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Wouldn't it be exciting (mid 2004) .

It hadn't taken long.  The longstanding interest of some members in their relationship with creation had, once channelled, blossomed.  The church now found itself revitalised, and an acknowledged leader in the wider community's understanding of its relationship with the rest of creation.

Permaculture was adopted as a practical way to express the need to love one's neighbour.  Every Sunday now witnessed the vibrant exchange of home produce in the market after church.  Relationships were built through the bartering for goods and exchanging of hints and tips.  Outsiders drawn to the promise of organic produce learned of the spiritual and theological motivation of the congregation.  The elderly shared their large rambling gardens with the young- most of whom rented tiny apartments in the area.  The young got land, the elderly kept their homes longer, both got healthy food, and the generation gap was bridged.  Recent migrants, with poor english but excellent food growing skills became valuable members of the community.  The homeless and hungry exchanged labour for food, and so gained both groceries and self-esteem.

Others responded to God's love of creation by growing plants for native birds and animals (or donating garden space for others to do so), so the neighbourhood became a mosaic of farmyard plots and native sanctuaries.  Church members and others of good will revegetated not only back yards, but areas of public land.  Others were overwhelmed by the suffering inflicted on all sorts of animals in the name of human convenience, so the animal welfare groups, which were originally stared by Christians, received a much needed shot in the arm.  Others helped make the daily operations of the church property consistent with their emerging eco-ethic, and so the energy auditors and plumbers and architects and handy-people got busy.  Soon they had formed a small consulting service to other organisations and churches.  After careful scrutiny of past Synod resolutions they succeeded in lobbying for their implementation.

As the congregation engaged with creation at the local level, they realised the magnitude of the problems being caused by agribusiness and land clearing.  Some members of the church started to channel their energy into regional, national and global engagement with the powers that be.  Each individual only did the little they could, but as a faith community, in cooperation with others of good will, they achieved enormous amounts.  The community forums organised by the church on everything from permaculture and world trade to the implications of evolution for family life became major events.

The waves rippled outwards. 

The synod's mission section identified the congregation as a centre for eco-theology, and members of congregations from around the state came to be part of the workshops and practical action.  The theological college resourced the congregation, running courses in the local area.  All Christians were challenged to engage their understanding of the faith with the way we understood the world to be.  Vigorous and healthy debate ensued, not as fights amongst opponents, but as struggles amongst friends and co-workers.  Members of the congregation even offered courses and workshops in the local schools and universities, where eco-education was an ever increasing focus.  The chaplaincy to the schools and universities further enhanced the conduit for young people into the congregation, as they began to see the links between their concern for the environment and the faith they had inherited from their parents.

Undergirding the hard work and hard thinking were the regular times of spiritual refreshment.  People spent time in wilderness retreats. They participated in a Christian version of the Council of all Beings, and the Grief and Empowerment workshops.  They met outdoors for celebrations of the seasons, and at night for "Psalm 8" worship services.  This became a major offering of the congregation to the wider community.  It even lead to one of the ministers becoming a part time chaplain to the local environment groups, where despair and depression in the face of overwhelming odds were a constant reality.

These retreats were not isolated events, but flowed out of the weekly worship life of the congregation.  These celebrations of life as creatures of God integrated the church's praxis, the best insights of the sciences about our place in the world, and the theological insights preserved in the parts of the church's tradition to which the Basis of Union constantly pointed people. 

Being such a locus of creativity, the congregation constantly produced music and liturgy which helped engage people in meaningful ways, and which was soon being exported, helping fan the flames of an eco-engaged Christian faith around the world.  People flocked to a church whose ministers were able to help them celebrate significant life events in ways which engaged them with, rather than distracted them from, Earth; birth, placenta burials, baptisms, puberty, relationships, marriages, retirement and death.  Faithful Christians who had left the church, because it was disinterested in Earth, returned in droves to a community in which they could draw deeply from the spiritual wells which sustained their practical engagement with those who destroyed Earth.

In just five years everyone was involved in this church of farmers, foresters, promoters, educators, fixer uppers, thinkers, students, teachers, worship leaders, song writers, liturgists, activists, counsellors, retreat leaders, managers, economists, conservationists, visionaries.  They knew that as they moved on over the following years, as Australians tend to do, they would take their mustard seeds with them.  The minister who first catalysed it had had quite a time.  The congregation had been keen, but only keen enough.  Nobody knew how or if it would work.  They had juggled permaculture and preaching, chaplaincy and community forums, revegetation and retreats, workshops and worship. 

It took a while to see how the existing programs of the congregation fitted, but of course, since they were all aimed at breaking down marginalisation in society, they all did.  It took a while to generate the critical mass needed to involve the theological college and Synod's mission section, but they got there.  By the time the minister who catalysed it left, the congregation was a self-sustaining interdependent system, to which ministers exiting the theological college vied to be called in order to form and be formed, and eventually sent on their way inspired. 

Exciting it was!