What is this “earthing” all about?
For a while now we have been talking about churches going “green”. We could just as easily talk about “blue” churches (how much of our planet is covered by water?), or “ochre” churches (in a country like Australia). Whatever colour we call it, what we are really doing is “earthing” the lives of our churches, working for a stronger connection between ecology and Christian faith and practice in all of its aspects. Earthing our churches is about living up to our calling to participate in God’s mission, made known in Christ, of reconciling and renewing the whole of the creation. The Uniting Church professed this calling at the time of its foundation 31 years ago (Basis of Union, paragraph 3). It is about us putting this profession into practice!
Practical ideas for taking action in your church or community:
- Worship resources
- Tools to help you reduce the ecological footprint of your buildings
- Community project ideas and
- Advocacy suggestions.
How do you do it?
Earthing our churches is much more than greening our buildings, although this is an important component. It is also about worship and teaching, the lives of our congregations, and mission and outreach in the broader community. Here are some ideas to get you started:
1) Worship and teaching
Many churches across Australia celebrate the Season of Creation in September/October. Resources are available here and you can learn about Season of Creation as it is celebrated around the world here.
For Bible study or cell groups, see resources here. Pray about ecological issues in church on a regular basis. Hold worship outside.
2) Church buildings and property
Conduct an energy audit of your buildings, and see how you can reduce (and then commit to reducing!) your energy use. Switch to renewable electricity (GreenPower). Get a water tank. Plant a native garden. Talk to your local council. See resources from the Five Leaf Eco Awards to help you.
3) Church congregation
Support the members of your congregation in earthing their lives as well. For ideas on how to reduce your home’s ecological footprint:
- See the Federal Government’s Your Home website.
- Join Renew, a not-for-profit that enables and inspires people to live sustainably in their homes and communities, and subscribe to their Sanctuary magazine, which is all about sustainable houses.
Do things as a congregation – start a tool library, a fruit and veg box scheme or food cooperative. Encourage people to lift share, cycle, walk, or use public transport to get to church.
4) Mission and outreach
Reach out beyond the walls of the church, and connect with the community on issues of ecology.
- Host an event at your church: Such as an open day, fete, speaker, seminar, or film screening where you concentrate on or include ecological themes.
- Start a community garden: Many churches host community garden projects, involving community groups and individuals from outside the church. What a great way to build relationships and skills, to connect with the soil, reduce food miles; and eat healthily. For information about community gardens, see http://www.communitygarden.org.au or our Growing Mission with Community Food resource.
- Campaign: For public policies that are protective of the earth and all its people. Find out about environmental campaigning groups in your area, e.g. http://www.climateforchange.org.au/join_the_climate_movement, https://www.climateforchange.org.au/climate_movement#nswgroups and https://www.movebeyondcoal.com/ and how your church can support them. Join the Uniting Climate Action Network or ARRCC. Get involved in demonstrations or non-violent direction actions, or if this isn’t you, consider supporting others who are involved with your prayers.
Help! This all seems too much!
The key to all of this is to start small, with something you can manage, and then to become more ambitious as you build momentum. Gather a core group of people who will drive the earthing of your church. Seek support from others – join the Uniting Earth Facebook group, a network of Uniting Church people within NSW and the ACT who are interested in ecology. Celebrate your successes. Share your good news and learning with others. Pray, pray, pray!