The world is facing an unprecedented ecological crisis. Figures released by NASA over the weekend confirmed that last month was the hottest April ever recorded globally. With 2016 on track to be the hottest year on record, the need to care for God’s creation is more urgent than ever.
World Environment Day, celebrated annually on 5 June, falls on a Sunday this year. Many congregations will be preparing environment-themed services to commemorate the occasion.
UnitingJustice has released a resource pack to assist congregations in their worship. It contains theological reflections, action ideas and stories of hope and inspiration.
Worship resources written by Cath James from the synod’s Justice and International Mission unit are also included. These are designed to be accessible for children, with ideas such as creating a gardening poem and building a prayer tree from leaves.
The 2016 theme is ‘Together for a world made whole’ and the resource features voices from the church’s Indigenous, Pacific and Asian communities. It highlights the importance of learning from Indigenous Australians, whose traditional knowledge can be used to fight environmental degradation.
Local congregations are tackling climate change through a range of grassroots initiatives. The resource pack illustrates the different ways congregations are caring for the environment, from creating community gardens to transitioning to solar power.
One of these congregations is the Tecoma Uniting Church, who installed a solar panel on the roof of their church. Since 2008, the solar panels have prevented 57,000 tonnes of CO2 from going into the atmosphere. It also saved the church approximately $25,000 in electricity bills.
“The desire to be self-sustainable and to reduce our carbon footprint was the major reason for this project,” Tecoma Uniting Church member Brian Broughton wrote.
“We wanted to undertake a practical project that would show the community that we were serious about caring for the earth and this community.”
Many environmental activists were disappointed that climate change was not mentioned once in the federal budget. The resource pack contains ideas for political action including letter-writing templates and links to petitions. These action ideas aim to inspire congregations to engage with their local politician and advocate for change.
To find more about out how your congregation can get involved in World Environment Day 2016, contact Cath James at firstname.lastname@example.org.