Australian Anglicans & the Environment


Welcome to the web pages of the General Synod Environment Working Group of the Anglican Church of Australia.
Here you will find information about:

Why we care about the environment
Green by Grace: the Anglican theological statement on the environment
Information about environmental issues
Actions we can all take to help live more sustainably
Some Parish Projects
Links and Resources
Information relating to environmental theology
Contacts and network information
Background to the Environment Working Group
+ membership & activities

* New Material *

Coal Seam Gas - a View from the Diocese of Brisbane

A Spiritual Reflection on Humanity's Future

Eating More Sustainably

ACEN Report from Australia 2012

Creation Time - Liturgical and Study Material for 2012

What Kind of World Do We Want to Leave Our Children? - Aug 2012

The Sustainable Conservation and Use of Australian Water Resources

with particular reference to the Murray Darling Basin

Carbon Emissions : Why should Christians be involved in the debate?

The Management of Australian Water Resources :
A Christian Perspective


For an overview of the pages, visit the Site Map

We strongly encourage you to visit the Australian Anglican Environment Network site for helpful practical ideas and support for environmental initiatives and activities at all levels of the Anglican church.

Please note that this website is undergoing redevelopment, thank you for your patience!

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The General Synod Environment Working Group


The Environment Working Group was established by Standing Committee, in response to resolution 01/01 of the 2001 General Synod:

“That affirming the integrity of creation, this General Synod calls on the Standing Committee to establish a working party on the environment, including members of NATSIAC, to advise the Anglican Church of Australia on sustainable environmental practices.”

The intent behind the original motion was to provide both rationale and purpose for the pursuit of wise, well-informed management of the environment within God’s creation as a response to God’s sovereignty over His creation through the Lord Jesus Christ (John 1:3).

Since the Working Group was originally established, there has been an increasing understanding of the significance of environmental and sustainability issues in the church. This can be seen, for example, in: the Anglican Communion’s 5th mark of mission “to safeguard the integrity of creation and to sustain and renew life on Earth”; and the Anglican Consultative Council’s Resolution 14.15 (2009) “to weigh the environmental as well as the financial costs of all church activities”. It was also apparent in the continuing development of the Working Group’s own knowledge and experience since 2001.

The key task of the Group is to “advise the Anglican Church of Australia on sustainable environmental practices” and a fundamental step in this direction is for the Anglican Church to get its own house in order through improved environmental practice. Only then could it expect the church’s voice to be heard and respected by others.


Overall Purpose of the Committee

The bond between Creator and creation underlies our whole relationship with God and it is clear from scripture that this bond is not just with humanity but with the whole of creation (eg John 1: 3; Romans 8: 20-21). As a consequence, the Environment Working Group (EWG) was appointed by General Synod Standing Committee (GSSC) to:

  • assist and advise the national church, through the GSSC, on environmental matters including the management of energy, water and biodiversity, and on policy issues arising from the effects of human activity on God's creation; and to

  • give leadership to the Church and its people in Australia on ways in which they can care for the environment and address the use of the resources of God’s creation properly, responsibly and reverently.


  1. Assist the GSSC by reviewing and making appropriate recommendations with respect to policies, strategies, guidelines, and benchmarks that may have an environmental consequence.

  2. Assist the General Synod Doctrine Commission and the General Synod Liturgical Commission to develop theological and liturgical resources that enable Australian Anglicans to understand better and worshipfully respect the relationship between Creator and creation; and work with the General Synod Public Affairs Commission on responses to practical, social and political issues arising from the effects of human activity on God's creation.

  3. Assist Dioceses and other Anglican bodies to develop and implement environmental policies which express principles of good environmental stewardship.

  4. Prepare, or find, draft codes of practice developed elsewhere which:

    (a) set out good practice in relation to the environment; and

    (b) assist agencies and Dioceses, including ministry units, to care better for the environment, to use the resources of God’s creation properly and to act responsibly about the effect the agencies and its members have on God’s creation.

  5. Work closely with the Australian Anglican Environmental Network (AAEN) to provide policy material and practical information developed by Dioceses for collation and dissemination nationally through the EWG and AAEN websites or by other means.

  6. Recommend to GSSC as a matter of policy the targets that Dioceses and Diocesan agencies, including ministry units, should meet for reducing their impact on the environment including the date by which each target should be met.


