Expressing concern, care and compassion
It is almost 12 months since I took up the role of Moderator in this Synod. Like a first-time mother, many things — new and unfamiliar — made me nervous and anxious. But with the grace of God, together with generous support through prayer and encouragement from many (and I mean many) people, I was able to witness the presence of God despite my fears. In every encounter I also tried, to the best of my ability, to communicate openly and earnestly the signs of hope and the promise of God.
In early September I joined with 12 other people at our Synod’s Eco Retreat at Leard Forest in Narrabri Shire, part of the New England North West Presbytery. What a beautiful place with mountains millennia old, birds of many kinds and beautiful red gums side by side with the glorious, dazzling golden wattles!
In stark contrast, we also saw giant holes; mountains of soil removed to mine the coal beneath the famous Liverpool Plain food bowl. Coal mines not only threaten the life of fauna and flora in that region, but they place enormous pressure on the lives of farmers and the wider community, especially Gomeroi people who are the traditional owners of the region.
In 2008, our Synod expressed a strong commitment to ecological sustainability within all aspects of our worship, witness and service.
In 2013, we passed a resolution to call on the NSW Government to amend the NSW Strategic Regional Land Use Plan so that it would identify and protect vulnerable regions from mining and coal seam gas exploration, and to also stop investing in fossil fuel corporations and move to investing in renewable energy stocks.
Surely that was a courageous response based on our belief that God created everything for the good of all creation, not just for us alone.
I give thanks for the tireless work that our Synod’s Earth Ministry does to encourage us to be mindful of our call to stewardship and to remind us of the inconvenient truth about climate change.
Recently I attended the Forum for Climate Change in the Pacific. Young people from the Pacific Islands together with UnitingWorld and Sydney Alliance expressed their concerns for the threatened Islands in the Pacific because of the rising ocean levels due to global warming.
Sometimes people say ‘Out of sight, out of mind’, but thank God we are connected with each other and with the world beyond our immediate experience. Sinking islands in the Pacific are not off the radar for our Pacific Islanders, any less than the issue of coal mines and coal seam gas pipes damaging the Liverpool Plain is off the radar of many people in our Church!
At the celebration of Jubilee at Mascot Wesley Uniting Church in August, I was deeply moved by the active faith and strong communal spirit of our Pacific Island members who enrich our life together as a multicultural church.
We are also blessed as an inclusive, engaging and responsible community of faith, which consistently expresses concern for the environment and responds with care and support for people who have experienced disasters, as well as those from many parts of the world who have been displaced.
At the UTalk event I attended in Leura with retired UCA ministers, I heard a word of refreshing wisdom: “God is love so whenever we say ‘I love you’, we are actually saying ‘I God you!’”
Every time we speak words of care for humankind and the world we share, we are the means by which the love of God is revealed.
What a calling!
Photo: The Moderator pictured with attendees at the Leard Forest Retreat earlier in the year.
Rev. Myung Hwa Park, Moderator