Jason John and Jessica Morthorpe have been appointed to the shared role of Uniting Earth Ministry Consultant with Uniting Mission & Education, starting in January 2017. In 2014 Miriam Pepper and Jason John began their Uniting Earth Ministry project with the NSW/ACT Synod, focusing on consultancy, theological resources and activism on behalf of the Uniting Church in the NSW and ACT regions. When UME decided to extend the project and tie the Uniting Earth Ministry role more closely with the work of the Resourcing Team, Miriam indicated that she wouldn’t be continuing in the role. The position was then opened up for applications.
The Uniting Earth Ministry consultant role is centred on three challenges:
1. addressing the questions of faithful ecological discipleship,
2. proclaiming the gospel in ways that are relevant to our current ecological context
3. acting as advocates and prophetic voices in relation to key issues in their local context.
Jason John, based in Bellingen, has an established reputation in helping people work through what it means to connect ecotheology with discipleship, as demonstrated in his workshops at Yurora and contributions to the Living Our Faith series. He has demonstrated a creative approach to developing a national community of practice among Biblical scholars, theologians and activists, using online seminars, podcasts and a radio show. He has provided useful and creative material bringing environmental perspectives on the Christian gospel to worship settings, particularly through the Seasons of Creation resources. Jason has a PhD in the field from Flinders University and has published articles on his research in environmental theology. He is well received as a lecturer in the biennial Creation and Theology course.
Jessica, currently in Perth, will be based at the Centre for Ministry in North Parramatta. She has long experience as a networker across Australia, with a track record in engaging congregations and religious organisations through the ecumenical Five Leaf Eco Awards program. She has the capacity to organise key events, as seen in her work planning the 2014 God of Sea and Sky: Environment and Faith Conference in Perth in 2014. She has a Bachelor of Science degree (Zoology and Environmental), a Bachelor of Commerce degree and a Grad Dip in Theology. Between 2012 and 2015 Jessica worked in Western Australia Synod as Metro West First Third of Life specialist.