On Friday 23rd September, before the 2011 Synod gathering in Newcastle, a group of people from right across the Synod attended a “faith. on earth” day at the wonderful Hunter Wetlands Centre. It was organised by the Uniting Earthweb Group and Uniting Eco-Faith Mid North Coast. We spent time learning about ecotheology, participated in Godly Play, shared together about the environmental initiatives in which we're involved, wandered around the wetlands environment, and discussed a series of public policy issues.
Rev Dr Jason John, ecominister with the Mid North Coast Presbytery, led us for much of the morning. He talked about three ways of understanding our relationship with the other-than-human creation (Genesis 1, Genesis 2, the new scientific story), and invited us to share our learnings and hopes with each other. Read more about Jason, learn about some of the activities of the Bellingen ecofaith community of which he is a part, and read some of Jason's theological reflections including his electronic book "Worshipping Evolution's God".
Magician David Whitson, a member of the Social Justice Committee of the Hunter Presbytery, led us in a Godly Play exploration of the Genesis 1 creation story. Godly Play is a method of telling Bible stories that invites the listener to connect faith stories with personal experience through wondering questions and open-ended responses. Read more about Godly play here, and visit David's website here.
After lunch, participants shared about the environmental initiatives in which they are involved:
- Jessica Morthorpe, Canberra - Five Leaf Eco-Awards
- Lisa Wriley, Central Coast - Cash for Containers Campaign
- Jason John, Bellingen - Ecofaith community
- David Whitson and Helen Weavers - Hunter Presbytery Social Justice Committee's work on climate change
- Ross Neville, Molong - Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance
- Justin Whelan, Sydney - climate change and nonviolent direct action
- Miriam Pepper, Sydney - growing mission with community food
In the afternoon, we participated in a series of plenary and small group discussions concerning several current public policy topics, facilitated by Justin Whelan. For each topic, we discussed:
- What are the issues?
- What are the different views in the debate? What truth does each position bring?
- What are the stories/narratives underlying the debate?
- What is God calling the church to do in the public sphere on this issue?
Summaries of the discussions are available for each of the following topics: