A transforming presence in the Murray Darling Basin

A transforming presence in the Murray Darling Basin

The Uniting Church in Australia Murray Darling Basin Group consisting of scientists, farmers, environmentalists, theologians, pastors and educators, was formed in 2014 in response to the draft Murray Darling Basin Plan and to the struggles of life on the land in the last drought for Basin communities. The Group is taking forward the Church’s vision and ministry to be a transforming presence in the Murray Darling Basin, offering pastoral care to the people and a prophetic voice for the reconciliation and renewal of Creation.

The Uniting Church in Australia Synod of NSW and the ACT Moderator, Rev. Myung Hwa Park will join Uniting Church leaders on their second tour of the region for 8 days from Saturday 1 August to experience firsthand the water crisis in the Murray Darling Basin and the ecological, economic and social challenges facing communities.

Church leaders will host community forums in Dubbo and Broken Hill as part of the tour, with experts on water reform, Eco theology, health and environmental education to encourage discussion and reflection on building a sustainable future, more resilient communities and a healthier Basin river system.

Rev. Park said, “My studies in ecology and religion not only taught me that I am part of all things around me but also about the interconnectedness of all things, particularly, the interconnectedness between life and faith, ministry and what’s happening around us as we engage in ministry.

“This sense of connectedness is enhanced by the deeply embedded notion of the triune God. The relationship between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is reflected in the whole creation, heaven, earth and all living creatures.

“I am excited about this year’s Murray Darling Basin Tour; I see it as part of our Church’s response to the critical water issues facing our inland, as well as the subsequent environmental impact on people. Travelling through the Darling River Basin for eight days is a pilgrimage in which the Church can show its commitment to affected people, the threatened environment, and struggling communities.”

Past Moderator, Rev. Dr Brian Brown and driving force behind the formation of the Murray Darling Basin Group, on visiting the region in 2013 recognised the burden of ministry was falling on relatively few, usually lay people, at a time when strong congregations were needed to support their communities. “These situations remind us to see the positives in an otherwise difficult situation and to celebrate the working of God’s Spirit in situations of joy as well as struggle,” said Dr Brown.

Dr Brown, who is joining the tour this year, will facilitate a community discussion forum at Dubbo Uniting Church on Saturday 1 August from 7.00 pm to 8.30 pm. Speakers will include health economist John Goss, environmentalist Helen Miller-Brown and Uniting Church Earth Ministry Consultant Dr Miriam Pepper. Rev. Ivan Roberts Resource worker for the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress will facilitate a forum at Broken Hill Wesley Uniting Church on Friday 7 August from 7.00 to 8.30 pm.

The Murray Darling Basin is one of the most iconic river systems in Australia and is undergoing significant environmental changes. It is also one of the largest river systems in the world and one of the driest. The Basin supports a diverse, complex range of plants, animals and ecosystems. It includes the Willandra Lakes Region World Heritage site, where the remains of Mungo Man and Mungo Lady were discovered.

The Murray Darling Tour goes for 8 days from Saturday 1 August departing from Dubbo to Bourke, down the Darling River to Wentworth, then to Broken Hill returning to Dubbo on Sunday 9 August.

For more information on Murray Darling Group events, please visit https://www.unitingearthweb.org.au/murray-darling or email mdbconference2015@ucansw.goregister.com.au

Lisa Sampson

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