Wednesday, 05 August 2020

Called to deeper stewardship of creation

UCA members at the 2019 Climate Strike UCA members at the 2019 Climate Strike

Representatives from Christian Churches and organisations across Australia joined an online roundtable to explore new areas of collaboration among Churches in a faith-led response to sustainability and climate change.

The virtual forum was coordinated by the National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) on 29 July recognising the common and deep calling among Christians of all denominations to care for God’s creation.

Rev. Tim Matton-Johnson, from the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) in Tasmania, was the opening speaker for the roundtable offering a First Nations perspective on how we might respond to climate change.

Tim began by sharing the story of Wooraddy, a Nuennone man from Bruny Island, who was a first-hand witness to the colonisation and invasion of Tasmania. Worraddy accompanied George Augustus Robinson on the “friendly mission” expeditions to Victoria between 1830-1835 and witnessed the exile of surviving tribes, the rapid takeover of land and destruction of culture.

In sharing his perspective on the invasion, Wooraddy likened it the spiritual being Wrageowrapper, who for him "represented the potential for things to go wrong."

“Today, Wooraddy is still right in his characterisation of the Western way of doing things, when we consider the speed and volume of what we do without thinking about the consequences,” Tim shared.

“Personally, I am reflecting on how I respond as an Aboriginal person living in 21st century.”

“I do that by resisting climate change in ways I can, in my own small ways, in growing some trees, in solar panels on the roof, collecting rainwater to irrigate my trees, these are all ways of living on country today.”

“I encourage others in the same kind of connectedness values that are part of our culture. We are all part of one world, from microbes to people, that’s what we have to think about.”

Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC) General Secretary Rev. James Bhagwan also spoke to participants on how the PCC was responding to the urgency of climate change.

“For us in the Pacific, the seriousness of sea-level rises and global temperatures warming our oceans requires us to move on from ecological stewardship to also consider what it means for our communities who will be faced with climate-induced forced relocation.”

“The challenge for us is how do we as churches and communities provide care and support for those whose homes are lost and to accompany those who choose not to leave.”

Five Leaf Eco Awards founder Jessica Morthorpe gave a presentation on Churches across the country responding to climate justice through their worship and by modelling and initiating sustainable practices in their own and the wider community.

The remainder of the session provided time for participants to network, exchange ideas and explore opportunities for collaboration.

In closing, the Very Rev’d Dr Peter Catt from the Anglican Diocese of Southern Queensland, a sponsor of the event, reflected on strong sense of call to act on climate justice shared by our churches.

“Through our theology and our scriptures, we have all experienced a sense of call to a deeper stewardship of the earth. It goes to the heart of what it means to be human and calls us to reflect deeply on how we might respond,” he said.