Why I marched in the Climate Strike
After almost three months of organisation, preparation and anticipation, our vision of a church united against climate change came to fruition on Friday, 20 September. The beautiful spring day commenced with worship, singing and communion at Pitt St Uniting, before over 350 of us joined 80,000 others in the Domain.
Together, we then marched and drummed under our Uniting Church banners back towards Hyde Park. A particular highlight was the incredible atmosphere created by the drumming, which energised not only our Church, but the thousands of others around us.
When the opportunity arose for me to take part in the organisation of the Uniting Church contingent with Christian Students Uniting a few months ago, I knew that this was something that meant a great deal to me as an individual, but also to our wider faith community. This was for two main reasons.
The first is that action against climate change is a fundamental part of looking after God’s Creation. Irreversible damage to Creation has already been caused in the way of biodiversity extinction, pollution of land and water, and rising temperatures.
We are called to be stewards over Creation, and I believe that in our contemporary context, we can best do this by uniting with others to demand climate action and policy, and by holding our leaders – and ourselves – to account.
Participating in climate action is also about standing up for and loving our neighbours. In this case, we can see our neighbours as those in the Pacific Islands like Kiribati and Tuvalu, who are already suffering the devastating effects of Climate Change. Our neighbours need our compassion and our resources. This was one of the focuses of the sermon we heard at Pitt St on the morning of the strike by Rev. Alimoni Taumoepeau.
The second reason why I felt particularly called to march with the Uniting Church is to do with the identity of the church in our modern world. Growing up in the inner west of Sydney, I haven’t always felt as though my Christian faith has been nurtured by the world around me, outside of my family, close friends and church community. I’ve struggled with the broad societal perception, especially amongst my generation and wider circle of friends, that the values and mission of the church are often at odds with the values of contemporary society.
I’ve struggled with the actions of self-proclaimed public ‘Christians’, and how to reconcile being a part of this larger Christian community with my own Christian identity, when my faith and the theology of our church seems to be very different to that of many other Christians.
However, the Uniting Church, especially my community at Balmain, is a community that I am very proud to be a part of and that I hold deep in my heart. Not only because of the people in this community and the way my faith is nurtured by these people, but because I believe that the Uniting Church and our theology embodies the true essence of what it means to be a follower of Christ. For me, the church’s presence at the strike was a way of showing that we are a living and relevant church, and that we have the best interests of our neighbours and our world in our hearts. It was a way of showing that the mission of our church and the social justice pursuits of our world are not always mutually exclusive. It’s times like these that I feel most connected to God and to my faith community.
Thank you to each one of you who worshiped, marched, or had us in your thoughts on Friday, 20 September. It was a significant day for our church and for our world.
Mia (middle) is pictured above with her father and friend at the Climate Strike march on 20 September.