Star Street Uniting Church WA
The Victoria Park and Districts (Star Street) Uniting Church was recognised on the 12th of May 2012 with the Basic Certificate and Eco-Worship Award for their work doing an energy audit, running a Green Christmas project, getting their congregation to create a ‘green tree’ by writing an ecologically responsible action commitment on a paper leaf, collecting glasses, batteries and egg cartons, holding a solar panel breakfast and screening of the film Age of Stupid and helping people to be more sustainable through their weekly op-shop connected to the Carlisle Food centre. They have also run multiple environment themed worship services as part of participation in Sustainable September.
This is their story from the booklet Church Greening Stories PDF (1MB)
For the Sake of the Planet and all its People
Star Street Uniting Church, Perth, WA
Following the Uniting Church Assembly’s adoption of the statement, For the Sake of the Planet and all its People in 2006, the Victoria Park & Districts Uniting Church, known simply as Star Street by locals, formed a Sustainability Working Group to explore how it could become a ‘greener’ church.
The congregation, located in one of the inner-urban suburbs of Perth, has a diverse membership including many people who already have a personal commitment to living a sustainable lifestyle. The fact that the church shares a building with the Carlisle Food Centre, which offers low-cost food for people on a low income, offered some challenges to the thinking of the Sustainability group since a lot of the food sold through the Centre was, and continues to be, heavily packaged. However, while the food sold through the Centre doesn’t look very environmentally-friendly, a lot of it comprises donated material that would otherwise be going to landfill, so it’s effectively a community waste reduction program, as well as a community building project!
After making some small changes such as switching to energy saving lights, the Sustainability Working Group has focused on raising awareness of the concept of sustainability within the congregation. During Advent in 2008, we ran a ‘green Christmas’ project, with members of the congregation sharing ideas for celebrating in a way that doesn’t place undue pressure on the environment. The Uniting Church in WA is part of a collective that runs “Sustainable September”, including having sustainability-themed Bible studies and worship resources. Over four weeks in September 2009, members of the congregation explored the idea of sustainability in relation to the themes of ‘the elements’, ‘plants’, ‘animals’ and ‘humans’. Again, this was a chance to share ideas within the congregation, and to let people know who was doing what. This not only raises ecological awareness and generates action, but builds and strengthens community. We created posters with ideas and tips from different people in the congregations who do things at home to reduce their carbon footprint such as keeping their own chooks, recycling their grey water, or having a ‘water–wise’ native garden.
The group led worship one week during Sustainable September, and asked congregants to help create a ‘green tree’ at the front of the church by writing on a paper ‘leaf’ one way they would commit to ecologically responsible action, and by sticking the ‘leaves’ around the cross at the front of the church. Each person took away a native seedling to plant at home as a reminder of their commitment. The tree stayed up throughout the ‘green’ church season before Advent, reminding us of God’s calling to us to care for Creation.
To the excitement of the congregation, in December 2009, 27 solar panels were installed on the roof of the church building. The solar panels will provide approximately 50% of the energy of the whole building (both church and food centre) and came about as an initiative of the Food Centre with the support of the congregation and the local council. The installation of the panels was celebrated by the Food Centre volunteers (who are also members of the local congregation) with two events: a breakfast launch sponsored by the Town of Victoria Park and a screening of the film, The Age of Stupid, to help raise discussion about ecological issues in their local community.
The church runs a small op-shop stall, and offers free morning tea to customers each Wednesday morning. The church also works alongside organisations in both East Timor and Zimbabwe who are committed to ensuring a sustainable future. What we have come to realised is that sustainability is also about creating long-term nurturing communities locally and internationally.
It’s all part of the same thing!