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In a spirit of community-building and healing, the faith communities of Holy Cross Anglican and St Margaret’s Uniting in Hackett in Canberra’s inner north recently hosted a festival focussed on sustainability.

The ‘Sustaining Our Future’ Festival on the weekend of September 19-20 brought together local groups and speakers to offer information on climate change and inspiration on how to reduce one’s individual or household waste and carbon footprint.

‘During these pandemic times, it’s even more important we find ways to get together safely and discuss common concerns, be inspired and make a difference’, said Reverend Chris Lockley of St Margaret’s.

People were able to test-ride electric bikes and learn about composting. There was also a concert in the church featuring singer-songwriter Lucy Sugerman and local youth bands, a visual arts exhibition, and an ecumenical ‘Celebration of Creation’ worship service.

Canberra singer, 18-year-old Lucy Sugerman performing at the Festival at Holy Cross Anglican / St Margaret’s Uniting in Hackett.

The program included an ACT election candidates forum moderated by Dickson College students.

‘It was a great opportunity for our young people, who have a lot invested in a low-carbon future, to quiz local candidates about their sustainability policies ahead of the October poll’, said Reverend Tim Watson of Holy Cross.

‘This event, the first of its kind in Hackett, demonstrated the potential of the venue for more community events in the future where people can gather for spiritual and personal resourcing, community development, and to encourage each other in working for the Common Good.’

The Festival was organised as part of Holy Cross/St Margaret’s joint Carbon Action Project, launched earlier this year. Both churches have committed to making their operations carbon neutral within two years, and to help church members and the local community take climate change seriously through local action and engagement.

The once-fixed pews in the ecumenical Hackett church were recently removed to allow for more dynamic and mixed uses of the interior worship space.

‘The event was joyful and inclusive, and it put our mandate to evangelise as followers of Jesus into practice in so many different ways. It was a real celebration of beauty (art, music, God’s creation), truth (political debate, scientific and practical learning) and goodness (community, social and environmental action)’, said Reverend Watson.

‘It also resonated with Bishop Mark’s encouraging comment about enabling people to return to church after lockdown: “re-integrating people to community through community, and helping us think about how we could implement similar steps with people who’ve never been part of our gathered worship”’, Reverend Watson added.

The two ministers also thanked volunteers who worked hard to make it happen.

‘So many people made the event work. There were many hours served planning it and then during – to ensure it was safe and kept the festival moving along’, said Reverend Lockley.

Story from Toni Hassan and Reverend Tim Watson

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