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Thursday, June 17, 2010

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.

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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+