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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Prince Charles Says Environmental & Financial Crises Are Really Crises of the Soul

Here's an excerpt:

"When we hear talk of an “environmental crisis” or even of a “financial crisis,” I would suggest that this is actually describing the outward consequences of a deep, inner crisis of the soul. It is a crisis in our relationship with – and our perception of – Nature, and it is born of Western culture being dominated for at least two hundred years by a mechanistic and reductionist approach to our scientific understanding of the world around us. 

So I would like you to consider very seriously today whether a big part of the solution to all of our worldwide “crises” does not lie simply in more and better technology, but in the recovery of the soul to the mainstream of our thinking. Our science and technology cannot do this. Only sacred traditions have the capacity to help this happen.

In general, we live within a culture that does not believe very much in the soul anymore – or if it does, won’t admit to it publicly for fear of being thought old fashioned, out of step with “modern imperatives” or “anti-scientific.” The empirical view of the world, which measures it and tests it, has become the only view to believe. A purely mechanistic approach to problems has somehow assumed a position of great authority and this has encouraged the widespread secularization of society that we see today. This is despite the fact that those men of science who founded institutions like the Royal Society were also men of deep faith. It is also despite the fact that a great many of our scientists today profess a faith in God. I am aware of one recent survey that suggests over seventy per cent of scientists do so."

Salt and Light Issue 11 now available

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Discussion Question

What role do you see your church playing in creating a greener future?

Church Greening Stories Booklet now available!

Be inspired by the stories of other churches and the actions they have taken to care for creation! This exciting new resource includes stories from all over Australia and a combination of Uniting Church, Anglican and Catholic churches.

You can download the booklet from or contact Cath James for a physical copy:

The Story of: Charlestown Anglican Parish, Newcastle, NSW

Winners of the Five Leaf Eco-Awards Basic Certificate, Eco-Worship Award and Advanced Eco-Outreach Award.

As Christians, we consider that we are stewards of God’s world and it is our duty to care for Earth, including other species, other human beings, and future generations, all of whom deserve to share in God’s creation. Our primary objective is based on the fifth mark of the Worldwide Anglican Communion mission: “to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and renew the life of the earth”.

Our work has involved a variety of initiatives both within and outside our parish and diocese. One of our projects involved the restoration of the Winding Creek Gully and implementation of a rainwater harvesting program. This project had funding from the Australian Government’s Community Water Grants and involved the installation of 3 3,300 bladder-style tanks under St Alban’s hall to harvest rainwater to supply the toilets, wash basins and

gardens. It is estimated that up to 130,000 litres of water per year will be saved. As well as saving water, the project involved rehabilitation of the Winding Creek Gully adjacent

to St Alban’s church to remove lantana and improve the water quality and erosion in the creek. In addition to restoring the ecological value of the gully, a significant outcome from this project was being able to mulch and recycle the lantana that was removed. A variety of native plants were used to stabilise the bank and create an attractive area for use by the community as a quiet haven. The project has also involved reshaping the eroded creek bed to prevent ongoing erosion.

As part of the Gully restoration project, a Waterwatch program was established by our Godly Play group to monitor the quality of the runoff water from the surrounding commercial and residential properties in the area. Results are posted regularly on One of the unexpected outcomes from the water monitoring was the identification of very high phosphate levels in the water in the St Alban’s gully area on some occasions and a campaign was developed to inform local residents and businesses

in the area to reduce the contamination. Valuable partnerships have been developed with the Hunter Central Rivers Catchment Management Authority, Charlestown Square Shopping management and the Lake Macquarie City Council, who have assisted us with training and support in producing brochures and other material for distribution within the community. The Godly Play group also marked the stormwater drains in the area with a stencil stating that “The Lake Starts Here”.

