Members of Rockway Mennonite Church, Kitchener, ON, have gotten our their calculators and their check books lately. They’ve been figuring out how much C02 their lifestyles are putting into the air and offsetting that amount at the rate of $30 per tonne.
The congregation first became interested in the issue of climate change through prompting from one of our members, Roger Baer. Roger is a retired French teacher, a long time environmental activist and prophetic voice on this issue. Roger and another member, Graeme Stemp-Morlock, a journalist who writes on environmental topics, convened a meeting in the fall of 2006 and invited the congregation to attend. Much to their delight, approximately 50 people (out of a congregation of about 100) turned up!
The Rockway group held more meetings last winter to explore the issue and to identify what they could do, both as individuals and as a congregation, to raise awareness and take action. As a result of those meetings, an ad hoc committee of eight people was formed to follow up on ideas that had been discussed.
In the summer of 2007, Roger encouraged the group to implement a Carbon Offset Program. Participants are invited to calculate their carbon footprint using a CO2 emission calculator. They are then asked to contribute a fee of $30 per tonne to offset their emissions. Funds raised will be used to undertake an energy audit at Zion United Church in Kitchener (where Rockway meets) as well as to assist Rockway Mennonite Collegiate (the former home of the church) with its carbon reduction program.
The Peace and Social Concerns Committee and Church Council processed this idea further and both agreed that the proposal could be presented to the congregation. This was done on November 18, 2007, and it received a positive response. To date, approximately 25% of members have expressed an interest in participating. The committee is now helping them to calculate their carbon footprints for 2007 and make donations accordingly. However, the primary purpose of this initiative is to promote education and lifestyle change, not to raise funds.
The Rockway Mennonite Church Climate Change Group welcomes interchange with other congregations on this issue.
From Brian Hunsberger on behalf of Rockway Mennonite Church Climate Change Group. Its members are: Roger Baer, Graeme Stemp-Morlock, Kimberly Barber, Lewis Brubacher, Pastor Scott Brubaker-Zehr, Bob Dingman and Dave Willms.