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FEN ENewsletter December 2020

Greetings from FEN, the Faith Ecology Network, an Australian hub for strengthening an interfaith dialogue between science and religion.


The UN went ahead with its Summit on Biodiversity on September 20th online instead of in China. In the opening remarks, the President of the UN General Assembly, Volkan Bozkir, outlined the high stakes involved in the issue of biodiversity, stating that our existence on this planet depends entirely on our ability to protect the natural world around us”.  Has this really hit home to us? It is clear that Earth is speaking to us. How can we learn to really listen and bring about the urgent changes that are needed? It is worth looking at the video link of the UN Summit for a global picture.

As 2020 draws to a close, it is also worth reflecting on the header of the Editorial of the first FEN E-Newsletter of this year: “2020 Vision – Having eyes to see how things really are.” With the impacts of COVID 19 affecting how FEN operated this year, I can see how interdependent and interconnected we really are. Being part of the Faith Ecology Network heightens my awareness of this as we learn from being the human part of ecosystems where the tiniest can have as great an impact as the biggest. I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude on behalf of the Steering Team to so many people who have helped make 2020 a good year for FEN in the face of many difficulties:

Thank you to:

  • The Mercy Foundation for their grant and for their generosity in allowing us to change two of our events to online ones,
  • The Sisters of Good Samaritan for their auspicing services without which FEN would not be able to operate,
  • The Steering Team of people from seven faith traditions and especially to the smaller team which planned the events – all as committed volunteers,
  • Jason John who generously became the Communications Person and who enabled the online events to be so successful,
  • Volunteer Crystal Carpenter, who assisted with editing videos for the initial “Deep Listening in the Natural World” online event and to the volunteers from the Bahai’i, Jewish, Brahma Kumaris, Buddhist, Muslim, Aboriginal and Christian traditions who created the videos to share,
  • Catholic Mission for producing the wonderful FEN promotional video,
  • Andrew Skeoch, key presenter for the two online events, “Deep Listening in the Natural World” , who shared his knowledge, insights and wisdom gained over his years as a nature sound recordist in a way which resonated well with people from diverse faith traditions and none.
  • Sally Neaves and Miriam Pepper for their facilitation skills at the events,
  • Greater Sydney Landcare and Sue Martin for the 10 Ways for Faith Groups to Care for Biodiversity Resource,
  • Our partners, ARRCC, Australian Earth Laws Alliance, United Religions Initiative, and Nature for All Australia, who promoted our online events.

Having had our focus this year on “The Wonder of Biodiversity”, together we have grown into a new understanding of our diverse faiths, inspired by a slowly increasing understanding of ecology, especially learning from our Indigenous sisters and brothers. It is up to us to continue that growth and to turn that new understanding into action in and from our faith communities.  We look forward to 2021 with hope and trust in being part of the post Anthropocene era.

Anne Lanyon, FEN Co-ordinator

Current Activities and News from FEN Networks

Western Sydney University

Daniel Jantos, the WSU University Chaplain, explained to Anne Lanyon recently that across eight campuses, the University engages some 45,000 students, a great many of whom come from the Western Sydney region, a region of exploding economic growth and urban development. It is also one of Australia’s most multicultural regions.

Daniel stated that the WSU full-time chaplaincy is partly in recognition of the important role that religion plays in multi-culturalism and that in the chaplaincy service, they believe they are integral partners in the university’s goal of embracing cultural diversity. Daniel feels there is an important “prophetic” role that is needed in advocating for a higher level of awareness and responsibility in relationship to the wellbeing of our planet and its natural systems.

Daniel added that a large percentage of the students do not identify with traditional religious views and practices but are very thoughtful about their responsibility to their communities and to the privilege of getting a tertiary education. They are often also the most interested in the question of Earth care. Yet, it is often noted that the most religious students tend to be some of those least interested in environmental sustainability and climate change. Many of the “non-religious” students presuppose this to be a function of conservatism and religious orthodoxy. There is a high representation of various orthodoxies in the western Sydney community that function to retain cultural strength and cohesion and many students see the issue of environment as a luxury issue on which they may focus sometime in the future when they, and their families, are materially secure.

An initiative of the student environmental collective is a small vegetable garden at the Kingswood campus near Penrith They are a small, dedicated student organization that has been trying to get this garden up and growing for some time.


Daniel is looking for the involvement of someone who could come alongside those students and help them succeed in cultivating and sustaining that garden in order for it to be a springboard to a longer term and stronger relationship. Being at a busy location on campus, it would also be a chance to interface with many students for the purpose of conversations and discussion of issues around faith and ecology. Such a hub could be recreated on other campuses and become a place where students might benefit from the eldership that is non-existent for many of them in their own community around questions of environmental sustainability and climate change. There is also a small group of young Muslim women who have been exploring ways to provide some leadership to their own communities on these questions.

