"Within a single generation, we could steer earth toward our children’s future."
His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew
St John’s Community Care has been inspired by the words and vision for environmental sustainability of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. Known as the “Green Patriach” and listed in Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2008, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s vision for the protection and sustainability of our environment has driven our strategic and policy work during the past year. Patriarch Bartholomew has said:
“It is a qualitative element of our faith that we believe in and accept a Creator, who fashioned the world out of love, making and calling it “very good.” Tending to and caring for this creation is not a political whim or a social fashion. It is a divine commandment; it is a religious obligation. It is no less than the will of God that we leave as light a footprint on our environment.”
“It is never too late. God’s world has incredible healing powers; and human choices can change the tide in global warming. Within a single generation, we could steer earth toward our children’s future. With God’s blessing and help, that generation can begin now. For the first time in the history of our world, we recognize that our decisions and choices directly impact the environment. It is up to us to shape our future; it is up to us to choose our destiny. Breaking the vicious circle of ecological degradation is a choice with which we are uniquely endowed, at this crucial moment in the history of our planet.”
“Ecology cannot inspire respect for nature if it does not express a different worldview from the one that prevails in our culture today, from the one that led us to this ecological impasse in the first place.”
“What is required is an act of repentance, a change in our established ways, a renewed image of ourselves, one another and the world around us within the perspective of the divine design for creation. To achieve this transformation, what is required is nothing less than a radical reversal of our perspectives and practices.”
“Climate change is much more than an issue of environmental preservation. Insofar as human-induced, it is a profoundly moral and spiritual problem. To persist in our current path of ecological destruction is not only folly. It is suicidal because it jeopardizes the diversity of our planet. Moreover, climate change constitutes a matter of social and economic justice. For, those who will most directly and severely be affected by climate change will be the poorer and more vulnerable nations (what Christian Scriptures refer to as our “neighbor”) as well as the younger and future generations (the world of our children, and of our children’s children).”
“The word “ecology” contains the prefix “eco,” which derives from the Greek word oikos, signifying “home” or “dwelling.” How unfortunate, then, and indeed how selfish it is that we have reduced its meaning and restricted its application. This world is indeed our home. Yet it is also the home of everyone, just as it is the home of every animal creature and of every form of life created by God. It is a sign of arrogance to presume that we human beings alone inhabit this world. Moreover, it is a sign of arrogance to imagine that only the present generation enjoys its resources.”
“As Orthodox Christians, we use the Greek word kairos to describe a moment in time, often a brief moment in time, which has eternal significance. For the human race as a whole, there is now a kairos, a decisive time in our relationship with God’s creation. We will either act in time to protect life on earth from the worst consequences of human folly, or we will fail to act. May God grant us the wisdom to act in time. Amen.”Our Sustainable Future & Environment
SUSTAINABLE FUTURE AND
Certain sustainable practices have become standard practice for environmentally-conscious organisations around Australia, including printing on both sides of recycled paper and not using paper cups. However, the argument that we’re understaffed, overworked and don’t have the resources” has continued to hinder meaningful uptake of responsible practice, as has the belief that recycled products cost more.
Given current economic conditions, many not-for-profits are already struggling to meet rising demand for their services with fewer dollars and are, understandably, hard-pressed to divert their resources and energies to environmental concerns. However, for us at St. Johns’ Community Care, going green is a rational choice for a number of reasons.
Firstly, the long-term benefits of reducing our carbon emissions include lower costs, improved operations, and higher employee morale and productivity. Secondly, going green is a social justice issue directly linked to our mission of delivering public benefit and mitigating social and environmental problems locally and globally. The conflict between going green and financial stability is imagined in our case; we can do what is right environmentally and, in so doing, we deliver additional benefits to our community and our stakeholders.
For a not-for-profit such as St. John’s Community Core, going green is loosely structured around the concept of the ‘triple bottom line,” whereby the three pillars are: people, the planet and profit. By going green, we ore helping ourselves, our employees, and the environment.
Thanks to technological advances, our sustained dedication to going green has been not only affordable but effective in ensuring our funds are utilised with greater efficiency, by reducing our operating costs and allocating greater funds to our core mission. At St. John’s we hove been able to gain greater organisation-wide buy-in of our green efforts and this has led to greater staff engagement with our mission, thereby enhancing productivity and improving retention and recruitment.
We have achieved our objective by including more recycling, reducing water and paper consumption, saving energy by adjusting office climate control temperatures, installing light switches with motion detectors, and using or natural lighting. The significance of these measures is reflected in St. John’s having a substantially reduced electricity bill. Greater reliance on solar and a progressive transition of our vehicle fleet to electric and hybrid powered has significantly reduced our fuel usage and carbon footprint.
THAT WILL MAKE
OF THE DIFFERENCE
We continue to challenge our decision-making processes by asking ourselves whether we truly need on appliance, product or service in the first place. In turn, we consider alternatives that support our green effort by reducing, reusing and recycling. Going green is on important component of St. John’s mission and values; accordingly, we have demonstrated our will to embrace these values in practice.
St. John’s Community Care’s view is clear. Going green presents on opportunity for our organisation to further our mission of making the world a better place — environmentally as well as by directing savings into core programs and services.
Some of the central Scriptural passages or events that comprise the foundation for the Ecumenical Patriarch’s conviction about the sacred commission and obligation to protect the environment include: the creation of the world by the loving Creator, about the need to serve and preserve creation, about the covenant between God and the world, about using and not abusing creation as well as the Lord’s Beatitudes and Transfiguration on Mt. Tabor.
For Patriarch Bartholomew, this is a matter of truthfulness to God, humanity and the created order. He condemns environmental abuse as nothing less than sin. At Santa Barbara in November 1997, he declared:
“To commit a crime against the natural world is a sin. For human beings to cause species to become extinct and to destroy the biological diversity of God’s creation; for human beings to degrade the integrity of the earth by causing changes in its climate, by stripping the earth of its natural forests, or by destroying its wetlands; for human beings to injure other human beings with disease by contaminating the earth’s waters, its land, its oir, and its life, with poisonous substances – all of these are sins.