Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
"An altar of earth you shall make for Me", "And if you make me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stone, for if you use your tool on it, you have profaned it."
These verses are interesting aren't they? Do they make you think of all the grand churches and cathedrals we have made of hewn stone to honour the Lord? Perhaps they bring more glory to our builders than God? I'm not saying I don't love beautiful stone churches, because I really do. I just wonder where we lost track of the fact that God obviously loves his creation the way it is, and he does not feel it needs to be improved in any way.
This is an important lesson that has been forgotten throughout history. In the early years of Australian settlement you could only claim a piece of land if you 'improved' it - you built a house and cut down all the trees (great improvement if you ask me! not.) Others improved Australia by introducing rabbits and foxes. Even now, we often see land as better if it has some use to us- it is grazing land, produces some fruit or other product. This is not the way God sees things.
Of course, since man has now impacted the environment so much it certainly could use improving- but only to return it to a more natural and ecologically stable form.
I think the messages to take away from this are try to refrain from 'improving' things that don't fit your idea of how they should be just for that reason; and next time you get a chance worship God outside, on the altar of earth and unhewn stone- where He always meant to be worshipped.
Salt and Light
Five Leaf Church Greening Initiative Newsletter
“We believe that Creation Care is a core Christian responsibility”
The aim of this Newsletter is to provide a supportive and informative link between individuals and groups that share a care and sense of Christian responsibility for our environment. You are on this newsletter list because you have expressed an interest in the Five Leaf Eco-Awards program or have communicated with the National Coordinator - Jessica Morthorpe.
l Introduction to Five Leaf
l Update on Five Leaf
l Facebook and blog websites
l Volunteers wanted!
l Meet our current volunteers
l Doom and Gloom - White possum said to be first victim of global warming
l Targets and challenge – Kevin Rudd's failed promises
l A stirring of hope
l Reviews on the ARRCCS and Uniting earth websites
l Tip of the month- footprint website
l Quotes of the month
Introduction to Five Leaf
The Five Leaf church greening program is an initiative that aims to inspire church communities to be more environmentally friendly. Sustainability is a popular phrase at the moment but as yet it has often not coincided with effective action. This is where the structure of the Five Leaf program comes in. The program offers guidance to church communities with simple steps and procedures to follow in order to become an eco- friendly church; while participating in a fun program that acknowledges each effort made along the way.
The program guides churches through improvements in five areas of church life to lessen the church's impact on the environment. The five leaves represent buildings, worship, congregation, outreach and becoming a 'green church'.
Letter from the Editor:
Greetings, and a belated Happy New Year! Five Leaf is off to a great start this year as we expand and become involved in more events.
Interest in church greening is growing fast. The hope this provides is unfortunately much needed after some depressing events at the end of last year. This month's 'Doom and Gloom' section will apprise you of the loss, perhaps forever, of a beautiful Australian creature- the white lemuroid possum. It is my hope that this cute little creature can become a rallying call in the fight against climate change- a more local and urgent symbol than the polar bear for Australians.
Despite this extinction being a demonstration of the urgency of climate change, we also have to face the disappointing greenhouse gas reduction targets set by the Federal Government. I would encourage everyone who feels as betrayed as I do to make a concerted effort to reduce their emissions by any amount greater than 15% and email me to tell me how they did it. If we get enough responses I will send them on to Mr Rudd.
In happier news though I was very honoured to present the first ever Five Leaf Eco Awards Basic Certificate to Port Melbourne Uniting Church on the 18th of January 2009. My return to Canberra means the program will also be starting up here soon.
I hope you enjoy this, the first edition of our nation-wide church greening interest group newsletter, Salt and Light. Spread it around your churches and networks so we can reach as many people as possible. I hope to hear from you all with the amazing improvements you are making in your churches soon. Also, any submissions to this newsletter are most welcome.
Five Leaf Eco-Awards
Update on Five Leaf
We are proud to announce that the first ever Five Leaf Eco-Awards Basic Certificate has been awarded to Port Melbourne Uniting Church. Congratulations to everyone involved. The press release below was written by John McCarten- Five Leaf’s Media Coordinator.
Port Melbourne Church Wins Eco-Award
Another front has opened in the struggle against global warming with the launch of the Five Leaf Eco Awards.