The Environment Working Group has the following current membership:

Adjunct Professor Dr David Mitchell (Chair) (Wangaratta)
Dr Catherine Baudains (Perth)
Rosie Catt (Grafton)
Rose Elu (NATSIAC)
Dr Beth Heyde (Canberra)
Dr Barry Richardson (Canberra)
Dr Karin Sowada (Sydney)
The Revd Janet Turpie-Johnstone (NATSIAC)
Bishop Tom Wilmot (Perth)

Rosie also provides a link to the Australian Environmental Network (AAEN)

David Mitchell

Catherine Baudains

Rosie Catt

Rose Elu

Beth Heyde

Barry Richardson

Karin Sowada

Janet Turpie-Johnstone

Tom Wilmot


The Working Group has prepared several documents on environmental matters. These are: Green by Grace (LOCATION), Response to Kyoto (LOCATION) and A survey of Diocesan Environmental Practices (LOCATION).

It is presently concentrating its efforts in four areas:

  • Identification of the needs and available resources developed by Dioceses, particularly those needed to fulfil the requirements of the Canon for Protection of the Environment (LOCATION);

  • Provision of liturgical and theological resources for environmental reflection and action (LOCATION);

  • Maintaining and updating its web site of information for individual, Parish and Diocesan use (LOCATION);

  • Liaison with the General Synod Public Affairs Commission on responses to practical, social and political issues arising from the effects of human activity on God's creation.

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Activities Around Australia

As part of its terms of reference the General Synod Environmental Working Group sought to discover the response of each Diocese to the Canon for Protection of the Environment (LOCATION) so that it could understand the Australia-wide response and extend the reporting made through the General Synod Office.

The Working Group also wished to identify the needs of the Church with respect to developing effective responses to the fifth mark of mission by surveying the current situation regarding environment and sustainability activity and needs in Australian Dioceses.

Of the 23 Dioceses in Australia, 21 Dioceses considered the Canon for Protection of the Environment and 16 have adopted it. Most of these have also established Environment Commissions or equivalent bodies within their Diocese. These include:

Diocese of Perth Anglican EcoCare Commission (Links to be added)
Diocese of Bathurst Task Force for the Environment
Diocese of Grafton Environment Committee
Sydney Diocesan Environmental Initiatives group
Adelaide Diocesan Environment Commission
Newcastle Diocesan Environmental Commission
Melbourne Diocesan Environment Committee
Rockhampton Diocesan Environmental Commission
AngliGreen, Diocese of Brisbane Environment Group
Diocese of Wangaratta Environment Commission
Canberra & Goulburn Diocesan Commission for the Environment
Diocese of Bendigo Environmental Working Group
Diocese of Gippsland (commission name not provided)
Diocese of the Northern Territory (commission name not provided)
Diocese of Ballarat (commission name not provided)

Many parishes are also developing there own environmental initiatives (LOCATION)


The Environment Working group identified that maintaining a functioning connection between ourselves and key networks would provide greater capacity for the group’s work. One of the key relevant networks is the Anglican Communion Environment Network (ACEN).
In 1998 the bishops gathered at Lambeth expressed their concern that efforts to address environmental issues be given greater visibility and be better coordinated across the Anglican Communion. The ACEN is an attempt to do just that. After some initial work following ACC-11 in Dundee (1999), the Network received recognition as an official network of the Anglican Communion at ACC-12 in Hong Kong (2002).

ACEN aims:

• To encourage Anglicans to support sustainable environmental practices as individuals and in the life of their communities.

• To provide information about policies embraced by synods, councils and commissions, and especially by the instruments of Unity (Statements by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Resolutions and Reports of the Lambeth Conference and the Anglican Consultative Council)

• To support local initiatives by providing information about ideas and best practices developed around the communion.

• To share information about resources and initiatives that may be of value to Anglicans everywhere.

• To provide an opportunity for interested Anglicans to meet both as a formal network, and informally via electronic media.

Contact has been established with this network and the Environment Working Group is now receiving regular communications from ACEN.

Coordination of efforts within Australia has been facilitated by appointing Rosie Catt from the AAEN, to join the EWG.


Regular items in the Diocesan Newspaper

Two parishes are currently installing solar grids. This was one of the options recommended for consideration by the Task Force but these initiatives are independent of the Task Force’s report. A third parish has undertaken a tree planting program to offset emissions from a new air conditioning system.

* Eco-Care website being developed
* Carbon emission reduction pilot project conducted for Diocesan Offices
* Parish audit material delivered via trained Parish 'Environmental Ambassadors' - over 30 parishes involved
* Hot Gospel six week bible study c/- Felicity Roux, the Perth Diocesan Mission Plan Strategy Leader for 'Environmental Responsibility'
* A number of parishes are involved in paper and/or aluminium can collection for recycling
* Some parishes are involved in growing trees for planting in rural farming communities

Long-term environmental benefits are expected from the strong focus on environmental concerns by the Community Development Manager of Anglicare Victoria Hume Region (Suzie Don-Leonard) in response to drought, bushfires and changing rural economies. An Environmental Committee has established and is providing advice to interested Parishes with respect to environmentally sensitive management of environmental resources.

