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Communities commit to care for creation

Synod Green Church advocates Rev Dr Clive Ayre and Rev Judith Dalton volunteer their time for the Church. Photo by Osker Lau
THERE IS a global growing awareness of the developed world’s reliance on oil – a finite resource that many scientists say is running out.

The Transition Network is a UK based initiative that helps communities “deal with climate change and shrinking supplies of
cheap energy (peak oil)”.

The network has now reached Australia and members of the Kenmore Uniting Church, in Brisbane’s west, are eager supporters.

Congregation members Brenda and Ted Whybrow are active participants in their local Transition Town network.

“Ted and I responded to a story in the local paper which called for community members interested in taking responsibility
for creating a more sustainable suburb,” said Ms Whybrow.

The group met in the congregation’s community centre for two years before becoming part of the new Transition Town

“The challenge is for people to feel empowered to take initiatives themselves,” she said.

One of the key focuses for the Kenmore group is to support a shift to sustainable community practices in the face of peak oil
and climate change.

“There is community backlash to both those issues so it is about reframing Transition Towns somewhat and saying something like ‘supporting sustainable communities’.

“To this date this has been done through education/ information evenings, meetings and presentations to local groups, outreach stalls at community functions, liaising with local politicians, and re-skilling workshops.”

Ms Whybrow said as Christians made in God’s image, we have the responsibility to care for God’s creation.

“The passion in our lives is caring for the earth and so in our retirement years, gardening – of the organic, edible kind – takes
up much of our lives.

“The efforts, joys and heartbreaks of this godly activity are shared with neighbours and friends.

“Any excess produce is sold on the Backyard Farmers stall at the local Farmer’s Market under the Transition Town banner.”

She said they were excited to hear of the work of the Synod’s Green Church Advocates (Rev Dr Clive Ayre and Rev Judith Dalton) who volunteer their time.

Dr Ayre said the Church needs a “deeply committed rationale” for being more sustainable.

“It’s got to be an intentional aspect of our mission,” he said.

“Little things are important, but my big question is what does a sustainable community look like?

“Even looking at it at its most pragmatic level the Church needs to be acting on this matter,” he said.

“The implications for the way we educate the church, the way we train our ministers, indeed the way we run our Synod all involve those aspects.”

Ms Dalton said a sustainable community meets the needs of both human and non-human.

“Theologically, God’s economy of salvation is cosmic in scope, not just human-centred,” she said.

“Classical economics is founded on self-interest and greed.

Ecological economics seeks motivation to change our ways, an ecological conversion, for the well-being of the whole community.

“I would like the Church to be a leader in caring for the Earth, but feel we have already lost much of our credibility in environmental circles where ‘dominion’ has been misunderstood.

“Response to the eco-crisis requires a broader spiritual perspective or conversion.

We can join with people of other faiths, and of no faith, hopefully enriching our communities as a result of our faith in action.

“In Leonardo Boff ‘s words, the cry of the Earth is intimately associated with the cry of the poor.

“For our own sake, and very survival, we should be caring for the Earth and all God’s creatures.

“But it should not be just a selfish or fearful motivation, but a response to God’s goodness and will for justice for all.

“Caring for the Earth is an integral part of Christian discipleship and the Church’s mission.

Proclaim the Good News to all Creation (Mark 16:15). St Francis would add: Use words only if necessary.”

Photo : Synod Green Church advocates Rev Dr Clive Ayre and Rev Judith Dalton volunteer their time for the Church. Photo by Osker Lau