The awards are targeted towards religious institutions, a previously underutilised resource. Armed with the creation care message the Five Leaf awards scheme assists churches in fulfilling set goals related to sustainability, conservation and community awareness of environmental issues.
Port Melbourne Uniting Church is the first institution to qualify, receiving the award from Five Leaf founder and coordinator, Jessica Morthorpe.
“The Five Leaf awards are designed to help churches become more environmentally friendly and empower them to make a difference in the world,” said Ms Morthorpe, “I would like to one day see every church in Australia involved in the program to at least the basic level. I would like the program to eventually make itself redundant by having every church in Australia think that you just have to be environmentally friendly, that it’s not a choice but something that we all have to do”
The program is based on the creation care concept, which treats care for the environment as a basic tenant of religious faith.
The basic award covers four areas of environmental impact: sustainable building, ecology focussed worship, an environmentally active congregation and sustained community outreach. To attain the final level of the award- the fifth leaf -an institution must be able to demonstrate lasting change and a permanent commitment to spreading an environmental message.
Through Five Leaf Ms Morthorpe wants to bridge the gap between traditional religious institutions and the environmental movement. “Churches have a tremendous ability to make a difference. As a centre of community their influence can be magnified by the power of the people who are involved in the church,” she said.
While the awards have so far only been given to churches, Ms Morthorpe believes the possibilities are only limited by the passion of the participants.
“The program is built to accommodate all religious groups with a minimum of tweaking”, she said, “So no matter what faith you’re from you’ll be able to have a program for your sanctuary and your faith group”
Port Melbourne Uniting Church environmental manager, Janet Hoare, says the creation care message has widespread appeal.
“Within our congregation people have really engaged with it, particularly our special project, which is a community veggie garden,” she said, “Really, none of the things we did were particularly difficult, so I would imagine that most churches would be able to do most of those things, if not all of them”
Visitors to the church, David and Heather White were impressed by the ambition of the program after witnessing the award ceremony. “What a surprising and innovative idea,” said Mrs White.
With the Five Leaf Eco-Awards now running successfully in Melbourne, attention has been turned to expansion. The next stop is Canberra, which will serve as a testing ground before a national roll out.
Contact: Jessica Morthorpe (0409503369)
In other news:
l On Australia Day Jessica spoke to the 2009 RYLA participants about her current projects, one of them being the Five Leaf program, spreading the Five Leaf message and generating interest amongst the young leaders.
l On the 7th of January, Jessica held a workshop at the NCYC conference in Melbourne where she helped participants to work through how they might make their churches more environmentally friendly.
Facebook and Blog websites
You are not alone in caring for the environment!
Want to chat to other environmentalists?
Please join the Church Greening and Christian Environmentalist Network Facebook group or read the Crown of Thorns blog written by Jessica Morthorpe (Five Leaf coordinator).
Church Greening and Christian Environmentalist Network on facebook
Facebook is an international medium for communication and is an ideal place to share knowledge, voice opinions and spread awareness.This facebook group is designed so that participants and interested individuals can support each other through the program or just chat with other environmental enthusiasts.
Crown of Thorns blog
The Crown of Thorns blog is written by Jessica Morthorpe and discusses eco-theology and the current and upcoming progress of the Five Leaf program.
Positions Currently Available:
Melbourne Church Project Coordinator (Melbourne)
This position will work under the National Church Project Coordinator to run the Five Leaf Programs within the Melbourne area. This will involve supporting the two churches currently involved in the pilot award program and getting additional churches involved.
If you care about Christianity and the environment you will love this position. Not only does it give you a real chance to make a significant difference, but as one of the first staff, you will be able to influence the direction and creation of the organisation.
The chosen candidate will undergo training with the National Church Project Coordinator. The Melbourne Coordinator will then be responsible for all activities of the organisation in Melbourne.
The volunteer will need to work from home and must have access to the internet. Regular travel around Melbourne to visit churches will be involved. Some professional training may also be provided depending on funding.
Victorian and ACT Ministry Team
Additional volunteers are also needed to assist the Melbourne and Canberra Church Project Coordinators in running the Five Leaf Eco-Awards and with various projects.
For more information on any of these positions contact Jessica at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Meet our Current Team!
