S&L – Issue 7
Salt and Light
Five Leaf Church Greening Initiative Newsletter
“We believe that Creation Care is a core Christian responsibility”
The aim of this Newsletter is to provide a supportive and informative link between individuals and groups that share a care and Christian responsibility for our environment. You are on this newsletter list because you have expressed an interest in the Five Leaf Eco-Awards program or have communicated with the National Coordinator – Jessica Morthorpe.
l Letter from the Editor
l Church Greening News
l Doom and Gloom
l A Stirring of Hope
l Monthly Action Tip
l Book Review
l Discussion Question
l Quotes of the month
l Recent highlights from the Crown of Thorns Blog
l Websites to visit
Letter from the Editor:
Greetings everyone, I hope this newsletter finds you all well.
Apologies for the delay on this issue of Salt and Light. My final assignments and exams are finally over. So, after the last issue where we looked at the unloved creatures, I realised I should also write an issue on endangered plant species. After all, if we overlook some animals, it is even more common for people to forget about plants. Yet plants play a vital role in all our lives, and also have intrinsic value as creations of our God.
December is the month for action on Climate Change. We have a day of action on the 6th, and the Walk Against Warming on the 12th, and of course, COP15- The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen will be held from December 7 to December 18. During this period Planet Prayer will be offering daily prayers to your email for the proceedings. Churches will be taking action on the 13th, with a WCC supported bell ringing being organised to send a message to those at Copenhagen.
I hope you will all get involved in the actions, and that I will see those in Canberra at the Walk Against Warming.
PS. I’ll send out some information on how to make your Christmas greener soon.
Church Greening News
I know some of you have been thinking about it, but Caloundra Uniting Church have done it – introducing the Solar Panel Cross! Doesn’t it look awesome? Congratulations to Caloundra’s awesome Social Justice Group. Here is their story (with thanks to David Lowry):
“The Cross” – a Sign of Divine Power
On Tuesday 17 November a new cross was erected on the roof of the Caloundra Uniting Church. It will give power to the Church for all lighting and energy needs for its programs and for the many cultural and social groups who use its property.
As we are empowered in or life and mission by the cross, we will be helping to reduce the greenhouse gasses by 65%.
The 24 solar panels in the shape of the cross will pay all of our power bills and earn the Church approx $2,000.00 extra in surplus we will sell into the grid. It is thought that these solar panels in the shape of the cross may be a first in Australia.
This striking cross will be a reminder to the whole community of the importance of “going green” to save the planet. As we have prepared for this a number of our members have installed solar power to their own homes. Their stories are exciting as we hear of their results.
This project came about as a result of seminar we conducted with the Rev’d Dr Clive Ayre who presented to us a challenge on the theme, “The Church in the Eco Crisis”. This led us to drawing up an Eco – Vision statement that reads:
The Caloundra Uniting Church, in recognising the natural environment as God’s Creation, believes that:
- Christians are called to safeguard the integrity of Creation, and to exercise their mission in such a way that the life of the earth is sustained and renewed.
- Alongside other valid expressions of Christian mission, the proclamation of the Kingdom of God includes working for justice, peace, and a proper stewardship of the earth.
- The well-being of people is inter-woven with the well-being of the planet itself.
This was followed by one of our members Geoff Hacquoil doing a power audit. This revealed changed we needed to make in equipment and in behaviour with the use of lights and equipment.
We were aware that Solar Power was the way to go but our resources seemed to prevent us from doing anything significant, until a couple of us thought of applying for some grants. We spoke to a few solar Power companies to assess our need for Solar system. $40,000 for an adequate system seemed out of our reach. We decided to apply for a rebate from the Federal Government and a grant from the State Government Gaming Community Benefit Fund. Our first application from the GCBF was rejected, however our application was submitted to the next round of grant. This was successful. In the mean time the Federal Government rebate ceased, however in its place came the REC’s grants.
We see the sun as a gift from God, as is all creation. It is our task to use the power of the sun to help create a cleaner environment as we take a small step towards the vital issues of climate change in our beautiful Sunshine Coast.
