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Waiting and Preparing

Learning Module #5

Introduction

Welcome to this fifth and final learning module of a five-part series that invites you to explore the connections between climate change and food security through reflection, learning, prayer, action and giving. In this series, Year One of our Education Focus, we have tied together the agricultural seasons with the liturgical calendar. In this module we will explore “waiting and preparing.”

What does it mean to wait and to prepare for the coming growing season? What does it mean to wait and prepare as climate change wreaks havoc on seasons and life cycles? What does it mean to wait and prepare for the next climate change-induced disaster? And where do we find hope as we wait and prepare?  

Below you will find resources to explore these questions as an individual or group, with prayers, reflection, and information from PWRDF staff and partners, questions for discussion, links for further learning and action, and an opportunity to support the ongoing work of PWRDF partners who are engaged at the intersection of creation care and food security.

Should you have any questions about the content or would like further information, please email Suzanne Rumsey.

GROUP TIP: In preparation for your session, send a message to participants asking them to bring a symbol/image/story of a personal experience of what “waiting and preparing” means to them. They will be invited to share those with the group.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

OPENING PRAYER, INTRODUCTIONS AND SHARING SYMBOLS

  • LEARN about climate change and food security from our volunteers and partners
  • REFLECT on how scripture speaks to the issues of climate change and food security
  • ACT in small and large ways to address climate change and climate emergencies
  • GIVE to support the vital work of PWRDF partners who are addressing climate change and food security

CLOSING PRAYER


Opening Prayer

Eternal God,
whose Spirit moved over the face of the deep bringing forth light and life;
by that same Spirit, renew your creation, and restore your image in your people.
Turn us from careless tenants to faithful stewards,
that your threefold blessing of clean air, pure water and rich earth
may be the inheritance of everything that has the breath of life
and one generation may proclaim to another the wonder of your works;
through Jesus Christ, your living Word,
in whom the fullness of your glory is revealed.
Amen.

From Prayers for World Environment Day, The Church of England, by the Right Reverend Libby Lane, Bishop of Stockport (the first woman bishop in The Church of England)

Introductions and the Sharing of Symbols

GROUP TIP: Following the Opening Prayer, invite each participant to introduce themselves and to share their symbol/image/story of “waiting and preparing.” If your session is taking place online, invite participants to hold up their symbol so that others can see it. If your session is in person, invite participants to place those symbols on a table at the centre of the circle.


LEARN

Read aloud individually or in turn (if you are a group), the following reflection.

What Waiting and Preparing in a Time of Climate Change Means to Me

By Naba Gurung, Humanitarian Response Coordinator, PWRDF

Naba Gurung (centre) with the late Palash Baral of UBINIG (left) and one of his colleagues. This photo was taken just before a boat tour through the Mangrove forest. 

In my role as the Humanitarian Response Coordinator at PWRDF, I often find myself working with partners to respond to the devastation of the latest climate change-induced disaster. Those disasters are occurring ever more frequently; a challenge to all of us, but especially to those in the Global South who are both most impacted and have the fewest resources to respond. But I also have the opportunity to work with partners who understand that waiting passively for the next disaster to hit them is not an option. They understand “waiting” to be an active verb that includes “preparing” in order to mitigate the worst effects of that next storm.

In October 2019, I travelled to Badarkhali Union of Chokoria Upazila, Cox’s Bazar district with colleagues from PWRDF’s long-time partner in Bangladesh, UBINIG (Policy Research for Development Alternative). There I met with the local farmers’ groups (both women and men) who work together selecting, saving, and sharing seeds of diverse indigenous crop varieties to prepare themselves for the impact of extreme weather events such as droughts and floods. Together they promote the local varieties of rice and other crops that are tolerant to drought, extreme heat, and floods. For them, preparedness for climate change involves their collective learning, saving ,and sharing, especially of the local knowledge related to seeds and farming.

We then headed towards the Maheshkhali bridge and took a boat tour along the shore to visit a five-kilometer-long mangrove forest that has been established in the area between Matamohari river and Maheskhali channel. UBINIG supports the Badarkhali Cooperative Society and Badarkhali Union parishad (local government) to maintain and expand this mangrove forest.

This region is prone to cyclones and tidal surges. Heavy damage to life and property occurred due to a devastating cyclone in 1991. Shoreline mangrove forests provide a natural barrier to such storms and the tidal surges they produce. The Mangrove Regeneration Project began in 1994, and since 2017 mangrove forest planting and restoration has been expanded to the benefit of people in adjoining villages. I also visited a new mangrove nursery that had been established recently. A new 35-acre plantation will help expand the forest even more.

According to local farmers this mangrove forest helps to protect and save about 35,000 people from potential disastrous impacts of tidal surges and cyclones. The mangrove stands as a security guard for the coastal embankment and the people behind it. It also serves as the spawning ground of fish and other aquatic fauna. The leaves, bark and honey of flowers provide food for insects, birds, and other animals. The coastal people benefit from the forest as a supply of wood for fuel. The farmers also noted that the mangrove forest helps protect them and their villages and farms from being water-logged from flash floods.

