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 and at last, in 2019, we have achieved our Bronze Award and in September 2022 our Silver award! We are the 500th church nationally to achieve this.
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! 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 formerly in our Messy Church themes.
Buildings – we are at Silver. Points here include those for having an energy efficient boiler, changing to low energy lighting , using environmentally friendly cleaning products and toilet paper and double glazing the whole of the ground floor.
Land – we have reached Bronze level, partly thanks to the work of the Beavers and Cubs who use the small manor drive garden to grow vegetables and provide ‘accommodation’ for a variety of insects. The elderly conifers have been removed and a wide variety of flowering shrubs and perennials have been planted. It is great to watch the insects enjoying these. We have also installed a bird box, and hope that maybe next year it will have a family in residence.
Community and Global – we are at a Silver score. 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! We have twinned some of our toilets so that more good sanitation can be provided in places where poor sanitation contributes to disease.
Lifestyle – Again we score at Silver level. 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. Our church members have been given information on the carbon footprint of different foods, and some of us are using this information to reduce our carbon footprint.
We are pleased to achieved our Silver Award, but we won’t rest there. Onward and upward to Gold, but that could be quite a long journey.
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.