Global Day of Action on Climate Change – December 6th
Around the world, on this day churches will be encouraged to take action as part of the global day of action on climate change in the lead up to the climate change talks in Copenhagen. Organised by Micah Challenge, a global campaign of Christians speaking out against poverty and injustice, the global day of action is designed to encourage churches to do one or more of the following as a way of joining with other churches around the world who are concerned about climate change:
– Plant a tree
-Encourage your congregation to write letters to their representatives in the lead up to Copenhagen
– Pray for Copenhagen and creation (you may like to use the prayer in the resources section of this newsletter)
– Organise a group from your church to attend the Walk Against Warming on 12 December
– Sign up to receive daily prayers emails during the meeting in Copenhagen at Planet Prayer
– If your Church has a bell, plan to take part in the World Council of Churches Bell ringing on 13 December. Click here for more info on the Bell Ringing action.
– If you’re in Melbourne on the 6th of December, make plans to attend the Christian service of worship to pray for the Copenhagen climate change negotiations at St Peter’s Eastern Hill, 15 Gisborne St Melbourne, 5-6pm. Rev. Tim Costello will be preaching with the World Vision Australia Staff Choir. The theme will be: The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it. Psalm 24:1 All welcome!
If you are planning to take part in one or more of these actions, please let us know! Email your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org
Walk Against Warming – 12th December
Walk against Warming and Sustainability Fair!
When: 12th December 09
Location: New Parliament House Lawns
For those who would like to walk with other members of the Five Leaf Church Greening Network, Jessica Morthorpe will be present with a group. She will be wearing a blue dress. If you have trouble finding her call 0409503369.
Yes the Conservation Council’s biggest annual event is nearly here. This year, Walk Against Warming 2009 will be the biggest, most important event in its five year history as the event will coincide with the International Day of Action on Climate Change and the crucial Copenhagen Climate Talks in Denmark.
Walk Against Warming will coincide with the International Day of Climate Change and will also be the mid point of the Climate Talks in Denmark. This makes this a symbolic day to come out and show you care about climate change.
Last year over 3,000 Canberrans came to walk and show their concern about climate change.
We want to at least double that number this year.
There will be an environmentally friendly and sustainably minded market on the day, including a clothes swap. Come a little early and check them all out! Before and after the short walk you can check out lots of sustainable products and find information on how to make your home sustainable.
Comedian Rod Quantock will be doing a little comedy routine to show us the humorous side to climate change.
There will be live music, so bring your family and friends and a picnic lunch, and come and make a day of it.
RSVP on facebook and show your friends that you’re attending!
Remember to wear your blue shoelaces! Buy your blue shoelaces online at: http://www.walkagainstwarming.org OR by coming to the Conservation Council office on Childers Street. Laces are $5 each.
Walk against warming
December 12th at 12pm
Churches are invited to walk together as part of the Micah Challenge global campaign of Christians speaking out against poverty and injustice as part of its call for action on climate change.
Meet at the sculpture of the library sunk into the footpath, 11.45am
State Library, Swanston St Melbourne. The march will then go around to Princess Bridge to make a human sign.
Look for the orange and white Micah Challenge banner.
More information and updates on walk against warming can be found at: http://waw.org.au/
To let us know your church is coming contact: Cath James (03) 9251 5279 or email@example.com
Doom and Gloom
Plants. We literally can’t survive without them. Yet how often do we overlook them? Judeo-Christian people have a long history of relationships with plants. Just think about how often the old testament talks about the Cedars of Lebanon, or mentions the fig or the vine. I found one interesting website that lists the many species mentioned in the Bible and their symbolism:http://www.catholic-saints.info/catholic-symbols/plants-trees-christian-symbols.htm
Plant species will be both key helpers and key victims of climate change. Already, there are 48 extinct species of plant in Australia, with a further 92 species listed as critically endangered, 523 endangered and 665 vulnerable. This is a total of 1328 species. http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/sprat/public/publicthreatenedlist.pl?wanted=flora This is in contrast to only 427 listed threatened species in Australia. http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/sprat/public/publicthreatenedlist.pl?wanted=fauna
It’s actually surprisingly difficult to find information about endangered plants – try a Google search, not that much comes up. It would seem people are only really interested in the endangered plants that happen to be in their area.
Nevertheless, there are many important and interesting endangered plants, including rainforest species, orchids, cycads and grass trees.
