World Environment Day 5 June 2017
In its first public statement in 1977, the Uniting Church in Australia expressed what would be an abiding concern with the wellbeing of the planet for the rights of future generations.
In part, this statement read: ‘we are concerned with the basic human rights of future generations and will urge the wise use of energy, the protection of the environment and the replenishment of the earth’s resources for their use and enjoyment.’
The natural environment is, however, not merely a resource for the benefit of human beings but has intrinsic value as part of God’s good creation. In 1991 the Uniting Church declared that, ‘Nature has a right to the protection of its eco-systems, species, and populations in their inter-connectedness’.
The Uniting Church’s commitment to the environment arises out of the Christian belief that God, as the Creator of the universe, calls us into a special relationship with the creation – a relationship of mutuality and interdependence. We believe that God’s will for the earth is renewal and reconciliation, not destruction by human beings.
“Connecting People to Nature”, the theme for World Environment Day 2017, implores us to get outdoors and into nature, to appreciate its beauty and its importance, and to take forward the call to protect the Earth that we share. This year’s theme invites you to think about how we are part of nature and how intimately we depend on it. It challenges us to find fun and exciting ways to experience and cherish this vital relationship.
Looking for resources to mark this event in your congregation?
UnitingJustice 2016 resource is worth a look again. There are some great prayers which can be used in your worship service when you are focusing on the care for creation.
There are plenty of resources on the UnitingJustice environment page too.
Our Sustainable September worship resources have some great ideas, too. Find them here
Can you help us find the right person who has a passion for the environment in your community?
The Uniting Church in Australia is joining other Christian churches and faith groups in national action on climate change.
This year churches and faith groups all around Australia are joining together under the leadership of Micah Australia to take action on climate change. We know that Australia is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, and yet our commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make the necessary transition to renewable energy are embarrassingly inadequate. We have heard the voices of our partner churches and those whose livelihoods and homelands are far more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change than ours and know we need to faithfully respond.
We are asking our Government to increase its targets to reduce the devastating impacts of climate change, to join the global energy revolution, and compensate our poorer neighbours financially as they courageously adapt to the changing climate that rich countries like Australia have largely caused.
We are asking all Uniting Church congregations to be part of the biggest faith based community climate petition ever in Australia. This petition asks the Government to protect communities in Australia and elsewhere from the harmful effects of climate change by:
- committing to deeper and more urgent reductions of our greenhouse emissions;
- developing a plan to ensure Australia achieves zero net greenhouse emissions well before 2050, and supporting families
and communities affected by the transition towards renewable energy and more sustainable land use;
- providing additional assistance to help our poorest neighbours adapt to the harmful impacts of climate change
We need people to help coordinate events in each electorate around the country, as well as collect signatures and sign the petitions. Is there someone in your congregation who you think would be able to take on the role of collecting signatures? We would love to talk with them and help them get involved. Please ask them to contact us in the Synod Social Justice Unit : 9260 9800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
UnitingJustice has created an International Day of Peace resource. The International Day of Peace, marked each year on 21st September, is a time for individuals, community groups, nations and international organisations to re-commit to the way of peace with justice. Three case examples highlight ways that the Uniting Church is working in partnership with others to address gender inequality, take action on climate injustice and seek nuclear disarmament. Through addressing these injustices, we move closer to reaching a just peace. This resource includes theological reflection, worship resources, and action ideas for activities in support of peace with justice.
The resource includes theological reflection, worship resources, action ideas and videos and stories on three “Building Blocks for Peace”. The three videos are short enough to use in worship or group discussions.
Susan Pickering compiled the worship resources for us – thanks Susan!! Friends from the SA Synod assisted with the section on “Ending the nuclear age” and friends from UnitingWorld assisted with the sections on “Gender equality” and “Climate Justice” so it was quite a collaborative project.
Download the resource here
The Uniting Church strongly believes the natural environment is not merely a resource for the benefit of human beings but has intrinsic value as part of God’s good creation. This commitment to the environment arises out of the Christian belief that God, as the Creator of the universe, calls us into a special relationship with the creation – a relationship of mutuality and interdependence. We believe that God’s will for the earth is renewal and reconciliation, not destruction by human beings. The Uniting Church regards climate change as a serious threat to the future and integrity of life on earth and acknowledges that it is the most vulnerable nations that will suffer the most imminent impacts of a changing climate.
Through Uniting World, we work together with our Church partners in Africa, Asia and the Pacific to eradicate poverty and strengthen partnerships, connecting with each other for life. Our Relief and Development, Church Connections, Experience volunteer programmes are brought together in our partner Churches. The Partner church relationship is integral to the work of Uniting World and at the heart of everything we do. Some relationships are over 100 years old and form a kind of international intimacy between Uniting Church communities in Australia and those of our partners. Uniting World advocates on behalf of our partners on issues that affect them and through representing them, transforms both their communities and ourselves.
The Uniting Church in Australia’s Western Australian Synod has built strong relationships with many partner Churches within the Indian Ocean Rim and is concerned for those nations vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Christie Marsh recently spent some time with the Social Justice and Mission Unit of the Synod of Western Australia, working on a report which looks at the effect of climate change on the churches we partner with on the Indian Ocean rim. The purpose of this document is to provide a foundation and framework for an educational resource for congregations, specifically directed at those in Western Australia. The aim of the resource being to increase awareness of issues our partner Churches are currently facing, and what we as individuals, congregations, and as a nation can do to assist and support our partners in Christ in these challenging times.
Read the report here:
Climate Justice Report
As we are finalising the resources for Sustainable September 2016, we have just learned of a great initiative which will fit so well with our theme: “Time to Act”.
