Sydney conference to offer hope in time of climate crisis

With 150 Australian faith leaders, including the National Council of Churches, last week calling on the Prime Minister to acknowledge the world faces a climate emergency and to block all new coal and gas projects, religious concern for the future of the planet is high.

A further demonstration of that concern will take place in Sydney this month at Common Dreams 2019, a conference dedicated to progressive religious thought and action.

With the theme “Sacred Earth: Original Blessing, Our Common Home”, Common Dreams will be held July 11-14 at Newington College in Stanmore, and Pitt Street Uniting Church, Sydney.

One of the conference organisers, Uniting Church minister Margaret Mayman, said while the world was facing a climate crisis it wasn’t all doom and gloom.

“We need to be realistic but we must be wary of making it a hopeless case,” she said.

“We need a theory and practice to enable us to make a difference and we need to make sure we have the spiritual resources to keep working for climate justice.”

She said Common Dreams was going to be a celebration of life and the environment.

“Some of the talk in the environmental movement is as depressing as the church always talking about sin,” she said. “But spirituality can be an energising resource.

“Religion is not an exit strategy from earth — it is about loving and caring for the earth.”

Keynote speakers at Common Dreams will be:

· internationally acclaimed spiritual theologian, Episcopal priest and activist Matthew Fox

· social justice advocate Rod Bower

· Aboriginal leader Anne Pattel-Gray

Matthew Fox, exponent of Creation Spirituality, was expelled from the Roman Catholic Dominican order for, among other things, his feminist theology, calling God “Mother”, preferring the concept of Original Blessing over Original Sin, working too closely with Native Americans and not condemning homosexuality.

At Common Dreams 2019 he will speak on prophetic witness for social, environmental and gender justice.

Among another 20 speakers and elective leaders is Thea Ormerod, President of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change, who will speak on eco-spirituality in action.

Electives include religious naturalism, post colonialism and Aboriginal reconciliation, and how spirituality can be expressed through the arts.

Common Dreams will also host the Australian premiere of the film American Heretics.

/Public Release.