TORONTO, October 10, 2010 /Canada NewsWire/ - When Mardi Tindal was elected Moderator of The United Church of Canada in August 2009, she vowed to do as much travel as possible using "green friendly" transportation.
Well, this week the rubber hits the road—or rather hits the rails—as Tindal heads off early Tuesday morning on a train journey called the Spirit Express. During the first leg of this journey, Tindal will travel by train from Toronto to northern Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta.
Tindal's month-long journey is a first in terms of how a Moderator's travel is usually scheduled during the three years she or he serves as the church's spiritual leader. Most often a Moderator's visits are planned over a 6- to 10-day period in each of the church's 13 regional Conferences. Tindal's travel by train means she will schedule multiple Conference visits back to back at least twice during her term as Moderator. In the spring and fall of 2011, Tindal will head east through Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritime provinces.
"The non-stop pace may be tiring, but I am looking forward to being able to practise what I preach in terms of encouraging all of us to participate in God's work of healing and mending creation," comments Tindal.
She says she knew that managing her carbon footprint would be difficult during a three-year term where she would be expected to travel extensively. To date Tindal estimates her air travel as Moderator has burned approximately 11 tonnes of carbon. She has challenged the church to help her reduce the impact of that travel by taking actions that offset the carbon emissions she knows will accumulate as a result of fulfilling her role as Moderator. One congregation, St. Paul's United Church in Kindersley, Saskatchewan, reports that they have reduced their carbon emissions output by almost 34 tonnes per year, which more than offsets the Moderator's first year of air travel.
But Tindal wants to do more, so she has pledged to limit her travel by air as much as she can by intentionally planning her Conference visits in a way that accommodates travelling primarily by train. As she travels the country, Tindal will be hosting a series of town-hall meetings where she will carry her message of how we can find ways to live abundantly within the natural limits of God's creation. She sees the town hall meetings as opportunities for kitchen-table-type conversations about the state of our environment.
"We need to be able to celebrate people's stories of hope—their green achievements—as well as hear their stories of suffering and concern about climate and ocean change," says Tindal.
People interested in tracking the Moderator's travels on the Spirit Express can do so by visiting www.wondercafe.ca/spiritexpress.