On 20th November the PCC agreed that we should carry out the Eco-congregation Enviromental Check Up which we did on 23rd January. After this we produced the following action plan:
The Church at Present
Environmental concerns are already raised in occasional services and we regularly give thanks to God as Creator in prayer and song. Among the children’s work the 8-11s group have spent some time discussing ecological issues. The church building, which is quite modern and shared with St John’s school, is kept in a generally energy and water efficient manner and has good access. There is no churchyard. We are a Fair Trade church and use crockery rather than disposable cups and plates. We provide facilities for recycling stamps and printer cartridges and the office uses recycled paper. We support a number of development agencies including Reading 3000 in Mozambique, the Leprosy Mission, SAMS, International Nepal Fellowship, Tearfund and Christian Aid both financially and in promoting their campaigns. The church is very conscious of issues of importance to the developing world and has important overseas links, especially with Nepal. Many individuals in the church are taking steps to green their own lives, eg supporting the local organic True Food Co-op, participating in organic box schemes, cycling, using environmentally sensitive cleaning materials, investing ethically, and one family have installed solar panels on their roof.
Eco-congregation Initiatives so far
We have arranged a Sacred Space evening service on the theme of Care for Creation which considered the interdependence of life on earth and celebrated God’s love for his Creation and the innate goodness of the created world expressed throughout the Bible and most powerfully in the Incarnation. The congregation were invited to move between ‘stations’ on specific environmental themes – road use, recycling, food choices, clothes and water use. At each point there was information about the impact of our choices and about green alternatives, pointers for prayer and an activity such as tasting apples that were locally grown and imported, organic or not; using a footbath while meditating on all that we appreciate about water; looking at literal and metaphorical ‘strings attached’ to cheap clothes; or making models out of rubbish.
We have also started including green tips in the weekly news sheet and have a space on the notice board for Eco-congregation matters (which is currently displaying Tearfund climate change information).
The Action Plan
Worship – we hope to encourage more thought about our relationship with Creation in worship, beginning with a Worship Together service on 1 July. This service will be in three parts – 1. Celebration: giving thanks for Creation 2. Confession: considering the current crisis 3. Action: praying for the healing of Creation and providing opportunities to explore what each of us might be doing as individuals (encouraging those who already do things to tell others about it) and what we would like to add to the church’s action plan.
The increased awareness of green issues through the green tips in the news-sheet and information on the notice board will hopefully help to keep this in our prayer life.
Recycling – boxes for stamps, cartridges, batteries, foil and possibly bottle tops will be at the back of church [Rosemary]. Exclaimers (aged 8-11s) will be organising a Clutter Sale to raise funds for Christian Aid on 13 May [Joanna].
Energy efficiency – when the refectory is finished we need to ensure the committee prioritises energy efficiency in stocking the kitchen, including the most practical dishwasher and other A++ rated white goods. [Ali]
Investment – we need to hold a meeting with the Treasurer about our investment and find out about the environmental policy of our current bank [Joanna]
Educating ourselves – we plan to arrange termly talks before our shared lunches on the first Sunday of the month – speakers have so far been suggested on investments, green electricity and clothing.
Cleaning – try to arrange for more environmentally cleaning materials to be used.
Talk with the school, asking them to become involved with our initiatives, starting with recycling and making sure lights, computers etc are switched off.
Consider the possibility of green electricity for the church but this is currently decided by the council because it is also the school building so this could be an opportunity to lobby the council to reconsider its policy.
Discuss with RE-Inspired the possibility of including sessions on Creation/Environment issues.
Publicise events by Newtown’s environment group GLOBE, particularly the Kennet clean up, and publicise Earley’s Green Fair.
Promote Christian Aid and Tearfund’s campaigns on carbon reduction.
Produce a blog of our activities attached to the church’s website.