Eco Church

A message from Simon Pugh-Jones

One cannot watch a David Attenborough documentary without marvelling at the wonder of God’s creation. And yet we learn daily of the growing impact of human activity on the planet.

You also cannot fail to notice the growing movement within the community to see real improvements in our approach to sustainability. Marches, protests, petitions and the inspirational voices of people like Greta Thunberg are reported with increasing frequency. What just a generation or so ago was the preserve of sandal wearing eco-hippies (like me) is now part of our social conscience. It is widely accepted that we have a clear duty to act.

As Christians, that need is one that is central to our faith—To ‘strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth’ is one of the 5 marks of mission of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

It is very good news then that excellent work is being done in the national church, not least the Church of England’s pledge to decrease carbon emissions by 80% before 2050. The Bristol Diocese too is increasingly pushing for greater awareness of our common obligation to care for all creation: now registered to become an Eco Diocese, and encouraging parishes to take action to become Eco Churches.

Eco Diocese and Eco Church are initiatives set up by our friends A Rocha. The scheme encourages churches and congregations to consider how we can better care for God’s planet in relation to worship and teaching, buildings, land, community and global engagement and also individual lifestyle.

Responding to that call, St Matthew’s has formed an informal sustainability group—currently Deborah, Katy, Anne, Dan, Laura Pendlebury and myself and we have registered with A Rocha to look at the Eco Church criteria, work out how we are doing already, and identify specific actions we can undertake to do better, with the ambition for Eco Church accreditation.

If you are interested, the Eco Church survey can be downloaded from the diocesan website—you may be surprised how many boxes we already tick—most of our lights are already the low energy type, we have insulation in our roofs, we have a smart heating control system—albeit attached to a system that decides for itself that sometimes we should be wearing jumpers—in the church garden we have a bird boxes, even bug hotel (actually a bug church), and I know for a fact that we have among this church family a great many conscientious recyclers, cyclists, lift sharers, and people with a strong sense of our duty to care for all creation.

If you would like to know more or if you want to be involved, please speak to one of us. Please also speak to your PCC members so they know the mind of the whole church family—because this is a duty we all share and if we are jointly prepared to be ambitious and to make a real difference, then we can jointly achieve something for ourselves, we can inspire others to do the same and we can do so as a powerful act of mission.

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