100% Eco Dioceses registered and EcoChurch reaches further in Wales and North of England

A milestone we celebrate at the start of 2022 is the exciting news that all 42 of the Church of England dioceses have now registered for the Eco Diocese scheme. This shows a significant commitment to getting more churches signed up to Eco Church but more importantly, that all dioceses in the Church of England are united in taking collective environmental action. This is also the case for the Church in Wales where all six of its dioceses have already registered for Eco Diocese. In just 6 years since Eco Church was launched, we have met our ten year goal to reach 10% of churches across England and Wales. That’s over 4,500 churches across England and Wales now part of the Eco Church community, with more than 1,500 awards achieved. We are now looking forward, over the next five years, with a new goal to reach 25% of churches across the UK. This goal is in conjunction with Eco Congregation in Scotland and Northern Ireland, with whom we look forward to closer collaboration, building on the work we have done together in the Climate Sunday campaign. A future focus within Eco Church is to achieve greater depth of churches engagement …

RECRUITMENT: Eco Church Officer (two posts – one Northern England + one Wales)

Our Eco Church programme helps churches of all different shapes, sizes and traditions along the journey of caring for the environment – from making rural churchyards wildlife-friendly to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by installing solar panels on urban rooftops, to speaking up for governments to act. The scheme is growing rapidly with over 4300 registered churches and over 1,600 awards given to date.  To respond to the increasing demand for Eco Church and related denominational schemes and a need to enable churches to move faster and deeper, we are expanding our Eco Church support team. We are seeking to recruit two Eco Church Officers, one for Wales and one for Northern England, to mobilise many more churches across the country to take effective action on the environment through Eco Church. To apply for the Eco Church Officer – Northern England or Wales posts, send a CV of no more than two pages including the names/contact details of two referees, along with a covering letter explaining why you want the job and how you meet the job specification, to Helen Stephens, Church Relations Manager, at ukjobs@arocha.org. Please specify which role you are applying for. Please note that referees will not be …

The 12 Days of a Green(er) Christmas

A 12 days of Christmas poem for some green inspiration, written by Jean Burrows, a member of the Eco Church team at recently awarded Bronze Eco Church, Hutton and Shenfield Union Church The 12 Days of a Green(er) Christmas On the first day of Christmas Buy a real Christmas tree from a sustainable source. After Christmas plant it, or take it to a local recycling centre On the second day of Christmas If you need some new Christmas lights or electrical goods don’t bin the old ones, donate them or take them to your local recycling centre.    On the third day of Christmas Buy recycled Christmas cards, send an e-card or make your own.  On the fourth day of Christmas There’s nothing worse than smiling a grateful thanks for a present you don’t really want, so give consumable presents, buy a membership or an experience day or go for a luxury meal and/or the theatre. On the fifth day of Christmas Are you buying presents that use batteries? If so, why not add recycled batteries and a charger? On the sixth day of Christmas When shopping use your LOAF (Local ———————– Organic ———————– Animal friendly ———————– Fairtrade) On the …

Eco-friendly Christmas Wreaths – Pershore Abbey

This is part of a Diocese of Worcester campaign backed by Bishop Martin Gorick for churches to take a more sustainable approach to flower-arranging and to stop using floral foam – often sold under the name Oasis – in displays. Bishop Gorick said: “Like many, I love to see flower arrangements in church, and always admire the ingenuity and skill of flower-arrangers; however, I have recently been made aware of the damaging impact of floral foam. As a diocese, we are committed to playing our part in tackling the climate crisis, and stopping using floral foam is one change that we can make in the fight to reduce single-use plastics. The Royal Horticultural Society have now banned floral foam in their displays at shows, such as Chelsea and Malvern, and I urge churches to also take a lead in this area to ensure our wonderful floral displays are as sustainable as possible.” Creative Abbey members have made wreath rings using willow from a branch that broke from one of the trees during Storm Arwen. The storm also brought down large branches of Cedar and other pieces that were used to create stars and cross frames. Foliage was used from the …

Christmas Tree Festival: Our Natural World – Hutton and Shenfield Union Church

In the summer the burning question for Hutton and Shenfield Union Church was “What shall we have as the theme for our Christmas Tree Festival this year?” Almost immediately God answered – “Our Natural World”. Fast forward to December and the Festival had 32 trees and the entrants had really taken the theme to heart with knitted birds, animals, sea creatures, fruit and veg, plus handmade fish, stars and snowflakes or dried autumnal leaves adorning many trees. A local secondary school, St Martins, ran a competition for the Year 7s to design a tree on the theme of the natural world. The winning entry came from Zara and Georgina who highlighted the devastating effect of rubbish on marine life. The church deacons set up a prayer tree for people to write their prayers on the back of a star and add it to the tree; this was covered in prayers by the end of the festival.  Each person who came to the festival was invited to vote for their favourite adult and junior trees. Children were also given a quiz sheet with a question about each tree; for example, “what recycled items have been used to decorate this tree?” or …