Meet some critically endangered species:
Left: Norfolk Island Abutilon – Abutilon julianae
Threatened by: grazing by feral animals, weeds
Above: Chaff Tree, Achyranthes arborescens
Threatened by: cattle grazing, rats eating seeds
Left: Native Wintercress — Barbarea australis
Threatened by: lack of information and the fact that most populations occur on private land
Left:Phillip Island Hibiscus –
Threatened by: the introduced
Left: Shade Tree, Broad-leaved Meryta –
Threatened by: land clearing,
weed invasion, climate change
Left: Popwood, Sandalwood, Bastard Ironwood – Myoporum obscurum
Threatened by: no information provided
Rafflesia – The World’s Largest Flower Facing Extinction
Listed as endangered on the 1997 IUCN Red List, the Rafflesia is one interesting genus of plant. The largest single flowers in the world, this Indonesian’s petals can be more than 90cm in width. Rafflesia is a parasite, living off sustenance from vines. They are only visible during flowering as the rest of the plant resides inside their host. There are 17 species in the genus, oh and did I mention they smell so bad they make some people throw up? I suppose you have to smell like rotting flesh when you are pollinated by flies. Or it could just be that they rot into a slimy mess after four days. Threatened by habitat loss, its inherent rareness, an unbalanced gender ratio and its use as a fertility medicine; this enigmatic little plant desperately needs protection. Its ability to draw the tourists may be one source of hope.
See http://www.arkive.org/rafflesia/rafflesia-spp/threats-and-conservation.html for more information and a video of the flower opening.
A Stirring of Hope
My family own a small Wollomi Pine. The little darling is covered in new growth just now, and I keep finding myself dashing outside in the sweltering heat we have been having to water it. After all, I can’t let a member of an endangered species that happens to be in my care die! The recovery program for the Wollomi Pine is really interesting because it is a rare example of where the use of an economic tool (the sale of the plants) has actually contributed to the conservation of a species- to the point where the Wollomi Pine is currently probably of less concern than most of the other plants mentioned in this issue.
Botanists bank 10pc of world’s plants
October 16, 2009 12:36AM
“BOTANISTS at Britain’s Kew Gardens have collected seeds from 10 per cent of the world’s wild plants, their first goal in a project to protect all endangered plant species.
Seeds from a wild, pink banana are the latest addition to the collection at Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank, designed to guard against dwindling diversity.
The banana from China, musa itinerans, is an important staple for wild elephants and is also useful for breeding new types of the fruit, but is under threat as its jungle habitat is cleared for commercial agriculture.
It became the 24,200th species of wild flowering plant stored in the seed bank, a nine-year-old program run by the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in partnership with institutions in 54 countries.
With it the project reaches its target to collect, bank and conserve seeds from 10 per cent of the world’s most under-threat wild plant species – although it is already working towards a new goal of 25 per cent of plants by 2020.
“The success we are celebrating today is extraordinary and on a scale never before contemplated in global biodiversity conservation,” said Professor Stephen Hopper, director of the Royal Botanic Gardens.
“In a time of increasing concern about loss of biodiversity and climate change, Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank partnership provides a real message of hope and is a vital resource in an uncertain world.
“The need for the kind of insurance policy and practical conservation resource Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank provides has never been greater.”
About 60,000-100,000 species of plant are threated with extinction – a quarter of the total – largely because of human behaviour, whether through the clearing or over-exploitation of land or climate change, Kew officials say.
The seed partnership focuses on collecting those plants most at risk – it currently holds seeds from at least 23 species that would otherwise be extinct – and storing them for for future conservation use or research.
Since 2000, more than 3.5 billion seeds have been collected and stored in air-tight containers in the temperature-controlled vaults at Kew’s seed bank near Ardingly, southern England, as well as in their countries of origin.
“This is the hub. There is no seed bank like this in the world,” said Paul Smith, head of the partnership.
He said the seeds in the bank would survive for “hundreds, possibly thousands of years”.
The first stage of the project cost £73.6 million ($128.46 million), funded variously from governments around the world and private sponsors, while the next phase will cost about £140 million ($244.35 million).”
Household sponges and cotton balls save endangered orchids
“The next time you use a sponge in the kitchen or a cotton wool ball in the bathroom, think about how they are helping to save endangered spider orchids from extinction in Victoria.
Ruth Raleigh, who is currently finishing her PhD at RMIT University and is the new Co-ordinator for the Southwest Wildlife Carer’s Network for the Department of Natural Resources and Environment in Hamilton, has been working on techniques to allow seeds of these orchids to grow in cultivation. The aim is to ensure that they survive, even if it is only in captivity, and ultimately to transplant them into the wild to increase their numbers.
