Caring for God's earth: Our vision for eco churches
Our most up to date plan can be found by clicking on the link below:
Climate Change is the greatest risk facing us all and the need to support the life systems of our planet has never been greater and we must act now.
Environmental issues within the Church of England (C of E) are the joint responsibility of two divisions Cathedrals and Church Buildings and Mission and Public Affairs. Together they manage the Church’s national environmental campaign ‘Shrinking the Footprint’ which was established in 2006 following a 2005 synod debate on Sharing God’s Planet.
In the report which followed the debate produced by Mission and Public Affairs, The synod called upon the whole church at every level to engage with the issues of climate change and energy use.
In February 2020 The General Synod passed a motion calling on all parts of the Church of England to draw up a plan of action to cut carbon emissions year-on-year, reaching net zero emissions by 2030. The full wording of the motion can be found via this link.
In August 2021 a subgroup of the DCC at St. Lucius was set up to champion the cause of the church community in becoming more environmentally sustainable and able to meet the C of E’s aspiration to have net zero carbon emissions by 2030.
Our vision is to ensure that all the churches in our parish and their grounds are managed in a way which expresses our care for God’s world and that we reduce our carbon emissions year on year so that by 2030 we have reached net zero.
We intend to achieve this by:
1. Signing up to A Rocha UK’s award scheme for churches in England and Wales. The scheme provides resources to help express our care for God’s world through our worship and by the way we care for and manage the church building and grounds. This approach takes the form of an initial baseline survey followed by assessments towards the Eco Church Award at Bronze, Silver and Gold levels. We attained the Bronze award in January 2022.
2. Developing an action plan which incorporates the following five domains:
A. Worship and Teaching
D. Community and global Engagement
Lead roles appointed from sub-group membership will oversee and report on progress in their domain alerting the group if specific issues arise or plans need to change. Responsibility for implementation of the action plan including agreeing funding and resource allocation remains with the DCC (unless devolved to the sub-group) and in some instances the Diocese where specific permissions are required.
3. Working with and seeking support from a wide range of partners including most importantly our local community, the school, community group, WI, local businesses, churches, the Parish and Kirklees Councils.
It is very clear that there are going to be some difficult challenges to overcome in-order to achieve our Eco church vision and action plan. Significant funding will be required for the key infrastructure developments such as heating and insulating the church building and may well take longer to implement than other parts of the plan. The DCC sub-group will suggest priorities for the whole DCC to consider and these decisions will be built into the action plan.
Several of the key challenges are set out below and individual detailed plans will be developed for each of these areas:
• Replacing existing radiators with energy efficient heating appliances/methods.
• Generating our own renewable energy.
• Retaining heat in church glazing and insulation solutions.
• Developing a land management plan for the disposal of old and or damaged trees and a re-planting scheme.
• Providing for safer car and bicycle parking facilities
Parish Eco Plan
A. Worship and Teaching
1. Hold special Sunday services about caring for God’s earth and include related hymns and songs, prayers, sermons, and liturgies celebrating God’s creation.
2. Invite guest speakers from Christian and other environmental organisations to speak about environmental issues.
3. How we ‘Care for God’s Earth’ will feature in our work with local schools.
4. Create a prayer labyrinth and interactive outdoor prayer stations in the churchyard and invite village members and pupils from the school to add their contributions.
5. Our website, newsletter and other publications will feature regular items relating to the theme of ‘Caring for God’s Earth.
Lead: Rev. Felicity Cowling Green (FCG) & Cath Ball (CB)
B. Building (The Eco church Rocha project check lists will be used)
1. All future building works will be subject to BREEAM criteria (national sustainability assessment for building projects)
2. Measure our energy use and have set targets to reduce our carbon footprint annually.
3. Replace existing radiators with improved energy saving heating appliances.
4. Ensure that our electricity supply is generated from renewable resources.
5. Explore possibilities of generating renewable energy (air or a ground source heat pump, solar panels, a wind turbine).
6. Explore ways of retaining heat within the building in sulation and glazing.
7. Ensure that we have the most economic form of lighting internally and externally.
8. Collect rainwater: install water butts and explore ways to use ‘grey water’.
9. Use recycled materials (toilet paper, hand towels and office supplies).
10. All cleaning products used to be ‘environmentally friendly’.
11. Facilities for recycling are in place both inside and outside the church building.
12. Use of single use disposable items such as crockery and cutlery are discouraged except where there are health and safety concerns which necessitate the use of single use items.