If you are that person or persons interested and willing to collaborate with Daniel in this exciting work at WSU, please contact Anne Lanyon at

FEN Enrichment Day at the Wivenhoe Environment and Conservation Area

On December 5th, 12 of the FEN Steering Team enjoyed a large part of their Saturday exploring Biobanking Site 2 of this 300Ha Cumberland woodland by the Nepean River (north west of Camden and Narellan in NSW). The site is a project of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan to return this area from a mainly dairy farming mode to the original Cumberland Woodland vegetation. Manager, Geoff Green, obviously a man committed to caring for country, led us around a small section adjacent to the Nepean River. We were also able to spend time reflecting on our year, enjoy each other’s company in an open environment (though disturbed by small planes), and do some brainstorming of plans for 2021.



FEN ENewsletter October 2020

“Deep Listening in the Natural World” is the title of the FEN forum be held on Monday October 12th, 4.30-6.30pm AEDT.

Over 100 people have registered so far.  Here is the direct registration link to join them.

We are very excited to have Andrew Skeoch join us in this celebration of science, faith and biodiversity. With responses from various faith traditions plus breakout rooms this is a free online event. Andrew, one of Australia’s leading nature sound recordists will invite us into his world of listening in the natural world. He will not only share his scientific expertise, but the personal change in his relationship with other species. Like David Attenborough who inspires with his passion, Andrew will draw us into a new way of relating that shifts the focus from a totally anthropocentric one. We can try to “Connect to Country” as we learn from our indigenous sister and brothers. Together we can grow into a new understanding of our faith inspired by increased understanding of ecology and then turn that new understanding into action in and from our faith communities.
We encourage you to share this news among your faith communities and your ecological networks and invite them all to join us. As Facebook is one our key promotional methods, we urge you to LIKE our FEN Facebook Page, TAG your friends and networks, and MAKE COMMENTS on our posts. 
Our FEN event is crucial at this time because it shows what can be done. It is a beacon of hope as reports on the amount of biodiversity loss keep coming in.

Read on for a link to a free soundscape of Andrew's; a sneak preview of one of our religious response videos, and to see what else FEN has been up to or has coming up.
Frogs - the masters of natural rhythm! Frogs from around Australia sing, whistle, laugh, click and toc.  A soothing, hypnotic and fascinating album to delight the frog-ophile in you.
Listen for free to Andrew’s soundscape, and buy a high quality rendition if you like.
What can you hear in your part of the world?  Amidst the sounds of human activity, what do you hear?
On the 12th, we will have several short intergenerational responses to the concept of Deep Listening in the Natural World.  Here's a Jewish Perspective.
This event is part of ‘Rights of Nature Week’, hosted by the Australian Earth Laws Alliance from 12-17 October 2020.
Find out more and register- free
Global Biodiversity News
In June we had the report on the Australian Summer Bushfires from World Life Fund for Nature: Nearly three billion animals – mammals, reptiles, birds, and frogs – were killed or displaced. In September we heard from three key organisations that global targets to stem the destruction of nature have not been met.
Yet, at both the global and local level, there are many civil society and faith organisations working to slow down biodiversity loss. The United Nations’s Global Biodiversity Outlook which draws on the lessons learned during the first two decades of this century, tries to clarify the transitions needed if we are to realize the vision agreed by world governments for 2050, ‘Living in Harmony with Nature’. 
Political leaders participating in the United Nations Summit on Biodiversity in September 2020, representing 75 countries from all regions and the European Union, have committed to reversing biodiversity loss by 2030 by signing the Leaders Pledge for Nature. Sadly Australia is one of the countries which did not sign up.
So at the local level, we have opportunities as a network of networks to multiply this information and news of positive actions.