In Victoria, half of the Caladenia species (spider orchids) are threatened, and of these about half are ‘endangered’, the category next to ‘extinct’.
Ms Raleigh spent three years isolating the ‘right’ fungus from a ‘good’ plant in the wild, as these orchids need a good fungus to germinate and grow successfully. The fungus stimulates the tiny seeds to grow by providing food from the surroundings, and then lives underground inside the growing plants.After extensive investigations, Ms Raleigh isolated the right fungi for the different species that germinated most of the seeds.
The tiny orchid seedlings were then ‘deflasked’ into larger containers, a process that traditionally uses a jelly-like material (agar).This process can cause much damage to the seedlings and Ms Raleigh wanted something more solid that she could use to handle the orchids.Preferably, she also wanted something that the fungus would gradually rot, leaving the orchid sitting in soil.
From the various materials she has tried household sponges, cotton wool balls and scoria from Dundas Quarry have been the best.The sponge is particularly good – particularly the blue and green ones.It biodegrades over about two years in the soil, ideal for transplantation to the wild.
The Victorian Department of Natural Resources and Environment (NRE) funded the project, which was partly conducted using the plant growth facilities of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne.”
Endangered Philippine orchids to find ‘home’ in the wild again
“To help protect and conserve the country’s rich floral heritage, a project led by Dr. Nestor Altoveros of UP Los Baños has embarked on the collection and re-introduction of indigenous orchids in selected protected areas in the Philippines.
The Philippines is home to more than 800 species of orchids, many of which are being collected and traded worldwide. However, unabated collection of this endemic flora has resulted to significant loss of natural orchids growing in the wild. In 2005, 143 orchid species in the Philippines have been listed as endangered by the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna.
To help protect and conserve the country’s rich floral heritage, a project led by Dr. Nestor Altoveros of UP Los Baños has embarked on the collection and re-introduction of indigenous orchids in selected protected areas in the Philippines.
Started in 2007 with funds from the Department of Science and Technology, the project has already accumulated a large volume of seeds of indigenous orchids all over the country. The seeds have been germinated and plantlets are maintained and conserved in vitro.
Dr. Altoveros recently reported that his project team was able to collect in 2008 a total of 200 orchid genotypes, representing 22 genera, from 9 provinces. Among the genotypes collected are three species included in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species: Amesiella monticola, Phalaenopsis lindenii and Vanda javierae.
Forty-one (41) orchid species with 111 accessions are now being reared in vitro. Of these, 73 accessions are in the rooting stage, the last stage before the plants are potted out into community pots.
The project has continued transferring the cultures to partner organizations which help facilitate the reintroduction of the orchids in the protected areas. Cultures have been distributed to the Makiling Botanic Gardens at UP Los Baños, Western Philippines University-Palawan, and the Department of Agriculture-Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao in Cotabato City.
Dr. Altoveros, University Researcher of the National Plant Genetic Resources Laboratory at the University of the Philippines Los Baños, said that additional reintroduction sites have been identified in Palawan. The indigenous orchids will also be brought to Palawan’s popular destinations such as the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center, Saint Paul’s Subterranean River National Park and El Nido Marine Reserve Park.”
Energy Audit Handbook
Making churches greener will now be easier thanks to the new Energy Audit Handbook created by the Justice and International Mission (JIM) unit.
The handbook is a revised extension of the five-year-old sustainability checklist. It provides practical tips and case studies on how to make churches more environmentally friendly and cost effective with energy usage.
“It’s new because we’ve had a number of examples of churches going through these issues over the last five years,” said JIM Environmental Project Officer, Cath James.
As the structural designs of many existing churches are difficult to make completely sustainable, congregations can select from a variety of options that suit their church and set targets for improvement.
These might include converting electrical heating to gas, turning off hot water cylinders when not in use, adopting long-life light bulbs and replacing high vent windows with double glazing.
The booklet advises on creating a congregation sustainability team, understanding what course of action to take, identifying where the cost of energy use is higher and how to get greener within structural confines.
For new churches a case study on the construction of Fitzroy Uniting Church, which is going entirely green with all materials, provides an example on what ideally can be done.
An example of an existing refit is Bentleigh Uniting Church, which has installed one of the largest solar energy systems on any UC building. With the help of a donations and a working group, it took less than two days to install.
