Eco Church Award
Eco Church - what’s that all about then?
In these times of growing concern about our changing climate – it’s easy to be overwhelmed and feel helpless. What can we do about this – it’s such a massive issue? Surely any action we take is miniscule and governments are the only ones that can really have any impact? Well, let me introduce you to the Christian Conservation charity, A Rocha, whose mission is to live out God’s calling to care for creation and equip others to do likewise.
A Rocha means ’The Rock’ in Portuguese and the first project set up by this organisation in 1983, was a Field Study Centre in Portugal. The organisation now has national A Rocha groups in more than 20 countries across the globe. A Rocha works beyond the Christian church with anyone who will work with them, on projects that reflect both good science and good biblical theology.
In the UK, A Rocha UK established Eco Church as a project in 2016, in partnership with Christian Aid, Tear Fund, The Church of England, The Methodist Church, The United Reformed Church and the Benefact Trust. Churches from many different denominations are now engaged with the project, which has been designed as an award scheme for churches who want to demonstrate that the gospel is good news for God’s earth. The scheme is designed to equip churches to express their care for God’s world in their worship and teaching; in how they look after their buildings and land; in how they engage with their local community and in global campaigns, and in the personal lifestyles of their congregations.
In the Vale of Glamorgan Methodist Circuit, of our 7 churches, 2 are already engaged with the Ecochurch award scheme. Barry Uniting Church joined the scheme in 2020 (just as the pandemic started) and were rewarded with a bronze Ecochurch award in the summer of that year, progressing to the silver award in summer 2022. The Gathering Place in St Athan, were also awarded a bronze award in 2022. At Connexional level, the Methodist Church is actively encouraging all churches to consider joining the scheme, and I have been appointed as Eco Church representative for the Circuit to help those of you who are interested in taking part in the scheme. In Barry Uniting Church we also have the support of the United Reformed Church, who have registered as an Eco Synod in Wales.
There are four stages to the Eco Church award scheme. The first stage is registration – just getting your congregation interested and wanting to do something positive is the start of your journey. Once registered, it’s helpful to have a group of people who can help to encourage and inform the congregation about Eco Church – and to complete the online questionnaire.
The questionnaire is in five parts – looking at worship, land, buildings, community and local engagement and personal lifestyles. The scores attained in the questionnaire will give you a level for each section – no award, bronze, silver or gold. This will give you an idea of the areas you need to work on to achieve the next level. Once all categories are bronze or above, you can apply for your bronze award.
Every church will have areas where they find it easy to score well, and others where they need to work on issues. In Barry Uniting Church we score well for our land and buildings, but we have had to work on these (we had a head start on the land, but that has taken a lot of work!). The questionnaire is designed to allow awards to be achieved even where there are challenges. The Church in Wales is actively engaged in Eco Church, despite the fact that they have many more challenges with their buildings than most other denominations. And I can assure you that the oldest URC church in Wales – a tiny chapel in Powys, is also a silver Eco Church!
PMC was awarded the Bronze award in September 2023!