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 …

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 …

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).    

Connecting with God’s Creation during Lent at The Capellania Anglicana de Ibiza y Formentera

The Capellania Anglicana de Ibiza y Formentera, (also known as the English Speaking Church on Ibiza and Formentera) is a bronze-awarded church in the Diocese of Europe. Hear their story of how they connected with creation during Lent: Our Creation Care Group loved the suggestion from A-Rocha UK to use the season of Lent to encourage people to focus on God’s creation. With permission from A Rocha UK, we adapted their material to make it more applicable to life on Ibiza and created a sheet explaining the specific focus for each of the six weeks leading up to Easter. On the reverse of this sheet, we also provided suggestions on how to live a life with zero waste.     On the first week, as part of our Sunday service, we gave out seeds of local varieties of vegetables for people to plant at home. Over the remainder of Lent, we also organised a walk through the forest and along some almond groves where we heard about the endangering effect of climate change on those old trees; this was followed by a community picnic. Our Creation Care group also arranged litter picks and gave other suggestions as to how to …

Montgomery Church’s Eco Group find a creative way to think about food miles at their monthly ‘bring and share’ lunch

St Nicholas Church in Montgomery, Wales, who achieved their bronze award in 2022, thought of a creative way to share their Eco Church ethos at their ‘bring and share’ lunch. Montgomery Church hosts a casual ‘bring and share’ lunch on the fourth Sunday of each month. It’s open to everyone and is normally well-attended. The Eco Church group saw this captive audience as a great opportunity to widen the message about eco issues. They decided to challenge the congregation to think about ‘food miles’, encouraging them to make low food-mile items to share. ‘Food miles’ refers to how far the ingredients of a meal have travelled to get to your plate. So it’s about making the best of what’s around locally whenever possible, rather than using items flown from across the globe. One of the young members created a beautiful poster, and the competition to bring along the dish with the lowest food miles was on! There were savoury recipes using homegrown herbs, local eggs and local vegetables. The puddings didn’t fair quite as well as the sugar, made with British sugar beet, all grown close to the factory, came all the way from Bury St. Edmunds. But, the only …

“God in the beauty of Nature” from the Bryn a Mor Mission Area, St Asaph Diocese

Spring flowers in Llanasa Churchyard

Image: Llanasa churchyard. Photo credit Gregor Lachlann Waddel.   “…So I will build my altar in the fields. And the blue sky my fretted dome shall be, And sweet fragrance that the wildflowers yields Shall be the incense I will yield to thee…” (To Nature, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, c 1820) Part of the Bryn a Mor Mission Area is set in an area of outstanding natural beauty. Therefore, in amongst all this beauty, it is important that we as a church continue to conserve, preserve and look after God’s creation. Conservation has always been at the forefront of many of our churches. Some of our Church family has strong links and membership with the local conservation society in and around Llanasa. Together we take care of the plants and wildlife around our village and in our churchyards. We spend time in the churchyard and the village weeding and planting bee-friendly plants, cleaning and picking up litter. Under the stewardship of the Llanasa Conservation society, we have worked with the probation service in the care and upkeep of the cemetery, which has involved a programme of encouraging natural wildlife, semi-wild fauna, and flora. This special relationship is ongoing, and we hope …

Avenue St Andrew’s United Reformed Church share their history of caring for creation over many years, before achieving their bronze award in January 2023

Members of Avenue St Andrews URC at a climate march, holding a black and yellow banner which says 'act now on climate'

Image: Members of Avenue St Andrew’s URC at a climate march in November 2021. Photo credit Bernie Collins.   Avenue St Andrew’s United Reformed Church in Southampton achieved a Bronze Eco Church Award in January 2023. Their church has a history of caring for creation, achieving their first Eco-Congregation award (the scheme that pre-dates Eco Church. Eco Church began in England and Wales in 2016) in 2011! They shared some of their journey with us below:  We have had an active concern about climate change for many years, encouraged by a few keen and knowledgeable individuals. There have been some particular milestones along the way:  in 2011 we became an Eco Congregation;  in 2019 we installed solar panels in 2020/21 we ran the Dorset Green Living Course online during lockdown, where we had time to study in-depth and grow in our understanding.  From this, we formed a Green Living Group, which has provided the impetus for our Eco Church journey.     Some of our recent journey:  In the United Reformed Church, decision-making power rests in the Church Meeting. In 2021 our Church Meeting adopted a Climate Emergency Declaration and action plan, as part of which we have a large banner …