At the State Mission Fellowship gathering on Tuesday 24th May, Mrs Jill Polkinghorne was in the chair. In her opening worship Jill reminded us that we had just celebrated Trinity Sunday. As we try to comprehend the concept of the Holy Trinity, she said that not only is the universe stranger than we think, it is stranger than we can think. So God who is Three in One is stranger than our logical minds can think. But there is much about God that we can know and understand. During the morning we sang several trinitarian hymns that celebrated our relationship to God the Three in One.
Jill introduced our guest speaker, Sally Shaw, who is promoting a Bible-based international environmental movement, A ROCHA. The name comes from the Portuguese for 'the Rock' as the group's first nature conservation initiative was a field-study centre in Portugal in 1983.
Sally had brought a power-point presentation with which to tell her story but this was not compatible with our computer system and after some problems the meeting proceeded with the Rev Brian Polkinghorne interviewing Sally. This led to a very interesting session which I am sure many of us preferred to reading lots of facts on a screen!
A Rocha was initiated by a couple of dedicated bird watchers who believed that how we treat the earth reflects how we treat our Creator and all creation. They were outraged by government destruction of wet-lands and set up a field-study connecting ecology and the Biblical faith that the Creator entrusted the Earth to humanity's care. They taught that by seeking to understand and look after nature we can serve God and learn more about our Creator.
The movement has grown in to a family of national organisations in eighteen countries, from the UK and USA to Ghana, Peru, Bulgaria, India and now Australia. Their projects are very varied. In Lebanon A Rocha saved the last major inland wet-land from drainage; in Kenya the team runs an ecotourism project which protects a coastal forest while providing local teenagers with secondary school education; in Portugal A Rocha scientists have used their long term research and monitoring data to urge the government to conserve the Alvor estuary; and in London A Rocha runs outdoor education programs with children from urban communities who would otherwise have no experience of wildlife.
Wherever A Rocha works, there are five shared commitments that they spell out as follows:
Christian - Underlying all we do is our biblical faith in the living God, who made the world, loves it and entrusts it to the care of human society.
Conservation -We carry out research for the conservation and restoration of the natural world and run environmental education programs for people of all ages.
Community - Through our commitment to God, each other and the wider creation, we aim to develop good relationships both within the A Rocha family and in our local communities.
Cross-cultural - We draw on the insights and skills of people from diverse cultures, both locally and around the world.
Cooperation - We work in partnership with a wide variety of organisations and individuals who share our concerns for a sustainable world.
Now A Rocha has come to Australia. There are plans for a land care and education project at Taree in NSW and here in our State possibilities are being explored for a wet-lands project and perhaps a partnership with an Indigenous group. Individual supporters, support groups and financial helpers are being sought. To find out more visit www.arocha.org or contact Sally Shaw at email@example.com
The next State Mission Fellowship meeting will be on Tuesday 28th June. Rev Matthew Bond will speak about the Schools Ministry Program in SA. All welcome.
Rev Norah Norris
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