St Andrew’s Uniting Church Fairfield

Mark Dingle (Chair of Church Council), Mary Stringer (environmental leader in the congregation) and Jessica Morthorpe (Five Leaf Eco-Awards) hold the award certificates.

On World Environment Day 2022, St Andrew’s Uniting Church Fairfield was recognised with three prestigious environmental awards for their commitment to climate action and advocacy.

Five Leaf Eco-Awards Founder and Director Jessica Morthorpe visited the church to present the three awards: the Five Leaf Eco-Awards Basic Certificate, Eco-Worship Award and Climate Activism Award. These awards acknowledge the many actions the church has taken, including their solar powered and energy efficient manse, community vegetable garden and native garden, along with their tiny library and Gateway Op Shop.

The congregation believes it is important not to accept the status quo, and regularly advocate for a more sustainable environment by joining marches, writing to parliamentarians and signing petitions. They have also been very active in climate advocacy, including involvement in the School Strikes for Climate, holding a climate forum with local politicians, and declaring a Climate Emergency.

Signage on the western façade of the church clearly expresses its commitment to mother earth, saying, “Killing the Planet is against our Religion. Bold climate action by 2030 starting now”. A small produce garden of fruit trees, herbs and vegetables flourishes nearby.

Congregation member Helen said that the church has become “a haven for those who care for the environment.” The church hosts environmental displays in their windows and at Christmas sings “Carols Against Coal” to raise awareness of the need for action on climate.

When asked how St Andrew’s made them feel at home, another congregation member said, “it is because this church cares about our planet as if it is our ‘home’ and as such it offers us a wholistic view of God’s creation”.

In a delightful contrast to the Joni Mitchell song, St Andrew’s have also turned a parking lot/vacant area into paradise by converting it into a tiny park where busy shoppers can take refuge and the natural environment can enter the church via its massive Northern window. Once a month gardeners use the space to meet to give away their excess produce.

On presenting the awards, Jessica Morthorpe said, “St Andrew’s have been doing amazing work in the environmental and climate advocacy and action space for many years and it is a real honour to be able to recognise that today. I hope they’re encouraged by the awards and keen to do even more.”

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