ARRCC National Conference


The Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC) warmly invites you to participate in our inaugural national Conference. The Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture is an official sponsor.

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ARRCC has a unique role in Australia in bringing together diverse people of faith as witnesses to both our common humanity and respect for the earth. In the past two years, our capacity has grown and our voice has strengthened in the public debate. Local faith groups in many different parts of the country have supported the School Strikers for Climate, held Carols Against Coal, Funerals for Coal, put up “No New Coal” signs outside of places of worship and held workshops on climate-friendly lifestyles.

Come along and meet other people of faith who have been taking action on the climate crisis. The Conference will be an opportunity to hone our skills and capacity to do this more effectively. It will serve to:

  1. Build knowledge, skills and confidence to organise at a local level, especially politically (nonpartisan)
  2. Inspire people to act on the climate emergency
  3. Empower people of diverse faiths to take ARRCC-inspired action together
  4. Help form and strengthen active local groups

We will share and learn with the help of inspirational campaigners, skilled community organisers, Aboriginal activists, faith leaders and experts in their fields.

Time and place

Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, 15 Blackall St, Barton. 2600.

Program starts 6.30 pm Friday, November 8th - participants may arrive after 4 pm, and dinner will be served before the conference formally begins. It finishes 3.30 pm Sunday, November 10th

Prayer and Meditation Room

A Prayer and Meditation Room will be available on site. Conference participants are very welcome to take time out for prayer or meditation at any time, in accordance with their religious observances.

Conference participants are encouraged to take low-carbon options in travelling to the conference or offset their emissions from travel with Greenfleet.

Please help spread the word

You can download the poster for faith community noticeboards here.

The Facebook event is here.

Can you help cover costs for others?

If you can help cover the registration for someone who can't afford the fee, please make a donation here. Please let us know the donation is for this purpose by e-mailing treasurer@arrcc.org.au



All meals and morning and afternoon teas will be provided, except breakfasts. Food will be vegetarian or vegan (to simplify matters). Strictly kosher or halal food can be arranged if requested. Participants are advised that no alcohol will be served at the Conference venue.

If you have further dietary requirements for either medical or religious reasons, please let us know via info@arrcc.org.au when you register, or by October 25th.


The conference does not have any hotel accommodation deal, so please arrange your own accommodation. If cost is a consideration, we recommend that you explore Airbnb or Stayz as options.

We are arranging stays in local people’s homes, but cannot guarantee availability. Please let us know when you register, if you’d either like a bed or can offer one.

Conference outline

Conference participants are welcome to arrive after 4 pm and mingle. Before dinner at 5.30 pm, there will be a brief ceremony called “Kiddush” to welcome the Jewish Shabbat. 

Each morning and afternoon of the conference will begin with prayer or meditation in one of the great religious traditions.

Friday nightStarting 6.30 pm Welcome, including Welcome to Country, introductions, Multi-Faith Prayer and Reflection, Aboriginal struggles to defend country today (especially in relation to mining)

Saturday morning – Academic speakers are Prof Lesley Hughes covering climate science today; Assoc Prof Mehmet Ozalp and Dr Miriam Pepper on religious responses in the Islamic and Christian traditions, and Dr James Whelan facilitating discussion on the special role people of faith can play in addressing the climate emergency.

Saturday evening – Informal conference dinner at the venue

Saturday afternoon and Sunday – A mix of presentations, skills workshops and discussion, and some time spent celebrating and analysis of positive local ARRCC stories. Finishes 3.30 pm.

Josh Creaser from Tipping Point, Tejopala Rawls, Dr James Whelan and Thea Ormerod will facilitate workshops in community organising skills.

There will be plenty of opportunities to ask questions and contribute, with breaks in which people can network with each other. When you leave, you will be clearer on where you might best contribute in your own contexts.

About our facilitators

Dr James Whelan works as a community educator and campaigner with nongovernment and grassroots community and environment groups on campaigns for social and environmental justice. As a researcher and lecturer, he has been engaged by several Australian universities and has published widely on participatory democracy, environmental politics, popular education and social movements.

