Eco Church launched at Environment Forum in Willesborough

St Mary the Virgin Church in Willesborough played host to the Environment Forum on Wednesday 20th April. It brought together people from across the Diocese for a day of reflection and learning and also saw the official launch of Eco Church within the Diocese.

Eco Church is a new national church award scheme aimed at helping churches affirm the things that they are already doing to lessen their impact on the environment, and offer ideas as to what further actions they could be taking. By completing the simple online survey churches can work towards a bronze, silver, or gold award.

Ruth Valerio, an environmentalist and author from A Rocha UK who run the scheme, explained that Eco Church is not just about how churches manage their buildings, but is more holistic in approach, by encouraging churches to consider how concern for the environment plays a part in their worship, prayer-life, and everyday activities as well.  Ruth was delighted to award Reverend John MacKenzie, vicar of St. Mary the Virgin Church, a Bronze Award on the day in recognition of the environmental improvements that had been made during the recent reordering of the church – the first Eco Church award in the Diocese.

Architect Nick Lee Evans also gave a presentation about the various ways that churches can look to reducing the environmental impact of their buildings. He suggested that much could be achieved with a few small steps: carrying out an audit regarding energy use and publishing the findings as this tended to raise consciousness within the congregation; introducing a smart meter; changing light bulbs or light fittings for energy saving versions; and replacing a cast iron boiler for a more efficient model. He encouraged anyone with ideas or questions about how their buildings could be developed to become ‘greener’ should always approach the Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC) who would be happy to help.

Archdeacon Stephen Taylor who is leading the Diocese’s work on environmental issues said that it was really encouraging to see such enthusiasm during the sessions: “At one point Ruth encouraged everyone to get online there and then and take a look at the Eco Church survey. It was great to see people getting engaged with it and realising that this was something they could really take it back to their own parishes.

“The Environment Forum is part of a movement and not just a policy within the Diocese, so as Christians we all need to be activists within this movement.  I would therefore encourage as many people as possible to connect with the Eco Church website, and also look at the Environment page on the Diocesan website which is full of ideas and information about how concern for the Environment can be brought more fully into the life of the church.”

Another Environment Forum is planned for later in the year.