Congratulations to the United Reformed Church West Midlands Synod which has become the first across the denomination to achieve an A Rocha UK Bronze Eco Synod award.
In its award application, the Synod evidenced a long-term commitment to reducing its environmental impact by rewriting their eco-policy which was approved in October 2020, and agreeing clear mission pledges to reduce their carbon footprint and reporting annually on progress. It is also working towards installing solar PV panels and electric car charging points at all suitable manses; investigating the possibility of doing the same for the Synod Office; and considering a future grant system to provide panels for church roofs.
The Synod has committed to reaching net zero carbon by 2040 or earlier and encourages its churches to register for the Eco Church initiative and qualify for at least a Bronze award by the end of 2023.
So far, 44 United Reformed churches across the Synod have signed up with A Rocha UK. Of these, fourteen have received a bronze award and eight a silver award.
“We are so pleased that our efforts are paying off, but there is so much more to do,” said the Revd Steve Faber, Moderator of the URC West Midlands Synod. “This is a pivotal moment for the URC and for the Synod in particular. We cannot overstate the importance and the urgency of doing more to protect the planet, and the part that we all must play in treading more lightly to preserve the integrity of God’s creation.
“In gaining the Bronze Eco Synod accreditation we have a tangible step along our journey to demonstrate our commitment to improving our environmental impact.”
The Synod is also incorporating environmental issues into its training for people within the Synod, and the Ministers’ Summer School 2021 will focus on the environment. A number of short videos to inform and encourage people in their own response to the climate crisis has also been produced by the Synod and is available on its website and YouTube account. In February 2020, the Synod Trust announced that it had completed its divestment from fossil fuel stocks.
“We are delighted to see West Midlands Synod achieve the first Bronze Eco Synod award,” said Helen Stephens, Church Relations Manager for A Rocha UK. “The Synod has the sort of goals which are great to see and which we need collectively if we are to take the faster and deeper steps needed to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss which threaten all of God’s creation.
“Along with other denominational area schemes – such as Eco Diocese and Eco District – the combination of high-level commitment and leadership combined with grassroots action at a local church level, is helping to mobilise the Church to take action on the biggest threats of our time.”
Mr Faber continued: “We hope that this will encourage members, local churches, other Synods and our ecumenical partners to take action now. This is only a step along the way for the Synod though – we are already working on our plans to work towards the Silver award as our next aim – I wonder if any other Synod will get there before us?”
Eco Church is a free online award scheme and is an A Rocha UK project, in partnership with Christian Aid, The Church of England, The Methodist Church in Britain, Allchurches Trust, The United Reformed Church and Tearfund. In the scheme’s sixth year, we are encouraging more churches to join the Eco church community. Churches can do so by registering at https://ecochurch.arocha.org.uk/ and completing a simple survey.