Church buzzing

PERTH’S Uniting Church in the City has put beehives on the roof of its William Street building as part of its ongoing green push.

Over the last year the church has installed the largest solar panel in the CBD on its rooftop, three 2000-litre water tanks to flush toilets in their buildings, and a rooftop garden with beehives (the stripey insects being vital to human life on earth through their pollination).

The church’s efforts have earned them two Five Leaf Eco-Awards, a recently created gong to encourage churches and religious groups to be more environmental friendly, in a throwback to humans being stewards over the earth.

• Church contract services manager David Sharp and Reverend Craig Collas’s new congregation is creating a buzz. Photo by Steve Grant

Environmentalism has long been a topic of debate in Christianity: much of Medieval Christianity had an anthropocentric view that the earth was here for human consumption, but around the 13th century, St Francis of Assisi preached humans should protect nature as part of God’s creation. The competing views are still debated today.

The Five Leaf awards started in 2010 and has inspired churches from across the country to be more environmental friendly, including crosses made of solar panels, setting up community gardens and sermons with environmental themes.

Reverend Craig Collas from UCIC Wesley says “there is great passion and concern for the environment within the community, including within churches.”

“This year, Wesley has taken up the challenge of seeing what we could do, even with an inner city site, to reduce our carbon footprint and make a difference for the environment.

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The humble bumble

BEES have been an important animal in Christian theological dialogues, often used by writers in allegory and fable to teach lessons about good living:

• Writing in the 7th century, Isidore of Seville wrote admiringly of the bee’s ability to organise and drew lessons for mankind: he wrote they “build their houses with great skill, gather honey from various flowers, weave wax to fill their homes with many offspring, have kings and armies with which they wage war, free from smoke, and are irritated by noise”. He was off on a few things: he also thought bees were born from the flesh of slaughtered cows.

• St Antony of Pauda, giving sermons in the 12th and 13th century, compared bees to Christian penitents, and said they always keep busy to stave away the devil. He said penitents ought to do as bees, and when their king flies from the hive, they should fly with him, and said Christ was like a king bee we should follow.

• In the 13th Century, Bartholamaeus Anglicus wrote of his admiration for bees’ communal living: “The properties of bees are wonderful noble and worthy. For bees have one common kind as children, and dwell in one habitation, and are closed within one gate: one travail is common to them all, one meat is common to them all, one common working, one common use, one fruit and flight is common to them all, and one generation is common to them all.”

He also believed bees were self-policing and chose the noblest, fairest and most clear-minded among them as king, but the king never used his stinger to enforce the law: He said that bees who transgressed the king’s law would just voluntarily sting themselves to death (Source: The 1995 Steele edition of De Proprietatibus Rerum, book 12).

by DAVID BELL

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