Victoria: Climate Change and Social Justice

greatest moral challenge of our generationClimate change and social justice is a community forum hosted by the Inner North Anglican Network: All Saints Northcote, St Mark’s Fitzroy and St Philip’s Collingwood on Saturday 16 November 2019, 3.00 pm to 5.00 pm at St Philip’s Anglican Church, 146 Hoddle Street, Abbotsford.

We are seeking to engage their local communities in discussion of issues of importance, such as ethical and social justice issues. In 2018 housing was identified as an issue of immediate relevance in that the public housing estate opposite All Saints was scheduled for demolition and replacement by mainly private housing. A community forum on housing and social justice has led to long-term engagement with public housing tenants and follow-up support activity that has continued for nearly two years.

Climate Change has been identified as the basis of this year’s community forum because of its importance and urgency and because it has moral implications as well as representing massive technical, political and scientific challenges. The phrase ‘greatest moral challenge of our generation’, memorable from 2007, is arguably still accurate. We also wanted to make it clear that the church, along with the whole community, should be supporting young people in their stances on this issue, should be listening to the various forms of intergenerational anger and despair being expressed, and should acknowledge what Senator Patrick Dodson has called ‘our avarice and sloth’.

Such biblical framing makes clear that unrestrained misuse of the earth’s resources, selfish exploitation by wealthy countries like ours at the expense of those who live more simply and tread more lightly on the earth, is sinful. The old notion that creation exists solely for human use is long gone. So part of our purpose is to convey that our church communities have as great a sense of urgency and importance with regard to climate emergency and its associated injustices as those around us.

This event does not seek to add to a sense of helplessness and despair; hence our emphasis on moral consideration, which implies the opportunity to consider what is right and how to act from right motives. This is not to suggest any lack of urgency, but to encourage an emphasis on action: what can and should be done. So we hope that panellists can offer insights into both the problem and worthwhile action.

The purpose is not combatting climate scepticism, dealing with denialism, or addressing the distortions in public discourse by which interrupting the flow of city traffic is represented as morally worse than failing to respond to environmental crisis. We expect that most people will attend out of concern, rather than a need to be convinced. However, everyone can learn more, so well founded factual information is always valuable.

The Rev’d Alex Sangster of Fairfield Uniting Church will moderate an audience discussion.


Moderator:The Rev’d Alex Sangster of Fairfield Uniting Church
Dr John Hewson AM: Climate Change Institute, Australian National University
Anjali Sharman: School climate activist and strike leader
Professor David Karoly: Earth Systems and Climate Change Hub, CSIRO
Rabbi Jonathan Keren-Black: Australian Religious Response to Climate Change
Dr Sue Ennis: Secretary, Religions for Peace Australia

Preliminary events

All Saints church, Cnr Walker and High Streets, Northcote
St Mark’s church, Moor Street, Fitzroy
11.00 am, Saturday 16 November 2019

Sounding the alarm
The bells of each church will be rung 350 times. This was done at All Saints ten years ago, in solidarity with the bell-ring that took place across Europe during the Copenhagen climate conference of 2009, as a call to action against global warming. The number 350 represents a generally accepted ‘safe’ level of CO2 (parts per million) in the earth’s atmosphere. In 2009 it contained just on 390 ppm. Ten years later, far from reducing, the concentration has risen unabated both in absolute terms and in rate of acceleration. In mid 2019 it reached 415 – and this gas is only one part of the global warming problem.

St Philip’s does not have a bell. Just before the beginning of the forum itself, Rabbi Keren-Black will sound the traditional Shofar, in a similar gesture of commanding the community’s attention:

Event Details:

Program: Community attention to Climate Change and Social Justice
Date: Saturday 16 November 2019
Time: 3.00 pm to 5.00 pm
Venue: St Philip’s Anglican Church, Collingwood,
Location: 146 Hoddle Street Abbotsford (no onsite parking)
A link to the map is here
Parking: in the surrounding streets is very limited. However, an on-site parking bay will be reserved for you on request. There is a driveway entrance off Hoddle Street for taxi or Uber set-down.
Bookings: Online at Eventbrite
Event Sponsor: Inner North Anglican Network
Invitation: to refreshments and information stands
Recommendation: Stay around for the Climate Choir
Download a Flyer for this event


greatest moral challenge of our generation