Current Activities and News from FEN Networks
National protection for our biodiversity and heritage places
The once a decade independent review of Australia’s national environmental and heritage protection legislation – the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act - is happening right now, with the final report due on 31 October. After the catastrophic bushfires, and knowing the solace that being in nature has brought us during the Covid-19 pandemic, it has never been more important to make sure we protect biodiversity and our special places with strong law and appropriate resourcing.
However, the Commonwealth Government is pre-empting the critical and longer-term reform required by rushing through a Bill to amend, and dangerously weaken, the EPBC Act by giving the Commonwealth’s approval powers to the states and territories. This Bill will come before the Senate in October. So we need our faith communities to come together to ask the Government to commit to reform that makes a positive difference.
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Australia has a blog that gives more information on the EPBC Act and suggestions on how you can act. We also would encourage you and your communities to directly email, ring or meet with your Senators and local Members to ask them to wait until the final report of the independent review is received and for appropriate parliamentary and public scrutiny before making any changes. You can find out who represents you by typing in your postcode here. Your action can be part of how we contribute to making 2020 one where we protect the ‘Wonder of Biodiversity’ for future generations!
Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC) is a Founding Partner of the newly formed GreenFaith International, a multi-faith climate action alliance of faith partners from all corners of the world. The first collective action of GreenFaith International will be the launch of a faith-inspired statement just prior to the G20 Summit in Saudi Arabia on Nov 21 – 22, calling for a clean and fair post-COVID recovery, not one based on fossil fuels. Initially we are asking senior faith leaders to sign on, then afterwards we will invite sign-on by large numbers of people of faith. The launch of the letter will be accompanied by a Sounding the Alarm action – with Imams chanting the Azan, African people drumming, Jewish Rabbis sounding the Shofar, churches around the world tolling bells, etc. It is intended to draw attention to our message in a way that is COVID-safe. See more at

The Season of Creation during September was a huge global ecumenical Christian event. Catholic EarthCare Australia held a fantastic interfaith dialogue session on care for our common home which featured some people familiar to FENThe video can be viewed here

On 22nd August, FEN joined with United Religions Initiative Australia, Religions for Peace and the Multifaith Association of South Australia in an action on Earth Overshoot Day.
Nature for All, Australia
FEN has become a partner with Nature for All, Australia which is a new group. There was a meeting of partners and potential partners at the end of 2018 and the Australian Committee of IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) organised a symposium on Healthy People in a Healthy Environment: Key Directions Statement in September 2019. A publication with recommendations has been developed
To activate the partnership and mobilise collective action in Australia, a group has developed a prospectus for Nature for All Australia, which defines what they see as the value proposition for the network. 
Further Reading and Resources
The EARTH CHARTER began 20 years ago. Crafted by visionaries it is a document with sixteen principles that turn conscience into action.
It seeks to inspire in all people a new sense of global interdependence and shared responsibility for the well-being of the whole human family, the greater community of life, and future generations. It is a vision of hope and a call to action. and is now even more relevant.

Promoting Deep Listening
Finally, below is a poster you can download and share with others.  Please add the link  
Deep listening poster



FEN ENewsletter May 2020


2020 vision – having eyes to see how things really are.

"Adults have often lost the ability to wonder in awe. The way that children look at the world as if everything is new and worth examining is exactly how discoveries are made." Jo Harding, Manager Bush Blitz

Late in 2019, a FEN Steering Team got together in Sydney and, following the suggestion of ecologist member Haydn Washington, decided on our 2020 focus of the WONDER OF BIODIVERSITY.  Biodiversity is the variety of all life forms on earth - the different plants, animals and micro-organisms and the ecosystems of which we are a part. We humans, as part of the animal kingdom, are also diverse.

Our various faith traditions and the sciences do have something in common. We all share a sense of WONDER at the natural world. The gift of learning from the sciences about the millions of Earth’s known species has enhanced our ability to WONDER at the singularity, complexity, beauty and intricacy of all of the web of life. Australia with its unique flora and fauna, especially is “one of seventeen countries described as being 'megadiverse'. This group of countries has less than 10% of the global surface, but support more than 70% of the biological diversity on earth.”

At the global level, United Nations Environment Programme Executive Director, Inger Andersen, kicked off 2020 as a “Super Year” of significant nature and biodiversity plans, decisions and actions, because, as she explained, “we’re losing species at about an average 1000 times the natural extinction rate; ...about a million are about to go extinct under the business as usual scenario. And at a time when global temperatures have reached all-time highs and our planet seems to be on fire, nature is our biggest ally.”

At the local level, in February, the FEN Steering Team was well into plans for two key events. The first was to be a Public Interfaith Prayer Vigil in Belmore Park in the heart of Sydney on May 28th to coincide with the International Day for Biological Diversity and Aboriginal Reconciliation Week.  The second was to be a Public Forum on September 6th in the lead-up to the UN Conference on Biodiversity to have been held in China in October.

Then came the COVID-19 pandemic and everything changed.