National Church Project Coordinator
As founder of Five Leaf, Jessica is passionate about church greening and growing the movement of Christian Envionmentalism throughout Australia. She is currently completing a Bachelor of Science/Commerce Degree at the Australian National University in Canberra. She spent 2008 setting up Five Leaf and working for Fairtrade Labelling Australia and New Zealand. She loves to read and is also passionate about sharks.
Assitant to the National Church Project Coordinator
Bethany is currently completing a Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood)/ Bachelor of Arts (Applied Linguistics/ English) at Flinders University. She loves art and music and plays the piano, drums, voice and percussion. She is the drummer/percussionist and a singer in her church band and is very involved in the Earth young adults network. This is a network in Adelaide for young adults 18-35 years old. It involves lots of social activities, discussion forums, holding Arts nights, advocating fair trade, and exploring and discussing how the environment relates to their faith.
Melbourne Church Project Team
Yui was born in Japan and moved to Australia when she as 11. She speaks fluent Japanese and English and likes doing creating things like cooking, sewing, arts and crafts, reading, going op shopping and playing the guitar. Yui is currently in her 3rd year at La Trobe University Melbourne studying a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy. She is very excited to be helping both God and the earth through her work for Five Leaf.
John was born in Australia and grew up in Bendigo, Victoria. He likes travelling, writing, and working towards a sustainable future. John has just completed a journalism degree from Monash University Melbourne.
Canberra Church Project Team
Melissa was born in Australia and speaks some French and Japanese. She likes; reading, writing, playing volleyball and the piano. She is starting her first year at the ANU and will be studying Development studies.
Doom and Gloom
White possum said to be first victim of global warming
December 02, 2008 11:00pm
SCIENTISTS say a white possum native to Queensland's Daintree forest has become the first mammal to become extinct due to man-made global warming.
The white lemuroid possum, a rare creature found only above 1000m in the mountain forests of far north Queensland, has not been seen for three years.
Experts fear climate change is to blame for the disappearance of the highly vulnerable species thanks to a temperature rise of up to 0.8C.
Researchers will mount a last-ditch expedition early next year deep into the untouched "cloud forests" of the Carbine range near Mt Lewis, three hours north of Cairns, in search of the tiny tree-dweller, dubbed the "Dodo of the Daintree".
The cute white possum (Hemibelideus lemuroids) has not been sighted in any night time spotlighting expedition since 2005.
Scientists believe some frog, bug and insects species have also been killed off by climate change. But this would be the first known loss of a mammal and the most significant since the extinction of the Dodo and the Tasmanian Tiger.
"It is not looking good," researcher Steve Williams said.
"If they have died out it would be first example of something that has gone extinct purely because of global warming."
Professor Williams, director of the Centre for Tropical Biodiversity and Climate Change at James Cook University, said the white lemuroid possum had been identified as highly vulnerable five years ago.
"It only takes four or five hours of temperatures above 30C to kill this highly vulnerable species," he said.
"They live off the moisture in the trees in the cooler, high-altitude cloud forests and, under extreme heat, they are unable to maintain their body temperature."
He said record high temperatures in the summer of 2005 could have caused a massive die-off.
"Prior to 2005 we were seeing a lemuroid every 45 minutes of spotlighting at one main site at Mt Lewis," Professor Williams said.
"But, in three years, in more than 20 hours of intensive spotlighting, none has been sighted."
Reef and Rainforest Research Centre chief executive Sheridan Morris said the "eyes of the world" would be on next year's the expedition to find the little creature.
"If it has died out it will be devastating," Ms Morris said.
"It is a big one, and a big one to bang the drum over.
"It is equally as shocking as losing an iconic marine species like a whale or the dugong."
5pc target a global embarrassment: Greens
Posted Mon Dec 15, 2008 1:08pm AEDT
Updated Mon Dec 15, 2008 1:57pm AEDT
Green groups have given an angry response to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's announcement on Australia's climate change targets.
Mr Rudd says Australia will cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 5 per cent of 2000 levels by 2020, but could make a cut of up to 15 per cent if other countries also sign up to stronger reductions.
Greens Senator Christine Milne says the emissions reduction targets are extremely weak and disappointing.
"This is a complete failure of a system," she said.
"Five per cent is a global embarrassment, 15 per cent is way below even the minimum the rest of the world wants to see.
"The Europeans have said 20 per cent targets by 2020. How can the Rudd Government face the rest of the world when Australia has done nothing?"
