Bulkley Valley A Rocha group discussion – the Lausanne Call to Action on Creation Care
Nov 21 2012
Anyone living in or near the Bulkley Valley is invited to another Bulkley Valley A Rocha gathering at the home of Dennis and Cindy Verbeek in Houston, November 27th at 7:00 pm. Please bring a snack to share.
Houston CRC Community Garden feeds more than just mouths.
Jul 30 2012
Spending time in my plot at the Houston Christian Reformed Church’s Community garden does more than feed my family. As I work the soil, interact with the other participants and watch the miracle of growth my soul and mind are fed as well. I am always amazed at how interacting with the natural world teaches me so much about my spiritual life. There are so many metaphors that help me understand more clearly how God works in this world and how I can better imitate Him and His love for people and the rest of creation. Today’s metaphor is the marvel of how God can take a dry, shriveled up seed and turn it into a beautiful, life giving plant bearing its fruit in season, and how I can participate in that by placing it in fertile soil, adding water and keeping the weeds at bay.
Lord take this dry shriveled heart of mine and teach me how to care for the soil in which it is planted, bring me to your living waters and help me keep the weeds of sin and hopelessness at bay so that I too can bear fruit in season. Fruit that brings glory to You. Amen.
A Rocha was granted funding from the Pacific Salmon Foundation to place an interpretive sign on Buck Creek in Houston B.C. teaching visitors about salmon and why Buck Creek is important salmon habitat. Cindy Verbeek, A Rocha’s Northern B.C. Representative and community mobilizer put her love for drawing, creation and education together to create the background for this sign that is scheduled to be put up in the fall. There are 8 structures in the drawing that salmon need to survive. Can you find them all? Walk the dike beside Buck Creek behind St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Houston at the end of October to see if you are right.
A Rocha will be hosting a clean up of Buck Creek in Houston, B.C. as part of Pitch-in and Earth Week. Meet at 6:00 p.m. behind the mall (by the post office entrance) with gloves. Garbage bags will be supplied. Everyone welcome. For more information contact Cindy Verbeek at 250-845-2222 or firstname.lastname@example.org
It is time once again for an update. Some of you may have received a shortened version that I send out as my yearly newsletter. If you did not and would like to please let me know and I will put you on the mailing list of my personal supporters. Better yet come over for home grown mint tea and cherries and I’ll fill in some of the details.
A good start and a leap of faith
2011 started off right with a trip to Brooksdale Environmental Centre in Surrey, home to A Rocha Canada. Times with my colleagues (who are also my friends) are such a blessing and my trips to Surrey are a quiet eddy amidst the busy-ness of my life. At this year’s A Rocha staff retreat I took a huge leap of faith. Literally. I climbed a ladder, stood on a
tiny platform with one of my colleagues and lept through the air to a trapeze 10 feet out. Unfortunately I did not catch the trapeze…but have no fear, I had a wonderful ground crew holding onto the rope attached to my harness and I floated down to safety with nary an incident. With so many metaphors about life as a Christian, working and living within community and the challenges of living so far away from the support network that is A Rocha I will be unpacking this experience for years to come. I returned inspired, challenged, refreshed and ready for a new year of creation keeping in Houston.
It’s sometimes hard to think bigger than our immediate circumstances with so many things vying for our immediate attention. But what we do locally is so interconnected with what
happens on a global scale that we can not do one without the other. This year I had the exciting opportunity to think both denominationally and globally as a member of the Creation Stewardship Task Force for the Christian Reformed Church of North America.
The good people on the Creation Stewardship Task Force
In February we were given the daunting task of presenting recommendations to Synod 2012 (the governing body of the Christian Reformed Church in North America) for church, individual and denominational action on creation care, with a particular focus on climate change. The group, consisting of scholars, scientists, lay folk and CRC staff, all worked well together despite differences and came up with what I feel to be an excellent document. With three 16 hour (one way) trips to Grand Rapids, hours of conference calls, writing, editing, commenting and discussing it was one of the most challenging and satisfying projects I have been involved with in my entire life.
Our report is up on the Synod website (www.crcna.org go to the resources link and find Synod Resources) and our only action now is to wait for the churches to review it and find out whether Synod will adopt or reject our recommendations or send them back for revision in June of 2012.
Upper Bulkley Streamkeepers
This year I continued my efforts to be a streamkeeper of the Upper Bulkley watershed that runs right through Houston, by volunteering with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on overwintering studies and doing a baseline survey of a short portion of Buck
Creek. Since this creek was once a spawning ground for Salmon I am curious to see if it could be again. As we wandered from the mouth, where it meets the Little Bulkley River, towards the town of Houston it became apparent that alterations have been made. The natural meandering of the stream entered the straight rigid walls of a dyke and the forest became a walkway, cleared of trees and shrubs. Both the dyke and the clear banks are vital to protect the town from the yearly spring floods and to allow for easy access to keep the bridges clear of floating debris. We discussed several things that could be done to make this area more habitable for salmon while still keep the integrity of the dyke and I was reminded that sometimes it may feel difficult to balance the needs of wildlife with those of humans but it is possible and absolutely necessary. When we try to pit one against the other nobody wins.
As an added bonus of volunteering I am now working as a casual employee of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans giving presentations to five schools in the Houston, Burns Lake, and Granisle area as part of their Stream to Sea Program. If you pray please pray for the adjustments our family is working through as I go back to work at a “real job” for the first time in 12 years. It is a wonderful job that gives me the chance to do what I love (teach about caring for the earth), still have time to spend at home (it’s only 2 days a week with school holidays off), and contribute significantly more to our family’s finances (helping us to work towards debt free living).
