Building a better future

Building a better future

How many school students work a 40 hour week, on top of school, for free?  Quite a few lately, according to Isaac Hemsworth-Smith (14), one of the organisers for the School Strike for Climate movement.  Isaac is one of many students in a national collaboration to prepare for the 15 May “Build a Better Future” Day of Community Action. 

15 May was originally conceived as the next School Strike for Climate, until COVID-19 hit, necessitating the move online.

Isaac grew up in the church, making the faith his own as he got older, a faith which focuses on “loving and including everybody.”  For Isaac, this means including fossil-fuel workers as we transition to a renewable energy future. 

“I’m very big on the whole just transition idea.  I don’t believe in forcing people out of a job until there is a clear path for them to take in the opposite direction… that’s the biggest thing I fight for,” he said. 

Isaac’s passion for a safe climate grew in recent years, as he became more aware that every news story about the environment was gloomy.  Initially he got a mixed reception in the church, but now he finds that most people are on board, especially after the recent horror bush-fires. 

That change is in keeping with the strong tradition within the Uniting Church of care for Creation, a tradition about which Isaac expresses pride. 

Indeed, the Synod of NSW and the ACT has divested from fossil fuels, and committed to take strenuous action to reduce its own emissions, and to call on all levels of government to speed up our national emission reductions.  These commitments are part of the Climate Action Strategy agreed to at the Synod meeting in 2019. The Strategy also commits the church to supporting the climate action of young people, like Isaac, who are part of the School Strike for Climate movement. 

On 15 May, organisers are asking for Uniting Church members to show support from 4 to 8pm by logging in to a night of talks, entertainment, Q&As, and competitions.  Uniting Church leaders are also participating in an online interfaith blessing at 10am, and an ecumenical prayer gathering at 3pm. 

In the lead up, Uniting Earth has a collection of specific video resources for Sunday 10 May, and an entire service which you can download, or you can log in to a live Safe Climate themed service.

People can also share a personal message of support for climate action on 15 May. This involves filming and sharing a 30 second video finishing the sentence ‘I support a safe climate future for all, because….”  For more details, and to see other contributions, visit the Uniting Earth Web page here. 

Rev. Dr Jason John

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