Opportunities to enrich your regular routine
‘Becoming’ is a process; it takes time, and the process itself is the key benefit.
Here at Hethel, the journey began – unwittingly – several decades ago when the churchyard was first mown once in late summer, then cleared of herbage. Wildflowers have since proliferated and the grasses teem with life. Doing less achieves more – we don’t have to cut grass every week, biodiversity goes up and we can claim 40 points. We cut a meandering swathe and during the pandemic dotted it with small lecterns with pictures and quotations. Scores of people and their children came and were blessed by the beauty of nature and the apposite text. Another 10, points.
The Eco Church questionnaire is an excellent audit tool that helps you feel positive about what you’ve already done and prompts what’s next. Having an Eco Church “champion” makes a big difference – someone or a small committee to take the lead and prod the PCC; it’s that journey: someone needs to drive. In our case, back in 2018 I ran our church through the survey with no idea of the outcome. I was surprised that we were close to silver in several of the five areas. I then did some exploring: ticking boxes and seeing the effect on the score and what we needed to do to get over each line.
The great thing is that there’s so much beneficial that can be done without much sweat. Switching to 100% renewable electricity is a bit of a faff but scores 20 points. The questionnaire prompted a bike rack. £60 and we have another 10 points. Using recycled printer paper is cheaper – five points. Use both sides? Another five points. Swap the fluorescent tubes for LEDs, get instant ‘striking’ and a warmer ambience to the church. £50 and up to 20 points. Then there’s kairos: God’s moment to do things. In 2017, shaped by a commitment to a low-carbon solution, I researched possible heating solutions, concluding that air-source heat pumps were the best way forward. Our system cost less than many, is cheap to run and scores 30 points in the survey. Using ‘renewable’ electricity means a truly zero carbon footprint and 20 more points. It’s an example of doing what you’re going to do anyway with a sharp eye on sustainability.
The worship and teaching section suggests opportunities to enrich your regular routine, to connect faith with issues that may be preoccupying congregational minds and to take seriously the fifth mark of God’s mission.
The lifestyle section is, in my view, the most challenging and the area in which Hethel will need to work hard to encourage members to make changes. I know, too, that we need a formal policy that enshrines what we do and keeps us on track when the carbon champion retires. It will help to ensure that activities and events are regular rather than occasional, tick the ‘targets’ box and nudge us towards gold.
The Eco Church survey is very fair to small churches (Hethel is tiny): numerous questions, for example about church halls, or youthwork, can be answered “not applicable” and scoring is adjusted accordingly. I’d urge everyone to see how many boxes they can tick now, remembering that bronze requires just 25% of the maximum points in each section. Your church – and the planet – can only benefit.
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Articles in this issue...
Two churches in the Diocese are set for a major cash boost as the recipients of the Norfolk Social Infrastructure Fund.More
Welcoming new residents
Housing developments are happening everywhere, Horsford is no exception. Just six miles north from the centre of Norwich, it is a place to which couples and young families are keen to move.More
VAT is a grey area… but let us add a little colour!
Parochial Church Councils come within the scope of registration for VAT. Whether they do so in practice depends on the extent to which they supply items which are taxable. In most cases, the taxable turnover will not be great enough to call for registration. Some expenditure that most of our PCCs have are listed below, some of which attract reduced or zero-rated VAT.More
Nurturing early growth
Where are the spaces in your community that enable faith conversation to flourish?More
The stable which became an Easter Garden
They are many of us saying this – but it is true: ‘We have tried new things because of the pandemic – and there are some things that we want to keep.’More
Faithful band of pilgrims at Easter
Great Yarmouth Minster is blessed with a set of Stations of the Cross paintings set in our townMore
Thinking about heating?
Before you go any further with a heating project, you should carefully review your current situation.More
Continuing the journey
This spring, our PCC and congregation at All Saints, Chedgrave, were delighted to discover that they had achieved a bronze eco-award.More
Bronze award pursued
St Mary’s Church, Kelling, is a Grade II listed building set in a large churchyard in an area of outstanding natural beauty on the North Norfolk coast.More
Easier than you may think
Churches complete the unique online Eco Survey about how they are caring for God’s Earth in different areas of their life and work.More