A Forest Chaplain
A 30% fulltime equivalent position, funded mostly by a Quaker grant, to support humans of any belief system who are defending our forests. An additional 10% fte, funded by the Uniting Church in Australia, is to support bring people together, further collaboration with First Nations leaders, and producing resources for the wider church. In summary:
- Provide confidential listening and debriefing to individuals actively engaged in defending the forests, particularly members of local “forest friends” groups and “forest neighbours” within the proposed Great Koala National Park (GKNP) area.
- Participate in Community Forums.
- Participate in discussions with local Aboriginal groups and advocate for Aboriginal sovereignty within the context of the GKNP campaign conversations.
- Contribute insights and information from the GKNP area to support the broader Forest Advocacy Ministry’s advocacy efforts.
- Support the monthly outdoor eco-faith gathering and non-denominational worship service at Gleniffer, and provide resources to support creation care in the Uniting Church and community.
- The forest chaplain role is filled by Jason John, a Uniting Church minister with a long history of environmental ministry, who has lived near Bellingen for about 15 years.
- You can contact him on 0438 609 097, or [email protected], or come and say hi at the ecological gatherings on the first Sunday of the month, 11am outside Gleniffer Church.
- This very new role started on November 15th, 2023, so everything here is still under construction! At the Dec 10th Lament and Hope event we started to compile support and action resources, and you can go to the resources page to see that list, and any updates.
A Forest Chaplain- full position description
The Forest Chaplain plays a crucial role in providing pastoral care and support to forest defenders operating in the New South Wales (NSW) Mid North Coast region. The primary focus is on individuals and communities actively engaged in safeguarding forests within the proposed Great Koala National Park (GKNP). This role serves to address the ongoing challenges faced by these communities, even given the promise of the GKNP by the government. Native forest logging continues to exert pressures on these areas, necessitating dedicated pastoral support.
Pastoral Care and Chaplaincy for Forest Defenders
• Provide pastoral care and chaplaincy services to individuals actively engaged in defending the forests, particularly members of local “forest friends” groups (groups that have formed to protect particular forests) and “forest neighbours” (those who live directly adjacent to the forests) within the proposed Great Koala National Park (GKNP) area.
• Assist in connecting individuals with professional support services when necessary, to provide for their emotional and mental well-being.
• Take a leadership role in establishing a chaplaincy and pastoral care network for forest defenders.
• Collaborate with resources and support from the Uniting Church and potentially pro bono services from external partners.
• Organize or provide pastoral care and support to forest defenders operating outside the GKNP area, as time permits.
Engagement with Community Forums
• Strategically participate in meetings organized by forest friends’ groups and other community-led forums related to the GKNP.
• Offer facilitation or additional support as required during these meetings.
• Conduct follow-up discussions and debriefs with participants to support their needs.
Advocacy for Aboriginal Sovereignty
• Participate in discussions with local Aboriginal leaders and groups and advocate for Aboriginal sovereignty within the context of the GKNP campaign conversations.
Contributions to Forest Advocacy
• Contribute insights and information from the GKNP area to support the broader Forest Advocacy Ministry’s advocacy efforts.
Missional Gatherings and Discipleship
- Support and build the monthly ecological gatherings at Gleniffer; strengthen connections with local congregations; collaborate with local Aboriginal leaders to support community led approaches to Creation Care and collaborate to create opportunities and resources for the wider Uniting Church to consider discipleship through the lens of the Church’s commitment to Stewardship of the Earth.
This position was made possible by the generous support of the Jan de Voogd Peace Fund, which is a bequest administered by the Quakers. The fund provides most of the money for 30% of fulltime equivalent chaplaincy, with further contributions from Uniting Church members and others to cover hospitality, advocacy, and administrative costs involved in the Koala Chaplaincy project.
A subsequent contribution by the NSW/ACT Uniting Church Growth fund provides an additional 10% of fulltime, focussed on creating opportunities for gathering people together.
The Mid North Coast Presbytery of the Uniting Church provides the oversight and administration of the position, and the Forest Advocacy Ministry Committee is the main body that collaborates with the chaplain.
Ten percent of funds gained through donations goes directly to support Aboriginal groups in the area.