Messages of Hope

#unitingforclimate

Published / by Sandy

A friend in NSW, and a leader in environmental matters in the UCA and raising the profile of the climate emergency, posted this comment on a Facebook post this morning: “The visiting preacher at our (rural) church this morning expressed climate denial in the sermon. Sigh”. It generated quite a few comments including one person who asserted the right to ‘free speech’.

In a highly individualised society, and the same for the congregations, our sense of shared identity as the UCA and commitment to the ‘common good’ is somewhat fractured. The ACT2 project initiated by the Assembly Standing Committee has identified a need ‘to further develop a cohesive, national character and vision for the UCA’. Not everyone will be ‘au fait‘ with or care much about what the UCA Assembly is doing, but I have to say that the resources prepared and the work being done across many diverse areas to resource the UCA is extraordinary.

The Uniting Church has prepared a theological statement on climate change, and has commitments to reduce impact of climate change. There are various resource online including the Assembly National Climate Action Plan which states “Acting to make this vision a reality, we will work with all parts of the Uniting Church to reduce emissions by 5% per annum and aim to become a net zero emissions church by 2040”. And more online statements and resources here.

I read the comments about and by younger leaders in the UCA (see below) with a glad heart. (Originally published on the UCA Assembly website)

In the final days of the COP26 talks in Glasgow, young UCA members have shared their reflections on why we must act on climate change, urging our world leaders to do more.

Young people have played a leading role in generating momentum and support for climate action, and this is also true within the Uniting Church where many of our young members have been on the frontline of advocacy calling for actions and policies that provide the greatest hope for God’s creation. (See their messages below).

Michael Ramaidama Utoni, a member of Burwood Uniting Church and Christian Students Uniting, who is originally from Fiji, this week reflected on the devastating effects of climate change. His reflection includes a poem he wrote highlighting the impact of rising sea levels for people in the Pacific, dislocating people from their homes and their identity. Here is Michael’s reflection and poem:

The effects of climate change in the Pacific Islands are devastating and life-threatening. The ever-rising sea level has threatened many villages along the coast of our islands to relocate to higher grounds. Still, this is not an option for some island nations such as Tuvalu, Kiribati, and the Marshall Islands. Relocation and migration challenge and affects our identity. Our Oceania people are crying out for help and for Australia and other developed countries to make the necessary sacrifices for the sake of humanity. Please act now to leave us at least, if not liveable, a trace of who we are. The poem ‘I Am’ shares our journey of experiencing the sea-level rise and our continuing cry to have our home, our identity saved. 

I Am

The Tides sweeps in 
To the toes of I Am
To the ankles of I Am –
There is a foreboding presence 
What is that? I Am asks
Wind whispers in the far off trees

I Am feels a change
The foam now reaches the calves of I Am 
A tide mark left on the knees
I Am surfs out for help –
It keeps rising to the thighs and hips 
I Am shouts 

A heavy swell on the chest of I Am
Seawater flows into the heart
Cries remain unheard
Tongue tastes brine
The tears of I Am
Hands of I Am reach for the air

But who will notice?
On a dead zone 
I Am waves goodbye
I Am What Once Was

In the same vein as Michael’s poem, Tuvalu’s Minister for Justice, Communication and Foreign Affairs, Simon Kofe, delivered his video statement to the COP26 climate conference in a suit and tie and knee deep in seawater.

The Pacific Conference of Churches is also highlighting the voices of young people with a prayer from a Pacific young person each day of the COP26 meeting shared on their Facebook page.

The comments below are from younger leaders in the UCA.