An important component of earthing the life of your church is about your mission in your community. Why not consider matters of ecology when you build connections beyond the walls of your church? The ways to get involved in ecological mission are many. Some suggestions are:
- Small groups
- Events with an ecological focus
- Build relationships with other local groups
- Community gardening
The Uniting Church has a small groups project called “U-turn”. A U-turn group is a small group which meets regularly and involves at least three people from outside the church. U-turn groups can be focused on anything in which the group members have an interest, including ecology. Your u-turn group could be an environmental discussion group, or could focus on outdoor activities (e.g. walking, cycling, bush care), sharing skills (e.g. gardening, sewing), or sharing food.
Host an event at your church, such as an open day, fete, speaker, seminar, or film screening where you concentrate on or include ecological themes.
Build Relationships with Other Local Groups
Are there ways that you can link up with other groups in your area in relation to ecology? For example, maybe you can support your local climate action group (find out if there is one at http://www.climateforchange.org.au/join_the_climate_movement). There may also be a community garden in your local area, and groups that work on specific local environmental concerns. A good point of contact to find out about groups in your area is your local council.
Another idea is to work on an environmental project ecumenically. For example, a Clean Up Australia Day project, an Earth Hour event, or a combined service during the Season of Creation. General resources on covenanting and local ecumenism are available from the NSW Ecumenical Council.
A growing number of churches are converting their lawns, pavers, or tennis courts into community gardens, and inviting community groups and individuals from outside the church to come and participate in food growing.
The benefits of a community garden are manifold, really demonstrating how ecology is all about interconnection. Community gardens provide the means by which people can grow fresh food locally, thereby assisting with nutritional health and encouraging physical activity. Learning to garden builds skills in a community, and provides opportunities for education and action concerning issues of food security, food production practices, compost and waste management, water conservation, and biodiversity enhancement. As a shared social activity, community gardening also builds a sense of community.