Canberra City Uniting Church earns environmental award
Canberra City Uniting Church has been honoured for its environmental focus with the presentation of a Five Leaf Eco-Award in the category of Eco-Worship.
Five Leaf Eco-Awards are an ecumenical environmental change program targeting religious institutions — a part of the community that has been largely overlooked by the greater environmental movement.
The awards are based on the creation care concept, which treats care for the environment as a basic tenant of religious faith.
Armed with this message, the Five Leaf Eco-Awards assist churches in fulfilling set goals related to sustainability and community awareness of environmental issues.
Canberra City Uniting Church is the sixth church in Australia, and the first in the ACT, to receive the award.
The award was presented during the congregation’s City at Night service in order to acknowledge the congregation’s dedication to caring for the environment.
That included participation in a range of working bees to weed and establish an environmental resource room at the Greenhills Centre. It also included holding discussions on issues around ecological footprints, greening the church and responses to the disappointment felt by many after the perceived failure of the Copenhagen climate change summit last year.
Some members of the congregation are also part of the church’s newly-established student house, which was recently energy audited to help its residents live as sustainably as possible.
The Rev. Myung Hwa Park accepted the award on behalf of the church. Ms Park, who trained in eco-theology while living in Ireland and was one of the driving forces behind the campaign for the award, was very proud to see the church recognised.
“Receiving this award makes us feel even more committed to caring for the environment, which I see as a crucial responsibility for modern Christians,” she said.
She is already working on what the church can do next, with a Cupcake Day event to raise money for the RSPCA being planned for a City at Night service later this year.
Five Leaf Eco-Awards Director, Canberra resident and Kippax Uniting Church member Jessica Morthorpe, who presented the award, said she was hopeful that Ms Park and the Canberra City Uniting congregations would inspire other local churches to get involved in the program.
Ms Morthorpe said, “The word is slowly getting out. Currently we have 15 churches nationwide involved in the program as well as many more who have expressed their interest.
“There are lots of churches out there doing things for the environment that deserve recognition and many others who want to do something but are not sure where to start or need some support and advice.
“I want to encourage those churches to get involved in the Five Leaf Eco-Awards. In particular, I hope that this award presentation will bring the Five Leaf Eco-Awards to the attention of churches in the ACT region. The awards are based here, so churches in Canberra have the opportunity to invite personal involvement from myself, as well as the existing benefits of being involved in the program.”