Registration is now open for Churches Count on Nature (June 4-12)

Churches Count on Nature is a unique opportunity for those who love their churchyards and church spaces to take part in the largest ever nature count this June.  To find out more and to register please visit:  arocha.org.uk/churches-prepare-for-mass-citizen-science-biodiversity-events-after-huge-success-of-last-years-churches-count-on-nature/

St Mary’s Ticehurst achieves an Eco Church Gold Award

The rural church of St Mary the Virgin in Ticehurst, East Sussex, has become the first in Chichester Diocese to gain the prestigious Eco Church Gold Award. The award recognises the top level of achievement as part of environmental charity A Rocha UK’s Eco Church scheme, which encourages churches to make changes to improve their climate impact, to care for the environment and to inspire and encourage others. Penny Evans, the convener of the planning group at St Mary’s commented that “Our journey started with our concern about climate change and biodiversity loss. This led us to the belief that, as Christians with a concern for justice, peace and healing, we must be active and visible in caring for God’s creation in every area of our shared life together. The Eco Church scheme seemed the ideal vehicle to help us achieve this.”    While significant changes, still ongoing, have been made to the building of St Mary’s as part of their aim to become carbon zero, the major part of their energies have been directed towards their 3-acres of churchyard. With the help of expert advice and biodiversity surveys, they have developed areas into summer meadow, have planted native trees, …

Go Green (er) for Lent

How can we become better at caring for creation and improving our lives and the lives of others through healthy, eco-friendly and sustainable living?  The Lenten 40-day period before Easter gives us the opportunity to reflect on the practice of fasting and commit to giving up something that brings a real benefit to nature and helps address climate change. Below are some changes you could make that will help the environment. Take time to pray, reflect and consider these options – pick one or two or however many you’d like (you never know the changes might just stick!) Go plastic free. Even if you can’t become totally plastic-free, make it your goal to at least reduce your use of plastic. Read Tom’s month without plastic blog here. Switch off from digital. Explore technology-free times or areas of the house, switching to ‘airplane mode’ for the first hour in the morning and the last hour at night, ‘switch off Sundays’, reaching for your Bible over your device(s) and writing a list of outdoor things that you enjoy. Boycott fast fashion. Emily reflects on how our clothes can bring us closer to our neighbour and have a lesser impact on nature. Read her blog here. Buy …

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

Image of Salisbury Cathedral by: Ash Mills 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 …

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 …

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 …

University of Winchester Chapel First to win Gold

The Chapel at the University of Winchester has won a Gold Eco Church Award for its work in sustainability. It is the first Gold award for a university chapel from the scheme, bringing the total of Gold awards presented to 17. Welcoming the news, Vice-Chancellor The Reverend Professor Elizabeth Stuart said: “At the University of Winchester we have long been passionate about caring for the earth. The Eco Church Gold Award for our University Chapel demonstrates our deep-felt commitment to and success in environmental and sustainable initiatives. As a University with a Christian foundation this award is particularly significant to us.” The University won a Silver Eco Church Award in April 2019. Since then, the University has continued to reduce its carbon emissions in absolute terms and relative to the size of its estate. Where the carbon footprint of premises cannot be reduced, it is offset. The gas supplied to our premises is now generated from renewable sources and/or charged according to supplier’s ‘green tariff’; rainwater collection facilities are installed and used; a composting/waterless toilet has been installed and recycled toilet paper is provided. A plastic-free Lent will be promoted across the University community in 2022, alongside a Lenten ‘Carbon …