Parish Council has undertaken an environmental audit based on the “Becoming an Eco Congregation” model to reduce our environmental footprint. This included a survey of water and energy use within households of the parish. With the assistance of a grant from the NSW Government Energy Savers stream we are also in the process of testing, demonstrating and installing low energy, long lasting LED lights in the church and hall as well as a solar hot water system for the hall kitchen (resulting in a potential energy saving of 8,000 kWh per year.) An environmental play, “On the Sixth Day” written by one of our parish members was performed by the Godly Play group (to a packed house) and sought to encourage us all to reduce our impact on the environment. The group created and sold fridge magnets that featured artwork that was prepared as part of the play. The funds (in addition to donations and a grant from Lake Macquarie City Council) were used to buy an 80 Watt photovoltaic (PV) solar panel to power 3 11 Watt compact fluorescent security lights through the night. The lights will save 100 kWh of electricity throughout the year and approximately 100kg of carbon dioxide.

The Story of: St Ignatius College Riverview, a Jesuit community, Sydney, NSW

First winners of the Five Leaf Eco-Awards Basic Certificate in the School/Church Communities category.

The Jesuit Community of St Ignatius College Riverview has as a major part of its preferred futures, the vision to:

1. foster our community to appreciate the gift of creation and their responsibility for its future,

2. develop in our community the knowledge, skills values and commitment to move towards sustaining God’s creation, and inspire leadership within our community to move our society towards sustainability. College leaders have set up an Environment Committee comprising inspired members from across our community including students, staff and parents to guide the vision forward. One of the first steps undertaken was to formulate a Sustainable Environment Management Plan to guide the Committee’s strategies and actions. More recently a dedicated part time Environment Officer has been appointed to drive the plans. Five focus/theme areas have been established for action:

Curriculum - Teaching and Learning

The College is developing inspiring lesson plans into its curriculum across Yrs 5 to 12 to foster and educate our students to be future leaders in the environment and its sustainability. A smart metering program, Eco Driver” is used to provide real live, relevant data to be used in some of these curriculum lessons.

Co-curriculum – Participation and Learning

The College has established co-curriculum groups across our 3 campuses who participate in “Streamwatch” and ‘Murder under the Microscope” programs. A student leadership team comprising Vice-captains from each of our 12 pastoral care houses runs a calendar of events to raise awareness of environment & sustainability. Earth Hour events, mobile muster, national walk to school day and Keep Australia Beautiful are just some of the events in the College Environment Calendar.

Management of Resources – Water, Energy, Waste, Products and Materials

A Water Management Plan was developed to reduce consumption and has resulted in the introduction of water saving devices such as timed showers, waterless urinals, dual flush toilets, water flow restriction devices, efficient watering systems incl. rainwater tanks.

Energy initiatives include the installation of an 11.4kW solar power system generating approx. 16.5MW of electricity per year. Waste initiatives include co-mingle and paper recycling, a “low waste” Wednesday initiative and green waste recycling. The students have produced pod casts around the red bin system.

Management of school environs

New buildings are designed to save energy utilizing sun and shading, insulation, cross ventilation and passive air conditioning. Gardens are moving towards native plants and climate friendly design with water efficient drip fed irrigation. A program of land care removing noxious weeds and renewing local habitat has been followed in recent years. We are currently working on a Riverview (Bush) Walk open to all in the local community.

Community involvement and partnerships

Working closely with Local Council an e-recycling day for local residences was recently hosted at the College. Our annual Earth Hour breakfast held March 16th 2010 in our hall had over 170 participants from twenty two schools across Sydney. While our Old Boys Union donated the smart metering system hardware and software - EcoDriver.

The Story of: St George's Uniting Church, Eden , NSW

Winners of the Five Leaf Eco-Awards Basic Certificate, Eco-Worship Award, Advanced Eco-Outreach Award and Advanced Eco-Congregation Award.

We started our Garden of Eden community project in May 2006. Our mission is to: work with the community to create an eco-conscious and wonder filled garden, and a lively community art and cultural centre to connect with Creator, Earth and all humanity.’

We wanted to re-establish a dynamic relationship with our community using a project which could encompass everyone, regardless of age, background, religion, etc. We especially wanted to be inclusive of those who feel marginalised. As Eden does not have a community centre where people can come together, we also wanted to address this need. The church is sitting on an acre of land which was largely unused and it was agreed that a community garden was going to be the perfect expression of our desires.

