Delyth Higgins took on the newly created role of Eco Church Officer for Wales in 2022 – an exciting development for A Rocha UK. Here, Delyth updates on Eco Churches in Wales after her first 18 months.
My role is to promote Eco Church in my nation and encourage greater depth of engagement in the programme from those who are already involved. I thank God for the progress we have been able to make working with many others. There are now around 400 churches in Wales, across all denominations, registered as Eco Churches. The past few months, however, have seen an increase in the level of engagement with several more silver awards (there are now 41), the URC’s National Synod of Wales earning its bronze Eco Synod award, and the first gold Eco Church award in Wales. St Peter’s Church, Llanbedr Dyffryn Clwyd, near Ruthin, won that accolade within the last month. This church is part of a very close-knit community and what they do is influential. Father Huw Bryant said:
“Getting the gold award has been a real journey that began with opening up our churchyard, getting the local community and school involved in planting bulbs and wildflowers and creating new spaces as a sanctuary for wildlife and people. But it developed into so much more than that, from making sure our energy supplies are from renewable green sources to finding environmentally friendly cleaning supplies.” You can see the full story here. More gold award applications are hot on their heels, so watch this space!
One way of getting the word about Eco Church out is to go to where Welsh churches and Christians gather. During the summer months and early autumn there were denominational conferences to attend as well as more mainstream events like the National Eisteddfod of Wales and the Royal Welsh Agricultural Show. These offered opportunities to build relationships, make more connections, and encourage local churches and their governing bodies to do more to tackle the climate and nature crises and move closer towards their net zero goals.
Another way of promoting engagement is through getting media attention. A feature on BBC One’s Sunday Morning Live gave St Samlet’s Church in Swansea the opportunity to showcase its amazing work supporting wildlife and people as part of its Eco Church journey. Working closely with A Rocha UK’s part time Media Officer (who also lives in Wales), we facilitated two filming sessions, one in May and one in late July. As a result viewers could see the planting and the harvesting of vegetables, the introduction of a new mowing regime and follow the life cycle of the spring flowers. They could also see children from the local primary school and young adults with learning and developmental needs playing a pivotal role in managing land in the church grounds.
If you are interested in knowing more about the Eco Church programme in Wales, or know someone who might, or is simply interested in what God is doing his churches across Wales, please forward this article onto them.
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