Waiting and preparing in a time of climate change is hard, long-term work – a mangrove forest doesn’t grow overnight! And as I learned from the farmers of Bangladesh, it is about working together, about resiliency, and about faith in a better future for them and for their children.

Naba Gurung was born and raised in Nepal where he first worked as a Conservation Officer in the Annapurna Conservation Area Project, mobilizing local communities for integrated conservation and development initiatives. He holds an MSc Degree from the Center for International Environment and Development Studies of the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. Naba joined PWRDF in 2002. He lives in Toronto with his wife and two children. 


Partner Perspectives

Preparing for Disasters in the Caribbean

In March 2019, PWRDF, together with Episcopal Relief and Development and the Anglican Alliance sponsored a disaster preparedness workshop in Grenada called “Pastors and Disasters.” The workshop brought together leadership from throughout the Diocese of the West Indies in the Caribbean to share experiences of disaster preparedness and resilience, and to learn best practices using the ERD-developed “Pastors and Disasters Toolkit.” Read the entire story.


When Disaster Strikes – Hurricane Dorian, September 2019

For all the preparing our partners do, climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of natural disasters. In those instances, the preparation and resiliency of impacted communities can help in the recovery and rebuilding that follows a disaster. In early 2020, Naba Gurung, PWRDF’s Humanitarian Response Coordinator, visited the Anglican Diocese of The Bahamas and The Turks and Caicos Islands to learn about how the diocese was working to recover from the impacts of Hurricane Dorian that struck the islands on September 21, 2019.


Living Through and Beyond a Disaster

To mark the two-year anniversary of Hurricane Dorian in September 2021, Praying with PWRDF invited the Rev. Paulette Cartwright to reflect on her experience of living through the storm and the response of the diocese to it.


Building Back Better in South Sudan

Armed conflict is another kind of disaster. In 2021, PWRDF, together with the Canadian Foodgrains Bank provided funds for a Finn Church Aid (FCA) project in Yei County, South Sudan to support sustainable livelihoods for refugees returning to their homes following their displacement due to conflict that began in 2016. The aim of the program is to move beyond short-term food aid, to providing tools and techniques so that the returnees can become food secure in the long term.


Questions for reflection

The stories from our partners describe in concrete ways what “waiting and preparing”  means through the lens of disaster preparedness and resiliency. With Naba’s reflection and our partners’ stories in mind, consider alone or discuss in a group the following questions:

  1. What is one new thing you learned about waiting and preparing in a time of climate change from Naba, Pastors and Disasters, the Anglican Diocese of The Bahamas and The Turks and Caicos Islands and Finn Church Aid that you didn’t already know?
  2. What are some of the ways we are called to wait and prepare by Naba and by our partners as they act to address food security and climate change?
  3. The season of waiting and preparing is a time of both anticipation and hope. What are the instances of anticipation and hope you read and heard in the reflection and stories? And what are the challenges to that anticipation and hope?

REFLECT

Read together or in turn, one or more of the following scripture passages. Reading all three will help give the group the sense of waiting and preparing found throughout the biblical narrative. Following the reading(s), discuss the suggested reflection questions or others that the group might have.

A Reading from the Book of Genesis 6:13-22

And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence because of them; now I am going to destroy them along with the earth. Make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above; and put the door of the ark in its side; make it with lower, second, and third decks. For my part, I am going to bring a flood of waters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die. But I will establish my covenant with you; and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. And of every living thing, of all flesh, you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground according to its kind, two of every kind shall come in to you, to keep them alive. Also take with you every kind of food that is eaten, and store it up; and it shall serve as food for you and for them.” Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.

A Reading from the Gospel of Luke 12:22-28,30-31,35-40

He said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?  If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!… Instead, strive for God’s kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well…

“Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit;be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.

“But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”

A Reading from Paul’s Epistle to the Romans 8:18-28

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopesfor what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedeswith sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spiritintercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

We know that all things work together for goodfor those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.

For Reflection

Each of these readings offers a different perspective on what it means to wait and to prepare. In Genesis, Noah receives very practical instructions from God about what he needs to do to prepare for “a flood of waters on the earth.” In Luke’s gospel, Jesus states that worrying about the future won’t work, but preparing for it will. And in his epistle to the Romans, Paul, who has been waiting for Christ’s return and sees that time horizon moving ever further into the future, calls on his followers to hope and “to work together for good.”

  1. If the authors of the biblical texts were writing today, what imagery might they use to call us to waiting and preparing?
  2. What challenges would they pose to us about waiting and preparing, we who are called to care of one another and for God’s created order? How would they call us to prepare in this time of climate change and for many, food insecurity?
  3. Can you think of one or more modern “prophets” who are speaking about these issues? What are they saying?

ACT

Preparing for Emergencies in a Time of Climate Change

As God instructed Noah about how to prepare for the coming flood, so too are we called to prepare for the climate related crises that are taking place with increasing frequency. The following activities, some of them very practical, others more contemplative, can be undertaken by groups or individuals. Resolve to do one or more as you are able.