What hasn’t changed is the need for Biodiversity protection, thus FEN’s need for seeking another way of sharing our common concern for earth’s declining biodiversity and our commitment to its preservation. The Steering Team is currently seeking advice from media personnel as to how to do this. If you have ideas or would like to support us, please contact us at

Suggested Action for you as Individuals as well as for your Faith Communities

During the COVID-19 Restrictions, a practical way of growing in Wonder about Biodiversity in your own backyard, local park or place of worship is to join BushBlitz. It is claimed to be Australia’s largest nature discovery project where you can learn about the biodiversity in your own place and maybe even discover something new which you can record on the Living Atlas of Australia.

Further Reading and Resources

The Ecological Citizen is a peer-reviewed online journal that is striving to address the central issue of our time: how to halt and reverse our current ecocidal course and create an ecological civilization. Creating a harmonious, respectful and mutually flourishing relationship with the ecosphere is the basis of such a civilization. This involves preserving and restoring biological richness, ecological complexity and evolutionary potential – as well as the beauty, mystery and integrity of Earth.

Australia’s Strategy for Nature and supporting website, Australia’s Nature Hub. This is the Government Strategy to work together to address biodiversity decline and provide enhanced opportunity for collaboration and partnership across governments and sectors. As Australia is a Party to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the national biodiversity strategy and action plan is Australia’s national plan to implement the Convention’s Strategic Plan and Aichi Targets. Australia became a party to the CBD in 1993 and has had a national biodiversity strategy and action plan in place since 1996.

The Forum on Religion and Ecology is an international multireligious project contributing to a new academic field and an engaged moral force of religious environmentalism. Its Monthly Newsletter offers a broad range of resources.

New Books on Ecology and Ritual:

Living Landscapes: Explores the role of meditation on the five elements in the practice of Yoga. Christopher Chapple looks at the world of ritual as enacted in three faiths of India.

Sparks of the Universe: Jennifer Callanan, inspired by Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si’, On Care for our Common Home, has written this book of rituals for educators, students and all those committed to awakening ecological awareness.

Sparks of the Cosmos: A book of 80 rituals divided into four parts representing the four pathways of Creation Centered Spirituality, by Margie Abbott rsm. Each part has its own introduction, theological reflection and 20 rituals with original poetry introducing each section.



Current Activities and News from FEN Networks

Connections between COVID-19 and the Wonder of Biodiversity – We have posted memes of personal reflections by some FEN members on the FEN Facebook Page.


FEN Auspicing body, the Sisters of Good Samaritan, run the Wivenhoe Environment and Conservation Project. The project’s purpose is to restore, nurture and promote the biodiversity of the Cumberland Plain Woodland and preserve the heritage of the Mater Dei Site at Camden NSW. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Landcare Group has had to put a hold on their volunteer work at the site.

The Rahamim Ecology Centre run by the Sisters of Mercy at Bathurst has sadly closed. A FEN group held a reflection weekend at Rahamim when FEN was in transition after the closure of the Columban Mission Institute’s Centre for Peace, Ecology and Justice. So we know what a loss to Faith and Ecology education this is.  The Rahamim staff thank their many supporters in their wide community who have been part of the Rahamim story for helping to make the Rahamim mission and vision a reality over the past 14 years. Fortunately, the Mercy work in Earth literacy, education, spirituality and advocacy is to be continued! Please contact the former Eco-Education Coordinator, Sally Neaves, who will be continuing her work with the Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea. In her new role, Sally’s email address will be

Australian Religious Response to Climate Change is holding a Multifaith Online Service for the Climate Strike, May 15th Let's make sure we support it as people of faith. The best way we can do this is to ask a few others in our own faith communities to get involved. The single most effective thing you can do is to sign up and ask other people from your faith community to participate in a multi faith nationwide service supporting the strike. Please register your interest and involvement at

Proposals are invited for AELA’s biennial Earth Laws Conference - "Earth Laws Asia Pacific - Earth, Sea, Fire, Spirit", which is planned for 14-16 October 2020 in Brisbane, Australia.

The escalating impacts of climate change are being felt around the Asia Pacific region. As Australian communities recover and rebuild from a summer of horrific bush fires, other communities are coping with sea level rise, flooding, forced transition of cities and communities to safe zones, increasing environmental deterioration and biodiversity loss. With the outbreak of COVID-19, environmental protection efforts have changed in many parts of the world and there is much to learn from and share with our each other.

The Multifaith Association of South Australia held an Interfaith Prayer Vigil for Healing the Earth to celebrate the 50th anniversary of EarthDay with Kaurna Elder Uncle Frank Wanganeen and nine faith representatives sharing a healing ceremony for people and planet on the Karrawirra Parri (Torrens) riverbank. There was a double blessing of fine weather and the fact that the event was recorded by Community TV Channel 44 and live-streamed so it can be shared.;

Thank You from the Faith Ecology Network · Australia
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