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.    

Welcome to our new Eco Diocese Officer

Image of Polly, new Eco Diocese Officer, at a stall holding a cardboard sign protesting against using pesticides.

Polly, who is passionate about bees, involved in a ‘stop using harmful pesticides’ campaign as part of her local Justice and Peace Group.   We are delighted to welcome a new member to the A Rocha UK churches team in the newly created role of Eco Diocese Officer. Whilst Polly has recently started in her role, she is not totally new to Eco Church: “Since moving to Hertfordshire seven years ago, I’ve been worshipping at High Street Baptist Church in Tring. During this time the church gained a gold Eco Church award and I’ve enjoyed being part of a church that strives to ‘do’ creation care. Prior to this I lived in West Africa and saw first-hand the effects of the climate crisis on rural communities. I strongly believe that the environmental catastrophe we face is a justice issue and the church has a vital role to play. I think one of the ways to approach this challenge is to build our Eco Church community and encourage and learn from one another. I’m really looking forward to getting to know people within the diocese and supporting them as they progress with Eco Diocese.” We are grateful to the Church of England for …

First Gold Eco Church Award for Wales Achieved!

 The Labyrinth contemplation area.   St Peter’s Church in Llanbedr Dyffryn Clwyd, near Ruthin and part of the St. Asaph Diocese, has become the first church in Wales to achieve their Gold Eco-Church Award.  As part of their work towards a gold award, they have developed the churchyard into a welcoming green space to support wildlife and biodiversity.  They encourage native wildlife by providing bird boxes, a bug hotel, sowing wildflower seeds, and a labyrinth area with a seat and space for quiet contemplation. The church is a very popular spot for the start and end of walks in the area, and visitors can get a Fairtrade coffee inside. The ‘Capel Beuno’ area is popular amongst the youngsters of the church and wider community, where they meet regularly around the fire pit, sitting on seats recycled from wood pallets. Fallen trees have been crafted into two altar tables used for outside services. One of the Vicars at  St Peter’s, Father Huw Bryant, shared, “We are delighted to have achieved this award and become the first in Wales. We have been working for several years towards this award, not for its own sake, but to embed good care for creation and …

Churches Counted on Nature

Churchyards provide thousands of acres of green oases in communities across the country. Last month’s Churches Count on Nature (CCoN), in which A Rocha UK was a key partner, was a fantastic opportunity to help people understand their local environment and explore the contribution that churches can make to monitoring and conserving wildlife. Between 3 and 11 June, over 400 CCoN events took place across England and Wales, with churches hosting activities to record the mammals, birds, wildflowers, insects, and fungi in their outdoor spaces. Many also used CCoN as an opportunity to reach out to their community and extended their activities to include photography competitions, history talks and picnics. You can see some great photos of a variety of events here.  Llanidan Church in Brynsiencyn on Anglesey started their event with a service that focused on the environment and caring for their churchyard.  After an opportunity to browse a selection of relevant books and leaflets over a cuppa, they got counting!  Over 30 people took part, and the lists were compiled not only in Welsh and English but French too, as there was a Breton gentleman taking part! Almost 80 species of wildflowers were identified, as well as insects …

A Rocha UK at the National Urdd Eisteddfod

It was a delight to work in partnership with the Union of Welsh Independent Churches at the National Urdd Eisteddfod recently, where a 100-year-old blanket was given a new lease of life! A fantastic patchwork quilt will be crafted together, decorated with hundreds of individual messages and pictures written and drawn from the young people of Wales. They expressed their desires and fears about tackling the future of the planet and the nature crisis. Watch the video, which features our Eco Church Officer for Wales, Delyth here. The video is recorded in Welsh. Children preparing their Eco messages Snapshot of blanket filled with messages and drawings  

Act for Nature Dates in 2023

A Rocha UK are hosting several ‘Act for Nature’ days on our reserves and in collaboration with Partners in Action and Eco Churches. Join us for practical conservation activities for individuals and churches which are relevant to both small and larger patches of land. Come along to learn and share your own experiences of campaigning for nature – and to ‘speak up’ together though a simple action. And each event will be a great opportunity to meet and share a fun day with other A Rocha UK supporters in the region, as well as A Rocha UK staff and volunteers. The remaining events for this year include: – Wolf Fields, West London on Saturday 16 September. Find out more and register to attend here. – Nettle Hill, Warwickshire on Saturday 14 October. Find out more and register to attend here.   

Registration open for Churches Count on Nature – June 3 to 11, 2023

Flowers overlooking a churchyard

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 and find out how to register your event on our A Rocha UK noticeboard here.  

Eco Church goes on tour in North Wales

Delyth, Eco Church Officer for Wales, speaks to a group at the Eco Church event in Bangor

Delyth Higgins, our Eco Church Officer for Wales, shares about her recent visit to North Wales. Delyth hosted several sessions, bringing together local churches and chapels at various stages of their Eco Church journeys, sharing stories and providing an opportunity to connect and encourage one another.   It was encouraging to see the turnout and response to the recent Eco Church sessions in North Wales. Following an invite to speak to the Bangor Diocese Clergy’s Grwp Cadfan meeting in Nant Gwrtheyrn, two additional ecumenical sessions were arranged – one in Porthmadog and one in Bangor.    The sessions were a blend of information-giving about A Rocha UK’s work and, more specifically, about the purpose and workings of the Eco Church programme and hearing directly from churches already involved. Several churches from the area shared their stories and experiences about how they reached a bronze award. They gave examples of how they started, what they achieved first, and how they progressed. They also included tips, such as ensuring you have support from a small group of enthusiastic individuals rather than trying to do it all alone. Also, acknowledge small steps taken and progress made, and involve people in aspects of the scheme according …

Thank you at Christmas

Dear Friends, We’re nearing the end of 2022, and no doubt there will be many reflections on what a tumultuous year it has been. The environment is no exception, and whilst we don’t yet know the outcomes of COP15 on biodiversity, COP27 was largely disappointing. In the foreword to his Advent book Sleepers Wake, the Archbishop of York refers to Advent not only as a time of preparation and waiting but also as a time of discomfort; ‘the Christ child is not the …rosy-cheeked baby, the manger is not the cosy retreat [..].’ Rather it’s a time ‘to wake up, to focus on what is important, to do justice and love kindness’. Bishop Nicholas Holtam, the author of the book, writes of ‘forgiveness and thanksgiving’, the need for us to recognise and repent of how we have harmed the planet which then enables us to turn around and ‘find hope that leads to renewed life with thanksgiving’, a wonderful framing for Advent. What a great note on which to end the year! We are thankful for the thousands of you taking action through Eco Church, as highlighted by just some of the milestones reached this year. A Rocha UK have also posted their 2022 message of …