With its recently installed solar panels in the shape of a cross, Tecoma Uniting Church proudly proclaims it is “Powered by the sun/son”. Brian Broughton, church secretary, has been the driving force behind Tecoma UC’s push towards environmental sustainability.
“We expect to break even with the cost of power usage over the next 12 months. Over 10 years we believe we will have recouped all the costs of the installation,” Mr Broughton said.
“We have also installed rainwater tanks and will be working with the local primary school and sustainability groups on future developments,” he said.
The booklet also explains how churches can apply for a credit rebate scheme. Churches can also borrow a power usage meter from the JIM unit, which can save hundreds of dollars on consultancy costs.
For more information, contact Cath James, Environmental Project Officer, JIM on firstname.lastname@example.org, (03) 9251 5279, or visit Green Church page on the website.
A Prayer for Copenhagen and Creation:
Creator God, We thank you for the beauty of your Creation, and for giving us the privilege of caring for it. We confess that we have not cared for the earth with the self-sacrificing and nurturing love that you require of us. We mourn the broken relationships in creation. We repent for our part in causing the current environmental crisis that has led to climate change.
Faithful God, sustainer of all – we pray with hope, because you are already at work through Christ to reconcile all of creation to Yourself and to renew all things.
Loving God, help us to turn our lives around to be people of restoration. Help us build just relationships among human beings and with the rest of creation. Help us to live sustainably, rejecting consumerism and the exploitation of creation.
God of justice, give us courage and persistence to work for justice for those most affected by environmental degradation and climate change.
God of mercy, hear the cry of the poor who are already suffering and will continue to suffer water and food shortages and who will be displaced by climate change.
God of all wisdom, give wisdom to the leaders of all the world’s nations who will meet in Copenhagen in December to work together for a global agreement to tackle climate change. Give them the determination to find a just solution that protects the people who are most vulnerable in our world, and protects creation.
Creator God, give us your Spirit to work together to restore your creation and to hand on a safe environment and climate to our children and theirs. Let our care for creation be our act of worship and obedience to you. Your kingdom come, and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
If you would like to receive daily prayers to your email during Copenhagen visit http://planetprayer.wordpress.com/
How Churches can fight Climate Change
This resource was developed as an introduction for churches beginning to think about how they can act on Climate Change. Please feel free to use it with your congregation.
How Churches can fight Climate Change:
Five steps to help you reduce your contribution to Climate Change:
1. Plant some trees for a greener world
“I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah tree, and the myrtle, and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the fir tree, [and] the pine, and the box tree together: That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the LORD hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it.” Isaiah 41:19-20 KJV
Plant a tree in your church garden and encourage your congregation to do the same in their backyard. Or contact one of the local environmental groups listed below and organize for members of your congregation to help them with a revegetation project.
Where to start:
Landcare Australia http://www.landcare.com.au/
Conservation Volunteers Australia http://www.conservationvolunteers.com.au/
Greening Australia http://www.greeningaustralia.org.au/
Tree Project (Victoria only) http://www.treeproject.asn.au/
2. Equip your community to act
“Happy are those who find wisdom, and those who get understanding” Proverbs 3:13 NRSV
Host a workshop with a guest speaker for your congregation and community on how they can save energy at home and save on both money and Greenhouse Gas emissions.
Where to start:
Australian Conservation Foundation Green Home program http://www.acfonline.org.au/default.asp?section_id=86
3. Conduct an energy audit of your church and work out where you can save
“And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living.” Luke 15:13 NASB
God does not like us to be wasteful (Luke 15:13, John 6:12) but rather to be good stewards of the resources we have been given (Luke 16:1-12).
There are a multitude of simple and cheap ways to save money and energy, but they will vary between churches. Conduct an energy audit to determine where you can save the most. In particular, review your temperature control. Heating and cooling are one of the greatest sources of wasted energy for many churches. Make sure you are using the most efficient options possible for the spaces you must heat/cool. Where possible use smaller rooms where the temperature can be controlled with less energy use.
Where to start:
Doing an energy audit is easier than you think- to help you get started, request a copy of the Energy Audit Handbook for Churches from Jessica.Morthorpe@victas.uca.org.au
For advice on heating and cooling see:
4. Make shared meals greener
“they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts” Acts 2:46 NRSV
Sharing meals together is an important Christian tradition. One only has to read Leviticus to realize that God cares about whether the food we eat is good for us… and the planet. Today, we are faced with the temptation of many processed foods which are neither. We also tend to eat a lot of meat in wealthy countries.