Economic and social benefits of sustainable building. Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn is the First Church member of the Green Building Council.

Setting guidelines for Diocesan vehicles; Revision of Rectory guidelines along environmentally sensitive line.

There have been notable examples of Parishes within the Diocese which have carried out extensive environmental building programs. There are many other small initiatives happening. It is a major aim of the action strategy to survey all church properties and put this information onto the website to promote what has been done and encourage wider action.

Excellent Water storage scheme at Sprinsure Parish.

* St Philip's, Annerley - regeneration of church grounds, community vegetable garden, contemplative garden walk, rainwater tanks, solar hot water, Clean Up Australia events
* Church of the Holy Spirit, Kenmore/Brookfield - riparian restoration for Richmond Birdwing butterfly, rainwater tanks for garden watering and connected to hall toilets, native memorial garden
* St Clement's on the Hill, Stafford - St Clement's Bushwalkers, native planting, community permaculture garden, Friends of Creation group, environmental hints in pew sheets, energy saving floodlights
* Church of the Good Shepherd, Logan - Nature Education Trail
* St Mark's, Logan - Season of Creation liturgies
* St Luke's, Collingwood Park - rainwater tanks, one connected to toilets, drip irrigation lines from tanks for extensive landscaped grounds, compost heap, environmental audits, creation focus in spring
* St Jude's, Everton Park - rainwater tanks
* All Saints, Arana Hills - native planting, rainwater tanks
* St Hugh's, Inala - community vegetable garden, Clean Up Australia event
* St Bart's, Mt Gravatt - rainwater tanks connected to flushing toilets in hall, native garden, native bee hive
* St James, Toowoomba - rainwater tanks, 2.16 system of photo voltaic cells on hall supplying energy grid, power saving devices
* St Mary's, Redcliffe - ecumenical services for the environment as contribution to Hay's Inlet Festival
* St Peter's, Southport - outdoor chapel
* Church of the Holy Spirit, Algester - rainwater tank, 2.16 system of photo voltaic cells on hall supplying energy grid
* St Michael & All Angels, Moggill/Mt Crosby - rainwater tanks connected to toilets
* St Augustine's, Hamilton - rainwater tank, energy saving floodlights
* St Paul's, Ashgrove - ECO group, local sourcing of fruit and vegetables
* St Mathew's, Gayndah - rainwater tanks St Mark's, Buderim - environmental audits
* SAILS, Buderim - volunteer run programs with environmental conservation focus for disadvantaged, marginalised people
* St Thomas', Ipswich North - use of 100% recycled paper, energy saving lighting
* Church of the Resurrection, Aspley / Albany Creek - rainwater tank, energy efficient lights
* St Matthew's, Holland Park - rainwater tank
* St Andrew's, South Brisbane - underground rainwater tank
* World Environment Day services - Annerley, Stafford, Logan, Redcliffe, Sandgate, Southport, Kenmore/Brookfield, Camp Hill, Ipswich North
* Cannon Hill Anglican College - Environment Committee, riparian revegetation, outdoor chapel
* Hillbrook Anglican College - Sustainability Days * Forest Lake College - newly established AngliGreen group
* St Paul's School- trial school for Climate Smart program, energy audits, Environmental and Sustainability Governance Policy for building design materials and site works, 10Kw solar panel on school roof supplying energy grid, rainwater tanks for irrigation of ovals, turfed areas and gardens, paper and cardboard recycling, environmental education
* St Margaret's Anglican Girls School, Ascot - Season of Creation liturgies, rainwater tanks, Sustainability Committee
* Canterbury College, Waterford - rainwater tanks, runoff dam to irrigate oval, environmental education, anti-litter program, Environmental Responsibility in Charter of Values
* Bush Church Aid, Wishart - rainwater tank, pool cover, compost bin, worm farm, climate smart bulbs

Download WG-Environment_Greenby Grace_.pdf


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Why do we care?

Globally and locally we see the problems - climate change and the CO2 blanket over the earth, scarce water resources wasted, crowded and polluted cities.

Yes – but as Christians, for more powerful reasons than simply wanting to keep our own environment healthy for our own benefit

Because we live in God's creation

Because God has given us responsibility to care for the world

Because Jesus affirms the goodness of creation

Because in Jesus' resurrection there is hope not only for us but for all creation


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Green by Grace

The Environment Working group was established by General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia in 2002.

One of the tasks of the group was to develop a statement on the theology of creation and environmental concerns. Green by Grace is the result of this process,
and a copy can be downloaded here:

Green by Grace (156 kb pdf)


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