“Coal and Gas in your Community: A Mission Study Guide for Congregations” was produced by Uniting Earth Ministry in 2014 to help churches engage in mission in the context of proposed coal and gas projects. It was developed in response to congregations asking for help with resources to understand and respond to the significant increase in mining projects across NSW. Below is an overview of the resource.
What is the purpose of this resource?
This resource has been produced by Uniting Earth Ministry to help churches engage in mission in the context of proposed coal and gas projects. It is a response to congregations asking for help with resources to understand and respond to the significant increase in mining projects across NSW in recent years, and the conflicts these projects are causing in regional and rural communities.
The purpose of the resource is to help churches to:
- Examine their context in relation to coal/gas mining proposal(s) in their local area
- Discuss the issues and explore the views in the congregation
- Discern their mission as people of God in relation to these issues
Who is the resource for?
- Churches whose communities face proposals for new or expanded coal or unconventional gas (e.g. coal seam gas, shale gas) mines, including communities where people hold opposing views.
- Small groups – such as church councils, justice groups, or other groups of interested people in churches that may form specially to discuss the issues.
- Churches which are not in a mining region but are interested in engaging with issues related to fossil fuels can access more general resources from this website.
What approach does the resource take?
This resource comprises four two-hour small group discussion sessions, which use the “See, Judge, Act” process from contextual/liberation theology. This process helps churches and Christian groups to immerse themselves in a situation of concern, to analyse the situation in the light of Christian values and teachings, and to discern how to respond.
Outline of the sessions
Session 1: MISSION: Who are we?
By the end of this session, you will have a clear appreciation of:
- The purpose or vision of your local church, and
- Your church’s strengths.
Note that Session 1 can be run as a stand-alone session for any church in any context – not only those that are facing issues concerning fossil fuel mining.
Session 2: SEE: What is our context?
By the end of this session, you will:
- Have an understanding of the coal/gas mining proposal in your local community, and the positions of various stakeholders.
- Have considered where your church membership stands in relation to the proposal and why.
Session 3: JUDGE: What values are at stake?
By the end of this session, you will have:
- A deeper understanding of the situation in your community, including the values that are at stake, and the values that you want to uphold
- Insights from social and theological analysis to draw upon in deciding how to act in response to the situation.
Session 4: ACT: How will we respond?
By the end of this session, you will hopefully have:
- A clear idea of how you intend to engage missionally on this issue, and
- An initial plan of action stating who is doing what to get you started.
Note that churches who are already clear about where they stand in relation to a coal/gas mining project in their community may wish to use Session 4 as a stand-alone, without doing the previous 3 sessions.