When Dorset-based Hilfield Friary (pictured) entered for a Silver Award in A Rocha UK’s Eco Church scheme, their application was so impressive, they were immediately upgraded to Gold level.
‘They’d achieved so much,’ said Eco Church Manager Nigel Hopper, ‘they ran out of categories in our online survey.’
An A Rocha UK Partner In Action, the Anglican Franciscan community had done standard activities such as special Sundays on creation care, hosting A Rocha UK speakers, and fitting energy-efficient lamps.
They’d gone a step further with electricity from renewable sources, insulating and double-glazing buildings, rainwater-harvesting systems and measuring their carbon footprint.
But the friary tipped the eco-scale with solar panels, running their own water supply and sewerage plant, and replacing eight gas boilers with a single woodchip burner.
‘We seek to live a sustainable way of life inspired by St Francis of Assisi,’ said Hilfield spokesperson Brother Sam, ’embracing the whole of life – which is as much to do with the way we pray and share our life with those on the margins as it is with rejoicing in God’s creation and all it gives us.’
The list goes on. The community has cattle and sheep for grazing, helps people engage with leaders on environmental issues and works with sustainability movements.
The survey sounded like an episode of Top Gear. ‘We have three communal cars, one electric Leaf, one hybrid and one diesel,’ said Brother Sam. ‘We have two charge points and encourage guests to bring electric cars.’
An Eco Church appeal fund was launched recently by CEO Andy Atkins. ‘We’re delighted at the demand for Eco Church,’ said Andy. ‘Now we need to raise funds to respond effectively.’ Supporters can donate online.