Environment Commission

The Diocesan Environment Commission was born from a request to the Diocesan Council to explore proposals for enabling sustainable environmental practices to be put into practice within the Diocese.

The role of the commission includes encouraging and inspiring parishioners to become aware of issues affecting our environment and to take responsibility both spiritually and practically so that we can make a difference and move toward a sustainable future.

Learn More About the Environment Commission:

  • Five Marks of Mission

    Anglicans also have long been concerned about environmental issues. For example at the 6th Anglican Consultative Council (ACC-6) held in Badagry, Nigeria in 1984, attended by Anglicans from many countries, five marks of mission were described with the last one pointing to environmental issues (http://www.anglicancommunion.org/ministry/mission/fivemarks.cfm)

    The Five Marks of Mission: The Mission of the Church is the mission of Christ

    • To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
    • To teach, baptise and nurture new believers
    • To respond to human need by loving service
    • To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation
    • To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth
      (Bonds of Affection-1984 ACC-6 p49, Mission in a Broken World-1990 ACC-8 p101)
  • About the Diocesan Environment Commission

    In 2002 the Diocese of Newcastle accepted the motion moved at General Synod to implement an Environment Commission and accepted the responsibility of working together as Christians toward a sustainable future.

    Bishop Graeme Rutherford, then the Assistant Bishop of Newcastle was committed to ‘encouraging and inspiring one another to become aware of issues affecting our environment and to take responsibility, both spiritually and practically, for our actions so that we can make a difference toward a sustainable future’, and so the Diocesan Environment Commission was established.

    Initially the Commission was made up of Bishop Graeme Rutherford (chair), with Rev Dr Jonathon Inkpin, Mr John Priestly, Mr Steve Gero and Dr Geoff Rigby. The group met regularly to pray and to implement strategies which would make Anglicans of the Newcastle Diocese more aware of their individual responsibilities to care for God’s creation, our earth.

    In 2008 when Bishop Graeme retired as Assistant Bishop of the Newcastle Diocese, Dr Geoff Rigby an inaugural member, became the Chairperson of the Commission and continued to ensure the mission of General Synod was being encouraged in our Diocese.    Many folk across the Diocese have been members of the Commission over the last nine years and they are too numerable to mention, however we give thanks for their dedication and service throughout that time.     One of the important strategies that the commission conducted under the leadership of Dr Geoff Rigby was the nomination of an “Environmental Officer” in each parish across the Diocese.   Training days were held and information was prepared for these officers as a means of encouraging every Parish to play a pro-active role in this responsibility.

    In 2012 Dr Geoff Rigby resigned from the Commission owing to ill health and Diocesan Council gives thanks for his commitment to the commission.  Diocesan Council prepared a resolution to restructure the make-up of the commission in the following:   The Diocesan Environment Commission would be made up of the following personnel:

    • A Chairperson appointed by the Bishop – present appointment The Revd. Judy Walsh
    • Two Clergy representatives:  The Revd. Robyn Fry, The Revd. Cameron Freese
    • Two lay representatives:  Mr Bill Nicole,   Mr. Mark Aitkin
    • Three Parish Environment Officers: Mr. John Davidson, Mrs. Rebecca Francis, Mr. Eric McBeth

    The focus of the commission’s work being to:

    • Give leadership to the Church and its people in the way in which they can care for the environment.
    • Use the resources of God’s creation appropriately and to consider and act responsibly about the effect of human activity on God’s creation.
    • Facilitate and encourage the education of Church members and others about the need to care for the environment, use the resources of God’s creation properly and act responsibly about the effect of human activity on God’s creation, and
    • Advise and update the Diocese on the targets needed to meet the commitment made in the Protection of the Environment Ordinance.
    • Urge people to pray in regard to these matters.
    • The Commission to meet at least four times a year and report to Synod.
  • Environment Officers

    A supplementary objective of the Commission was to demonstrate to our local Community that the church has a role to play in identifying and implementing actions that can assist in the environmental arena. Some parishes have undertaken energy audits, installed energy efficient lighting, solar panels, rainwater tanks and have built community gardens as well as completed other projects.

    Does your parish have an “Environmental Officer”?  

    If not, may we encourage you to talk to your rector and seek a person who would be prepared to ensure your parish cares for the environment in your local area, and is aware of the footprint your parish is leaving on this earth!

  • Inspiration and Insights

    God values all of creation.

