Last updated 24th March 2022
Christians have a particular responsibility in environmental matters as we believe that God is the Author, Redeemer and Sustainer of all creation.
The Diocesan Environmental Policy and Procedures
A Vision of Creation has been approved by the Diocesan Synod and provides the frame within which we work together here to fulfil the Fifth Mark of Mission – To strive to safeguard the integrity of Creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth, an integral part of proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom.
We are seeking to show how the parishes of Blackburn diocese are demonstrating their commitment to Creation Care by becoming Environmental Champions. Please tell us if you have some environmental achievement you wish to share - in your worship, in sustainable care of your church building, in sensitive management of your churchyard, in working with your local school or community - sending an image and 500 words of text.
We work ecumenically across the region and with our neighbouring dioceses. For example, our Loaves and Fishes Project brought together Christian communities and schools around Morecambe Bay in meals celebrating local seafood and homemade bread.
You can find environmental news and links in Parish Update - the ebulletin sent every two weeks to parishes on a Wednesday.
The Diocesan Environmental Officer is the Revd Canon Professor John Rodwell. John has worked as a priest and ecologist together for over 40 years and coordinates diocesan environmental initiatives in a part-time, voluntary capacity. John reports monthly to the Diocesan Advisory Committee on which he is a consultant non-voting member and he represents the diocese within the environment programme of the Church of England.
Church Heating and Net Zero
The Church Buildings Council has produced some excellent advice documents on decarbonisation and how this relates particularly to church heating. This includes a document Decarbonising and the Future of Church Heating which outlines all the different types of environmentally friendly heating systems, including the positives and pitfalls of each system.
Christ Church, Lancaster has a long tradition of reaching out to the community, especially the homeless and refugees in the city. Built in 1856 to serve the nearby boy's grammar school and workhouse, it is now parish church to a significant urban population. Despite significant maintenance and repair costs, we seek to be good stewards of our buildings, grounds, community and natural environment.
Christ Church's Eco group was established in 2016. It set out a programme of activities in line with A Rocha's ‘Caring for Creation’ which led to the bronze EcoChurch award. A year later after improving our church garden for wildlife with bug boxes, bird feeders and bee-friendly flowers, installing a bike rack, carrying out an energy assessment of the church and changing to a renewable energy supplier, we achieved our silver award. Our group has eight members, including our Sunday School leader who ensures that environmental issues are well represented and our church school governor. Another member has been working with the school’s enthusiastic Eco Group, made up of two Eco Warriors from each class, improving publicity and introducing recycling boxes.
Initially we identified actions that the congregation could easily engage with including plastic reduction, recycling, sale of books for the benefit of WaterAid and twinning of church toilets to raise funds for toilets for a community in Uganda. Activities have also included a church bike ride, the sale of fair trade goods, a clothes swop rail, a swop box for unwanted Christmas presents, collection of postage stamps for RNIB and collection of plastic in church until the council extended its service. The Beavers Group is now collecting crisp packets and the Scouts, bottle tops for recycling. Gardening days have involved other individuals from the congregation.
Monthly themes are researched and shared with the congregation on our church Eco board and by actions on the pew sheet. Themes have included green cleaning, upcycling, carbon footprint reduction, deforestation, unsustainable production of palm oil and soya, green transport and climate change. In addition to sermons and prayers, engagement with the congregation has included a traffic light survey in church identifying the take up of green lifestyles, a green resolutions fayre to identify participants’ successes and difficulties, and a Carbon Footprint presentation led by an A Rocha assessor to which other churches were invited. Achievable actions were identified from The Drawdown Report covering topics of Food, Transport, Energy reduction and Home. On Creation Sunday in 2019, a relevant sermon was delivered and copies of one of Greta Thunberg’s speeches circulated. This February the group gave a presentation in church which opened with the Extinction Rebellion prayer. A list of the group’s activities was circulated and a banner displayed.
During Covid restrictions the group has continued to meet on Zoom, following A Rocha’s wildlife Christian initiative and encouraging support for Christian Aid’s climate justice campaign, a green economic recovery, a healthy harvest, and nature conservation organisations.
You can hear Joyce in conversation with John using this link.
The Church of the Good Shepherd, Tatham Fells, is part of the united benefice of East Lonsdale in Tunstall Deanery. Its people are Being Witnesses in Creation by developing their role as responsible stewards.
In 2014 our boiler needed replacing and on the advice of the Diocesan heating advisor we invested in a biomass boiler to benefit from the government’s Renewable Heating Incentive scheme. In doing so we are using a renewable resource and supporting a local supplier. Before the installation our church was heated only on Sundays; the rest of the week it was cold and damp with algae growing on the south side of the tower and in the windows. Now it is maintained at a minimum temperature of 14 degrees, the damp has disappeared and the whole fabric benefits as a result.
In autumn 2018 our PCC decided to enhance the local wildlife. We joined the Caring for God’s Acre movement and began to involve members of the community and local schoolchildren. We quickly and cheaply installed home-made compost bins and insect and bird boxes. With advice from the Bowland Wildflower Meadow Officer we deferred cutting grass in the old part of the churchyard until the end of the summer. As a result a considerable number of plant species have flourished, including two types of orchid. Within the first six months birds occupied boxes placed on the church, the adjacent village hall and nearby trees. Owl boxes were placed in a neighbouring wood and children made bird boxes for the local school. As yet swifts have not taken up the offer of nesting in boxes specially made for them despite the lure from recordings of swift calls. A wood pile serves as a hedgehog hotel and ladybirds hibernate in the church tower. Information about Caring for God’s Acre is displayed in church encouraging everyone to record sightings of flowers, insects, animals and birds. We arranged a talk for the community on bees and had one planned on bats until Covid 19 intervened. Each year a service celebrates caring for God’s creation.
Our church has good links with the local voluntary controlled church school, resulting in staff and pupils being keen to be involved in the joint work. Several church members are on the governing board and have ensured that a section on collaboration with the church and recognition of our joint environmental responsibility is written into the school improvement plan.
Tatham Fells church is situated in the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty so we start with an advantage on environmental matters but not one which we take for granted. We hope that some of the work can be adapted in other church situations. We have sought to respond to the challenge of stewardship of creation in offering our hymn of praise for the beauty of God’s earth and skies.
Contact: John Wilson: firstname.lastname@example.org
Environmental Champions are witnesses to the generosity of God in his Creation; to our responsibility for our common home; through our meeting human needs from Creation.