Consumption Sabbath – Earth Day Winnipeg

Spouting old-fashioned ‘Come to Jesus’ style gospel tent meeting patter the speakers at this morning’s Consumption Sabbath rally in Winnipeg’s Memorial Park exhorted the 300 or so people in attendance to come forward and take a stand for God’s creation. 

My husband Dave pedaled his bike and I walked to the Consumption Sabbath service since advertisements for the Earth Day event had encouraged attendees to leave their cars at home. 

The site was littered with signs carried by the people who had participated in a walking parade through Winnipeg streets that was held just prior to the eleven o’clock service called a ‘radical revival’ . It had a format like that of some of the crusade meetings I attended as a child. There was a robe-clad choir who led us in old gospel favorites like This Little Light of Mine and Amazing Grace. 

The  first two speakers gave testimonies describing their conversion experiences. Christine Penner Polle began her talk by acknowledging that in the past she had been a climate change avoider but since becoming a fossil fuel abolitionist she lives with much more hope. She encouraged us to be the tree not the acorn. Read about Christine’s conversion in The Canadian Mennonite. 

The second speaker DeLayne Toews was a fiery evangelist . The Lord had sent him to the garden to change his life and there weeding onions and watching pumpkins grow he was saved from his consumptive lifestyle. Read about the collective farm DeLayne helps to operate in this Free Press article. 

Annie Janzen was the third speaker, a volunteer from the audience. I know Annie since she was the cook at Canadian Mennonite University when I was a student there. She fed us so well, but also got to know us and took an interest in students’ lives.  She compared God’s creation to flower bulbs that will bloom year after year if humans don’t interfere artificially with their growth cycle. We all laughed when the elderly Annie said,  “Thank you to every one who has already offered me a chair to sit on today; but it is Earth Day and I want to sit or stand on the earth.” Read more about what Annie has done since her retirement in the Canadian Mennonite article. 

Aiden Enns, editor of Geez magazine, made reference to orators Billy Graham and Barack Obama as he adopted the persona of Brother Aiden John to preach to us about the need for a more poetic and less scientific connection to creation. He urged us to temper our enchantment with human creations like the i-phone by taking more delight in natural creations like flowers and trees. 

Using exaggerated gestures to emphasize his points Brother Aiden entreated us to recognize, restrain and redistribute.

Recognize the abundant free gift of creation

Restrain ourselves as consumers

Redistribute our wealth to those in need 

We had each been given a pledge card when the service started and now Brother Aiden asked us to fill it out, writing down what we were prepared to do to take a break from over -consumption like…….. take a digital sabbath- no computers for a time; take a junk food sabbath-eat locally produced food instead; or take a motorized transport sabbath-bike or walk instead. As the congregation sang we were called to come forward and tape our pledge to a large gold oil drum at the front of the tent as a symbol of our committment to take a break from over-consumption. 

After the service it was great to chat with the many familiar people in the crowd. Here Dave visits with a former fellow church member of ours Charles Loewen.

You can read more about the Consumption Sabbath in this Free Press article.

What next? I’ve pledged to try to reduce my computer screen hours. Hope I will still have time to complete a blog post everyday. 

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Filed under Nature, Religion, Winnipeg

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