Eco Church, the successor to Eco-Congregation in England and Wales, was launched at an event at St Paul’s Cathedral on 26 Jan 2016 by A Rocha UK, Christian Aid and Tearfund. The keynote was from Dr Rowan Williams with other speakers including Dr Ruth Valerio, Churches and Theology Director at A Rocha UK, and the Revd Nigel Hopper, Churches and Resources Manager at A Rocha UK. You can read a report of the launch of Eco Church on the St Paul’s Institute website.
The Eco Church awards scheme is based around an online survey which enables churches to record how they are currently caring for the environment and to reflect on what further steps they can take. The scheme encourages churches to care for creation across every aspect of Church life: the survey covers worship and teaching, management of church buildings and land, community and global engagement, and lifestyle.
Accompanying the survey is a new suite of online resources designed to help churches undertake the actions recommended in the survey. These include sermon outlines, youth materials, advice on how to care for land in wildlife friendly ways, guide to food co-operatives and a lifestyle audit.
As a church completes the survey they collect points towards an Eco Church award at one of three levels – bronze, silver and gold. In order to qualify for an award, churches must attain the required standard in each of the areas covered by the survey that apply to them (Eco Church allows for the fact that some churches do not have buildings or land, for instance).
Churches apply for an award by downloading and completing an application form, which for bronze and silver awards needs confirmation from Church leaders that they have seen and approved the eco survey. For the gold award, an Eco Church assessor will visit the church.
Award winning churches receive a certificate to mark the achievement and have the option of purchasing an award plaque, made from recycled Church pews at a community project based in Edinburgh.
Eco Church is free to churches in England and Wales, although the Revd Nigel Hopper said that donations would be gratefully received.
‘We want it to be as common place for a church to be engaged in caring for God’s earth as it is for the Church to be engaged in community action, social outreach and so on. We want to reach a point where a scheme such as Eco Church actually isn’t needed any more because the church around the country simply gets it’, said Dr Ruth Valerio.
Find out more on the Eco Church website.