As part of the scheme, churches undertake positive environmental steps which demonstrate that the gospel is good news for God’s earth and are awarded bronze, silver and gold awards accordingly.
In its first year, 450 churches have signed up, consisting of hundreds of small actions from using a renewable energy supplier and improving energy efficiency to teaching about creation care and ensuring its land is sustainably managed.
Dr Ruth Valerio, Churches and Theology Director for A Rocha UK, which leads the scheme with support from the Church of England, the Methodist Church, Christian Aid and Tearfund, said: “Looking after our common home is an essential part of living out the Gospel, and Eco Church can inspire and equip us to do that well. I’m thrilled with how Eco Church has taken off this year, and it has been exciting watching churches of all shapes and sizes getting involved. I’ve particularly loved visiting churches that have gained awards and seeing the impact that taking part in Eco Church has had on them as a church and in their communities.”
On Sunday green communion services were held across the country including cathedrals in Canterbury, Salisbury and Ely, York Minster and Bath Abbey. Other churches included Chichester’s Revelation Family Church, a part of the Pioneer Network, Severn Vineyard in Bristol and C3, a large charismatic congregation in Cambridge. A special order of service was written by the Precentor of Canterbury Cathedral, Matthew Rushton, containing bible verses, liturgies, and prayers and there was even an earth-friendly bread recipe on the Eco Church website.
Izzy Woodman, the Eco Church Rep for Lyme Regis Baptist Church said: “What I have particularly enjoyed about Eco Church is how accessible and easy to use it is. It gets churches thinking about the environment on a practical, spiritual and missional level in a way that I don’t think the church has ever been challenged to before. It looks at all areas of church life and provokes you to think about areas you had never thought of having an impact on the environment.”
This sentiment was shared by Sue Charlton, of St Stephen’s Church, Ealing. “The Eco Church process is generating a lot of discussion with creative ideas flowing and it’s been great to have the structure to work with. It’s not just a few of us working for ecology, peace and justice any more but the whole of our growing congregation.”