On April 22, millions of people around the world will celebrate Earth Day 2009.  Many wonder about the history of this internationally recognized day and are surprised to hear about its faith-based origins.

First held in March 1970, it was developed by an American named John McConnell.  As the son of a Christian evangelist and a person of deep faith, he wanted to create a meaningful day during which people all around the world would join in activities and prayers to deepen our reverence and care for God’s creation.  Earth Day was first held in San Francisco to honor Saint Francis, the patron saint of ecology.  It has since been held as an annual event.

Earth Day acknowledges the environmental stewardship role that God has bestowed upon us.  More simply put, God calls us to take good care of all creation, and to be responsible and respectful of the environment.  We are also called to love all our neighbours, both near and far, and to reduce pollution and poverty in obedient service to God.

That being said, we are never too young or too old to care about the environment and our neighbours.  Do you remember young Freddy and Isaac Andrews who helped with the stewardship community garden last summer?

Admittedly, there is plenty of work to be done.  The good news is that we do not have to wait to make the world a better place.  As we prepare to celebrate Earth Day, I invite us all as individuals to do what we can this month.

For example, we can recycle every aluminum can and scrap of paper/cardboard.  We can save energy by switching to compact fluorescent bulbs where appropriate and turning lights off when we exit a room.  We can make our homes more energy efficient through improved insulation, caulking and weather-stripping.

When we plan meals, we can make a conscious effort to reduce our impact on the food chain by increasing the number of vegetarian meals that we eat.  When we buy our groceries, we can care for our neighbours near and far by choosing fair trade coffee and making plans to purchase local produce when it is available.  We can walk to the corner store rather than taking the car.

To protect our life-giving waters, we can avoid purchasing cleaners that contain phosphates.  When they get into the rivers and lakes, they rob the water of oxygen and ultimately kill aquatic life.  Also, Health Canada advises not flushing any medication down the toilet or pouring it down drains (flushed medications can find their way into ecosystems and into our drinking water).  Instead, ask your pharmacist whether your pharmacy takes back expired or unused medication to ensure that it is disposed of in a safe, environmentally friendly manner.

Consider holding a garage sale to recycle unwanted items (someone’s trash is another’s treasure).  Last year, our street held a garage sale and donated the proceeds to earthquake victims in China.  Afterwards, our neighbours held a wonderful potluck block party.  It was a concrete way to love our neighbours near and far.

At the congregational level, Parkdale’s Stewardship Group has also been working to carry out our environmental stewardship role through a new initiative.  Recently, we engaged a local graphics company to design a reusable cotton “carry-all” tote bag.  We are pleased to announce that the tote bags will be available for purchase in Memorial Hallway during the month of April for $7.50 per bag.  The tote bags are being sold as a fundraiser for Parkdale.

On behalf of the Stewardship Group, happy Earth Day 2009!

Respectfully submitted,

Barbara Hennessy, Chair

Stewardship Group