Christianity and the ecological crisis – Power to the thoughtful

More signs of hope are visible everywhere I look, in this season of Spring. From nature – two blossoms already on my pohutukawa from the Kermadecs, shining cuckoos and grey warblers singing in competition. One powerful sign for me was the recent conference in Wellington, ‘Christianity and the ecological crisis’, with the themes of lament, hope, action. It was jointly organised by A Rocha – the Rock – and Caritas.

We were led through LAMENT on Friday night, with reference to Job and the need for repentance for the ecological crisis we are facing. Emeritus Bishop Peter Cullinane then spoke movingly of our connection to nature and all life, which we unthinkingly plunder.

HOPE was the theme of the talks on Saturday morning, beginning with a thoughtful presentation on Christ and creation by Selwyn Yeoman, a Presbyterian minister from Dunedin. He has long been absorbed in our connection to and domination of nature, careless of the Master Builder who gave us our world.

In the afternoon there were a variety of workshops offered – on money, community gardens, sustainable energy without hot air, alternatives to the private motor car, what would Jesus mine? And other intriguing subjects, presented by those who were committed and spoke with authority. The discussions were wide-ranging and thought- provoking.

The evening was devoted to a plenary on sustaining hope, followed by a full discussion on what we would take away with us for our own lives. The moment of truth for us.

We concluded the evening with music and worship, which had punctuated the whole conference, reminding us that we are God’s children, gifted with so much.

ACTION came into its own on Sunday, after our sharing in celebrating with St John’s community worship.

There were ‘hands on’ projects in the afternoon for the active. The conference was a nice balance of informed discussion and action, following St Ignatius of Loyola, who wants us to be ‘contemplatives in action.’

I was impressed with the calibre and dedication of those who brought us together, and those who attended. Our meals were provided by a team from Urban Vision, the young Christian community working with those most in need in our city and other places. Their founder, Justin Duckworth, has recently been elected as the Anglican Bishop of Wellington, in a courageous break with tradition. Christ is truly working through His people.

There are many avenues for us to follow from this conference. One I discovered was the way the transition towns’ movement has influenced Christian communities in the Hutt valley, to combine their efforts to heal our past mistakes in practical ways, such as the massive restoration of the Waiwhetu stream and regularly cleaning up the foreshore. Can we energise our church communities to take up this challenge in the Wellington area? There may even be the bonus of taking our minds off current preoccupations with earthquake-prone buildings and falling congregations!

Truly signs of the times, if only I take the time to notice – and act – on them.

Tricia Kane

  • Tricia Kane is a former librarian and a grandmother.


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