5 minutes with Jo
Tell us a little about you
My name is Jo and I lead Christian advocacy around climate change and poverty at Tearfund. I’m married to Peter Carolane who is a church planter and pastor of Merri Creek Anglican in Melbourne’s inner north. We have two primary aged boys, Leo and Ezra.
I have the privilege of leading campaigns in Australia and with the global Church that empower movements of Christians to live justly and speak out in impactful ways. It’s been a great journey with God over the years to use different skills in different seasons; from test cases as a lawyer, to leading for-purpose organisations and then to lobby and campaign.
Do you have a favourite bible passage? If so, what it is and why?
I’ve been spending a lot of time lately plumbing the depth and implications of Colossians 1:19: “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”
I am challenged into a bigger vision of the gospel and God’s struggle for the good creation here on earth. When I let the meaning of Christ’s reconciliation on the cross of “all things” on “earth” reframe me theologically I place a different value on this earth and our Creator God’s intention. I am convicted again of the part I play as a Christian to lovingly care for all creation, both people and the planet. The way I live, consume, seek justice, give, speak out and pray all matters to God and his vision for this earth.
How do you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus?
Aligning how I use my time and talents to the vocation that I feel God has called me to has been really important to my faith and focus. I see a spiritual director who has helped me tune in to the ongoing work of Jesus in my life, and while contemplative traditions have not been common in my faith circles, I have found the approach resonates with me and helped shift me from bible head knowledge to deeper prayer and awareness of our living God. I particularly like listening to the Lectio365 reflections by the 24/7 prayer movement, ideally during a walk in nature.
What would you like the next generation of Christian women to know?
God calls us to play our part in caring for his world. We need to take this calling seriously. I’m a mum who is concerned about the kind of world my children will see. A changing climate and more extreme weather are problems that will impact future generations and are already harming our global neighbours in poverty. How we act in the next decade to transform whole systems and our ways of life will profoundly affect generations to come.
Please commit to prayer and action and use your God-given voice.
What's one thing that you love about your local church?
I get a front-row seat as my husband leads our church, and I love being part of the vision, creativity and spiritual boldness that is the culture of our church. We birthed our church at the time I gave birth to our youngest son Ezra, and I’m reminded how young and fresh we are as a community, and are not set in our ways. We are in the process of planting again in Melbourne’s inner north and this exciting growth keeps us all spiritually awake and reliant on God.
What did you learn about God at a time in your life you found hard?
Becoming a mother was a forced stop for me from all that I knew and my familiar working world. And in that season of being forced to be still, I learnt to go inner and change within myself. I came to know more of myself and had time to know God more quietly and personally as I encountered vulnerability and loss of control in the world of young children.
When I would get a moment I would connect again in nature, and I came to appreciate in new and profound ways my relationship with God. Away from the daily grind of an office job, I learnt to listen and be still in nature and appreciate God as creator holding all things. As I walked my little boys along bush paths beside my local river I grew a stronger sense of the Father’s love for all His creation, just as I was filled with love for my little boys and was trying to care for the world around them now and into the future. God used this time of my life to point me beyond my focus on justice for human beings, to grasp some of his broader plan for the restoration and renewal of all things.
What are you passionate about?
Ever since I was a young girl I’ve been drawn towards issues of justice. It began as I saw up close the struggles of my aunt who had down’s syndrome, as she eked out a life in country Victoria with her elderly parents. She died when I was in primary school, and after this I felt my heart for the marginalised and suffering welled up inside of me. This journey has taken me to stand up for refugees, for people in poverty and now to climate justice.
What do you enjoy doing when you rest?
I love resting with my family and heading to the bush. We spend a lot of time in the Grampians which is part of the Gariwerd Aboriginal cultural landscape. The particular green, grey and ochre of the native bush contrast with the towering and enormous rock faces. The mountain ranges are solid and ageless. We stay in an old family holiday house which is an endearing time capsule from the 1960s. My favourite reading spot is in front of the fire on the couch, looking up at magnificent views. In the foreground, there are little ground birds, oblivious to me looking on, kangaroos grazing and big impressive birds vying for my attention in the treetops. In this place, I find rest and renewal.