World Environment Day, celebrated on 5 June every year, is an opportunity for the Uniting Church to reflect on its role in safeguarding God’s creation.
The Uniting Church believes the natural environment is not just a resource for the benefit of human beings but has intrinsic value as part of God’s creation. According to a National Church Life Survey, approximately 80 per cent of church attendees consider addressing environmental issues a Christian responsibility.
Climate change is predicted to have the greatest impact on the poorest people in the world. The Africa Progress Panel 2015 report released today criticised Australia for not lifting its weight in addressing climate change.
“Several countries including Australia and Canada appear to have withdrawn entirely from constructive international engagement on climate,” the report said.
“With one of the world’s highest levels of per capita emissions, Australia has gone from leadership to free-rider status in climate diplomacy.”
While progress in tackling climate change appears to have stalled at the national level, Uniting Church congregations continue to undertake grassroots initiatives to conserve the environment for future generations.
Many churches throughout the synod have installed solar panels on their rooftops and turned unused land into community gardens.
Several Uniting Church congregations have received a Five Leaf Eco Award, an ecumenical initiative that rewards churches for environmental sustainability.
Port Melbourne Uniting Church was the first religious institution in Australia to qualify for a Five Leaf Eco-Awards Basic Certificate. The congregation set up a community garden, switched over to energy efficient lighting, and installed bike racks so members can ride to church.
Sophia’s Spring Uniting Church, based at CERES environmental park, built a new worship space using recycled timber and carpet made from non-toxic natural materials.
The Uniting Church Camping site at Halls Gap recently partnered with the National Energy Efficiency Network to reduce their carbon footprint. As part of the initiative, 95 per cent of the camp site lighting was upgraded to an energy efficient option, reducing their lighting footprint by 73 per cent.
The synod’s Justice and International Mission unit, in conjunction with Uniting Justice, have compiled a resource pack for World Environment Day. It contains worship resources, theological reflections, activities for children and action ideas.
The synod’s Green Church website has further resources for congregations that are looking to switch to solar energy and create a more ecologically friendly church.
Image from Patrick on Flickr.