Port Phillip East Presbytery’s Property Committee is encouraging congregations to use the Five Leaf Eco-Awards survey to map the ways they are addressing climate change through local action. Filling out the online survey encourages congregations to consider their holistic action in five areas: buildings, worship, congregational life, outreach, and community leadership. 

Jessica Morthorpe, who lives in Bendigo, founded the Five Leaf Eco-Awards as an Australian ecumenical environmental change program specifically designed for churches and religious organisations.  Using a series of non-competitive awards, the program assists, inspires and rewards faith communities for taking environmental action and becoming more sustainable in response to God’s call to care for creation.  

There are currently six awards available in the program – two introductory awards and four advanced awards. To earn an award, churches simply complete actions to fulfil the criteria of that award, and are then presented with certificates of recognition for their achievement. The Presbytery will be recognising congregations at each meeting over the next year, and reporting to the 2022 meeting of the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania.

As well as the excitement of having your environmental efforts rewarded and promoted through the awards, and the assistance and support provided, joining the awards also connects you with a network of churches around the country who are taking action for God’s creation. These churches are all around Australia and from a range of denominations. They range from ‘normal’ suburban parishes to eco-faith communities who meet in a park on Sunday, and communities who meet in completely retrofitted environmentally friendly buildings.  
Five Leaf congregations have taken all sorts of actions for the environment, from crosses made of solar panels, restoring and replanting watercourses next to their church, setting up community gardens, installing water tanks, developing a peace garden of native plants, and more. They have signed petitions, planted trees, rung their church bells for climate change, held talks and discussions of environmental issues, and held worship around environmental themes. 

Port Melbourne Uniting Church was the first Five Leaf award recipient ever, back in 2009. They’ll be taking the survey this year to map their progress since then. 

Four other congregations from Port Phillip East Presbytery have taken the survey so far: Glen Waverley, Murrumbeena, Leighmoor, and St John’s Elsternwick.  We’re hoping every congregation will take part. In fact, our initiative is taking off and other Presbyteries are joining this initiative.

What churches are doing is as unique as the people in them, and the Five Leaf Eco-Awards are designed to be flexible enough to allow congregations to take (and be rewarded for) the actions that best suit their own contexts. 

No matter where your church is on your sustainability journey, this network of churches can provide inspiration, ideas and experience to help you on your way. 

Get started by taking the survey at