Christmas Tree Forest – Croxley Green Baptist Church

Croxley Green Baptist Church, a recently awarded Bronze Eco Church, has found a great way to help people wish one another Happy Christmas in a sustainable way. For many years they have run a Christmas Post Box where cards could be shared with members of the church. “We were looking for new ideas as to how we could share Christ’s love at Christmas” says Dave Gregory, minister and member of the church’s Eco-Church Team. “This year, we’ve set up a Christmas Tree Forest in the church foyer. People write Christmas greetings on tags and tie them onto the trees. It is more covid secure and continues our journey to reduce our environmental footprint, saving paper and re-using some old Christmas Trees that might have been thrown away”. The church works with BUEN – the Baptist Union Environment Network – and locally with the school-led group “Green Croxley”. Dave added, “being in the front windows of the church, the forest raises environmental awareness with the community and helps them to know Christians care about environmental issues”. The church is continuing to look for other fresh ideas as they aim for a Silver award in 2022! Written by Dave Gregory

2021 Reflections: Celebrating major milestones and future plans for Eco Church

By November, more than 4,300 churches had registered as Eco Churches since its launch in 2016. This took it ‘over the line’ of our original ten-year goal of reaching 10% of churches in England and Wales, more than four years early!  A considerable number of Eco churches were represented in the 2,300 churches who held a Climate Sunday service and petitioned the Government to take urgent climate action in the run-up to COP26.  We also surpassed 1,000 Eco Church awards, with the biggest jump in Gold award applications, now totalling 23 churches holding a Gold award, including the first Gold cathedral awarded to Salisbury Cathedral in June. Eco Church also worshipped together. At our online service in March, we celebrated the fifth Anniversary of Eco Church with our wider community of friends, partners and Eco Church members. Then, during Resound Workship’s Doxecology tour throughout COP26 in November, we spent time in praise for God’s wonderful creation and in prayer for the climate talks. Many Eco churches also took part in the first ever Churches Count on Nature in June which involved a week of recording wildlife in churchyards. 10,000 individuals across the country enjoyed discovering nature on their doorstep and …

Ideas for a greener Christmas

Share your best tips for an eco-friendly Christmas in the comments! With thanks to Eco Church All Saints’ Church, Harpenden. Start an annual, earth-friendly, Christmas family tradition – Decorate a tree for the birds, go on a family nature hike, try to identify and count every bird you see on a Christmas Day Bird Count or participate in a nature restoration activity such as planting a small tree together to symbolise the value of God’s creation. Think prayerfully about the season ahead and consider how you might be able to give back to the earth and instill the values of sustainable living to your children, friends and community. Gift your community a tree – I Dig Trees are giving away over 7,000 free community tree packs for distribution to community groups. Register your community group to receive a free tree planting pack or join a local tree-planting group.  

Beacon of Hope ahead of COP26: 4,000 Eco Churches announced, Lindley Methodist Church, Huddersfield

We’re thrilled to announce Lindley Methodist Church in Huddersfield as their 4,000th Eco Church. Lindley Methodist Church signed up to Eco Church as part of their commitment to action following their Climate Sunday service on 5 September. This milestone of 4,000 churches committed to undertaking practical action to care for the earth comes at a critical time for the climate, ahead of the UN COP26 climate negotiations in November.  In Eco Church’s sixth year, A Rocha UK believes that Eco Church can help bring about a step change in Christian action on the environment. The Eco Church initiative is an ecumenical scheme helping churches to make the link between environmental issues and the Christian faith, and to respond in practical action. It has three award  levels, Bronze, Silver and Gold, and considers how the environment is addressed within worship and teaching, buildings and land, community and global engagement and lifestyle. More than an award scheme, it is also a growing learning community of churches all wanting to play their part in responding to climate change and biodiversity loss.  Lindley is just one church’s story, and every day the Eco Church team encounters churches playing their part. Now that Eco Church …

Salisbury Cathedral is the first Cathedral to achieve an Eco-Church Gold Award

Photographer: Ash Mills On Wednesday 16 June Salisbury Cathedral became the first cathedral in the UK to achieve a Gold Eco-Church Award from A Rocha UK, singling it out as a beacon of good environmental practice for churches addressing the climate crisis. Helen Stephens, head of A Rocha UK’s Eco Church initiative, presented the prestigious award to Canon Robert Titley, the Cathedral’s Canon Chancellor, after touring the Cathedral and surrounding land to see and hear for herself what the Cathedral and its community has been doing towards achieving their Gold Award. Also present when the award was handed over was The Bishop of Salisbury, Right Reverend Nicholas Holtam. Bishop Nicholas used to be the Church of England’s lead bishop on the environment and is due to retire next month after ten years of service in a largely rural diocese that knows at first hand the effects of climate change. Bishop Nicholas said, “I am thrilled that the Cathedral has got this Gold Eco Church award particularly because it comes just before I leave and because I hope it will be an encouragement to other churches, cathedrals and dioceses. It is really clear as we prepare for the climate talks at …