Thursday, 30 May 2019

Climate Pastoral Care Training Day

Written by Dr Deidre Palmer

On Tuesday 28 May 2019, I attended an all day ecumenical gathering of people who share a deep love for, and passionate commitment to, advocacy for the whole creation.

The Climate Pastoral Care Training Day was hosted by members of the Uniting Earth group at the United Theological College in North Parramatta.

We were welcomed to Country in the outside bush Chapel of the Centre for Ministry.

Local Burramattagal elder, Chris Tobin, led a smoking ceremony, and spoke of the deep connection to the earth of the First Peoples, their ways of respect and care for the creation.

Anglican pastor Dr Byron Smith offered a key note address on “A World on Fire: Climate disruptions without and within” giving an overview of the impacts of climate change, the environmental devastation that is occurring throughout the planet, and the urgency of the situation.

Byron said it’s a situation that calls for an intentional response from all of us – individuals, governments, non-government agencies, churches and community organisations.

It was a privilege for me to be asked to reflect on the theme of "Climate Change and our children” and how we might respond as a Church in offering care and hope to our children.

The need for this kind of pastoral care will only increase in the face of environmental devastation, and our children’s growing concerns and distress about the future of our planet.

I explored some ways the Uniting Church is advocating for climate action, and providing caring, encouraging, intergenerational spaces for our children, that seek to contribute to the renewal of creation.

David Brice and Rev Dr Sef Carroll from Uniting World provided insights about the impacts of climate change on our Pacific neighbours and Sef led us in a reflection on the ways our theology and Biblical foundations are shaping our responses to climate change.

The formal sessions and workshops were informative, challenging and inspiring, and the informal conversations and sharing of stories about people’s active participation in addressing the impacts of climate change were sources of hope and encouragement for us to continue to build this network of people, who share a deep commitment to, and advocacy for, the healing and renewal of the creation.

I commend to Uniting Church members our vision statement that was recently released statement, Our Vision for a Just Australia.

The statement includes our hopes for who we might be as a nation and includes a section that speaks of the Renewal of the Whole of Creation.