We started with enormous faith – and no garden tools or money to buy them. On the first day it rained and only one person turned up, Roger. As it happened he was an artist and designed our sign. And everything happened from there....

We have formed many partnerships within our community. We work with Mission Australia, Workways and the Work for the Dole recipients where we are the only local work provider. We have worked together with all three local schools. Flags were painted depicting our local community, and nature murals adorn the walls of our hall. Bega TAFE students have planted some of our garden beds. We have provided workshops on cob oven building, fruit tree pruning and grafting and growing succulents. Our talks with guest speakers on climate change, permaculture and water conservation have been well attended. We are part of the transition towns movement and once a month have a local produce market selling our organic vegetables and jams made from local produce.

We have installed a 24,000 litre water tank with drip watering system and solar hot water panels for which we received grants. We have also built a mud brick studio/toolshed through a combined grant application with other Eden Service Clubs as part of a Heritage Trail.

Today we have many flourishing garden beds and a diverse orchard with a variety of fruit and nut trees. We have created a native garden and a fernery with water feature. A native/bush tucker garden is being designed and built with local indigenous people. We hold World Movie nights once a month showing movies with an environmental/social justice theme, followed by supper and lots of chatting.

Our hall is considered to be a safe and welcoming place and is now used by many people and groups who would not normally attend church. Most importantly we have provided a local place for local people to share community and build relationships of respect for each other and the Earth.

The Story of: St Mark's Anglican Church South Hurstville, Sydney, NSW

Winners of the Five Leaf Eco-Awards Basic Certificate and Eco-Worship Award.

EcoChurch is an environmental project for the parish and community that demonstrates our commitment to the stewardship of God’s creation. It provides connections with our local community, educates parishioners and community about climate change and other environmental issues, and facilitates action to reduce harmful environmental impact. A growing number of Christians now understand that concern and responsibility for the environment flow directly from our faith. This proposal is primarily about taking action – doing things to reduce both town water use and greenhouse gas emissions.

EcoChurch employs three strategies:

• improvements in church buildings and a new environmental focus in our parish life

• education and improvements in parish households

• taking the experience to the broader church and the local community.

EcoChurch was launched and dedicated on Palm Sunday 2007, the day after ‘Earth Hour’ – an initiative to show the world that we care enough about global warming to take action and turn our lights off for one hour. EcoChurch is now part of the norm of our church community.
Initiatives over recent years:

• Speakers provided to various forums, such as: Faith Ecology Network series of seminars ‘Climate Faith Change’ held at Auburn in June 2007; A Moral Climate Conference 6 May 2008.

• EcoGoals agreement and monthly education flyers distributed to members.

• Water harvesting through a 10,000 litre water tank installed for St Mark’s Pre-School Kindergarten for toilet flushing.

• An organic garden and a second smaller tank used for Kindergarten gardens and education purposes.

• Recycling centre established for printing cartridges, spectacles (through OPSM), magazines (for prisoners), postage stamps (for mission fundraising), candle wax (for worship candles), in addition to the long standing community clothing bin. It has been expanded to include the collection of computers andassociated equipment, which will be recycled by Psychiatric Rehabilitation Australia. PRA provides employment opportunities for people living with mental illness and psychiatric disability.

• St Mark’s was represented from 2007 in the Walk Against Warming coordinated by the Nature Conservation Council of NSW

• EcoLiving Workshop on ‘water tanks’ for the localcommunity in conjunction with Kogarah City Council.

• Church incandescent lamps changed for energy efficient lamps.

• ‘Signed-up’ for all Earth Hours.

St Mark’s observes the Season of Creation each year in September: including Creation Sunday, Social Justice Sunday, International Day of Peace, and Blessing of Animals on St Francis Day.

The Story of : Maroubra Junction Uniting Church, Sydney, NSW

Winner of the Five Leaf Eco-Awards Basic Certificate

Project Green Church was a grass roots environmental project of Maroubra Junction Uniting Church that ran from 2006 to 2009. As Christians, we are committed to social and ecological justice and believe we have a moral imperative to act if we want to leave our children an inhabitable planet. The project, which stemmed from these convictions, was designed to make the church more environmentally sustainable and help inspire others to follow our example.
Our activities covered three main areas – buildings and property, possession and skill sharing, and mission and outreach. In addition to our website, we also created an 18 minute documentary about our story.

