Uniting for Climate
Uniting Church members added their voices to many thousands of students in rallies around the country last week supporting the global youth-led movement, Schools Strike 4 Climate.
All over Australia, thousands attended this most recent climate action on Friday 21 May in about 50 locations, with large rallies filling the major cities and smaller gatherings in rural locations.
With the call to “fund our future not gas”, the young leaders continued to urge our political leaders to re-prioritise investment into jobs that will fast-track solutions to the climate crisis and to accelerate the transition to 100 per cent renewable energy.
Ahead of the march in Sydney, Pitt Street Uniting Church was packed as Christians Students Uniting (CSU) led a powerful service reflecting on why care for creation is integral to our Christian lives.
In a joint sermon, Pastor Milise Ofa Foiakau, Pulse Field Officer and member of Leigh Memorial Uniting Church, shared how she was confronted with the reality of climate change in her family’s home in Sawana – a small island village in the eastern islands of Fiji.
Ps Foiakau shared how on a visit to her village in 2015, she saw for herself the effects of rising sea levels encroaching the island and how just months later Cyclone Winston swept through and destroyed the village.
“The impact of this catastrophe left tens of thousands of people across Fiji homeless. 40% of the population were affected by the storm,” she said.
“This is just one of the many experiences of the climate catastrophe. Our neighbouring islands in the Pacific face similar issues with rising sea levels and natural disasters, some are even in states of emergency.”
Ps Foiakau said the massive task of climate change should move us to action.
“I challenge you to allow the Holy Spirit to lead you into uncomfortable spaces, to speak truth in spaces of privilege, to listen to the wisdom from our Indigenous and culturally diverse communities as the Holy Spirit works through them, and to bear witness as Christians that we are stewards of all of God’s creation.”
“It is not enough to just sing praises of God’s creation like the psalmist. It is not enough to just listen to the word of God inside the four walls of a building. The Spirit leads us into the world to speak and to act.”
At the close of the service, in the sending out, UCA President Dr Deidre Palmer urged UCA members to see themselves as part of a movement of the Holy Spirit across our world, of many voices calling for climate action.
“Our crying out for justice, as we see the groaning of creation, is an expression of our common concern for the life of our planet, for the sacred earth of which we are a part,” Dr Palmer said.
“We join with our Pacific neighbours – and the Pacifica diaspora who are advocating for climate justice – to raise up the stories and voices of those who are most immediately and profoundly affected now by climate change.”
“As the Uniting Church, as followers of Jesus, we are called to take action to address the climate crisis and renew and protect the life of our planet.”
Mia Berry, a member of CSU who was a marshal for the strike, said it was a joy to be part of the event.
"I felt a strong sense of love and community within our church as we sang in worship together before taking to the streets. It was exhilarating to lead our contingent to the rally at Town Hall, and march proudly under the Uniting Church banner together."