13. Develop a policy for the installation and energy efficient use of security lighting and energy saving signage reminders.
Lead: Brian Mallinson (BM) & Helen Marshall (HM)
1. Managing the church land in ways which encourage wildlife by installing boxes for: birds and insects; bats; hedgehogs.
2. Establishing a mowing regime appropriate to the conservation of the grassland working with the gardener on enhancing specified sections of the churchyard.
3. Growing plants which benefit and attract birds, bees, and butterflies.
4. Developing a section of the churchyard for wildflowers.
5. Avoiding the use of chemicals and pesticides in the management of the land apart from paths and driveways.
6. Developing a specific plan for the management of trees within the churchyard seeking expert advice from organisations such as the Woodland Trust, Forestry Commission and Queen’s Canopy initiative.
7. Undertaking annual surveys of wildlife within the churchyard.
8. Providing a range of composting facilities
9. Providing areas within the churchyard for recreation, contemplation, remembrance, and prayer.
10. Explore options for a car and bicycle parking area and electricity charging point(s)
Lead: Monica Wells (MW) & Linda Alderson (LA)
D. Community and Global Engagement
As a relatively small church community at St. Lucius Church, we propose to seek close collaboration with churches in our own Diocese and other networks to engage more widely in discussion and debate and raising awareness on global environmental issues.
This will include:
1. Hosting or contributing to lobbying events involving local Councillors/MP’s on environmental issues which affect the locality, the church building and land.
2. Host or contribute to network events which focus on global environmental issues, including invitations to expert speakers on environmental topics and issues.
3. Support the Diocese through working in partnership with local/global environmental agencies and organisations for example: The Environmental Alliance Huddersfield https://epiks.org.uk/greenstreams/, ’Transition Towns’ https://transitionnetwork.org/news/evaluation-survey/, ‘Carbon Fast’ http://www.ecofaithrecovery.org/carbonfast/, and WWF carbon footprint model https://www.wwf.org.uk/learn/why-your-footprint-matters.
4. Support ‘Fair Trade’, ‘Green Fairs’ and other initiatives which promote local food producers and supporting local and national environmental campaigns.
5. Ensure that ‘church office holders are trained in reducing energy use and environmental issues and also encourage all church users to conserve energy and feel supported to make changes to their individual lifestyles.
6. The church displays notices reminding users about the importance of conserving energy.
7. We support the Diocese work in collaboration with overseas countries and engage with specific environmental projects such as Water Aid, Toilet Twinning, and conservation initiatives. (for example: The Diocese of Leeds has close links with Mara, Rorya and Tarime Diocese in Tanzania).
Lead: Rev. Felicity Cowling Green (FCG) & Gillian Swift (GS)
1. A subgroup of the DCC has been set up to champion the cause of our church community in becoming more environmentally sustainable and able to meet the Church of England’s goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2030. In line with the Synod motion passed in February 2020.
2. Walking, cycling, and car sharing to church will be encouraged.
3. Information and advice will be available to church members on how to undertake a carbon footprint audit.
4. Information and advice will be made available to church members through our website, newsletters, and presentations on methods to reduce waste, energy consumption, re and up-cycling and in how to invest savings through ethical investments.
5. Personal stories on reducing our carbon footprint will be collected and shared to inspire our community to make changes
Lead: Kath Hinchliff (KH)
An excel spreadsheet will be used to plot timescales and resource requirements including project plans for the more complex and challenging changes we wish to make.
The Church of England is currently producing a range of helpful resources to assist churches below.
Eco Church is a scheme run by A Rocha UK Itd. It comprises a free online survey and supporting resources designed to equip our church to express care for God’s world in worship and teaching; in how we look after our buildings and land; in how we engage with our local community and in global campaigns, and in the personal lifestyles of our congregation.
The Church of England National toolkits, webinars, and newsletters
Diocese of Leeds ‘Saving Creation Strategic Action to Combat Climate Change’
Toolkit and templates for achieving parish net zero plans Saving Creation: Six Steps to Carbon Net Zero – Diocese of Leeds Learning (anglican.org)
Saving Creation: Carbon Net Zero Church | The Diocese of Leeds, Church of England (anglican.org)
Church case studies Eco-Church - Diocese St. Asaph (dioceseofstasaph.org.uk)