I am still able to work with A Rocha and it also frees any fundraising efforts to be put towards travel. Next year I hope to be even better at keeping in touch with and encouraging Christians working on conservation projects in the North by Northwest.
Bulkley Valley Christians in Conservation
Considered north by my Surrey colleagues Houston is actually only half way up this beautiful province of ours. And although I am not able to cover everything north of Surrey one of my goals this year was to bring my work closer to home and try to connect with more people between Prince George and Prince Rupert (still an 800 km distance between the towns).
One of my incredible joys has been a developing friendship with Curt and Betsy Gesch in Telkwa (just 50 km west of Houston). Betsy and I were on the UNBC chaplaincy committee for the past few years and her wisdom and encouragement are a blessing to me. Curt’s passion for creation care and his wacky way of ignoring what others think and experimenting with growing plants and trying activities that others say can’t be done is an inspiration.
One delightful day Curt (sensing my need for some time away from my children) invited them to spend the day at his hobby farm. After baking cookies, picking peas, going on a nature walk, collecting eggs and butchering a rooster they decided the day was not complete without making a haystack with a giant cardboard box and a roll of string. Needless to say my children can’t wait to visit Mr. Gesch again.
One Sunday afternoon over a cup of relationship coffee (see www. relationshipcoffee.biz) my friend and I were sharing how we felt so alone in our journey as creation keepers here in the North. Since perception is often not reality I decided try to prove us wrong. I went back to my list of Christians I knew who are working on conservation in some way or another and was pleasantly surprised that after 7 years of building up a network in the Bulkley Valley there were 20 people that came to mind. Pulling these busy people together proved to be a challenge but after two disappointing turn outs (1 and 3 people) a group of 10 finally gathered over a wonderful eclectic potluck dinner and discussion prompted by the book For the Beauty of the Earth.
The plan is to meet informally several times throughout the year to share what we are working on and pray for each other. If you pray please join us in praying for conservation work in northern B.C. And if you know of anyone in the area who might be interested in joining us for good discussion, fellowship and of course yummy food please let me know.
I was also invited join Curt Gesch at his church in Telkwa to share during a service he was leading reflecting on our call to be keepers of the earth as God keeps us based on passages in Hosea. What a blast. I love doing this kind of thing and was honored to be allowed to share with congregations. Since then we’ve been able to “take our show on the road” and present at both Terrace and Prince George CRC. If you know of more churches who might like to explore creation care I welcome your suggestions and prayers.
After a year and a half of hard work HOPE finally became a non-profit society and held its first annual general meeting early in 2011. My job as secretary became official and I continued to volunteer as Market Manager for the Pleasant Valley Community Market and as Project Coordinator for the composting education project.
With 8-10 dedicated vendors and a few floating in and out each week this year’s market was the best yet. Better signage solved our parking woes and freed up more time for visiting and
promoting the market. Since this was my fifth year involved as the market manager I have decided to step down and let someone else take over the reigns. Next year we hope to be able to hire a market manager and I am positive that a fantastic candidate will be found to bring the market along on the next leg of its journey. I am excited to have more time to explore my creative side and become a vendor myself. Watch for cards and other “Recyclogic” products that I will be selling as fundraisers for A Rocha. (Recyclogic products are made with as little new material as possible. It’s been a dream of mine to sell my ideas and products so this is a real treat.)
With a generous grant from the Regional District Bulkley-Nechako HOPE was able run a composting education program as part of a waste reduction initiative this year. With 40-50% of solid waste being compostable material we felt that teaching people to compost was the best way to reduce waste quickly. 20 people and all three elementary schools participated in “wormshops” learning to use red-wiggler worms to compost material in their homes and schools. ___ people participated in an outdoor composting workshop where they built an outdoor composter and learned how to use it. A big thank you go to Kara Jenne and Lori Koop for being fantastic instructors.
As the icing on the cake HOPE won the Go Green award for the second time in three years at the Chamber of Commerce Business Awards this year.
Nature Exploration Day Camp
Houston Christian Reformed Church hosted vacation bible school with a twist this year – A Rocha’s Nature Exploration Bible Camp (available at www.arocha.ca) one morning a week for 5 weeks all summer. Each day began with a few songs, a faith builder and a skit done by our fantastic youth on themes including birds, plants, mammals, water creatures and insects. Afterwards the children were divided amongst 4 rotating stations where they did a craft, hiked in the woods, played a game and learned a bible lesson. A highlight for me was watching one of the men from our congregation lead his group on a nature treasure hunt or dig through the garden soil to see what kind of six legged (or more) creatures they could find. Feedback from the parents was positive and the leaders found that once a week was less stressful than a full week blitz. The kids loved doing something a little out of the ordinary and had a blast playing and learning in God’s great outdoors.
Houston CRC garden
Our church garden continued for the third year in a row and some of us are actually getting the hang of this weeding and watering thing. This year the Meal-makers ministry had a garden plot and harvested over 100 pounds of potatoes to use for meals they cook every second Friday for seniors in our church and community. We also got a deer fence up so next year we can plant cabbages and other deer favorites without loosing as many to our four legged friends.
I read recently that “ministries can not function in isolation” and I am reminded again and again how important your financial and prayer support is to getting God’s work done. I so appreciate you.
I hope this finds you well and enjoying the winter.
Wishing you a very blessed, peaceful and rich Christmas season.
Northern B.C. Representative and Community Mobilizer