In February we wrote about Earth Keeper Day, a day of love for the Earth. We invited everyone to join us on the weekend of the 12 -14 in cherishing Creation and hoped to build a web of love and prayer across Southern Africa. The call did not go unanswered and we had parishes from Malawi, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and South Africa join us. Here are some of the accounts of that weekend.
The Diocese of Swaziland celebrated Earth Keeper Day with a whole weekend of Earth Keeping with their youth. Mncedisi Masuku reports back:
We began with a morning prayer on Saturday at our church vegetable garden. It was a refreshing experience to enjoy the presence of God outdoors in the beauty of nature, looking on the planted vegetables.
The rest of the day was spent with presentations and discussions around Climate Change and Eco-justice and the theological aspect of the Environment. Swaziland Environment Authority (SEA) delegates were also part of the discussion and made a presentation on their role as an organisation on environmental issues in the country.
SEA promotes Eco-clubs in schools and as the Anglican Church has numerous schools in the country, the youth decided that their next action after the conference was to implement Eco-Clubs in Anglican Schools.
After an informal litter picking activity the youth ended the day with planting flowers around the church.
Sunday was declared as the day of Love for Creation where the whole church was involved in the service. Swaziland is currently faced with drought, thus the focus of the service was on water.
After the service the non-youth and Sunday school church members were given an avocado tree to plant as a way of committing themselves to journey with the youth in being Earth Keepers. The youth also planted their own avocado tree, committing themselves to the Young Green Anglicans Ministry.
St. Michaels and UNISWA Anglican Chapels held the same celebration on Sunday and had their own trees to plant.
Bishop Geoff Davies, our Green Bishop, and Kate Davies led a service in the Kalk Bay Mountains in Cape Town on the Saturday of the Earth Keeper Day weekend. Kate Davies reflects on the experience:
How can we reclaim the inherent mystery that belongs to all of creation, while living in a throw away culture that has covered this wonder with waste? How can we return to a magical world, one that we have made toxic with our greed and desires, with our addiction to consumerism?
Could it begin with something as simple as recognizing that we are not separate from the Earth, but, breathing its air, sustained by its food, nourished by its beauty, we are part of this miracle?
Wisdom words from Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee’s ‘Shifting the climate debate onto sacred ground’, framed the thinking behind a meditative Earth Keeper Day celebration on a rocky outcrop overlooking False Bay on the Kalk Bay mountain. Using a mandala and the universal symbolism of the life-giving elements of earth, water, fire, wind and space, a shared thanksgiving service for the gifts of smell, taste, sight, touch and hearing linked a diverse group of Christians, seeking sanctuary. As silent participants, we gazed out over the bay, looking down on the Saturday morning busy-ness in the human settlements below.
Meditations by ‘geologian’, Fr Thomas Berry, drew us back to the centre and guided silent reflections on our inter-dependence and connectedness with the world around us.
The universe is a communion and a community.
We ourselves are that communion
become conscious of itself.
There is no such thing as “human community”
without the earth and the soil and
the air and the water and all living forms.
Humans are woven into this larger community.
The large community is the sacred community.
Words from Lewellen-Jones reminded us of the significance of Pope Francis’ encyclical in which he “reconnects the well-being of the Earth to the well-being of our soul, care for the Earth to care for the soul.” Pope Francis suggests that “while technology is often presented as the only solution, it proves incapable of seeing the mysterious network of relations between things and so sometimes solves one problem only to create others.”
The Pope’s words came alive to this small band of pilgrims present on the mountain that morning. “Rather than a problem to be solved, the world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise.”
SAFCEI staff also celebrated Earth Keeper Day. The Cape Town office created a mandala on Muizenberg beach on the Friday using sand, sea shells and seaweed. The mandala celebrated the five elements of earth, fire, water, air, and ether and contained images and symbols of Creation. Using Rev Glynis Goyns’ sermon especially created for this occasion, we ended our celebration of the Earth in reflection and prayer.
Our Pretoria counterparts celebrated Earth Keeper Day on the Saturday in Burger Park. Lydia Mogano writes about the event:
We spent our day chatting with ordinary people about our connectedness to the earth and the pragmatic value of taking care of the environment.
We explored various practical behavioural adjustments we could apply at home to save water, electricity, and reduce household waste, carbon, as well as minimizing flood and storm impacts through tree planting and redesigning landscapes to adapt.
Conducting eco-audits (e.g., of water and electricity) can give congregations and households an opportunity to be aware of their consumption and then encourage further sustainable behavioural adjustments more effectively. Since our country has been experiencing heat spells and water shortages, this exercise can make big difference if everyone plays their part.
We ended off with singing local gospel songs and a prayer thanking God for the blessing we have in creation as well as His everlasting love, grace and provision.
The Earth Keeper Day weekend certainly inspired us to continue our journey as Earth Keepers and we hope that it did the same for you. It is our prayer that with each year we can extend the web of Earth Keepers across Southern Africa joined in love on Earth Keeper Day.