My dream for the Uniting Church in Australia

By Jessica Morthorpe (March 2021)

I dream of a UCA serving God’s end – the reconciliation and renewal of all creation.  A community that has embraced its identity as Australia’s most environmentally friendly church and acted to make that really mean something.

I dream of a UCA that lives up to the early promise of the environmental concern in our foundational documents – the Basis of Union (especially para 3) and 1977 Statement to the Nation (protection of the environment for future generations). That lives up to the ongoing history and legacy of that environmental concern, such as our 12 Assembly environmental resolutions, including For the Sake of the Planet and all its People, An Economy of Life, The Rights of Future Generations and The Rights of Nature, and multiple resolutions on climate change. No other Australian church has this long history of concern, action and advocacy on the environment. No other Australian church has so many individuals and congregations who have done such amazing things to care for God’s creation. This is who we are. It is a history to be proud of, and a history to inspire us to go further and deeper.

I dream of deeper discipleship as we hear the call of the Holy Spirit to creation care. I dream of a lived and vibrant expression of faith and ecotheology that inspires our young people. I dream of an integrity in word and determination in action that surprises and intrigues those not of faith and makes them want to know what makes us live differently. I dream of our children and young people seeing how much we love them in the advocacy we take for action on climate change – our determination to give them a future that is more than floods, fires and heatwaves.

I dream of a day when every Uniting Church congregation has earned at least one of my Five Leaf Eco-Awards. I dream of churches with solar panels or greenpower, water tanks and energy efficient lighting and appliances. I dream of all our churches celebrating the Season of Creation and involving the community in our celebrations of Earth Hour, World Environment Day and National Threatened Species Day. I dream of all our congregation members learning how to be sustainable together. If every Uniting Church member in Australia lived sustainably, we could change this country, and the world, for the better. I dream of us becoming sustainability centres within our communities, and inspiring others to action.

I dream of the UCA showing our society true Good News in the context of the ecological crisis (which is, at its heart, a spiritual crisis). I dream of people seeing our community gardens, our cafes, our indigenous food gardens, our worm farms, beehives, chickens and food co-ops; and glimpsing a way forward. Among all the disillusionment and hopelessness our society is feeling right now, beneath the weight of an economic system that has exploited and abused both people and planet until we are at breaking point – I want people to look at us and see the hope of a better way.

Because whatever the future holds, whatever the way forward is, it will have to begin with community, with equality and justice, and with care for the earth. These are already things we do, already things that are part of who we are. It’s time to live that, proclaim it, and stop hiding our light.

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