Last Sunday, 5th February, St John’s, Hartley Wintney, Hampshire, launched its participation in Eco Church. Both services that day celebrated the beauty of the world and committed the church to care for the earth using the Eco Church scheme.
The 5th February was also the date the environmental charity, A Rocha UK’s hugely popular Eco Church award scheme celebrated its first birthday. St John’s was one of many churches across England and Wales holding a ‘Green Communion’ as part of their worship services on that day, using a green cloth over the altar, and a specially commissioned order of service, written by the Precentor of Canterbury Cathedral.
Janette Smith, a curate at St John’s, said, ‘It’s great to be part of a church that tries to integrate what we believe into everything we do. We believe God created the earth and it still belongs to him. Our response must be to care for it, not to mess with it!’
St John’s is not new to environmental awareness. It already has the Silver Winchester Diocese Environmental Award in recognition for the ways it has included caring for the world in its worship, teaching and the way it runs its buildings. It holds a ‘creation care’ service most years, regularly engages politically on climate change and its new church centre has cycle racks and is grade A energy efficient. The church centre coffee shop serves ethical fairtrade Kingdom Coffee and the church buildings recently switched to 100% renewable energy through Christian Aid’s ‘Big Church Switch’ campaign.
The guest speaker, David Morgan, who chairs the Winchester Diocesan Environment Group, said, ‘UK churches should be leading the way on caring for the planet – after all it is God’s, not our own. Eco Church links practical action and sound biblical thinking to provide a framework for a church to make a genuine difference in its community as the congregation engages with the Anglican Fifth Mark of Mission – to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and to sustain and renew the life of the earth.’
Since Eco Church launched last year, over 450 churches across England and Wales have registered. It was set up for churches to demonstrate how they are caring for God’s earth in different areas of their life and work. They do this by filling out a survey that takes them through five key areas of church life (worship and teaching, management of church buildings, management of church land, community and global engagement, lifestyle). Churches are then supported through the scheme as they make their way through the three levels – Bronze, Silver and Gold.
Contact: Ruth Jarman firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo shows, from left to right, David Morgan (who gave the sermon at both services), Sam Chandler (member of St John’s Creation Care Group) and Janette Smith (curate). The East End was lit with green spot lights.