By making meals shared with the congregation or with the community vegetarian you can be more inclusive and significantly reduce the impact of these meals on the environment. Meat has a very high environmental impact, with a lot of water and land being used to produce it, and creating significant greenhouse pollution. By also encouraging your congregation to contribute using home grown, local, organic, unprocessed, less packaged, free range and eco-labeled products, you can increase the climate change benefits.
Where to start:
Meat free day faith resources – http://www.arrcc.org.au/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=56&Itemid=25
5. Community Sharing
“All who believed were together and had all things in common” Acts 2:44 NRSV
Use your church network to organize sharing amongst your community. For example:
· Create a church library
· Create a library of tools and machines (eg. Lawn mowers) for communal use
· Share the skills and knowledge of your congregation – encourage members of your community to run workshops on sewing, cooking, plumbing, information about the environment, climate change or eco-theology.
· Try organizing a second-hand clothes swap. Clothes have a large carbon footprint, so why not help your congregation to refresh their wardrobes without harming the environment.
· If people in your congregation are uncomfortable participating in an established car pooling program, they might be happier to participate one hosted by your church – where they are more likely to know the people involved.
Where to start:
For an example of one church that has put these ideas into practice visit Maroubra Junction Uniting Church’s Project Green Church site at http://www.mjuniting.org.au/Default.aspx?aCateId=795
They even have a DVD you can show your congregation!
If your church is interested in taking these and more actions to fight against climate change consider getting involved in the Five Leaf Eco-Awards, an ecumenical church greening award and support program for churches. For more information email or visit http://victas.uca.org.au/green-church/awards
Monthly Action Tip
Write to your MP in the lead up to the climate change talks in Copenhagen.
From 7-18 December this year, countries will meet to hopefully agree on a global deal climate change as part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations in Copenhagen.
The two main issues that countries need to agree on are:
What targets should be set by which countries?
How much money are countries willing to put up to address climate change – both in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions (mitigation) and also in terms of giving money to poor countries to help them cope with the effects (adaptation).
Churches through the Micah Challenge global campaign on poverty and injustice have been calling for the following action on climate change. You might like to make some of these points in your letter:
- Climate change is one of the most serious threats to sustainable human development and poverty reduction. The Stern Report (2006) stated that: “The poorest developing countries will be hit earliest and hardest by climate change, even though they have contributed little to causing the problem. Their low incomes make it difficult to finance adaptation. The international community has an obligation to support them in adapting to climate change. Without such support there is a serious risk that development progress will be undermined.”
- Micah Challenge calls on the Australian Government to:
- Take a leading role in international efforts to reach an agreement to keep the global temperature increase below two degrees. This should include a recognition that while all countries must play a part in mitigation efforts, developed countries have a responsibility to shoulder a significantly larger portion of the burden due to our much greater per capita contribution to climate change (both historically and currently) and our greater capacity to finance mitigation. Australia must be prepared to reduce its greenhouse emissions by up to 40% below what they were in 1990 by 2020 and by 80-90% by 2050.
- Commit to its fair share of external funding required by developing countries to adapt to climate change. At present the amount required is uncertain but it could be as high as $100-150 billion pa, of which Australia’s fair share would be $2-3 billion pa. This funding should be over and above the international aid commitment of 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI).
Politicians receive lots of emails and letters. But when a local voter takes the time to personally call or visit face-to-face, they’re much more likely to listen.
For all you need to know about how to find and how to visit your local MP got to: http://www.micahchallenge.org.au/assets/pdf/Action-Guide-%28VISIT-A-POLITICIAN%29.pdf
Preserving God’s Presence: Turning up the volume of God’s voice in your life
by Helen Goody
I’ve always been a little bit envious of the people in the Bible who have a direct conversation with God. Moses, for instance… no one understood God’s calling better than Moses. Not only did he have direct conversations with him; he got the “signs” that we all ask for when we seek God’s guidance. A burning bush and stone tablets!
Even Job, after suffering horribly and praying consistently, finally got a direct from response from God. His loyalty was rewarded and his role as God’s servant was confirmed. Boy, it would be nice just to sit down and a good cup of coffee and have God tell me like it is.
