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What role can the Church play in Climate Justice? This was just one of the questions debated at the Kingston, Croydon and Woolwich Episcopal area youth forums this Summer. You can read more on our blog

Southwark’s Role

Southwark Diocese is committed to caring for God’s Creation in every way. In working to become an Eco Diocese, we continue to deepen our commitment to the fifth Mark of Mission, and to live our faith in everyday choices and actions. We invite you to join us on this journey.

The Fifth Mark of Mission: To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth

On this page you will find a range of environmental resources for churches and individuals. We would love to support you in taking action, so please get in touch if you have any questions or would like further advice or ideas.

We’re always delighted to hear about environmental action, whether large or small, so do let us know what you’re up to, either by email or on social media #EcoSouthwark @SouthwarkCofE

“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

The Diocese of Southwark’s Synod recently unanimously approved its renewed Environment Policy, thereby continuing and building on, the Diocese’s commitment made at Synod in 2019 to register as an Eco Diocese and work towards achieving the Bronze Eco Diocese Award by 2025.

Download the Environment Policy

Working towards carbon net zero

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.

Here are some excellent resources, clearly outlining a practical step by step process for working towards being a carbon neutral church, or have a look at this blog by our Church Buildings Officer.

Eco Diocese

At the July Synod in 2019, the Diocese of Southwark voted unanimously to work towards becoming an Eco Diocese.

Southwark’s pledge reflects and deepens our commitment to social justice and love of our global neighbours, and to the 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, which also offers the Eco Church scheme for individual churches.

Eco Church

Southwark Diocese encourages all churches to make use of A Rocha’s Eco Church action plan. It is easy and free to register with the scheme, which provides a framework for environmental action.

By answering the questions in the Eco Church questionnaire, churches can see what they are already doing well and get a clear sense of what steps to take next.

The questionnaire is divided into five key areas, making it easy for different members of the congregation and clergy to take responsibility for filling in different sections. These are:

  • worship and teaching
  • buildings
  • land
  • community and global engagement
  • lifestyle.

Don’t be put off by the length! Enjoy a cup of tea while filling it in, and use the ‘don’t know’ box wherever necessary – the results are helpful no matter how much information you start with.

By taking some simple actions and regularly updating the Eco Church answers, churches are frequently surprised to discover how quickly they qualify for the Bronze Eco Church Award.

Resources for churches and deaneries

Southwark Diocese aims to provide support for churches at every stage of their environmental journey. Here are a few documents that may be useful; if you don’t see the information you need, please get in touch.

Parish Environmental Action Plan (PEAP)

Click below to see the 5 steps of the Parish Environmental Action Plan

The environment and COVID-19

Deaneries

Deaneries are an ideal way to share ideas and pool resources. Many churches are already pursuing a huge range of eco initiatives. If we learn from each other and work together, we can make swifter, more impactful progress. All deaneries are encouraged to recruit one or more Eco Champions, and our booklet Becoming an Eco Deanery offers a range of suggestions for action.

The aim is to foster an environmental mindset throughout every deanery, so that it becomes a natural reflex to consider the environmental impact of all actions we take. This can’t be achieved by one person ticking off boxes – it needs to be a shift in the way we think as a community. Engaging with others and normalising conversation about nurturing God’s creation should be top priorities.

Children and young people

  • Families and households wanting to live sustainably may enjoy taking part in the Care For Creation Scheme. By making small lifestyle changes, households can work towards eco certificates – why not encourage your whole congregation to take part!
  • Children may like to learn more about climate change from NASA’s website dedicated to children, which has lots of resources including downloadable PDFs, games and videos, or to the impact of food choices on climate change at Take A Bite Out of Climate Change.
  • Operation Noah also has various useful resources, including a video for all ages.
  • There are a wealth of general resources for Children and Young People at our dedicated CYP page.In 2021
  • Tearfund and Youthscape surveyed 630 young Christians about their views on climate change. While 9 out of 10 young people are concerned about climate change, and 8 out of 10 believe Christians have a responsibility to take action, only 1 out of 10 think their churches are doing enough about it.

Church of England resources

The Church of England has produced some useful practical resources to support churches on our collective journey towards being carbon neutral.

Webinars Towards Net Zero

The Church of England is offering a rolling programme of webinars by experts in the field, designed to support and equip you to reach the Church’s ambitious ‘net zero carbon’ emissions target. If you can’t make the live events, many are recorded and available to watch at your convenience, and cover everything from forming your team to putting solar panels on your roof, and including low cost ‘housekeeping’ actions which can pay back quickly.

