A commitment to climate justice and care of creation
May 7, 2022
The 16th Assembly have passed a proposal from the Assembly Standing Committee that commits the Uniting Church to take seriously the voices and wisdom of First Peoples on climate justice and care of creation.
Proud Palawa woman and Assembly Standing Committee member Alison Overeem from the Southeastern nations of Lutriwita (Tasmania) introduced the proposal.
“It’s an honour and a privilege to introduce this proposal. For me it’s more than a proposal, it’s a way of being, it’s a way of knowing, and it’s a call to live out covenant. Care for country sits at the takila (heart) of what and who we are called to be as a Church.”
“As First Peoples the Creator gifted us the role of caretakers of this land. Care for country sits in our storylines, in our songlines and in our cultural practices. As First Peoples we know that if we care for country, country will care for us.”
“This is ancient wisdom connected with caring for, caring with, and indeed healing with country. We as First Peoples cannot do this alone.”
The resolution also calls on the Councils and agencies of the Church to join with the Assembly in committing to net zero emissions by 2040, while the Standards for Ministry Committee is assigned a piece of work to consider how First Peoples’ environmental wisdom can be embedded into Uniting Church formation, education and training processes.
Assembly Standing Committee member Raúl Sugunananthan seconded the proposal.
“I feel privileged as a Second Person to second this proposal, because this is about more than just climate justice, it is about covenanting and about changing our ways because of the path we have chosen to walk together.”
“This proposal is not completely new. For decades we as the Uniting Church have recognised and spoken out about the unsustainable ways we are exploiting mother earth. But the truth is that it has not been enough.”
“The climate crisis is already destroying land and disrupting lives. Something fundamental needs to change.”
“What do we mean by climate justice? This is a question for all of us. Do we mean a liveable planet within our current western framework, or are we called to a new way of living which looks like belonging and not owing?”
“This proposal invites us to challenge our thinking and embed the thinking of First Nations people which already exists in this Church.”
The ASC has heard about the impact of recent extreme events on vulnerable communities including Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (Congress) members and their communities through reports from the UAICC chair.
In conversation with National Congress, the ASC has been challenged to listen to the wisdom of First People who have been gifted with the care of creation since time immemorial. This listening needs to occur in ways that lead to urgent, genuine, measurable action and change of our behaviour.
The resolution also requests the Assembly Standing Committee to establish a working group to consider how the whole of the church can move together to net zero emissions by 2040, with a report to return to the 17th Assembly.