Earlier this year, St Thomas' Church Lancaster declared a climate emergency and adopted a three year action plan. They are already implementing plans to achieve yearly reductions in carbon emissions in the church’s operations and are working towards an Arocha Eco-Church Bronze Award later this year, with a Silver Award by 2023.
Some of the successful initiatives introduced by the Eco-Church team at St Thomas' Lancaster include a monthly newsletter with suggestions for the congregation on how to live more sustainably, and a live-streamed Climate Sunday service, held in May.
In September, the congregation will also be taking part in the Great Big Green Week, a national week of events celebrating action on climate change as part of awareness-raising leading up to the UK’s hosting of the COP26 climate conference in November.
The influence of the church’s climate action plan is also visible in its new centre, which is currently under construction. Solar panels have already been installed on the south-facing roofs of the new centre. Two-thirds of the electricity generated will be made available to the National Grid for others to benefit, with the remaining one-third supplying the energy needs of the new centre. The installation of the solar panels was aided by the Lancaster University Wind Turbine fund who made a generous grant of £5,000 available to the church.
St Thomas' Church is also focused on having a positive social impact in the local community as well thinking about its environmental footprint.
They have been pleased to be able to support local building contractor, Skerton-based Pinington Limited, through the pandemic, with work on their new centre starting in September last year and due to complete in October 2021.
The church is also using Burlington Slate from the Holker Hall estate near Cartmel, and they are working with Halton-based stained-glass artist Sarah Galloway. Sarah has designed a modern piece of stained glass to be installed across three windows situated over the double-height entrance to the new centre. The design is based around several Biblical passages that have been important to the church, and features a city built on a hill whose light cannot be hidden, with a river of life flowing from the city to bring life and healing to all. The landscape is intended to reflect our Lancaster setting, with the river Lune flowing past green Bowland hills out into the bay, illuminated by a famous Morecambe Bay sunset.
Over 95% of the funds have now been raised for the completion of this £2.5 million centre. The majority has been raised by church members themselves, with around £190,000 from grants and trust funds. When complete, the centre will be available for community usage, as well as hosting the church’s many and varied activities, including a new Family Life Centre to support families under pressure in the city.
Vicar, Rev Jon Scamman said: “As a church, we believe God has called us to be good neighbours in our city. We’re delighted that this building project has given us new ways to live this out, working with some great local partners in the Lancaster area.”
Sarah Galloway, stained-glass artist, said: “It has been a real privilege to work with St Thomas’ Church to help realise their vision for the new centre. I create glass artworks across the UK and being Lancaster based it is very exciting to be involved with an important and timely building in my home city.”
St Thomas' Church’s fundraising still continues and anyone interested in donating, or finding out more about the new centre, can find information on the website www.st.tees.org.uk or via the Heart of the City Facebook page www.facebook.com/StTeesHeartOfTheCity/ or Twitter account www.twitter.com/StTsHOTC.
Lancaster St Thomas' Church is in the city centre of Lancaster. With a vibrant and energetic congregation of nearly 600 adults and children, across three services, we are a large, family-friendly church. For more information, visit www.st.tees.org.uk.