Energy Footprint Tool

The easy-to-use Energy Footprint Tool will tell your church what your carbon footprint is, based on the energy you use to heat and light your buildings.

This can be accessed via the Online Parish Returns System and is pre-populated with information already held, so only requires a few additional facts from the past year’s energy bills.

Alternatively, parishes may wish to take advantage of the enhanced tool 360°carbon, created by Climate Stewards, which will give a more detailed picture and is linked to the Energy Footprint Tool so that the information needs to be added only once.

Practical Path to Net Zero

This short, two-page guidance note summarises how churches can reduce their energy use and associated carbon emissions. It is based on the findings of the Church’s energy audit programme and contributions from of a range of professionals in the field.

Buildings and energy

The Church of England website has a list of simple suggested actions for thinking about making church buildings more sustainable, which is a good starting point. Here are some excellent resources, clearly outlining a practical step by step process for working towards being a carbon neutral church, or have a look at this blog by our Church Buildings Officer.

Taking small steps to reduce energy wastage is one of the top recommended actions, together with switching to green energy.

Switching to green energy is missional. Buying green electricity together with other churches makes it possible to negotiate a better price. Visit Parish Buying for more information.

Individuals interested in switching to green energy can download more information here about swapping energy providers.

Green liturgy

Occasions like Harvest, Creationtide, Climate Sunday, World Car Free Day, Earth Day, World Oceans Day, the feast of St Francis, Plough Sunday and so on, all provide opportunities to contemplate creation. Notice when the environment is in the news and pray for those suffering the effects of climate change.

Creationtide resources are available from the Church of England website. A new resource on Outdoor Worship is also on offer.

For year-round eco-service ideas and resources, there are also websites such as:

The CofE has also produced this comprehensive list of useful online resources to support environmental action by churches.

Other resources

Southwark works with a number of charities, that offer a whole range of useful resources on different subjects.

Raising awareness

An event or talk can be a great way of raising awareness among the congregation. The Southwark environment team are keen to give talks and join in workshops and discussions, so please get in touch to make a date (see contact details below).

A number of Christian climate charities also offer free talks. For example, you could invite speakers from Tearfund or A Rocha.

Lifestyle changes

  • Green Christian – Green Christian has a free downloadable leaflet called Nine Ways to Live Gently on the Earth which could be a good starting point for encouraging individual lifestyle change among your congregation.
  • Top 10 pledges – For something more rigorous, groups could sign up for these ‘top ten pledges’, each of which gives a concrete action to undertake.
  • Living Lent on a BudgetThis PDF is full of eco suggestions (both ecological and economical!), which seem too good to limit to the season of Lent!
  • WWF – A thought-provoking questionnaire at WWF enables people to calculate their individual carbon footprint.
  • Individuals and households wanting to live sustainably may enjoy taking part in the Care For Creation Scheme. By making small lifestyle changes, you can work towards eco certificates – why not encourage your whole congregation to take part!

Campaigning

  • Hope for the FutureHope For The Future offers tailored support for churches and community groups wanting to contact MPs about the environment.
  • Christian Aid – the charity is currently campaigning for climate justice. Find out more here about how to get involved.
  • Tearfund – Tearfund has launched a new campaign in response to COVID-19.
  • Operation Noah – This site offers many resources, including information on campaigning and briefings on climate justice, how to communicate with climate change sceptics, and more. Access the Operation Noah resources here.
  • The Climate Emergency Toolkit is a fantastic resource for churches, full of information and ideas, which has been produced by a group of Christian charities.
  • The Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility offers the Money Makes Change programme, to help faith communities and individuals make financial choices that create a fairer and more sustainable world. Loving our neighbours and protecting God’s creation means taking seriously what we do with all our resources, not just the money we give away.

Also take a look at our Social Justice events listing to find events that can help you and your church with your environmental journey.

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Croydon Area Advisor: Revd Dr Timothy Astin

Kingston Area Advisor: Ian Christie Senior lecturer in Sustainable Development, Centre for Environment and Sustainability, University of Surrey

Woolwich Area Advisor: Revd Dr Catherine Shelley

The South London Church Fund and Southwark Diocese Board of Finance is a company limited by guarantee (No. 236594).
Registered Office: Trinity House, 4 Chapel Court, Borough High Street, London SE1 1HW. Registered Charity: (No. 249678).

© The Diocese of Southwark 2021. All rights reserved.
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