Most of the time, the closest I come to hearing God directly is after something happens to me. I was recently on a short-term mission trip, and I watched an older man become moved to tears after the work we did for him. “Ah-ha,” I had said to myself, “the long days of work, the aches and pains on a body that’s seen younger days, the mental pushing to finish. . ..this is why I’m here, doing this. God sent me here.” But I usually don’t realize the direction, the message, until I see the effect. Prior to that, it just an instinct-just something I know I should do.
My lack of clarity often comes from simply not spending enough time with God and God alone. Family, work, sports, and leisure time all tend to nip away at the time I need to stop and listen to God. I’m sometimes so exhausted at night that I fall asleep in the midst of prayer, and then get frustrated the next morning because I couldn’t even get in a quick word.
It’s why creation care has become such an important aspect to nurture my spiritual growth. There is no time that I feel God’s presence more than when I am surrounded by elements of his great design. There’s no question to me that God created the cricket or the ocean. And when I turn off the noises of humanity and turn up the volume of the things that God has created since the very beginning of time, I realize that I have opened the communication line with God himself. Better still, if I dedicate just a little more of my efforts to preserving those things that God created, I’ve not only made myself acutely aware of his presence, I’ve acknowledged that nothing is more important in my life than preserving his presence in my life. Ultimately I realize that I don’t need a conversation over coffee or a burning bush. I have a blade of grass and the song of a mountain bluebird to tell me about the series of miracles that made them and brought them into my life to send me the message of God’s love, to tell me to keep my life simple and focused on him. Nothing could be more clear.
And It Was Good
Need some time to focus on God and the wonder of his incredible design? Use this personal, seven-day devotion to dig into the meaning of Genesis and to experience how God’s handiwork has a direct connection to your life.
Day 1: Let There Be Light – Set your alarm so that you can awake before just before sunrise (you can do it!). Find a nice spot outside where you can have a good view of the sun as it rises. When light begins to break over the horizon, take note of the signs of life as you see or hear it. Then use a flashlight or candle to read Genesis 1:1-5. How has God brought life into your life? How does his creation reflect God’s presence in your life? Pray for more light in your life.
Day 2: The Water and the Sky – Look for a good scientific definition for why the sky is blue (you might try http://www.wikipedia.org, http://www.ask.com, or http://www.whyistheskyblue.org). Then find a sunny day to sit at the side of a pond or pool, dip your feet in, and look for a few minutes up at the sky. Think about the relationship between the sky and water. Read Genesis 1:6-8.Think about why God created that relationship. Think about why God separated the water and the sky, and how the act created a place for you to exist. Think about what God might want you to do in order to remember that relationship.
Day 3: The Land – Spend some time on a trail or a bike path, but stop for about 5 minutes somewhere along the way, and record all of the different species you encounter in that 5 minutes, including both flora and fauna. If you have time, continue your hike and stop and record for another five minutes. Read Genesis 1:9-13, and think about all the creatures that owe their existence to God for creating land on the third day. How is your role as caretaker a continuation of God’s work? How do you feel about the land, knowing that when God saw that it was good? How does God use you to “plant seeds”?
Day 4: Night and Day – Take an old sheet of paper from a day planner, or write down the hours of the day on a piece of paper. Write down one element of creation that you can hear or see for each hour. Read Genesis 1:14- 19. Why do you think the Bible refers to night and day as “two great lights”? What’s something in creation that goes on during the night that you usually don’t notice? During the day? How do you think God wants you to pay attention to him?
Day 5: Creatures of the Sea and Sky – Look out your window and see if you can spot two different bird species (yes, pigeons count!). Close your eyes and compare the two different birds. Why would God make so many different types of animals that could fly? Or swim? Read Genesis 1:20-23. Is God’s world simple or complex? How does your life fit in with God’s creation? How experiencing the wonders of creation a form of worshipping God?
Day 6: Living Things – Look for a photo of yourself that records a moment with you and your pet or some encounter you’ve had with an animal. How does your life fit in with God’s creation? Read Genesis 1:24-31 and imagine yourself surrounded by all the things that have the “breath of life” in them. How are you similar to other living things? How has God made you different from them? Why does God want you to understand the message you might receive from his creation? Ask God to help you understand your role as caretaker of his creation.