In July 2006, we installed a 5000 litre water tank that services the toilets for our preschool and our garden hose. We received subsidies totalling $2550 from Randwick City Council and Sydney Water. This simple step saves our church hundreds of litres per day. We have affectionately named our water tank Delilah and have beautified her with the image of the “Woman at the Well” painted by Sydney’s local hip hop graffiti artist Mistery. We chose this not only for its water symbology but also for its strong social justice message.

We also try to share possessions to reduce our use of material resources. In early 2007 we became members of GoGet carshare, allowing church members to join the scheme through the church account. This allowed members to forgo a personal car, but still allowed them access to one for the odd occasion where public transport, cycling or walking will not suffice. Church members receive cheaper access to the service through our system as they only have to pay the usage charges. There are currently 18 church members participating in the scheme.
We also established a vegetable garden at our student accommodation, a recycling scheme in our church buildings, and purchased a cordless electric mower known as the “ecomower” which we share with our community. We use the mower to do the lawns for those who can’t manage it themselves. Randwick council thought it was such a good idea they bought us a second one. Victa Lawn Mower helped by providing us with the mowers at wholesale prices.
We installed two solar hot water systems on the rooves of our student accommodation. These systems provide 100% of the hot water needs during summer and up to 80% during winter. These energy savings mean that within 7 years the units will have paid for themselves. The supplier Solarhart also gave us a 20% discount.

In 2007-2008 we ran a GreenPower Challenge and found approximately 40% of our congregational members had switched over to GreenPower.
We also installed two Nubian Oasis grey water treatment systems on our student accommodation. The water is collected from the showers, hand basins and washing machines, and is treated and recycled for use in the washing machines, toilets and outdoors. This project was funded by the Australian Government Community Water Grants program.
We also ran community events, including two open days where we invited the community to share in our hospitality and to learn about our environmental activities. We also organised two Clean Up Australia Day clean ups/festivals together with other local churches.
While Project Green Church is has formally finished, our ecological commitment has not. We continue to have regular preaching on ecological issues and a monthly “green testimony” during the announcements where a member of the congregation shares something that they have been doing to protect the environment in their own life. We are also a part of the local climate change advocacy group, the South East Climate Action Coalition.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Canberra Caring for Creation Event

Greenhills 'Young Adult' Working Bee - this Saturday (12th June). All welcome.

When: meeting at City Uniting Church at 9:15am to leave at 9:30 sharp and car pool out there; or meet us at the Greenhills Camp and Conference Centre 1437 Cotter Road around 10am. Finish around 2:30pm. Morning tea and Lunch provided.

What: Help us design the new environmental education room, put up signs, maybe a little weeding....

Hope to see you there.

Five Leaf Eco-Awards Presented at the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change Eco Awards Dinner

On World Environment Day 2010 the following Five Leaf Eco-Awards were presented:

Maroubra Junction Uniting Church - Basic Certificate

St Ignatius Jesuit Community Riverview - Basic Certificate (School/Church Community Category)

St Mark's Anglican Church South Hurstville - Basic Certificate and Eco-Worship Award

Charlestown Anglican Parish - Basic Certificate, Eco-Worship Award, Advanced Eco-Outreach Award

St George's Uniting Church Eden - Basic Certificate, Eco-Worship Award, Advanced Eco-Outreach Award and Advanced Eco-Congregation Award

Other Five Leaf Eco-Awards announced at this event but not presented include:

Springwood Uniting Church - Basic Certificate

Templestowe Uniting Church - Eco-Worship Award

Canberra City Uniting Church - Eco-Worship Award

Fitzroy Uniting Church - Basic Certificate, Eco-Worship Award and Advanced Eco-Church Building Award

Important Lessons from the Bible

Why Jesus came:
"that the world might be saved through him"
John 3:17

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."
Romans 8:19

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."
Genesis 2:15

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+