution is extremely important in raising awareness on the climate emergency and it is time-sensitive. It calls upon the church to:
- Encourage individual Anglicans to make the climate emergency known to all candidates in the upcoming provincial and federal elections as a priority.
- Encourage dioceses and parishes to support and participate in the global climate justice rallies occurring for young Canadians on September 20, 2019 and for the wider Canadian community on September 27, 2019.
I ask all of you to pledge yourselves to these two commitments. Resolution C004 does not ask anyone to support any particular political party. Instead, it asks us to put pressure on all candidates, in order that politicians make the climate emergency a priority during their terms. I believe we can truly make an impact if we stand together in solidarity. We can do this in part by writing letters and calling our local politicians. Another great way to make the government listen is by participating in the climate justice rallies happening across Canada, as mentioned in clause 2 of Resolution C004.
If we adhere to Resolutions C003 and C004, we could send shockwaves through our Canadian community and hopefully the world. Quite often, big movements like these create a domino effect. First those at synod and those reading this will start to act against the climate emergency. Next, with our encouragement, our friends and families and parishes will join the fight, and thus it will grow into a Canada-wide movement.
I owe many thanks to the other youth delegates for helping move our resolutions forward, for talking to the resolutions committee, for contributing ideas and spreading the word throughout their dioceses. Every youth name should be included here, but I would particularly like to thank Joshua Haggstrom and Joanne Minnett for being ready to bring Resolution C004 to the floor, as I know they had many great ideas and much wisdom to share. We truly had an incredible range of people involved—youth from ocean to ocean to ocean, as well as people who have experienced climate change in a variety of ways across our entire country.
I was blessed to be a part of a community that brings such passion for the stewardship of this planet we call home. This journey, however, has just begun. The decisions we make will be difficult, life-changing and necessary to truly save this wonderful planet, as is our responsibility. I hope that everyone in the Anglican Church of Canada and beyond may keep the words of our two resolutions in their hearts and minds every day.
Brynne Blaikie is an undergraduate student finishing her Bachelor of Science in Astrophysics. She attends St. George’s Anglican Church, Winnipeg.