A huge thank you to those who joined the Eco-Church zoom Q+A on 30th April. Once the zoom connection settled down it was a good conversation, thanks to all who joined us for both questions and contributions. This post arises out of that conversation and is intended to gather into one place all kinds of resources that will be useful to people working on Eco-Church. There is a section for those getting started, as well as more detail under each heading for those who are a bit further along.
We only need 8 more churches to achieve their bronze for us to gain our Eco-Diocese award by the end of 2020. This is the target we set ourselves at Diocesan Synod in 2019. Before lockdown we were optimistic that we would make the target and start working towards silver: we hope that even with lockdown slowing us down a little, this is still achievable. Although some things can’t currently be taken forwards, there are things that can be done in terms of familiarisation with the Eco-Church survey, planning and researching the possibilities. In some places there may be opportunities too for conversations with others, potentially in PCC meetings where these are being zoomed, also in wider community via social media or Whatsapp.
If you are already started, now might be the time to research the next steps and have conversations about the possibilities. If new to Eco-Church, familiarisation with the website and survey is the place to start – a good way to begin is to fill in the survey answering in terms of what you are already doing. This will give insight on your church’s strengths and weaknesses in this area, and what are the areas to prioritise for future work.
This is the place to start if you are new to Eco-Church. You may want to ignore most of the rest until later, though feel free to dive straight into the rest too if that works for you.
- This is the ecochurch homepage – there are useful things under the various tabs such as the FAQ. You can view the survey questions under the ‘survey questions’ tab too – this is what I had on my screen during the zoom session.
- This is the resource list on the ecochurch website.
- To go through the survey questions and have them saved and get your score, you will need to sign up either via the homepage tab or from this link.
- Some posts on the ecumenical Green Gloucestershire website cover Eco-Church. This is a presentation made to a group of us when Eco-Church was first launched. This is top tips for Eco-Church, and this is the story of Stratton parish church’s progress in this area of church life (note: don’t feel you need an eco loo to progress on ecochurch – it makes sense for some churches but isn’t for everyone!)
- This is something slightly different, a recent upload onto our Diocesan website about nature in lockdown.
The following resources give more detail under each of the five headings, for those who have got started and are looking for more.
Worship and Teaching
- Each Creationtide (1st Sept-4th October) resources are pulled together to help churches focus on the environment over these few weeks. These were posted in 2019, and this is further resources for after the end of that season.
- Books of liturgy/prayers: we all have our favourites, these are used frequently by Cate: Steven Shakespeare, The Earth Cries Glory; Tess Ward, The Celtic Wheel of the Year; Annie Heppenstall, The Book of Uncommon Prayer. There are also good prayer resources on the Seasons of the Year section of John Birch’s website.
- Books including easy access theology: Ruth Valerio’s Saying Yes to Life was the Archbishop’s Lent book in 2020. It can also be read at other times of year! Other good introductions are James Jones Jesus and the earth and Cate Williams Forest Church Grove booklet (please excuse the self promotion.)
- Group bible studies: Tenants of the King is a good option, published by Operation Noah, a Christian environmental charity. Also Ruth Valerio’s book (above) is intended as something that can work well discussed a chapter at a time in groups.
- More heavyweight books that some might like to explore include Walter Brueggemann, The Land; and Elizabeth Johnson, Ask the Beasts, and Creation and the Cross. There is lots written under the heading of Eco-Theology – it could be good to put eco-theology in as a search term and see what comes up that appeals.
The new DAC environmental policy can be found here, and a presentation about it here. DAC are committed to supporting us with finding good sustainable solutions for our buildings, do feel confident that questions asked from this perspective will be received well and support offered to find a solution, which may need to be different for each building given the nature of work with listed sites. The Eco-Church award scheme recognises that there are some things that aren’t possible for listed buildings – on some questions there is an exemption where there is listed building status.
The Caring for God’s Acre website draws together all kinds of suggestions and best practice with respect to land and churchyards.
Information about the Gloucester Diocese wildlife grant is here. There are a few stories on the website, such as this one, about what people have done with the grant, often though not always as a partnership with a school or others in the wider community
Community and global
Wildlife gardening top tips from Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust are here.
Initiatives such as the Big Butterfly Count, The Big Garden Birdwatch, and 30 Days Wild are great places for families, churches and community members to start to notice what is on their doorstep. They can work well as community events, or done individually with some sharing on social media.
Don’t try to change everything at once – in a culture where societal habits don’t go in our favour on this, it isn’t easy. Change one thing at a time, let it become the new normal, then change something else. Be gentle on yourself and others about the things you haven’t yet changed. It is surprising how much change this can add up to over a year or two. There are lots of links through from this post about personal lifestyle.
Just by way of a final word, remember you don’t need to go it alone on any of this. There are likely to be other churches in your Deanery or nearby who are exploring; several Deaneries have a Deanery Ambassador; and Arthur and Cate are willing to support or to signpost other churches nearby who are on a similar journey. If you get stuck, do ask!
Cate Williams and Arthur Champion, 1st May 2020