Missional Gatherings Getting to the Bottom of the Problem

Missional Gatherings Getting to the Bottom of the Problem

Sanitation is something that missional gatherings rarely have to think about in detail.

But not so for the Forest Advocacy Ministry, which holds most of its activities outdoors.

Last year’s Forest Advocacy Ministry field visit on Gumbaynggirr Country (Mid North Coast) included an opening event at Gleniffer Community Church, which has no toilet, and visits to forests.

The issue of toileting became a regular preoccupation at planning meetings.

“We spent a large amount of time talking about toilet logistics,” said Dr Miriam Pepper, secretary of the Forest Advocacy Ministry Committee.

“What sort we needed, where we would hire it from, how we would pay for it, who was going to collect it, where it would be stored, might it be stolen, who would tow it, would we need it for every activity, would the roads be suitable. We were pooped! And then at the field visit itself, the portaloo became the butt of many jokes. It went on and on!”

Now, thanks to a Mission Shaped Ministry seed grant, the Ministry can get to the bottom of the problem. The grant will pay part of the costs of a trailer-mounted composting toilet.

More environmentally friendly than a standard portaloo, the composting toilet will support regular missional gatherings at Gleniffer Community Church, particularly the monthly outdoor “Ecofaith” gatherings, which explore the life and teachings of Jesus and ecotheological resources, including e-scatology, and seek to encounter the God of life directly out amongst life.

The toilet will also be used at the upcoming Forest Protection Pilgrimage.

Logging is intensifying on Gumbaynggirr country, destroying critical habitat for koalas and other threatened species. The Forest Protection Pilgrimage, in the Bellingen area from 25  to 27 August, aims to:

  • Support “forest friends” groups who are protecting forests from imminent logging.
  • Increase awareness among Christians of the importance of achieving the maximum possible protection of koala habitat, and encourage their involvement in efforts to protect habitat and end native forest logging.
  • Foster friendship between Forest Advocacy Ministry participants and forest friends.
  • Provide opportunities for spiritual connection with the earth/Earth, focusing on forests and water.
  • Invite participants to experience and reflect on ministry in the context of the destruction of forests and community efforts to protect them.

The weekend will include a Welcome to Country and yarning, time with forest friends, a day pilgrimage through threatened forest, a public event drawing attention to the plight of the forests, an ecofaith outdoor gathering and more. All are welcome to attend.

The toilet will also be available to the many friends groups who are holding vigils, forest protection camps, and larger public rallies far from facilities.

“The Uniting Church affirms that all creatures and ecosystems have rights and that God’s Creation is good in itself, as well as in sustaining human life,” said Jeff Kite, chairperson of the Forest Advocacy Ministry Committee and a retired water resources engineer. “The churches are called to serve the ‘reconciliation and renewal of the whole Creation’ – that is, the healing and wholeness of Earth.

“The Forest Advocacy Ministry is committed to challenging the destruction of the forests and to standing alongside people who are doing likewise. Being responsible with our wastes is a part of that commitment.”

Go here to:

  • Find out more information about the Forest Protection Pilgrimage and register.
  • Help to fund the composting toilet and the Forest Advocacy Ministry by giving a donation.
  • Add your voice to the call to protect God’s forests.


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