Leading by Example

Waters_MennoniteBeing environmentally responsible isn’t always easy, but like adhering to religious beliefs, the challenges can be overcome by practicing it in your everyday life. For Amber Baechler, a member of Waters Mennonite Church, being environmentally responsible is second nature.

To bring together her faith and environmentalism, Amber decided to participate in the 2017 Faith Commuter Challenge. The Faith Commuter Challenge is a pilot program supported by Faith and the Common Good that ran June 2-11. This initiative encourages members of faith communities to take more sustainable modes of transportation to places of worship. Participating in this challenge was meaningful for Amber because it encouraged her to rethink and improve her personal carbon footprint.

Worshipping at Waters Mennonite Church in Lively, Ontario for four years has meant that Amber usually drives 60 minutes to and from church. Changing to a more sustainable form of transportation wasn’t easy, but Amber explained that the Faith Commuter Challenge provided an opportunity for her to connect with her church family, discuss, and act on their shared concern for the environment. By reaching out to the cycling enthusiasts, Amber was able to find a scenic and sustainable route to church.

Waters Mennonite Church’s mission is to “grow as a community of God’s grace, joy and peace, so that God’s healing and hope flow through us to the world.” This mission statement is based on biblical notions that encourage individuals and groups to live in harmony. “Mennonites have traditionally engaged in this mission through peace making, disaster relief, and social justice work,” said Amber. “While these remain core initiatives, reconciliation between humans and the environment is a growing concern due to climate change, increased environmental degradation, and its impact on humanity”.

Participating in the Faith Commuter Challenge is a reminder that speed isn’t everything. Walking or biking takes longer than driving, but can be a better quality experience. You tend to notice things that you wouldn’t normally perceive speeding by in a car. Slowing down and taking time to appreciate the little things in life is in keeping with many faith traditions, but can be at odds with the modern fast-paced environment.

Being part of a community that encourages participation in environmental initiatives is important to Amber and in keeping with her Mennonite values. She was proud to represent the Waters Mennonite Church during the Faith Commuter Challenge. With people like Amber leading by example, we can spread the word and encourage one another to act sustainably, not only during the Faith Commuter Challenge, but everyday.

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