Photo by Edward Jackson, Save Our Suffolk Swifts. All Saints' Church, Worlington, is an Eco Church and now has a significant colony of swifts which has grown significantly since nesting boxes were installed in the belfry in 2009.
Why should a church become an ‘Eco Church’?
"Reducing the causes of climate change is essential to the life of faith. It is a way to love our neighbour and to steward the gift of creation." Archbishop Justin Welby
The environment is God’s gift to everyone. And we have a responsibility towards each other to protect it. We cannot think of ourselves as isolated from others or from creation. One of the ways that local churches can care for creation is to get involved with A Rocha UK's Eco Church Scheme.
The scheme’s definition of an Eco Church is one which has committed to caring for the earth (God’s creation) and is seeking to express this through:
- Their worship and teaching
- The way they look after and use their buildings and land
- Engaging with global and community environmental issues and campaigns
- Encouraging church members and others to do likewise
Getting the church involved in environmental projects can be a great way to invite new people into your church community. Ideas such as organising a wildlife area in your churchyard and asking a local school to help plant it, having a youth eco group, or organising a village litter pick could enable you to build relationships with different groups of people in your communities.
How to become an Eco Church?
There are over 140 churches registered with the Eco Church scheme in the Diocese, 49 of whom have a Bronze award and 18 who have gone on to reach silver. The Diocese is a Bronze Eco Diocese.
The scheme is an 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. It aims to create a vast network of churches as local centres of creation care in the community – shining beacons of hope for a brighter environmental future.
The scheme is based on an 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.
By completing the Eco Survey, you will gauge what your church is already doing to care for God’s creation and it will help you to decide on your next steps. The actions you take count towards an Eco Church Award at Bronze, Silver or Gold level.
The website also has lots of resources to help you on your journey. Signing up to the Eco Church scheme is easy - simply register yourself and your church on the website and tis will give you access to the free online survey and supporting resources.
Eco Church | Weblink
How do I get started?
- Look at the Eco Church website to find out what’s involved
- Talk to your church leader and churchwardens - it is essential for them to be on board
- Get formal commitment from church leaders and PCC that creation care is part of the church’s ministry and that they are happy to join the Eco Church scheme
- Ask the PCC to nominate a lead person who can head up this ministry
- The lead person should then find others to help them - more ideas will come if more people are involved
- Register the team and the church on the Eco Church website
- Carry out a baseline survey to find out what’s already going on, where improvements are needed and what can be done.
- Produce an action plan
- Report back to the PCC on the survey and action plan
- Carry out actions, update the survey and see what progress you have made
- Repeat the last two steps………
Remember that you do not need to limit yourselves to the actions suggested in the survey. Anything that you can do to care for creation is worth doing.
Stories and ideas
- Barrow Benefice have had a visit from local schoolchildren where they learnt about the environment.
- Bradfield St George linked up with The Hive for a bug hunt in the churchyard as part of Churches Count on Nature week.
- A number of churchyards like Benhall, Cratfield, Laxfield and Brundish manage their churchyards to encourage wild flowers and wildlife.
- St. Peter’s Brandon have planted wild flowers around the church hall and the churchyard. They have also mown their church meadow and made hay.
- Bacton have planted 10 apple trees around the benefice.
We would love to have some stories from churches in the Diocese to share here. If you would like to share your story (and photos), please email the Diocesan Environment Officer, The Revd Canon Mark Haworth.
Watch the videos below from the Dioceses of Winchester and Birmingham to find out more about being an Eco Church and to be inspired with ideas!
There are a number of stories on the Eco Church website.
There are a number of churches who have included Eco Church on their websites, for instance
Just search for Eco Church on the internet to find more.
The Church of England has information, resources, and webinars to support churches in becoming Net Zero with their carbon emissions:
The environment and climate change | Weblink
Webinars | Weblink
Energy Footprint Tool | Weblink
Please do email The Revd Canon Mark Haworth, the Diocesan Environment Officer for more information or to let him know if your church is registered as an Eco Church.