More than a fifth of the 800-plus churches in the diocese have registered with the A Rocha Eco Church scheme. Many have reached the Bronze award, but St Peter’s Church, Burnham is one of the 14 Silver Eco Churches in the diocese.
St Peter’s has incorporated a range of actions to get to Silver, from running clothes swaps and eco fairs to introducing regular eco services. The church is a twelfth-century listed building so a few adaptations have been made to help make it more energy efficient – all lightbulbs have been replaced with LED and the boiler was replaced with a newer more efficient model.
A key part of their journey to the Silver award has been involving the local community in the environmental action of the church, such as inviting the local children’s uniformed groups to make bug hotels for the churchyard to boost biodiversity and decorate the trees in the churchyard with edible decorations for birds and other wildlife.
The church also secured grant funding from the Beeches Community Board for the Burnham Men’s Shed group to build bird and bat boxes – this project also supports men’s mental health. Working with the Burnham Foundation, the church put together a tree trail in the churchyard to encourage the public to visit and learn about some of the native species.
Pam Rogers is the environment champion for St Peter’s and the congregation, and shares more:
“We’ve been unashamedly public about our focus on doing more to care for creation and this has led to the local community being heavily involved. It’s important that we’re seen to be living and doing what we believe as Christians to care for God’s earth, our aim is that creation care is known as part of what we do as a church.
“It is often difficult for churches to raise money, especially those in more socially deprived areas but because we have involved the community in many steps of our eco journey, people are keen to support us.”
Pam shares some of the easy actions the congregation has taken together:
“There are so many simple steps to improve sustainability and reduce environmental impact, it can be as small as reusing scrap paper and only photocopying when necessary and always doing this double sided. The congregation is encouraged to adopt actions at home too by carrying out their own energy audits and we share a new eco tip in our church leaflet each week and via Facebook.
“Last year, we encouraged the congregation to think about ‘giving the church a Christmas present’ to enable us to twin our toilets. This year we’re using a communal Christmas Card board to reduce use, instead of writing multiple cards to each other in the congregation, people can write one card to everyone and pin it on the church notice board.
The church is already working towards reaching the next Gold award and is already achieving Gold in the Eco Church theme areas of Community, Global & Lifestyle, and Worship & Teaching with prayer for creation incorporated into regular worship and a monthly eco service.
Find helpful tips and easy-to-follow advice on how to improve the sustainability of your church buildings and maximise energy efficiency in the new parish resource pack from our Environment Team.
To find out more about the Eco Church scheme and sign up your church, visit A Rocha.