Josh Creaser is a co-founder of Tipping Point, the organisation supporting the StopAdani grassroots movement. Josh has worked with community groups in his home town of Canberra and across the country to build the power to win climate campaigns - from the ACT Government's divestment from fossil fuels, to CommBank pulling back from Adani's coal project, and as part of the broad alliance that ousted Tony Abbott. 

Tejopala Rawls is a member of the Triratna Buddhist Order and is ARRCC's part-time community organiser. In this role he has expanded ARRCC's capacity through his considerable skills in strategic planning, engaging supporters in meaningful leadership roles, maximising the use of social media, partnering with other organisations and fund-raising. He previously worked as a sustainability professional.

Thea Ormerod is a Catholic Christian, a retired social worker, grandmother and long-time social justice advocate, mostly for trade justice, overseas aid and international debt cancellation (Jubilee 2000). She is currently ARRCC's President and has been an ARRCC supporter since it was founded eleven years ago.


Academic speakers at the conference

Professor Lesley Hughes is a Distinguished Professor of Biology and Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research Integrity & Development) at Macquarie University. Professor Hughes is a Councilor with the Climate Council of Australia. Her research has mainly focused on the impacts of climate change on species and ecosystems.

Associate Professor Mehmet Ozalp is a theologian, author and academic and the founding director of the Centre for Islamic Studies and Civilisation at Charles Sturt University (CSU). He is the executive director of Islamic Sciences and Research Academy of Australia (ISRA) and a Research Fellow of the Centre at the Public and Contextual Theology Research Centre, Charles Sturt University.

Dr Miriam Pepper has been working with churches, other faith groups and community groups on climate change and the environment for 15 years. She is a member of the Uniting Church’s Uniting Eco Group and Uniting Earth Ministry Support Group. She is a founder of ARRCC and part of the Faith Ecology Network. Miriam is a researcher at National Christian Life Survey (NCLS) Research and she is also a Research Fellow at the Public and Contextual Theology Research Centre, Charles Sturt University.

Dr James Whelan works as a community educator and campaigner with nongovernment and grassroots community and environment groups on campaigns for social and environmental justice. As a researcher and lecturer, he has been engaged by several Australian universities and has published widely on participatory democracy, environmental politics, popular education and social movements.

Workshop sessions will be facilitated by James Whelan (mentioned above), Josh Creaser from Tipping Point, Tejopala Rawls who is ARRCC’s community organiser, Thea Ormerod who is ARRCC’s President, and a number of talented community leaders from within the ARRCC network.

Alternative ways to register

There are a few ways to register. If you prefer not to register online, you could use the registration form on this brochure. Print it off, complete it, and post it with a cheque to: ARRCC, c/o Pitt Street Uniting Church, 264 Pitt St, Sydney NSW 2000.

Alternatively, you could send the completed form and arrange a direct bank transfer. As “Description” please put your surname and “conference”. Our account details are:

Account name: ARRCC, Incorporated
BSB: 313 140
Account number: 12038597

Closing date for registrations is 25 October 2019. Contact info@arrcc.org.au if you want to register after this date.

Can you help cover costs for others?

If you can help cover the registration for someone who can't afford the fee, please make a donation here. Please let us know the donation is for this purpose by e-mailing treasurer@arrcc.org.au


Conference Program


Friday night – Welcome, spirituality and introductions

4 .00 pm Conference participants arrive to a welcome from organisers, registration, people choose workshops

5.30 pm Dinner, starting with “Kiddush” to welcome the Shabbat

6.30 pm Welcome, Welcome to country – Uncle Wally Bell

6.50 pm Facilitator: Introduction to Conference

7.05 pm Rev Dr Stephen Pickard welcomes people to conference

7.15 pm Multi-faith prayer/meditation

7.45 pm How Aboriginal spirituality informs the work of protecting country

8.10 pm Discussion

8.15 pm Structured exercise to celebrate Conference participants’ actions to address climate change

Close 9.00 pm

Saturday morning – Climate emergency and focusing on the political process

Goal: Educate and motivate ARRCC members and groups to act on the climate emergency 

9.00 am Prayer/meditation 

9.10 am Facilitator: Purpose and outline of the day

9.15 am Framing the issue: The science and the call to action - Prof Lesley Hughes

9.45 am Community responses to the science in two religious traditions

  1. Assoc Prof Mehmet Ozalp - Muslim tradition
  2. Dr Miriam Pepper - Christian tradition

10.45 am Morning tea

11.15 am Panel of Lesley, Miriam, Mehmet and questions

11.45 am James Whelan – Creating a powerful faith network to tackle the climate emergency

Key tools in effective community organising

How might ARRCC make the most of its strengths and opportunities?

Small group, then large group discussion


Invitation to make suggestions to ARRCC

Saturday afternoon – ARRCC campaigns, and positive stories from local leaders

Goal: Empower people of diverse faiths to act together by learning from each other’s experience

1.30 pm Celebrating positive stories around ARRCC campaigns from grassroots local leaders (1 hour, 15 mins)

Each workshop begins with prayer/meditation time

People from various parts of Australia present workshops on initiatives which have been, in some ways, successful. The presentations will include learnings as well as a celebration of what was achieved.

Planned topics

  • Fossil fuel divestment, case study Mercy Sisters’ divesting from fossil fuels - Chris Hill 
  • Stories of nonviolence from the front-line - Rev. Alex Sangster 
  • Reflections on the triumphs and struggles of establishing a local multi-faith climate action network - ARRCC Queensland
  • Installing solar on roof of Sydney Buddhist Centre & ARRCC's Switch to Sunshine resources - Gillian Reffell 
  • Strategy, achievements and challenges of creating momentum regarding climate-conserving lifestyle change - Mark Delaney  

2.50 pm Afternoon tea

3.20 pm Small group reports and synthesis of morning discussion about strengths and opportunities

3.50 pm Presentation to the group as a large gathering on main current ARRCC campaigns

  1. Faith communities’ footprints work
  2. Stop Adani/no new coal

4.50 pm Individual reflection on potential contributions to ARRCC campaigns

Small group discussion

5.20 pm Wrap up

Dinner 6.00 pm

One or two inspirational or entertaining speakers

Piano performance by Dr Douglas Simper

Sunday morning: Skills workshops, listening to inspirational speakers

9.00 am Prayer/meditation time 

9.10 am Facilitator: Outline of the day

9.12 am One or two inspirational speakers - school climate strikers

9.30 am People disperse to their workshop locations.

9.35 Concurrent skills workshops (1 hour, 25 mins)

  • Dr James Whelan on Circles of Commitment – including story-sharing from ARRCC work 
  • Tejopala Rawls - How do I build interest/momentum in my congregation? How do I turn a group of two people into a group of 15?
  • Josh Creaser - Making the most of one-on-one conversations – relational conversations, brief conversations at stalls and door-knocking, including role plays in pairs
  • Steps to developing a more plant-based/vegan diet, practical tips
  • TBA 

Goal: skills development

11 am Morning tea

11.15 am Inspirational speaker, regarding maintaining hope

11.30 Small group discussion on specific suggestions to ARRCC made by conference participants

12.10 Feedback session

12.30 pm Lunch

Sunday afternoon: Where to from here?

1.30 pm – Prayer/Meditation

Goal: More local activists and groups working together towards ARRCC goals  

1.35 pm   Personal and group action plans 

1.40 pm Personal reflection on what has been learned and next steps

1.45 pm   Small group discussion among affinity groups: Next steps in collaboration with others, exercising leadership. 

2.45 pm Feedback, Summing up session

3.15 pm Group photo

3.30 pm Close




November 08, 2019 at 4pm - November 10, 2019
Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture
15 Blackall St Barton
Canberra, ACT 2600
Will you come?
$260.00 Passionate
Includes all meals and tea breaks, except breakfast
$220.00 Regular full price
Includes all meals and tea breaks, except breakfast
$120.00 Concession
Includes all meals and tea breaks, except breakfast