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Ministers say that ‘Radical changes’ are required to address the climate crisis in B.C. after disasters.
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Ministers say that ‘Radical changes’ are required to address the climate crisis in B.C. after disasters.

'Radical change' required to tackle climate crisis after disaster in B.C., say ministers


Rev. Bill Booth deemed it fitting. 

“There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars,” Jesus says in Luke 21According to one translation. “On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea.”

Booth lives in Abbotsford B.C. hit hard by recent flooding

“The signs are there that now we have to radically change the way we are living in our world, care for creation,” he says. 

When Broadview Booth and his congregation spoke to me last Friday. Trinity Memorial UnitedAfter floodwaters flooded farmland in the area, as well as other southern parts of the province, a number of them were safe. The church is above the floodplain, so they haven’t dealt with direct flooding. 

“If our sump pump wasn’t working, we’d be in trouble,” Booth says.

A helicopter view showing flooding impacts to Sumas, east Abbotsford, B.C. on Nov. 26, 2021. (Photo: B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure/Flickr)

Heavy rains continued this week, however. evacuation ordersSome properties in Abbotsford were granted a mortgage. Booth says he’s been checking in with members of his congregation, keeping them informed and providing a theological context for the situation. He’s also talking to Anglican colleagues about offering pastoral counselling to the broader community. 

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This is just the latest climate catastrophe to hit B.C. This happened earlier in the year. wildfiresThe devastating fires of August 2011 decimated large swathes of Lytton and forced thousands of people to flee the area. Record-breaking summer temperatures killed nearly 600 people.Some clergy in the area draw a direct link between these events, and our neglect of them environment.

A warming planet can mean higher precipitationThis can lead to higher rainfall which can worsen flooding. B.C. has seen higher temperatures. Current temperature is currently at are also causing more snow to melt.

Booth notes the timing of the province’s most recent climate disaster.

“All this happened just as the [COP26 climate] conference in Glasgow was wrapping up,” he says. “And we once again get compromised statements from those conferences.”

A last-minute wording change to the climate agreement from India, one to “phase down” instead of “phase out” coal power, disappointed many at the COP26 conference who thought it weakened the final deal, according to The Associated Press. 

A town where climate change is within reach

Some residents of Merritt (B.C.), 341 kilometres northwest from Abbotsford, have moved to Merritt. are being allowed back into the town to assess their properties after last month’s evacuations. The November floods were caused by heavy snowmelt and rain. knocking outhundreds of homes below the water level. 

Rev. Rev. Elaine Diggle is the minister at Trinity United in Merritt. She notes that the effects of summer wildfires on land have made it barren and unable absorb water well. 

“That land is just going to shed water down into the rivers,” she says. 


Diggle lives in Summerland about 140 km away. She was able to leave Merritt the day before the floods, on Nov. 14. However, one of her congregants who was evacuated is currently living with Diggle. The home of another Trinity United member whose husband’s funeral Diggle recently performed will need “a lot of work,” Diggle says. Others are staying with family members or in hotels. She said that a member who lives on a ranch south Merritt now has to deal with the land washed away by the flooding after his barns burned down in the summer.

“I don’t believe in hell and damnation, but I do believe there are consequences to our actions,” Diggle says. “And as people, generally speaking, we have not taken care of God’s good creation.”

Global temperatures are rising due to increased greenhouse gas emissions. This is often caused by the burning of fossil fuels like oil, natural gas, or coal to heat our homes and power cars. turning forests into farmland. 

‘We don’t yet understand the full impact’

Rev. Dianne Astle’s church, Hope United, was among one of the few buildings in the town of Hope, B.C., that wasn’t full of people. There were more than 1,000 people in the church, including what Astle described as a bus carrying South Korean tourists. were stranded in the community last monthAll travel routes were cut off by flooding. 

Volunteers sandbagged homes in Hope (B.C.). on Nov. 29 ahead more forecasted rain. (Photo by Peter Bailey)

Astle decided not to host visitors in her church, but she and some of her congregants hosted them.

The flooding has had a significant impact on more than just travel. Astle, a patient with neuroendocrine cancer, decided to cancel a Tuesday Abbotsford MRI appointment because of fears about more rain. 


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Astle says her faith sustains her through difficult times like these, but she feels a responsibility to speak the truth — about global warming, the pandemic and the importance of vaccination — even though people in her family think differently. 

“I tell people to turn to God, to pray, to draw strength from their faith,” she says. “I don’t think we’re doing anybody any favours by downplaying the reality of the times in which we live.”

Back in Abbotsford, Booth notes that the nearby Matsqui and Sumas Prairies, which are currently largely underwater, grow a lot of B.C.’s vegetables and fruit.

“We don’t yet understand the full impact of what’s happened. Is all that land still arable?” he wonders. 

“We feel we’re called as a church, locally and worldwide, to stand up in a prophetic voice and say now, now we’re living the consequences of our choices and we have to change our ways.”


Emma PrestwichIt is Broadview’s digital editor.

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