ECO CHURCH? WHAT IS ECO CHURCH?
Until recently I was unaware of ECO CHURCH, what it is and what it does.
Several years ago Uniting Church Sketty started to recycle, in a small way. We collected spectacles, used postage stamps, batteries and printer cartridges. The spectacles are given to a local optician who is part of a scheme which sends spectacles abroad where they are used in developing countries, this giving people with sight problems, who could not afford to buy spectacles a new lease of life. Stamps have been given to various charities, although the market for used stamps isn’t as buoyant as it was. The cartridges and batteries are taken to the local authority recycling centre.
After we started recycling these items I was made aware of ECO CHURCH. I downloaded their survey to learn more.
About two years ago we expanded our recycling efforts to include crisp packets, Pringle tins, baby food pouches and toothpaste tubes.
I felt at this time that we could complete the survey to apply for the BRONZE AWARD, which is the first award you can attain if you meet the criteria set by A ROCHA, the charity which champions ECO CHURCH.
The survey consists of 5 categories – WORSHIP AND TEACHING; BUILDINGS; LAND; COMMUNITY AND GLOBAL ENGAGEMENT and LIFESTYLE.
The WORSHIP AND TEACHING category proved no problem. An example of a question is – Caring for God’s earth is preached in our church.
The BUILDINGS category is much more detailed. Our church was built in 1876, but we had recently had an extension which enhanced our chances of ticking more boxes. An example of a question is – Our church premises (main church) are insulated as follows – all walls and lofts/ceilings; some walls only; some walls and lofts/ceilings; all lofts/ceilings only; all walls only; some lofts/ceilings only; not at all; not applicable (listed status). Here you can see that this category is more complicate and needs the knowledge of your property stewards etc.
Shortly we will be starting PROJECT HALL during which the original church hall will be modernised, including having solar panels on the roof. This will stand us in good stead when we apply for our next award.
The LAND category could be contentious. Does your church face straight onto a street with no land around it at all? If so you are exempt from completing this category. However, if your church has a small amount of land e.g. some flower beds, you have land. After much thought we had to admit that we had land, even though it is only a small area. One of the questions is – our church land contains a pond or wetland area that is good for wildlife. You may answer – yes; no; not applicable. Our land does not have a pond and is not likely to as we don’t have enough land for one. SO, should the answer be NO or NOT APPLICABLE? Firstly I decided the answer should be NO. Then I had a rethink and changed it to NOT APPLICABLE as we are never likely to have a pond. A Rocha questioned this change, but understood when I explained. In fact I was asked…..are some of the answers listed ambiguous? I said they were, so was asked to think how they could be more clearly stated.
COMMUNITY AND GLOBAL ENGAGEMENT many people would agree is a large part of what should be in the forefront of any church’s mind. One of the questions is – our church participates in the Tearfund/Cord “Toilet Twinning” scheme. The answer to this question for UCS was a definitive YES, as our young people raised enough funds through craft sales etc., to TWIN all our toilets.
The final category is LIFESTYLE. This category refers to recycling, carbon footprints, reduction of car use, communal Christmas and Easter card schemes, the types of food used when eating meals together, ethical investments and environmental lifestyle audits etc.
In December 2019 we gained our BRONZE AWARD.
We are now working towards achieving our SILVER AWARD. It’s surprising what you can do towards this even during lockdown.