Ministering to Earth as a Church: Trees
Tree planting is one of the most effective ways of reversing the process of forest destruction and land clearance that has destroyed a major portion of ‘the lungs of our planet’.
One plan is to locate a piece of land-one belonging to a member of the congregation, a sympathetic neighbour or the local council-and designate it as a forest garden of the congregation. Each year during the season of Creation – and perhaps at other times – native trees are planted on this property as a way of rejuvenating the land and encouraging a revival of the native fauna and flora.
Seeking advice on the best ways of restoring the native life of the region should be combined with a plan to educate the children and youth of the congregation in ways of helping to heal Earth by tree planting. Young trees may be blessed in worship before being planted.
Caring for Earth at Home: Garden
Individual members may wish to reflect on whether they need a lawn that has to be mowed on a regular basis, or whether they might replant their lawn areas with native trees, shrubs or grasses that need less care and less watering. Native flora can facilitate the return of native animal and bird life. Honeyeaters, for example, love grevillea.
The time has also come for families planning to build or extend their homes to ask whether the timber they are using is from a local plantation or from an endangered native forest.
Networking for Earth: Forests
See the Action Resource Kit: Forests in the package of resources for Social Justice Sunday: Sustaining Creation, 2002, available on the website http://nat.uca.org.au/unitingjustice.
A discussion paper on forests and forest issues in Australia has been prepared by the Uniting Church of Australia, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania. This paper provides background information for congregations wishing to discuss issues of forestry and Christian ministry. Contact Cath James, Justice and International Mission, Uniting Church of Australia, 130 Little Collins Street, Melbourne 3000 – email@example.com
The Earth Ministry Team of the congregation may wish to investigate the critical situation in specific forests and prepare a petition to a minister for the environment. For ministers of the environment in Australia see website of state MPs http://www.vic.alp.org.au/ and choose the relevant state. The team may also consider linking up with a local group working to save the forest.