Registering to work towards becoming an Eco Diocese


As we mark World Environment Day and Environment Sunday, we recognise our need across the whole Church and particularly here, in the Diocese of Leicester, to address the issue of climate change – in faith, practice and mission.

Last year, led by Bishop Martyn and the Bishop’s Youth Council, we made a pledge to become an Eco Diocese within the next two years. On 7 June, we will be formally registering our intent to work towards becoming an Eco Diocese with the awarding body, A Rocha.

Bishop Martyn said:  “In the midst of the pandemic and lockdown, we are learning again our intimate connection with all of God’s creation. For good or ill, our actions make a difference and it is my hope that every church, every fresh expression of church, every school and every chaplaincy will renew their commitment to celebrating and caring for God’s creation. I’m pleased to say that my own Chapel at Bishop’s Lodge has been received a Silver Eco Church award and we are now looking to go further.”

In response to our growing awareness of the needs of the planet, many parishes have already committed to, are taking bold steps towards, or have already achieved an Eco Church award, demonstrating their unfaltering care for God’s creation.

Eco Church is an initiative run by the Christian environmental charity A Rocha UK, which awards churches with a status of bronze, silver and gold.

In the benefice of Broughton Astley and Croft with Stoney Stanton (BACSS), caring for the environment has become something of a principle in recent years.

Across the three churches, St Mary’s in Broughton Astley received its Bronze Award in 2018, and went on to achieve Silver status last year; St Michael’s in Stoney Stanton was awarded a Bronze in 2019 and has started on its Silver, while St Michael and All Angels, Croft is working towards its first award.

Peter Yates has been a licensed Reader in Broughton Astley since 1992, and has previous experience working with mission agencies such as Christian Aid and USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) as well as being a former assessor for Eco Congregation. He has helped drive the Eco Church initiative in his benefice.

He says: “Care for the environment goes back a very long time for me, probably to my schooldays in the 1960s. God has placed care of the whole created order in our hands.”

Environmental work in BACSS has come to fruition in recent years alongside the Reverend Sharon Constable, who has lent her support and encouragement to the issue.

The steps these churches have taken are simple, in most part - almost common sense in an increasingly environmentally-aware world - and it might surprise other churches to realise they could or might already be doing these things, too.    

In Broughton Astley, these changes and initiatives include replacing the heating system for more economical units and replacing the lighting system with LED lights.

They have a wildlife area outside the church with bird boxes, bat boxes, a hedgehog house and log piles for insects to use.

Messy Church at Broughton Astley and Stoney Stanton frequently bases its activities around the theme of creation, while each of the three churches follows the season of Creationtide and regularly holds worship themed around the care of God’s planet, often using liturgies from Iona and the Celtic tradition.

In all of the churches they avoid single use plastics, and they think about who produces and makes their food, using Fairtrade products whenever possible and sourcing local, organic produce.

“We have had wonderful support from members of our congregations,” explains Peter. “Yes there have been a few who’ve asked, ‘why should we change?’, but this gives a great opportunity to expand on the issue and show how our actions here affect our brothers and sisters across the world. People are definitely seeing the delights and benefits of their work.”

St Michael and All Angels in Croft is working towards an Eco Church Bronze award but it is a much smaller congregation, with an elderly population in most part, so this will take a longer time.

Peter says they want the church family’s eventual award to be their own work and not something imposed upon them.

He adds: “I would suggest to other parishes that Eco Church is much easier to become involved with than you might imagine. The Eco Church survey is very easy to undertake and is completed online, and many churches will discover that they are probably fulfilling many of the eco areas already.”

Reverend Sharon Constable, agrees: “Becoming eco-friendly and being mindful of the way we play our part as stewards of God’s earth, has become a part of everyday life in our churches more quickly than I imagined. We still have a long way to go, but so much has already been achieved.” 

Right now, while churches are unable to meet, Peter accepts that it’s more difficult to show and lead by example. But there is hope, and joy, for we are the change makers working for the restoration and renewal of creation.

“It is an interesting fact that while we are ‘locked down’ our planet is beginning to recover from our misuse of it,” he says. “My hope is that we will remember this and may all start to work for a better future.”

Could your church be more environmentally friendly? Do you already have things in place that could be the foundations for gaining an Eco Church Award?

To find out more, visit: https://ecochurch.arocha.org.uk/, and check out our new Eco Diocese web pages.




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