St Lawrence’s Church in Lechlade is celebrating after achieving a Silver Eco Church Award and is already looking at the requirements for Gold level.
Their environment work is championed in the church by a small Eco Group, who meet to review what the church could be doing to become greener.
The detailed Eco Church survey asks questions about how the worshipping community expresses care for God’s world in worship and teaching; in how churches look after buildings and land; in how they engage with the local community and in global campaigns, and in the personal lifestyles of the congregation. To achieve a Bronze Award, a church must score at least 25% in all categories of the survey; for Silver the requirement is 50%, and for Gold it must be 75%.
David Bainbridge, a representative from the Eco Group, said, “Over the past four years and especially this summer, people are more aware of the need for tackling the climate crisis by conserving energy and using energy from green sources where possible. There has also been a gradual change in the awareness of biodiversity, and the need to preserve our fragile natural environment. Our Eco Group meets periodically to review our use of environmentally friendly cleaning materials, ethically sourced (Fairtrade) food, and our adherence to the principles of ‘reduce, re-use, recycle’.
As a result, David helped set up a new Repair Café, which meets every month, helping people to repair portable household appliances and avoid things going to landfill.
“As part of our Silver Award, we have a small area of the churchyard which is designated as a ‘no-mow’ area to benefit wildlife and promote biodiversity. And, to encourage our congregation towards a sustainable and creation-affirming lifestyle, we include an ‘Eco Tip’ in the weekly church bulletin.”
David goes on to explain that St Lawrence’s is planning a major restoration and reordering project to make the church building a place of worship fit for the coming decades.
“We are taking this opportunity to improve our energy efficiency, moving towards the Church of England’s net zero carbon target by 2030. The various components of the reordering project include upgrading the electrical system, modernising the lighting and AV facilities, installing underfloor heating and providing comfortable chairs. Following professional advice, the underfloor heating and insulation will deliver effective, even heat across the nave and aisles, improving the comfort of the congregation. The underfloor heating will be powered by an air source heat pump.
“Lechlade Town Council has recently declared a Climate Emergency and are preparing to set up a working group which will be sketching out what they hope to achieve and agree terms of reference. We look forward to working with the Town Council on this goal to achieve a Zero Carbon Town in Lechlade.”
Small changes can make a big difference
Supporting and encouraging people to adopt a sustainable personal lifestyle is high on the agenda for the Eco Group.
“At one level, people are aware of the need for change – but our habits and expectations can too easily make us think that the whole issue of sustainability is too big for individual actions and depends on government or commercial or business changes. Hence the drip, drip of an ‘Eco Tip’ in our weekly bulletin – in addition to getting involved with local and national lobbying organisations. It’s helping to instil the message that small changes can make a big difference.”
If this story has inspired you, why not pledge an hour a week towards making your church greener? The first step is to register for Eco Church. Find out more at #EcoChurchInAnHour.
If your church is holding a special green service or event between 24 September and 2 October, you can add it to the Great Big Green Week website, or visit the website to find inspiration and ideas for green activities.