Inspiration from Churches Count on Nature

Churches across all denominations in England and Wales can now register to participate in Churches Count on Nature 2024  – an annual scheme where people visit church and chapel yards and record the plant and animal species they encounter. Often, this land is home to precious biodiverse habitats and managing them for people and nature is important.  The biodiversity survey, supported by environmental charities A Rocha UK and Caring for God’s Acre, as well as the Church of England and the Church in Wales, takes place from 8th – 16th June 2024. Churches Count on Nature is part of Love Your Burial Ground Week. If you don’t have a churchyard or graveyard, you can still participate by connecting with another local church that does. Or maybe you could get a local school or wildlife group involved? Find out more, including how to access resources, record your sightings, and register your event here. There is also a map showing events already registered – why not explore what is happening in your local area? Inspiration from churches who hosted a Churches Count on Nature event last year  St Giles Church, Hartington A wildflower survey during Churches Count on Nature identified 39 different …

Celebrating 1,000 silver-awarded Eco Churches!

At the start of 2023, 500 Eco Churches had achieved a silver award. In just 18 months, this figure has doubled! This is evidence of churches deepening their engagement with caring for creation and embedding it in their church life. Read the full article on our A Rocha UK blog here.      

Registrations open for Churches Count on Nature 2024

Discover and delight in what’s on our church doorstep(s) Churches across all denominations in England and Wales can now register to participate in Churches Count on Nature, an annual scheme where people visit churchyards and record the plant and animal species they encounter. Read the full article on the A Rocha UK website here.  

A reflection from our Eco Diocese Officer, six months into post

  “There is room for everyone in Eco Church, we all have a part to play.” The Eco Diocese award scheme builds on the Eco Church programme by requiring dioceses to fulfil targets for the number of registered and awarded churches and integrate creation care across the diocese at a policy and practical level. Hear from Polly Eaton as she reflects on her first six months as our Eco Diocese Officer:  ‘It has been fantastic to discover what’s happening across dioceses – I’ve seen many examples of good practice and been encouraged by the range of projects and initiatives. Since I started, we have seen eight more Church of England dioceses gain their bronze Eco Diocese award, bringing the total to 28 out of the 42 dioceses in England and Wales. I attended the Church of England Net Zero Carbon Conference a few weeks ago and was so impressed by the breadth of skills and level of knowledge in the room. What struck me was how essential each one of us is to the task of caring for creation. We need people with technical knowledge about heat pumps and solar panels, we need people who can connect with children and meet …

Henllan Warm Space, St Sadwrn’s Church, Wales’ second Gold Eco Church

A Rocha UK is delighted to celebrate St Sadwrn’s Church in Henllan, Denbighshire, as the second church in Wales to achieve a Gold Eco Church Award.  Their Warm Space project, in particular, has garnered significant media attention; addressing food waste from local supermarkets and combatting community isolation, this initiative has become integral to the community. Be inspired by the impact this project is having in the local community by watching a short video on the Henllan Warm Space:   The dedicated team at St Sadwrn’s Church has diligently pursued eco-friendly initiatives over the past few years and enrolled in the Eco Church scheme in 2021. Their efforts have, among other things, resulted in the insulation of the church building and the innovative installation of a heavy curtain attached to the door mechanism to ward off drafts. Individuals associated with the church have shared updates on the village Facebook group, and this has kept the wider community informed of the church’s progress on its Eco Church journey. The churchyard is a haven of biodiversity, with a bank adorned with Cowslips and other wildflowers, a bee garden, a fruit-growing patch, mini ponds, a bug hotel, and bat and bird boxes. Alongside the …

Eco Church reaches 3000 award milestone

Last autumn marked a significant milestone for Eco Church as we celebrated the achievement of 2,000 awarded churches since the program’s launch in 2016. Just one year on, we have now surpassed 3,000 awarded churches! Read the full article on the A Rocha UK website here.    

Eco Church: what’s happening in Wales?

Delyth Higgins took on the newly created role of Eco Church Officer for Wales in 2022 – an exciting development for A Rocha UK.  Here, Delyth updates on Eco Churches in Wales after her first 18 months: “My role is to promote Eco Church in my nation and encourage greater depth of engagement in the programme from those who are already involved. I thank God for the progress we have been able to make working with many others. There are now around 400 churches in Wales, across all denominations, registered as Eco Churches. The past few months, however, have seen an increase in the level of engagement with several more silver awards (there are now 41), the URC’s National Synod of Wales earning its bronze Eco Synod award, and the first gold Eco Church award in Wales. St Peter’s Church, Llanbedr Dyffryn Clwyd, near Ruthin, won that accolade within the last month.” Hear more from Delyth in the full article on the A Rocha UK website here.    

St John’s Methodist Church, Settle – Church land transformation

St John’s Methodist Church in Settle, North Yorkshire, originally thought they had no land to include in their Eco Church application. They have now reached a gold level in the land section and created a space for people and nature to thrive! Be encouraged and inspired by all that is possible as their Eco team share the journey:  The Initial Spark When we first completed our Silver Award application, we felt we couldn’t answer the section on ‘Land’ and marked it as ‘Not Applicable’.  With 95% of our land being tarmac, we felt we could not use it for anything other than car parking. However, after encouragement from the Eco Church team, who pointed out the possibilities of this space, the Eco Group were energised to take action. We feel that we have certainly gone a long way towards creating spaces that celebrate God’s goodness and bounty in what we had previously seen as a desert. Action We focused our attention on a space at the back of the church, which was bare and forlorn, never used. As you see from these pictures, taken in early 2022, it was an uninspiring plot. It was no wonder that we never found …

Church on the Hill – Taking Church outside with St Michael’s, Bishops Cleeve

In the aftermath of the pandemic lockdowns, in July 2021, we recognised that some people still felt uncomfortable coming into the church building. As our Benefice is surrounded by beautiful hills, with many opportunities to get outside and walk, it felt not just appropriate to gather outdoors but entirely natural. This is how Church on the Hill started.  The gathering is as simple as the name. We usually meet on Cleeve Hill one Sunday a month or occasionally at other suitable outdoor venues across our Benefice.  The informal service is open to all, and there is a mix of ages who attend. We usually start with a question or observation challenge for the group to discuss as they journey together.  We walk at varying paces before stopping for a short time of prayer and reflection linked to faith, life and often the created world that we are surrounded by. The children are usually found running around, finding treasures to share as part of our reflections.  We originally intended to run Church on the Hill just through the summer of 2021, but when we got to October, the group decided it must continue, and two years later, it is still going …

Hear from gold-awarded Clitheroe United Reformed Church on how their Eco Church journey has transformed the lives of their congregation and impacted their local community

Clitheroe United Reformed Church is the first church in the North Western Synod to achieve a Gold Eco Church Award! As part of the NW Synod podcast, Lawrence Heath-Moore sits down with Wendy Higson and Izzy Lamb from Clitheroe United Reformed Church to share about their Gold Award. Discover the ways in which their Eco Church journey has transformed not only their buildings but the lives and spirituality of the congregation and brought a new dimension to their relationships within the community. Be inspired to find ways of making small, incremental changes that have long-term significance by listening to the podcast episode here (you’ll need to scroll down to find the correct episode).