Eco Church is A Rocha UK’s award scheme for churches in England and Wales who want to demonstrate that the gospel is good news for God’s earth. In their belief that caring for God’s earth is a necessary part of Christian discipleship, engaging with Christians and churches is at the heart of A Rocha’s strategy. Their primary means of such engagement is Eco Church, a web-based award scheme designed to motivate and resource churches in establishing caring for God’s earth as an integral part of their everyday work and witness. Eco Church has been developed as the successor to Eco-Congregation for churches in England and Wales, and is run by A Rocha UK in partnership with Christian Aid, the Church of England, the Methodist Church, and Tearfund. At the heart of Eco Church is a unique, online survey that enables churches to both record what they are already doing to care for God’s earth, and to reflect on what further steps they can take to that end and then act accordingly.
Heath has been registered with Eco Church since January 2016. We are still one of just two registered churches in Halifax, the other being the Minster. Elsewhere in Calderdale St Lukes’ at Norland, St Peters’ in Sowerby, St Mary’s in Luddenden, St Thomas the Apostle in Hebden Bridge, St Thomas in West Vale and St Martin’s in Brighouse are registered. As of January 2019, and according to the website, none of these churches has yet achieved an award.
Awards are made at Bronze, Silver or Gold level with a minimum standard needing to be reached in all categories, these being:
Worship and teaching – we have reached Gold level with a score of 83/110! The starting point here was our agreement to work towards an Eco Church award. Other activity has included services dedicated to environmental themes and ensuring that the Christian call to care for the environment is fairly regularly included in other services and in hymn choices, as well as in our Messy Church themes.
Buildings – we have yet to reach bronze. Our score is 109/525, with 140 being required . Points here include those for having an energy efficient boiler, partial low energy lighting and using environmentally friendly cleaning products.
Land – we have reached 40/75 which is Silver, mainly thanks to the work of the Beavers who use the small manor drive garden to grow vegetables and provide ‘accommodation’ for a variety of insects.
Community and Global – we are at a Bronze score, 85/205, with Silver needing 105. We have communicated with our MP and other organisations on environmental issues, members have been involved in environmental campaigning, we sell and serve Fairtrade products and we are currently promoting Eco Church to other churches!
Lifestyle – Again we score at Bronze level with 68/160. We promote the personal use and consumption of Fairtrade goods, we share a communal Christmas card and we have recently changed our current and savings accounts to more ethical ones.
As you can see we have much work to do in the buildings category before we can apply for a bronze award, and bronze is just the start. There is much we can all do , collectively and individually, to better care for the beautiful planet that is our home. Climate change is a reality that none of us can afford to turn a blind eye to.