Day 7: Day of Rest – Think of some representatives of God’s creation that celebrate the act of rest: A bear in hibernation; a dormant volcano; a tulip bulb in the wintertime, a farmer’s fallow field. Read Genesis 2:1-3. Why did God want to rest? Why does God want you-and all living things-to rest? Now read Matthew 11:28. How does Christ’s presence in your life make “rest” possible? Take a fifteen minute nap. When you awake, offer a prayer of thanks for the gift of rest.
Source: Creation Care for Pastors Newsletter by Jon Rutz
Environmental Stewardship, Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor
The Death of Life: The horror of extinction by Sean McDonagh SSC
The Columba Press, 2004, Dublin, Ireland
Written by an Irish Catholic who spent 12 years living with a tribal people in the Philippines, this book is the perfect introduction to the Christian call to care for God’s creatures. Covering science from all over the world on the massive decline of species, the Biblical basis for caring for God’s creatures and the history and theology behind why we have often not, this book also provides suggestions for a new theology, ethical framework and a way of living lightly on the earth which provide a basis for the church to move forward in this area.
While the figures are dire, the general tone of the book is one of searching for a better future, not judging the past. Even though some emphasis is placed on Ireland in the writing, the book also covers the major regions of the world, including Australia. Most of the information and ideas are applicable to all countries. For example, many of the criticisms leveled at Ireland in the book’s last chapter could also be leveled at Australia; highlighting that we are not alone, as similar problems are faced by those working in this area around the world.
This book challenges Christians to adopt a new kind of pro-life stance, one that encompasses all of creation. This is presented as the special task and challenge of our generation. By the next generation, it will be too late. It is an important reminder of what we will lose if decisive action is not taken on Climate Change very soon. As God’s children and stewards, we are called to act and to follow in the footsteps of the many Christians throughout history who have loved God’s creation.
I highly recommend that if you are new to church greening or eco-theology or if you have been interested in Climate Change issues mostly from the perspective of a Christian responsibility to the poor; you should read this book. If you have friends in these situations give them a copy – you might help save the world.
“Look at the animals roaming the forest: God’s spirit dwells within them. Look at the birds flying across the sky: God’s spirit dwells within them. Look at the tiny insects crawling in the grass: God’s spirit dwells within them. There is no creature on earth in whom God is absent … When God pronounced that his creation was good, it was not only that his hand had fashioned every creature: it was that his breath had brought every creature to life. … The presence of God’s spirit in all living things is what makes them beautiful: and if we look with God’s eyes, nothing on the earth is ugly” Pelagius, as quoted in The Death of Life page 62.
If you’re interested in exploring your faith through blogging, join the Micah Challenge group on the A Climate for Change social networking site – post your prayers and contribute to the discussion about faith and creation. Click here to visit the blog.
You can also join and participate in the UN Climate trackers group and take action to express your concern about climate change and the impact on the poor. Click here to visit the Climate Trackers group.
Quotes of the month
Is it a time for you to be living in panelled houses, while the earth needs replenishing, and people are too busy to worship in my house? Consider your ways. You plant gardens but waste food. You eat when you’re hungry, and continue eating when your stomachs are full. You eat just to eat while people are starving. Because you never seem to have enough to drink, many families suffer. You wear designer clothes and leave price tags showing to brag of their cost, but you are not warm, You work, work; and spend, spend, spend the money you earn.You rob the earth of its resources and deplete the ozone. This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Consider your ways. Feed the hungry, clothe the poor. Go plant trees; replenish the earth, so my creation will honour me. Make time to worship in the house of the Lord.” Haggai 1:4-8 (Whose Earth? Chris Seaton, 1992, Crossway Books)
Let the fields and their crops burst forth with joy! Let the trees of the forest rustle with praise before the Lord!
God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.
When you are besieging a town and the war drags on, do not destroy the trees… They are not enemies to be attacked!
Recent highlights from the Crown of Thorns blog:
Christian Living Series
Making your bus ride to church an act of worship
Learning not to fear – the faith to stop killing
“The point is: greed, for lack of a better word, is good” Wall Street
The Green Bible Challenge
Do not lay a chisel upon it
Clean and Unclean Animals
Blood and Life
My laptop woes and the origin of consumerism and waste
Pillars of smoke and fire
Websites to Visit:
Micah Challenge Climate Change Website
Micah Challenge have a great new Climate Change page on their website. It provides information about events and resources for churches interested in this issue. See http://www.micahchallenge.org.au/climate-justice
Please feel free to pass this newsletter on to any individual or group who may be interested.