The WWF environment group is also unhappy with the announcement, with Australian director Ray Nias describing the 5 per cent target as deeply disappointing.
"It commits Australia to long-term dangerous climate change [and] it will make Australia's ability to negotiate global agreements very, very difficult," he said.
"It's much lower than even we had imagined the worst case being."
Three protesters had to be bundled out of the National Press Club in Canberra this lunchtime as Mr Rudd was speaking about the decision.
The three women, who branded the target as too low, were removed by security officers.
Meanwhile, business groups are also dissatisfied with the targets.
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry's Peter Anderson says reducing emissions by 5 per cent will be difficult for the business community when it is also dealing with a financial crisis.
"There are transition costs involved, there is a need for investment in technology and all of that involves costs, particularly at a time when the focus of the business community is on trying to get through the storm that we have around us," he said.
To work out how much you are contributing to climate change visit the Environmental Protection Authority’s website and complete an ecological footprint calculation here: http://www.epa.vic.gov.au/ecologicalfootprint/calculators/default.asp
It will take about 10-15 minutes. You might be surprised by the results.
Quotes of the month
“Over the past 35 years alone the Earth’s wildlife populations have declined by a third.”*
“Our [humanity’s] global footprint now exceeds the world’s capacity to regenerate by about 30 per cent.” *
One species goes extinct every 20 minutes**
*WWF report Living Planet Report 2008, WWF, 2008 http://assets.panda.org/downloads/living_planet_report_2008.pdf
**American Biologist Says Species Extinction Rate Is One Every 20 Mins, Posted 12/02/09 (http://www.100megsfree4.com/farshores/nspec.htm) Accessed 3/2/09
Websites to Visit:
(Australian Religious Response to Climate Change)
The ARRCC website is great for anyone whose interests involve faith and the environment. The site has information on renewable energy, climate change and lists of events going on VIC, ACT, NSW and Queensland. The ARRCC is a non-profit organisation sponsored by The Climate Institute, Australian Ethical Investment Ltd, and Jackgreen (International) Pty Ltd. It is a “multifaith network committed to taking action on climate change.” They aim to “galvanise faith-based responses to climate change in Australia, empowering faith communities tobe beacons of faith-based environmental sustainability.”
The Uniting Earth website also provides tips for your church becoming more envionmentally friendly and has stories from other church communities, articles and information about current and upcoming events. Currently it is featuring Delilah the water tank which was installed as part of Project Green Church. The Uniting Earth Web aims to build, “connections between ecology and Christian faith through theological study, the arts, worship and practical projects and campaigns.”
If your church has already begun working towards sustainability please contact Jessica Morthorpe (email@example.com) and feel free to send in any photos. They will be published on The Crown of Thorns blog and you will also be eligible for an encouragement award.
Please feel free to pass this newsletter on to any individual or group who may be interested.
If you wish to unsubscribe from this newsletter email firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, February 16, 2009
The last thing I want to mention about the Ten Commandments is the difference just following these laws could make to the state of the environment.
By not making an idol of money and possessions and focusing our love on the true God we can break the power of consumerism and the waste of resources it causes.
By keeping the Sabbath Holy we are encouraged to reflect on God, and to commune with His creation as it teaches us about Him.
By honouring our parents and other elders we can learn from them how to reduce, reuse and recycle as has previously been done for generations.
By considering it murder to kill all life, and not just human beings we can learn to value the life of other species and consider it a sin to cause them harm.
And lastly by not covetting our neighbour's things we can break out of the cycle of keeping up with the Joneses - getting bigger houses, cars and more belongings we don't need just in an attempt to create social status.
Some people believe that it is an extra, an addition to the core mission, to care about the environment as a Christian. Yet if we lived by the principles of our God much of the destruction we are currently facing would never have happened. Caring for the environment is woven into the fabric of the entire of God's teaching - it is core mission for Christians.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Friday, February 13, 2009
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Below is an article from Catholic.net about the release of the 'environmental ten commandments'
"Bishop Giampaolo Crepaldi, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, has insisted on the importance of placing the view of nature within the context of the relationship between God and the human person.
Bishop Crepaldi defends that the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church steers a middle course between the twin errors of either seeing nature in absolute terms or reducing it to a mere instrument. Nature has been placed in the hands of mankind, but should be used responsibly and prudently.
