St Mary's church has recently been awarded our Bronze Eco Church award and we are racing on towards Silver. Safeguarding the earth that we live on is an integral part of our Christian understanding, and so we see our environmental action as part of our worship and life together.
Our Eco Church Journey
When our beautiful church was flooded in 2014, it was brought home to us just how precarious the balance between the environment and human activity is and how vulnerable we are to extreme weather events resulting from climate change. This led us to reflect more broadly on God’s creation and on how we, as a church, have a responsibility to demonstrate our care for God’s earth. Perhaps this is where our Eco Church journey began!
Good things often come out of disasters and this proved to be the case at St Mary’s. Our flood damaged floors were replaced but, at the same time, an air-source heat pump and underfloor heating were installed. Not only did we enjoy the benefits of a warm church, but we had, unknowingly, taken our first steps towards an Eco Church award.
When we formally registered with A Rocha’s Eco Church project in 2018 we focused on the five key areas of church life promoted by the scheme: Worship and Teaching, Management of Church Buildings, Management of Church Land, Community & Global Engagement, Lifestyle.
Once committed to the Eco Church project our progress towards a bronze award was surprisingly rapid. We met many of the criteria already, particularly in Worship & Teaching. In some areas, such as creating a management plan for the churchyard, the PCC had already taken some initial steps. Other measures, such as changing our energy supplier to an eco-friendly company, were quite easily accomplished. The development of an Action Plan provided us with a route to the bronze award, which we achieved in September 2020, and will guide us as we work towards the silver award.
So, where do we go from here? There are two areas, in particular, on which we need to focus; Community and Global Engagement and Lifestyle. Expect us then to be raising the profile of our support for sustainability projects both globally and locally, to be re-examining our commitment to Fair Trade and to be encouraging church members to reflect on how their lifestyle can be made more compatible with caring for God’s creation. We hope, too, to engage with local groups and to work with St Mary’s First School in raising awareness of environmental issues.
It would be so good to achieve the silver award by Easter 2021!