How one church counted on nature this June

(IMAGE: Buff-tip and a Privet Hawk-moth as photographed by Emily Best) Churchyards and church spaces are some of the UK’s most unpolluted nature sites. From 4-12 June 2022, Churches Count on Nature (CCON) brought communities together to discover the wildlife in their local churchyard. Over 250 churches across England and Wales took part, counting many species, including rare and endangered ones, in their churchyards, spaces and burial grounds across England and Wales. Emily Best from St Michael’s Church Eco Team shared about their experience of welcoming hundreds of school children to their church grounds: During Churches Count on Nature week, the Eco Team ran biodiversity monitoring workshops for their local C of E school and village pre-school. These are located next door to St Michael’s church in the centre of Aldbourne, Wiltshire, and approximately 230 children participated. Each session began with a welcome from one of the clergy, who shared God’s creative nature and how He has loaned the natural world to us to enjoy and protect. We sang, “He’s got the whole world in his hands”, and thanked God in prayer for his beautiful world. Each group spent 1.5-2.5 hours with us being “wildlife detectives” using their senses and …

Creation care meets local mission: an Eco-Church project from Holy Trinity Claygate

‘Coming soon to a tree near you!’ was our headline on social media this February. 200 small cotton gift bags had been filled with seed balls and tagged with a label explaining that they were a gift for the person who found them, to help care for God’s world.  We were inspired by a similar project carried out in 2021 by St Mary’s and St John’s, Walton, but took a slightly different approach, encouraging church members to take a bag and prayerfully consider where they might leave it for someone else to find. Perhaps on a tree near a friend’s house, on the way to school, or on a popular dog walk. In this way, we hoped to not only bless the community with the gift of seed balls but also to encourage our church members to think in a missional way about their local communities. The project generated a sense of excitement amongst our church members, as bags were taken, hung on trees around the village – and then disappeared a few hours or days later. Our social media accounts were buzzing too, with positive comments and ‘likes’, and the project has helped to raise the profile of creation …

Encouragement at the start of 2022 – ‘’Lots of small things’’ poem by St Luke’s, Hedge End 

St Luke’s Hedge End, who received their Silver award in December 2021, found a creative way to share their eco church journey through this wonderful poem ‘lots of small things.’  As we approach the year ahead, take inspiration that the ‘lots of small things’ add up, and consider the ways your church can come together as a community this year to take action.  ‘Lots of Small Things’  The folk at St Luke’s know we must Take action, pray, and thus be just Prayer means action, so we’ve started To make our God less broken hearted Climate change has made us think Of ways of drawing from the brink Climate change weighs on our heart So onwards we must play our part First we started Eco church And in small ways began our search To find the ways to change our practice And thus to become climate active  We aimed first for bronze award, And soon found we had worked towards Carbon neutral, less emissions, And this is coming to fruition,  We do not own a large church yard, But have a strip of green grass sward Now there is home for bugs, Tho eagerly welcomed by the slugs Our building …

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

St Mary’s East Grinstead

We hope that our efforts have converted what was a pretty sterile environment into an area where wildlife is beginning to find a home, and one that changes with the seasons. Many of our congregation are elderly and live in flats; we hope that by greening our churchyard we are, in a small way, bringing the countryside to them.

Market Harborough Methodist Church

Having taken part in a local Churches Together initiative in which Eco Church featured, Market Harborough Methodist Church made the decision to register.

St Stephen’s, Ealing

St Stephen’s Church in Ealing has long been passionate about caring for God’s world. Eco Church provided them with a very good assessment tool to see what they were doing already and to make good plans for progress on other things to be addressed in the future.