As part of a series highlighting the work of young people in addressing the climate crisis, writer Patricia Lane interviews Matt Humphrey, an Anglican priest, writer and educator who mixes faith with environmental stewardship.
Tell us about each of your three titles.
A Rocha is an international Christian organization engaged in scientific research, environmental education, community-based conservation projects and sustainable agriculture. Abbey Church is a Victoria congregation of the Emmaus community, whose members vow to lead lives of prayer, presence and simplicity. Wild Church is a global movement of faith communities, which, in the words of theologian Thomas Berry, has moved from seeing the world as a collection of objects to appreciating it as a communion of subjects, gathering to delight in and defend this Earth, our common home.
Is there a theme that inspires all your work?
I am drawn to a way of interacting with the natural world called “Watershed Discipleship.” Our culture usually understands a disciple as a committed follower of a person who teaches them or models what they want to learn. We are disciples of Jesus who see our home watersheds as teaching us to live sustainably with the land upon which we depend.
What is your position within the larger mainstream churches?
I am part of an ecumenical movement of the Anglican and United churches. It invites everyone regardless of denomination. Our local Anglican bishop provided material I helped to write to the 50 priests and their churches in this diocese. Many churches have begun gathering for outdoor walks and have engaged with local urban planners about land use decisions. Some conduct letter-writing and public support campaigns. It dovetails beautifully with the commitment of both the United and Anglican churches for Indigenous reconciliation and has led clergy and lay people to publicly support Indigenous land and development rights.
What is your advice to young people who may not necessarily be Christians?
The more I taste of the wonder of the world around me, the more I am drawn into it. It is easy to think that the world is just about competition or survival. But the miracle of small things tells me that there is so much more than mere survival on offer. How good clean water tastes. How a baby’s smile delights. How the sunset blesses us all with beauty. If we can learn to really see and be with the everyday beauty and mystery around us, we will be hopeful — and we need that to anchor us in the coming storm.
What would you like to say to older people?
You are not off the job yet! This is a relay, and you have still more time to carry the baton — so don’t look to younger people to solve the problems we collectively face. Use the power and privilege (and wisdom and understanding) of your agency to fight for good climate policy. To increase the degree to which our economy is fair for all. To make space at the table to ensure other people also get a seat.
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