January 2020 marks four years since the launch of Eco Church, a period during which more than 2,000 churches have registered for Eco Church scheme, and more than 600 awards have been achieved. This is faster progress than we anticipated. Even so, 2000 churches is only 5% of the 40,000 worshipping communities in England and Wales. (In Scotland and Ireland the sister-scheme, Eco Congregation, is running) Our goal now is to reach 10% of churches in England and Wales by the end of 2023 (3 years earlier than we originally foresaw) and for 50% of registered churches gain awards by then. The awards are not an end in themselves; rather, progressing through Bronze, to Silver and even Gold, is an indication that a worshipping community is serious in their commitment to caring for the earth and that it’s likely to be part of ‘the way we are church’.
Similarly, Eco Church is much more than a scheme. It is increasingly a community of churches and Christians responding to the environment crisis together, sharing tips, and learning together as we go. To support and expand the community we need more volunteer speakers on Eco Church and care for creation. If you want to find out if this is for you, why not register to attend an A Rocha UK Speaker Insight Day, on 5 February in Chester or 4 March in Central London.
For churches wanting to get more involved and share tips, we are planning several regional ecumencial conferences in 2020. The first is on 2 May at St Andrew’s, Rugby, a Gold awarded church. Conferences are also being scheduled for St Albans, Manchester and other locations. Visit the Eco Church website or sign up to Eco Church Connect here, for updates.
To address the rocketing demand for Eco Church, and allow easier sharing of ideas and actions, we’ve updated the programme behind the website. This will enable us to do things like update resources much more rapidly and flag relevant campaigns from Tearfund, Christian Aid, the Climate Coalition etc. So, if you’ve developed something in your church which others might find helpful, please let us know at ecochurch.org.uk, and we can share it with the whole Eco Church community. A priority for the development of the scheme is to thoroughly updating the resources behind the survey and make sure that the best out there is available to all!
A wonderful resource that has just been published is Dr Ruth Valerio’s latest book, ‘Saying Yes to Life , which is the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book for 2020, ’. Now the Global Advocacy and Influencing Director at Tearfund, Ruth was a founder of A Rocha UK’s Eco Church scheme. Her book explores how we can respond to big environmental, ethical and social issues facing the world today through a Christian worldview.