September 3-11, 2016: Join with church communities across the Pacific
“We cannot build a Pacific Climate Movement without engaging our faith communities. Faith is pivotal to our people, and like the ocean, it connects us. In the face of the climate crisis, we need prayer to carry our people and faith to build resilience.”
Pray for our Pacific is non-denominational and open to interpretation. Therefore each church community has an opportunity to Pray for our Pacific in whatever way best reflects their community and capacity. These are some examples:
- Dedication of a prayer during your sabbath service.
- Dedication of your church service to #PrayForOurPacific
- Youth-lead #PrayForOurPacific activities
- A #PrayForOurPacific prayer circle
- Sharing stories from relevant scriptures with Sunday school children
- Sharing local stories of climate impacts
- Remembrance service dedicated to lives lost during climate change disasters
- #PrayForOurPacific church rally which includes all of the above!
Your event can be as big or as small as you like. What is important is that your church owns your event and you know that you will be joined by our brothers and sisters throughout the Pacific, Australia and New Zealand. Possibly beyond!
It’s important that we as a people use our faith to empower ourselves and this movement. We aren’t looking to our faith as a way to solve the issue of climate change, but we are looking to our faith to find the strength to continue the fight to protect the planet that was gifted to us. Not a planet that we have dominion over, but a planet we are stewards of.
Download the resource here: PrayForOurPacificSabbath (1)
Winter in the Australian eastern seaboard and in Tasmania in 2016 has lurched from a long-standing drought in some areas, to massive floods in a number of places. Whilst we can make no direct link from these events to climate change , we know that climate change will make these events more likely to occur in the future.
At the same time, news of the death of large areas of the Great Barrier Reef corals has emerged.
In the midst of all this the concern about climate change and the way we are changing the earth’s biosphere is of concern to some, but decision makers in our community are still giving permits to new coal mines and oil wells. This report describes about what would happen if we burn all the fossil fuels.
The Sustainable September 2016 resource theme is “Time to Act“. We are being told by climate scientists that the window in which we can drastically reduce carbon emissions in order to prevent the very worst impacts -especially on the most vulnerable people in the world -who live in the Pacific and Asia for example. Click this link to see just how urgent the situation has become.
Our resource will provide liturgical resources for every Sunday in September. This year we will also include a bonus liturgy for a Blessing of the Animals service, which is often conducted on the Sunday nearest to St Francis of Assisi Day which is October 4. We expect that the resource will be uploaded on 1 August 1016. We hope that your Church will be planning now to use these resources!
World Environment Day aims to raise awareness worldwide of environmental issues and encourage political attention and action. The day was established by the United Nations Environment Program and the World Meteorological Association in 1972 and is celebrated annually on 5 June. This year Churches have a special opportunity to mark this event in worship, as June 5 2016 falls on a Sunday.
UnitingJustice has a resource for congregations here. This resource contains theological reflections, worship resources, ideas for action and stories of inspiration and hope to encourage us to think of what changes we could undertake together for a world made whole. Alternatively you could use the topic for a small group discussion.
It is becoming increasingly urgent for us all to pay attention to the impact of global warming. Recently the World Bank reported that the world is badly prepared for the impact of climate change natural disasters, which threaten 1.3 billion people on this planet.
In the face of the already damaging effects of climate change, now, more than ever, we need to recognise the effort of any one person or group alone is not enough to make the changes we need to save the planet. The contribution of every person and every community and group of people is vitally important, but we must combine and diversify our efforts.
“The creation, the land, is something we should all honour and respect because creation, which includes all the birds and the animals, embraces all our lives – physically, socially and most of all spiritually, because creation shows us the existence, not only of the raw beauty but it also shows the nurture of the divine and greater spirit, the creator, who will nurture our lives similar to how creation is nurtured. That makes for every human being not only a purpose, but teaches the reality that we belong together and need to respect each other”.
Rev Sealin Garlett, Chairperson
Uniting and Aboriginal Islander Christian Congress (WA)
We are hoping to see many Church people in the faith contingent at the People’s Climate March this Sunday November 29 2015 starting at Wellington Square at 1pm. Wear PURPLE and bring
your posters and Church banners! This is an invitation to be part of a history making, world wide movement of people who are working for a safe environmental future for all of us, now and in the future.
Climate change is already proving a challenge to people and ecosystems around the world. The Uniting Church has heard the calls to action on climate change from our partners in the Pacific who are already experiencing its impacts. Yet the threat is proving to be not so distant. Western Australia is particularly exposed to changes in climate with noticeable impacts already being felt in our agricultural sector and urban water supply. The unique and vulnerable flora and fauna species of the South West are also at particular risk unless strong international action is taken to reduce carbon emissions and keep global warming within reasonable limits. With this in mind:
The Social Justice Board invites you to participate in a symbolic action appealing for adequate emissions reduction targets at the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris.
In the lead up to the Paris conference on climate change, the people of Perth are invited to a March through Perth.
Join us on the 29th November 2015 at 1pm at Wellington Square.
To find out more
April 8 2015 -The government has issued its Energy White paper- you can read summaries -or the whole paper-by clicking the link here http://ewp.industry.gov.au/
For a critical look at the White Paper and its recommendations follow the link here: http://reneweconomy.com.au/2015/abbotts-energy-white-paper-focuses-on-fossil-fuel-favourites-60019
The Climate Council commented that “What they (the government) say: “Electricity produced from fossil fuels, particularly coal, is expected to continue to play a vital role in providing low cost energy around the world until the cost of renewable power becomes more competitive.” What we say: Renewable power is already cost-competitive around the world”.
Commentators have noted that the government’s approach does not factor any climate change agreements into its forecasts. They also note that the predictions are for a strong reliance on fossil fuels into the future.
Churches which are keen to support a move to a greener, more climate friendly energy future will find little support from this document.