What is Eco Church?

Eco Church is an initiative of A Rocha UK for churches in England and Wales who want to demonstrate that the gospel is good news for God’s earth.

Through an online survey they help churches understand and express their care for God’s world in worship and teaching; in how buildings and land are looked after; in engagement with the local community and in global campaigns, and in the personal lifestyles of the congregation.

Depending on their scores from the survey, churches can then apply for an Eco Church Award at Bronze, Silver or Gold level. Many churches have found that having such an award is a powerful opening for both engagement with their community and in evangelism.

What’s happening at St James?

In 2018, the PCC resolved that, “St James engages with the Eco Church initiative and completes their online survey with a view to registering and seeking ways to fulfil the fifth mark of mission.”

We registered with Eco Church and an informal group met to evaluate our outcomes against their survey. Our initial scores were promising but showed the need to improve in several areas. We plan to revisit these soon as we emerge from the pandemic and hope to soon be in a position to apply for an Eco Church award.

Among the things we’ve managed to achieve so far, are:

  • Improved management of churchyard – especially through the creation of the wildflower area and working with the council to improve their mowing regime
  • Bug hotel created by our children’s groups in autumn 2019
  • Improved provision of recycling bins and installation of a compost bin in the churchyard
  • Regular Eco church articles in our church magazine
  • Joining with other local churches (sadly on hold due to the pandemic)

The churchyard has been surveyed by the Somerset Botany Group. They found 119 different species of plants. For a general descripion and a list of what they found, please click here.

The bug hotel in the churchyard

Beyond our local patch, one of our members was part of the team which drafted the Bath and Wells diocesan Environment and Climate Change Policy in 2020.

If you want to find out more, do, have a chat to Richard Carpenter or Susie Peeler. Sue Carpenter has overall responsibility for management of the church garden and oversaw the creation of the wildflower area in the north-west corner of the churchyard.

What More?

Looking at the wider issues of creation care, there’s lots of information on the A Rocha website – especially in the Eco Church section – you may though find a different or wider perspective from organisations such as:

The John Ray Initiative – bringing together scientific and Christian understanding
Caring for God’s Acre – advice for those with responsibility for the care of churchyards.
Bath and Wells Environment and Climate Change policy
Plenty of practical advice and guidance on the environment and climate change, including in the ChurchCare section
Wild Christian – another initiative from A Rocha aimed at families and individual
Christian Climate Action
Faith for the climate
Green Christian
Wilder Churches – a joint initiative between Somerset Wildlife Trust and the Diocese

Action you can take at home

Looking for inspiration to take action every day in your garden or home? By taking action for nature, no matter how small, you can make an impact and invite more wildlife back into our lives. Follow this link to the Somerset Wildlife Trust’s Team Wilder website.

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