The human person is unarguably superior to the rest of the created world, in virtue of possessing an immortal soul, Bishop Crepaldi said. Yet man does not have an absolute dominion over creation. Actions should be guided by a combination of conservation and development, and people should realize that the created goods of this world are destined for the use of all.
Bishop Crepaldi summarizes the main points of the Church's teaching on ecological matters, basing himself on how the doctrine is presented in the social doctrine Compendium.
The 10 guiding principles, or commandments, are as follows.
1) The Bible lays out the fundamental moral principles of how to affront the ecological question. The human person, made in God's image, is superior to all other earthly creatures, which should in turn be used responsibly. Christ's incarnation and his teachings testify to the value of nature: Nothing that exists in this world is outside the divine plan of creation and redemption.
2) The social teaching of the Church recalls two fundamental points. We should not reduce nature to a mere instrument to be manipulated and exploited. Nor should we make nature an absolute value, or put it above the dignity of the human person.
3) The question of the environment entails the whole planet, as it is a collective good. Our responsibility toward ecology extends to future generations.
4) It is necessary to confirm both the primacy of ethics and the rights of man over technology, thus preserving human dignity. The central point of reference for all scientific and technical applications must be respect for the human person, who in turn should treat the other created beings with respect.
5) Nature must not be regarded as a reality that is divine in itself; therefore, it is not removed from human action. It is, rather, a gift offered by our Creator to the human community, confided to human intelligence and moral responsibility. It follows, then, that it is not illicit to modify the ecosystem, so long as this is done within the context of a respect for its order and beauty, and taking into consideration the utility of every creature.
6) Ecological questions highlight the need to achieve a greater harmony both between measures designed to foment economic development and those directed to preserving the ecology, and between national and international policies. Economic development, moreover, needs to take into consideration the integrity and rhythm of nature, because natural resources are limited. And all economic activity that uses natural resources should also include the costs of safeguarding the environment into the calculations of the overall costs of its activity.
7) Concern for the environment means that we should actively work for the integral development of the poorest regions. The goods of this world have been created by God to be wisely used by all. These goods should be shared, in a just and charitable manner. The principle of the universal destiny of goods offers a fundamental orientation to deal with the complex relationship between ecology and poverty.
8) Collaboration, by means of worldwide agreements, backed up by international law, is necessary to protect the environment. Responsibility toward the environment needs to be implemented in an adequate way at the juridical level. These laws and agreements should be guided by the demands of the common good.
9) Lifestyles should be oriented according to the principles of sobriety, temperance and self-discipline, both at the personal and social levels. People need to escape from the consumer mentality and promote methods of production that respect the created order, as well as satisfying the basic needs of all. This change of lifestyle would be helped by a greater awareness of the interdependence between all the inhabitants of the earth.
10) A spiritual response must be given to environmental questions, inspired by the conviction that creation is a gift that God has placed in the hands of mankind, to be used responsibly and with loving care. People's fundamental orientation toward the created world should be one of gratitude and thankfulness. The world, in fact, leads people back to the mystery of God who has created it and continues to sustain it. If God is forgotten, nature is emptied of its deepest meaning and left impoverished.
If, instead, nature is rediscovered in its role as something created, mankind can establish with it a relationship that takes into account its symbolic and mystical dimensions. This would open for mankind a path toward God, creator of the heavens and the earth."
I have my issues with the words 'superior' and 'used' but otherwise these are interesting... All right, I have issues with the way this whole thing is so very human centred, but what do you think?
Important Lessons from the Bible
"that the world might be saved through him"
Who Jesus is going to use to save the world:
"For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God."
Our role on earth:
"The LORD God put the man in the Garden of Eden to take care of it and to look after it."
The Five Pillars of A Christian Theology of Sustainability
1. God is the creator, sustainer and redeemer of creation.
2. Covenantal Stewardship (we have a covenant with God as stewards of the earth).
3. The creation-fall-redemption paradigm (God made a good world; human failure broke the relationships between god, man and creation; Christ provides hope for all creation).
4.Bodily resurrection(we will rise with bodies, not as spirits)
5.New Creation (a new Heaven and new Earth refers to a renewal and an earthing of heaven, not starting over).
Adapted from When Enough is Enough: A Christian Framework for Environmental Sustainability, Edited by R.J. Berry, Published by Inter-Varsity Press, 2007, Nottingham p43+