In February 2020, the Church of England General Synod passed a motion recognising the climate emergency, calling on all parts of the Church to reduce their emissions year-on-year, aiming for a target of net zero by 2030 at the latest, and requiring progress to be regularly reviewed. The motion encourages all parts of the Church of England to take action and ramp-up efforts to reduce emissions.
At the July Synod in 2019, the Diocese of Southwark voted unanimously to work towards becoming an Eco Diocese.
“There is a growing and deepening awareness, and massive scientific evidence, that the environment and climate change is one of the biggest issues of our time. For Christians, our response to this is not simply a moral one, but it springs out of our whole understanding of how we see our place in the universe – our relatedness to God, the world, each other, and all of God’s creation.” Rt Revd Dr Richard Cheetham, Bishop of Kingston
Southwark’s pledge to Eco Diocese reflects and deepens our commitment to social justice and love of our global neighbours, and to our fifth mark of mission: safeguarding the integrity of creation and sustaining and renewing the life of the earth.
The Eco Diocese framework is provided by the A Rocha charity, who also offer Eco Awards to individual churches. For more information or to sign up visit: https://ecochurch.arocha.org.uk/
One of the key elements of the Eco Diocese process is to encourage and support deaneries, parishes and churches in environmental initiatives.
Even under Coronavirus restrictions there are many positive ways we can help the environment – download our topical resource below.
We want to celebrate all things green and would love to hear from you! If you’re pursuing an environmental activity, however small, please tell us about it on twitter or social media or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Resources for Churches
If you’re thinking about starting your church’s eco journey, below are a selection of resources that may be useful.
You can also email our Environmental Admin coordinator, Laura, with specific questions or requests: email@example.com
Ideas for Churches beginning their Eco Journey
Buildings & Energy
The CofE website has a simple list of suggested actions for thinking about making church buildings more sustainable, which is a good starting point.
A number of charities offer free talks, which can be a great way of raising awareness among the congregation. You could invite speakers from Tearfund, or A Rocha:
- buy recycled paper for use in the church office and printing notices, orders of service etc
- buy recycled or charity loo paper (e.g. https://uk.whogivesacrap.org/ or https://www.ethicalsuperstore.com/category/cleaning-and-household/tissues-and-towels/ )
- set up a collection for toilet twinning (e.g. place a collection tin by the loos and encourage people to donate when they spend a penny: https://www.toilettwinning.org/ ) or another environmental charity like the Woodland Trust or Friends of the Earth
- buy fairtrade tea, coffee, biscuits etc (https://www.traidcraftshop.co.uk/search/?q=bulk++buy )
- set up a community car pool for journeys to and from church
- plant flowers to attract pollinators; have a wildflower & grasses area in the garden
- replace lightbulbs with energy-efficient LED bulbs wherever possible
- make sure recycling facilities are clearly labelled and used properly
- stop using disposable cups/plates/crockery
- Put this ‘mini-questionnaire’ in your service sheet one week, and ask the congregation to spend a minute ticking a few boxes to gauge interest levels in different activities
- Put an ‘Eco Suggestions’ postbox at the back of the church with postcards for people to write ideas on (get Junior Church to decorate a shoe box for the purpose!)
- Put up an ‘Eco Noticeboard’ with top tips for lifestyle changes, displays about charities’ campaigns, posters about events, children’s drawings etc
- Use the eco noticeboard or your parish/church magazine or pewsheet to tell everyone about the actions you have been taking!
Involve your Children & Young People
- If you’re looking for fun activities to raise environmental awareness among children, check out NASA’s website dedicated to children. It has lots of resources including downloadable PDFs, games and videos. https://climatekids.nasa.gov/menu/teach/
- The Teach Climate Change website aims to educate people about the science behind global warming and climate page, and includes some short films/cartoons aimed specifically at children: http://teachclimatechange.org/teaching-climate-change-to-children/
- Operation Noah has various useful resources, including a youth quiz: https://operationnoah.org/resources/climate-change-resources-children-young-people/
- The InterClimate Network is a charity that inspires and enables young people to consider climate sustainability to be one of their priorities in planning their careers and lives. They have a great website full of resources, information and practical ideas for action: https://interclimate.org/ One useful example from the resources page is the Action Toolkit, which is here: Climate-Voices-School-Toolkit-2019.pdf
Individual Lifestyle Changes
Green Christian has a free downloadable leaflet called ‘9 Ways to Live Gently on the Earth’ which is a good starting point for encouraging individual lifestyle change among your congregation.
For something more rigorous, you could see if people were prepared to sign up for these ‘top ten pledges’, each of which gives a concrete action to undertake:
There’s also a great pdf full of eco suggestions (both ecological and economical!) called ‘Living Lent on a Budget’, which seems too good to limit to the season of lent!
There’s a thought-provoking questionnaire at WWF which enables people to calculate their own individual carbon footprint:
Christian Aid has a great selection of tools for inviting people to get involved in campaigning, from working with local politicians to ‘craftivism’ (promoting thoughtful engagement through craft activities):
An alternative would be to get involved in something like Tearfund’s big campaign against plastic – they also have lots of resources at their website and ideas for engaging congregations in the issue of plastic waste (like taking the ‘plastic pledge’ and ‘all-age rubbish activities’):
Operation Noah is a charity that offers many resources, including information on campaigning (e.g. for fossil fuel divestment) and also activities for children and numerous briefings (e.g. pages on climate justice, how to communicate with climate change sceptics, etc.)
It is a good idea to calculate your church’s carbon footprint, for which you need information such as fuel consumption and energy consumption (e.g. data from annual gas & electricity bills), and to come up with targets and an action plan for reducing it. The Carbon Trust offers a calculator tool:
An article on reducing energy wastage in churches: