In the spring of 2021, the PCC of St John’s signed up to join the Eco Church community, run by A Rocha UK. The PCC agreed to appoint a “person or group” to champion action and work towards gaining recognition under the Christian charity’s award scheme.
The committed actions of various groups within the church swiftly embraced the opportunity to come together and make strides towards achieving an Eco Church Bronze award, which was granted by A Rocha in July 2022.
A Rocha, a Christian charity, offers churches – of all denominations – the chance to demonstrate that the Gospel is good news for God’s earth through an awards scheme. The aim is to put sustainability at the heart of a church’s thinking.
Bronze, Silver and Gold standards are available once a church meets an equal level in five categories:
Worship and teaching
Community and Global Engagement
More than 3,000 churches across England and Wales have signed up to Eco Church, while just over 1,000 have attained an award – only a handful have Gold.
The church community embraced fulfilling the steps necessary to achieve Bronze level. Bird boxes, put together by junior church, have been erected in various places around the churchyard, where areas left wild for pollinators have been expanded. Crisp packets were collected to be turned into sleeping bags for the homeless and sent off before Christmas 2021. Packets continue to be collected at the church centre, along with stamps as the church expands the items it recycles. A communal Christmas card was created by junior church, who also raised money to twin the toilets of the church and centre. Our regular flower arranger no longer uses foam for displays. Cycle racks have been funded and installed.
A Rocha offers many resource tools to help churches make progress in each category.
The church answers a series of questions in each category, with positive answers gaining points. Many of these questions underline what churches are already doing and, indeed, on reading the questionnaire, St John’s was at least Bronze in some of the categories.
Many ideas have been discussed. For example encouraging walking, cycling or car sharing as a method of reaching services, improving our church site for wildlife and assessing utility bills. Initially, junior church were asked to assess how they came to church - by car, by bike or wallomh.
Environmental issues are now mentioned more regularly in Sunday morning service prayers. Meanwhile, there are many aspects of Scouting badges that overlap with Eco Church principles. Our associated Scout group have made a wildlife survey carried out during the second summer of Covid an annual activity.
Would you like to help? Do you have professional skills that might help us assess the carbon footprint of our buildings? Would you like to get involved in maintaining the church buildings? Or the land, with an eye on conservation? Could you help parishioners access Fair Trade goods? Could you run a scheme to twin our toilets with those abroad? Could you do a little fundraising to pay for the bronze award recognition or other costs that could come up?
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