Creating an environment strategy for your deanery

The Revd Alison Alder is Associate Priest in the Blyth Valley Team (Benefice) as well as Environment Champion for the Waveney and Blyth Deanery.  She has been working hard to find out all that is happening in the deanery regarding the environment.  She hopes to be a facilitator for the deanery, sharing ideas, disseminating good news and signposting to resources to help all our churches focus on the environment. 

Why should churches be taking action?

Changing weather patterns, including last summer’s prolonged drought, have created problems for those working on the land. It is also affecting our local wildlife. On a wider scale, we are now seeing droughts, floods and rising sea levels making some parts of the world uninhabitable. Many young people feel let down by the lack of commitment to tackle the crisis.

The scale of the challenge that faces us can seem overwhelming.

Alison says "I don't see the environment as another job to be done or another initiative to achieve.  Instead, I see it as an integral part of our mission.  It is an opportunity for churches to grow and reach out to new audiences by engaging with people who value our environment.  We can be invitational and and connect with families, schools, other churches and young people in our communities with a shared aim of working on the environment".

Alison added that her experience showed that building relationships and working together with other projects in her village can create real impact. "Sometimes the targets for things like Net Carbon Zero and the crisis for Climate change can seem overwhelming, so the approach I have taken is to tackle the small things and focus on what we can do while working in partnership with others" .

Creating a Deanery Action Plan

The Waveney and Blyth Deanery Environment Action Plan is an example of the ways all of us can do small but significant things to live out our Christian mission in the world. The steps fall into three categories:

  1. To reduce the harmful impact of our own lives on the environment.
  2. To encourage our communities to engage with God’s creation so that they enjoy it and protect it.
  3. To campaign for climate justice.

It may not be possible for all our churches to participate in all these actions. However, if each church is able to do something and share what they are doing with the local community, then we will have united in our mission to God’s Creation and his people.

As Alison says "Churches are already doing a lot and our worship regularly addresses protecting God’s creation and climate injustice. One thing we can all do is to think about how we can involve our communities in what we are doing".

Below are some ideas to help you create your parish environment strategy:

  1. To reduce the harmful impact of our own lives on the environment:
    1. Make adjustments to our own lives that will reduce our carbon footprint and limit negative impacts on the environment
    2. Promote organisations that help reuse things rather than throw them away
    3. Switch off (if we can afford it) and use products which are “environmentally friendly” such as recycled products
    4. Sign up for the Eco-Church Award scheme and publicise this in your community.
    5. Calculate your church’s carbon footprint - you can use the Energy Footprint Tool that allows all churches around the country to enter their utility bills to find out their carbon footprint.
  2. To encourage our communities to engage with God’s creation so that they enjoy it and protect it.
    1. Provide opportunities for the community to engage with nature locally such as inviting people to carry out a nature survey or host children’s activities in the churchyard
    2. Get people outside the church involved to help
    3. Display in church information about encouraging wildlife / wildflowers.
  3. To campaign for Climate Justice.
    1. Encourage congregations and the local community to support the campaigning work of charities such as Christian Aid, as well as raising money for them.

Waveney and Blyth Deanery have adopted this approach and developed an Deanery Action Plan including:

  • Recruit at least one representative, clergy or lay, from each benefice to be part of a Deanery Environmental Action group.
  • Hold regular talks around the Deanery on environmental issues.
  • Use our churches and churchyards to encourage community involvement with the local environment.
  • Encourage churches to sign up for Eco-Church status. 
  • Promote worship which is linked to creation and environmental issues.
  • Campaigning for climate justice.

If you would like to see the detail or would like to use it in your deanery please download a copy here.

What is happening now?

The Waveney and Blyth Deanery held their first environment meeting in March 2023.  Alison said "I am a facilitator and I am currently working ecumenically via Churches Together.  I hope to start to engage with the local Emmanuel Church in Bungay as well as the Quaker Church in Beccles.  We are in the early stages of building relationships, but already I can see signs of growth".  The outcomes are available in their first newsletter - please download a copy here - a quick summary includes:

Eco church

  • St Peter’s Church in Spexhall is working to maintain its Eco-church silver award status and has seen it as a good way for churches to strengthen their connections with their communities. 
  • St Luke’s and St Michael’s Church in Beccles have their bronze award
  • Emmanuel the United Reform and Methodist Church in Bangay is rightly proud of its gold status.

To learn from Emmanuel Church and to promote Eco Church, Emmanuel Church is hosting an event 'Act for Nature' on Saturday 27 May at 1.45pm - 5.00om.  You can join to share an afternoon with A Rocha staff and supporters in the region and learn from Emmanuel as they plant hope, caring for God’s earth as part of their Gold Eco church vision.  Places are limited and you can book here.

Becoming Net Zero Carbon

Alison has been signposting to various resources to target NZC.  These include 'Creating a net zero carbon action plan' available on YouTube here and the Church of England's 'Practical Path to Net Zero Carbon' available here

Being Political

The deanery are going to focus on Christian Aid Week: 14 – 23 May and is asking people to support Christian Aid with a financial donation (donate here) but also demonstrate our churches’ commitment to the injustice climate change is creating.  They are hosting a film event 'Thank You For The Rain' on Tuesday 16 May at 2.00pm at St Margaret’s Church, Reydon where they will be showing an award winning film featuring: Kisilu, a Kenyan farmer, who started to use his camera to capture the life of his family, his village and the damages of climate change.

Local community events

St Mary’s Huntingfield was 'Going wild' in April -  25 children from the Kids’ Club at Huntingfield came to St Mary’s Church for a morning of wild activities. These included a bug hunt, a nest building challenge, looking at a range of strange natural objects and exploring the church itself for images of nature. It was a delight to welcome the children, leaders, helpers and parents to a morning of fun.

Wenhaston Open Wildlife Gardens is on Sunday 4 June - an excellent opportunity to see how gardens can be designed to encourage and sustain insects, birds and other wildlife.

On 29 September – 1 October there will be Churches Together conference on 'Climate Action' based at St Mary’s Church, Halesworth.  This will include church services, wild picnics and entertainment.

Page last updated: Wednesday 26th April 2023 12:18 PM
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