    • Jesus said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of God,” Matthew 10:29.
    • God’s Grandeur by Gerard Manley HopkinsThe world is charged with the grandeur of God.
      It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
      It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
      Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
      Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
      And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
      And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
      Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
      And for all this, nature is never spent;
      There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
      And though the last lights off the black West went
      Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
      Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
      World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
    •  “Climate change is an issue that impels us to think about God’s justice and how we are to echo it in our world.” Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, during the Bali COP. Link here for the full video.
    • “Live simply, so that all may simply live.” St, Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821) Founder of the Sisters of Charity, USA, Speech given in the Diocese of Baltimore
    • “If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.” ― Francis of Assisi
    • “The gravity of the ecological situation reveals how deep is the human moral crisis” Pope John Paul II, message for World Peace Day in 1990.
    • “The earth will not continue to offer its harvest, except with faithful stewardship. We cannot say we love the land and then take steps to destroy it for use by future generations.” ― Pope John Paul II
    • “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
  • Other Organisations and Links

    • Anglican Communion Environment Network (ACEN) The ACEN received recognition at ACC-12 in Hong Kong in 2002 and aims to provide support and information. There many useful resources and links at the website.
    • Australian Anglicans & the Environment The Australian Anglican General Synod Standing Committee has established an Environment Working Group which also has a website providing information and links.
    • The Anglican Board of Mission (ABM) ABM is the national mission agency of the Anglican Church of Australia. Natural disasters can have devastating impacts on communities. Landslides, earthquakes, floods, tsunamis and bush fires are some examples of the types of natural occurrences which trigger emergency relief responses. ABM supports our partners not only by providing emergency relief aid, but also by helping to prepare them for emergency situations and educating them on methods to mitigate the effects of climate change.
    • The Simplicity Institute The Simplicity Institute “is a non-profit education and research centre dedicated to advancing the Simplicity Movement. Directing critique toward consumerist and growth-obsessed economies, the defining objective is to show that lifestyles of reduced and restrained consumption are a necessary and desirable part of any transition to a just, sustainable, and flourishing human community. The Simplicity Institute’s aim is to promote this vision of the good life and help build a new society based on material sufficiency. The Simplicity Institute was founded by Dr Samuel Alexander and Dr Simon Ussher, who currently direct the Institute.”
    • Permaculture Principles “Permaculture is a creative design process that is based on ethics and design principles. It guides us to mimic the patterns and relationships we can find in nature and can be applied to all aspects of human habitation, from agriculture to ecological building, from appropriate technology to education and even economics.”
    • The Permaculture Research Institute (PRI) “The Mission of the Permaculture Research Institute is to work with individuals and communities worldwide, to expand the knowledge and practice of integrated, sustainable agriculture and culture using the whole-systems approach of permaculture design. This will provide solutions for permanent abundance by training local people to become leaders of sustainable development in their communities and countries.”
    • The Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC)  The ARC “is a secular body that helps the major religions of the world to develop their own environmental programmes, based on their own core teachings, beliefs and practices”.
    • Love food hate waste –EPA – NSW State government Love Food Hate Waste helps you avoid food waste, save time and money and reduce your environmental impact by planning better, shopping smarter and storing food effectively.  The Love Food Hate Waste program is managed by the Environment Protection Authority and run in partnership with retailers, food manufacturers, local government authorities and community groups.

    In NSW the government Office of Environment and Heritage covers a range of conservation and natural resources science and programs including sustainability, native vegetation, biodiversity, energy and water and much more as well (http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/ ).

    The Australian federal government Department of Environment “designs and implements the Australian Government’s policies and programmes to protect and conserve the environment, water and heritage and promote climate action. The environmental framework is being delivered under four pillars” clean air, clean land, clean water and national heritage. (http://www.environment.gov.au/about-us )
    CSIRO, “the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world. CSIRO has a strong commitment to undertake research that is focused on the environmental challenges facing Australia today.”
    Local government: Many local councils have good information on environmental issues

    Cessnock City Council http://www.cessnock.nsw.gov.au/environment
    Dungog Shire Council http://www.dungog.nsw.gov.au/environmental-services-dungog
    Gloucester Shire Council http://www.gloucester.nsw.gov.au/environment
    Great Lakes Council http://www.greatlakes.nsw.gov.au/Environment
    Lake Macquarie City Council http://www.lakemac.com.au/environment
    Maitland City Council http://www.maitland.nsw.gov.au/OurEnvironment
    Muswellbrook Shire Council http://www.muswellbrook.nsw.gov.au/
    Newcastle City Council http://www.newcastle.nsw.gov.au/environment
    Port Stephens http://www.portstephens.nsw.gov.au/environment-portstephenscd
    Singleton http://www.singleton.nsw.gov.au/index.aspx?NID=95
    Taree City Council http://www.gtcc.nsw.gov.au/Page/Page.aspx?Page_Id=70
    Upper Hunter http://upperhunter.nsw.gov.au/our-services.aspx