July 2020 was the third warmest on record, behind July 2016 and July 2019, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. How can the Church respond to our accelerating climate crisis? Of course it needs to respond at all levels, locally and nationally, in how it uses its land, buildings, money, in what it teaches about our responsibility as Christians to care for creation, and in how it engages with local and national government on these issues.
Eco Church is a developing tool box which A Rocha UK designed especially to help local churches of all denominations to address the environment practically as part of their mission.
A Rocha UK is humbled and delighted that Eco Church users are increasingly becoming a nationwide community. Feedback from users, huge volunteer engagement, and donations is helping us to develop the toolbox to meet new needs and support more churches than the small A Rocha staff possibly could support on their own. We have, for example, recently added the 360 Carbon Calculator for Churches to the toolbox, in collaboration with our sister organisation Climate Stewards.
Almost 3,000 churches have now registered and A Rocha UK has presented nearly 900 awards (bronze, silver or gold). In August we presented the 13th gold award since we launched Eco Church in 2016 to Summerbridge Methodist Church. You can read more about their journey to gold here. Some churches have achieved multiple awards as they continue exploring the call to steward God’s creation at such a critical point in our history.
We are also delighted to see the value of Eco Church across denominations. It is assisting Anglican churches in England to reach their commitment to become Net Zero by 2030, complementing The Methodist Church’s move towards reducing carbon, and supporting the Church in Wales’ 2017 GB motion that all dioceses and churches should work towards Eco Church or Eco Diocese accreditation. Four out of six dioceses (i.e. two-thirds) are now registered. We’re also delighted that the Baptist Union Environmental Network (BUEN) is being launched on 6 September to coincide with the launch of Climate Sunday, and we will support BUEN to inspire and enable the Baptist Together Network of churches, associations, and colleges to share in God’s mission to care for creation.
The Covid lockdown badly affected A Rocha UK’s church speaking programme, a key source of regular income to support our work such as Eco Church. We are deeply grateful to a large number of Eco Dioceses in England and Wales for giving generously to our appeal to their Bishops in April. Together they have raised more than £15,000, at a time when many dioceses are themselves hard pressed, enabling us to retain vital capacity on this critical programme, and to equip churches during and beyond the Covid-19 pandemic.
If you’re keen to meet and learn from others in the Eco Church community, start your own Eco Church journey, and meet the A Rocha UK team, there are some great opportunities coming up. Eco Church conferences are planned for:
> November date tbc (online webinar hosted by NW Diocese)
> 30 January (details tbc hosted by Coventry Diocese)
Further information and registration details for our October conference can be found here.