by Helen Stephens, A Rocha UK’s Church Relations Manager
By November, more than 4,300 churches had registered as Eco Churches since its launch in 2016. This took it ‘over the line’ of our original ten-year goal of reaching 10% of churches in England and Wales, more than four years early! A considerable number of Eco churches were represented in the 2,300 churches who held a Climate Sunday service and petitioned the Government to take urgent climate action in the run-up to COP26.
We also surpassed 1,000 Eco Church awards, with the biggest jump in Gold award applications, now totalling 23 churches holding a Gold award, including the first Gold cathedral awarded to Salisbury Cathedral in June.
Eco Church also worshipped together. At our online service in March, we celebrated the fifth Anniversary of Eco Church with our wider community of friends, partners and Eco Church members. Then, during Resound Workship’s Doxecology tour throughout COP26 in November, we spent time in praise for God’s wonderful creation and in prayer for the climate talks. Many Eco churches also took part in the first ever Churches Count on Nature in June which involved a week of recording wildlife in churchyards. 10,000 individuals across the country enjoyed discovering nature on their doorstep and submitted over 21,000 nature records to the national iRecord database.
With so much interest in Eco Church we have been keen to keep our resources more up to date and to provide more close support around the country. We are very grateful, therefore, to the All Churches Trust for funding our recent Eco Church resources refresh and two new regional roles. These new posts will enable us to expand our work in Wales and the North of England and work more closely with our sister organisation Eco Congregation in Scotland, and others.
Our goal is now to see 25% of the UK’s churches engaging with Eco Church or sister schemes in Scotland and Ireland by 2026. So, there is much to do in the coming 12 months. We look to build on our community, shared learning and sense of togetherness as Christians helping our local churches to care for creation as part of its mission (just search #ecochurch on social media for a glimpse into the creative and practical ways churches are taking action to care for creation!). If your church is not yet an Eco Church, do encourage them to join in 2022.
Image: Salisbury Cathedral by Ash Mills
Become an Eco Church: ecochurch.arocha.org.uk
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