The eco-mission of the church in a critical time

A Guide for Climate Action Discernment

“What initiatives should we be part of our church’s eco-mission?”  

“What should be done at the nationwide level, in our regions, in our congregations and communities?” 

“How can we care for creation, stand with and stand up for the vulnerable, and resist non-violently the powerful forces of evil in this world opposed to God’s good purposes? “ 

Mennonite Church Canada leaders have created a set of 5 questions to help discern climate action that is truly healing and impactful in the congregations, regions, and the nationwide church.  

As Mennonites we believe Jesus is central to our faith and life. How is your proposed initiative shaped by our Mennonite understanding of Jesus and the good news he proclaimed? How does it grow out of our desire to be faithful followers of Jesus in his teachings and way of life? How does it reflect Mennonite values which we believe grow out of this Jesus-centredness, values like nonviolence, simplicity, concern for the vulnerable, communal discernment, desire for the common good, pursuit of a just peace, and so on? 

We all possess power in different ways and to differing degrees, the ability to change circumstances to meet our needs or the needs of others. We have this power because of many factors: social status, wealth, race, gender, social connections, and more. Jesus models for us how to use our power: to walk with the disempowered, to share our power with them, to use our power to bring justice, peace, and flourishing life for all. How does your proposed initiative utilize the power you possess to influence change in order to reflect the above shared understandings? How does it empower your congregation to influence change to reflect these understandings? How does it empower those who are often marginalized and thus disempowered in these ways? In a climate crisis where those most disempowered are most at risk of harm, this sharing of power is critical. 

As Mennonites we believe the church to be the visible community of faithful followers of Jesus. Our church structure is built on the understanding that the local congregation is the primary locus of the church’s ministry in the world—not regional or nationwide staff or leaders. How does your proposed initiative grow out of your congregation’s calling and context? How does it utilize your congregation’s gifts? How does it strengthen your congregation’s life and witness? How does it coordinate with other congregations, enabling you to work together for these goals? 

As people of reconciliation walking in the way of Jesus, we believe that genuine, healthy relationships are vital. How is your proposed initiative grounded in relationships with the people most impacted by it? How is it connected into relationships your congregation has within your immediate community, relationships our regional churches have with other regional denominations and organizations, and the nationwide church with national and international bodies? How does it nurture these relationships in meaningful, non-utilitarian ways, not coercing others to your cause or using those relationships simply as a means to an end? 

We are blessed with many like-minded partners, including:  

Each of these already has programs in place in response to the climate crisis. As regional churches and congregations we already work with MCC on refugee support, including support for climate refugees; we can continue working with them to do this work. CPT is already doing the work of walking with Indigenous land and water defenders; our regional working groups and congregations interested in supporting this work can learn from them. 

As you think of any new initiative, how does it lean into these kinds of partnerships? How can it lean into other already existing partnerships with like-minded people and organizations in your community? How might it create new partnerships? How does our role in these partnerships effectively use our distinctive gifts as a church (theology, liturgy, ethics, service) while celebrating and relying on the distinctive gifts of our partners? How can these partnerships be mutually beneficial to accomplish shared goals? 

See also:

Why get involved in climate action? A guide for climate action discernment. 

A Call to Action for Mennonite Church Canada

We call on all members, congregations, and regional churches of our Mennonite Church Canada family to join together in this eco-mission. We must act, we must act together, and we must act urgently. We encourage all to explore what we can do (as individuals, congregations, and regions) to:

  • reduce fossil fuel use 
  • reduce consumption of disposables and support local resourcing of goods and services,
  • walk in solidarity with Indigenous people and other land and water defenders,  
  • attend to those most vulnerable to the effects of climate change,  
  • call on governments and energy corporations to act for a just transition to green energy 

Click here for help on understanding why the church must act on Climate Action

Content on this page is modified from Taking Action On Climate: The Eco Mission of the Church which was prepared by the Executive Ministers of Mennonite Church Canada and its five regional churches—Mennonite Churches British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Eastern Canada—after consultation with the Joint Council of Mennonite Church Canada. We are grateful to members of our MC Canada family who have prompted us toward these initiatives.