Preparing Your Parish/Diocese for an Emergency

GROUP TIP: The following activity lends itself well to a group discussion about your parish (and/or community’s) emergency preparedness.

Most Anglicans know that PWRDF responds to emergencies overseas on a regular basis. But not as many know that at the request of dioceses, PWRDF responds to emergencies in Canada as well. For more information about that aspect of PWRDF’s work, and to learn about how your parish/diocese can do a “preparedness audit,” have a look at the following documents:

Preparing at Home for an Emergency

How many of us are personally ready for an emergency with an Emergency Kit and a Grab-and-Go Bag? These contain the resources needed for sheltering in place (emergency kit) and needing to evacuate at a moment’s notice (grab and go bag). The province of British Columbia has had to contend in recent years with emergencies involving wildfires and floods. The provincial government has helpful information on what individuals can do to prepare for an emergency with packing lists and helpful videos about what goes in your emergency kit and what to have ready in your grab and go bag, and the difference between the two.

Other provinces provide similar helpful guidelines and tips on their emergency preparedness websites, and the federal government website also offers helpful information and checklists for being emergency prepared:

Mental Health in Emergencies

In addition to being prepared to meet our physical needs in the event of an emergency, it is also important to prepare for the mental health needs that emergencies can create. As an agency of the United Nations, the World Health Organization is well familiar with this aspect of human health throughout the world. This WHO fact sheet provides basic information and a helpful starting point for thinking about and discussing what mental health concerns may need to be addressed.

Preparing to Plant

Like the Bangladeshi farmers, we are also called to prepare for the coming season of planting, be it for our urban balcony planters, backyard flower beds, our vegetable garden, or our large grain farm. Snow may still be on the ground in many parts of Canada, but it is never too early to order seeds. A quick Google search reveals endless sources for seeds. Here are a few:

Planting Seeds of Hope

GROUP TIP: This activity, lends itself well to being done during the session, and works well as an inter-generational activity.

  • Say a word of introduction about planting seeds and sprouting beans as symbols of hope for our time together…something to take home…
  • Gather participants around a table with a large bag of potting soil and a bowl of beans or other seeds. (For quick results, choose beans!)
  • Provide each participant with a small pot and invite them to fill their pots with soil and plant 5 or 6 seeds.
  • Pass a small watering can for participants to water their seeds.
  • Use the opportunity of the final prayer to bless the seeds.
  • Invite participants to take their planted seeds home with them as a remembrance of this time together – and to eventually harvest their “crop.”

GIVE

PWRDF partners are confronting climate change induced emergencies even as they work to ensure food security for the communities they serve. In gratitude for their work and witness towards another possible world, we invite you to support their work. To make a donation go to pwrdf.org/give-today and click on the Climate Action button. You can also call Anslim Hameed at 416-822-9083 or leave a message toll free at 1-(866) 308-7973.

PWRDF also accepts cheques, which can be mailed to 80 Hayden St. Toronto, ON. M4Y 3G2. Please indicate “Climate Action” in the memo line to designate to this program.

Have a birthday or anniversary coming up? There are many ways to raise funds for PWRDF’s Climate Action work. If you are interested in learning more or setting up a personalized crowd-funding page, please email Anslim Hameed.


CLOSING PRAYER

GROUP TIP: Gather around your symbols of “waiting and preparing,” or if online, hold them up as you responsively say the closing prayer.

Creator God, Father and Mother of us all,
We have heard the kingdom call,
A stirring within to live authentically in this culture of denial and despair.
We have wept when we have seen what is befalling the world.
As temperatures rise,
As sea levels rise,
Lord, have mercy.
As crop failures increase,
As conflicts over resources increase,
Lord, have mercy.
As anxiety increases,
As extinctions increase,
Lord have mercy.
Yet, we too have heard the kingdom call,
To proclaim and enact the reign of God.
May we look to Jesus to look like Jesus.
To bring healing to the world,
To welcome the climate refugee,
And to treat the world’s most vulnerable with dignity.
Equip and empower us, O God, to this kingdom calling.
We have heard the kingdom call,
To perform and participate in the reign of God. 
To live lives of self-giving sacrificial love,
To show that love is a verb,
A love that makes a difference.
Equip and empower us, O God, to this kingdom calling.
We have heard the kingdom call,
To proclaim and enact the reign of God,
To weep at what is befalling us,
To urge repentance and recalibration from ecological violence,
To be peacemakers in a world of increased militarism and climate conflicts.
Equip and empower us, O God, to this kingdom calling.
We have heard the kingdom call,
To proclaim and enact the reign of God,
To speak truth to the power and politics
that plunge us further into climate breakdown,
To have the courage and wisdom to overturn the tables
  of unrestrained capitalism that oppress the poor.
To extend the tables that bridge the walls of climate apartheid.
To take up our cross and follow your Son.
Equip and empower us, O God, to this kingdom calling.

Adapted from 26 Prayers for the Climate and Ecological Emergency, by John Swales, St. George’s, Leeds, UK, April 2021