Eco Church

In 2020, shortly before the start of the pandemic, we committed to improving Christ Church’s environmental footprint. We are delighted to announce that we are now the proud holders of an Eco Church Silver Award.

In order to follow a structured framework for our environmental journey, we have been using the survey from the Eco Church award (https://ecochurch.arocha.org.uk). Eco Church is a project setup by the environmental charity, A Rocha (https://arocha.org.uk). They describe it as an award scheme for churches in England and Wales who want to demonstrate that the gospel is good news for God’s earth…Our vision is for churches of all denominations to care for creation as an integral part of loving their neighbours and following God faithfully.” The survey asks churches to consider five different areas of church life; worship and teaching, buildings, land, community engagement, and lifestyle (of the congregation). Given the breadth of the survey, it really does ask you to consider everything that is going on in the life of the church and so seems a good way to comprehensively review the church’s impact on the environment. In the survey, there are a series of questions relating to each area, and the more of these you complete more often, the more prestigious award you can achieve. We worked out that without changing or improving anything, Christ Church would qualify for a bronze award. So, we decided to aim for silver, in the knowledge that it would require us to act in a number of ways.

As a result of working on our Eco Church award, not only have we taken steps to improve our environmental footprint (further information below of changes/commitments made), but perhaps more significantly, we have focussed on developing a programme of engagement to involve our congregation in this journey. Our strategy for actively taking this initiative forward will be presented to our new Church Council in May; bedding in the new working group with individuals taking responsibility for different areas of the survey, developing a programme of engagement to involve our congregation in this journey. 
 
So what have we been doing? Well, we've made a number of changes and commitments, including - 
  • Increasing the conversation amongst the congregation around environmental concern 
  • Preaching about, and praying for, the environment more regularly in services 
  • Using our weekly news email bulletin to raise environmental issues 
  • Engaging with our youth group about caring for the environment 
  • Printing less for Sunday services and switching to recycled paper 
  • Measuring our carbon footprint and offsetting for the year 2018-2019
  • Purchasing and installing water saving devices in toilets 
  • Purchasing environmentally friendly cleaning products for use once we've used up our previous supply 
  • Will ask hall hirers not to use disposables 
  • Currently investigating the installation of cycle racks 
  • LED bulb installation 
  • Encouraging wildlife through stocked feeding stations and putting up bird and bat boxes 
  • Planting and maintaining wildflowers that benefit insects and birds, including landscaping some of our land to make this possible
  • Undertaking wildlife surveys 
  • Encouraging the public to use our land during the pandemic 
  • Promoting Eco Church to other churches
  • Updating the website! 
  • Building relationships with local conservation groups like Friends of Gipsy Hill 
  • Encouraging lifestyle changes (or considerations) in the congregation e.g. encouraging walking, undertaking carbon footprint audits, to reduce energy consumption, to consider purchasing FairTrade goods where possible  
  • Beginning conversations with the PCC about long-term environmental goals

We hope that by engaging with this issue – raising awareness, prompting conversation, and taking action – we will demonstrate that we agree with A Rocha in seeing “care for creation as an integral part of loving their neighbours and following God faithfully.”

If you'd like to get involved with our environmental work or are interested to hear more, please email Pippa at ministry@gipsyhill.org.uk.