In August 2022, St Philp and St James Church Leckhampton was awarded a Bronze Eco Church Award by A Rocha and is now working towards Silver. Helen Wolfson, a member of the Eco Group, reflects on how far the church has come in the last two years.
“After the church reopened in 2021 (after being refurbished), we needed to re-form our Eco Group, which had stopped for various reasons over the pandemic. We appealed for volunteers and were amazed that nine members came forward – including a churchwarden, a member of the Flower Guild, plus several eco-minded people and those involved in worship – so we have a broad range of people with a diverse set of skills and knowledge, who all felt called to serve in particular ways.
“When we completed the Eco Church questionnaire, it was really well set out into the different categories. We scored quite high in the Buildings category, so we knew we didn’t need to focus on that. We also scored well in the Worship category; being an Eco Church is ‘in our DNA’ – we’re regularly praying for our world and hold two creation-focused services each year.
“In Land Management, while we don’t really have much land, we were able to plant natural hedgerows and trees and provide a seating area. During our re-ordering we had installed new cycle racks.”
Helen explains that one of the key areas of focus for them last year was the Lifestyle category.
“After the pandemic, we felt it would be valuable to survey the worshipping community to find out more about their general lifestyles – e.g. their travel, eating and spending habits as well as their overall energy consumption. We used Survey Monkey, which is an easy online surveying tool, and had an amazing response. This gave us a fantastic insight from people across a diverse range of backgrounds. Just doing this survey alone contributed to us getting the Bronze Award.
“The survey results informed our next steps, which included developing a parish-wide ‘Pip and Jims Simply Sharing’ Facebook group, holding a plant swop and a toy, book and puzzle swop, developing some recycling within the church building and publishing a monthly ‘eco-tip’ on our Facebook page and in our newsletter.”
While the process itself has been relatively straightforward, Helen says it can be easy to feel everything has to be just right before you can make a start.
“Some people might think things have to be brilliant and everything needs to be perfect before you can start the Eco Church programme, but I would really encourage anyone to just give it a go. Becoming an Eco Church is a journey and it really doesn’t matter if it doesn’t always go to plan, or if something ends up in the wrong bin, or you can’t go as fast on your eco-journey as you might like. Just go for it and enjoy the small differences you will make each day to achieve the bigger goals. Be kind to yourselves and others as you work this out together.”
The Eco Group has created a four-page leaflet to share with members of the worshipping community what has been achieved so far, and the aims going forward.
Helen says, “Being an Eco Church is part of who we are, and together we can see that we are taking steps forward on our journey.”
Submit your energy bills to the Energy Footprint Tool to find out what your church’s footprint is. Find out more here: Journey to net zero – what impact is your church having?
To find out more about our #EcoChurchInAnHour campaign visit: Eco Church in an hour