Lyme Regis Baptist Church – in the town that saw gigantic waves smash into its seafront – is among the initial round of winners for A Rocha UK’s Eco Church award. The award scheme has attracted more than 100 registrations since being launched at St Paul’s Cathedral in London last month (January). St Paul’s was the first award winner.
The Lyme Regis Baptist Church building is near The Cobb – the town’s ancient harbour that was highlighted in recent news coverage of extreme weather. Iconic images of angry seas led to dramatic headlines. This visual aid had already swamped church members’ minds when minister’s daughter Izzy Woodman urged them to respond to environmental crises.
Twenty-one-year-old geography student Izzy rallied people into a ‘creation care’ group. That group swept through the church like a much gentler tide – turning teas and coffees into Fairtrade versions, switching to a green energy supplier, buying eco-cleaning products and running a sermon series on their environmental journey.
‘We were able to use what we’d done as evidence to get the Eco Church Bronze Award,’ said Izzy. ‘The Eco Church site was brilliant, the measuring gauge design was really helpful and the online resources were fantastic!’
Nervous about being seen as a young person telling her elders how to behave, Izzy found church members embraced her environmental message. ‘The storms helped bring it closer to home,’ she said.
Among her supporters is renowned ecologist Sir Ghillean Prance, who attends the congregation in Silver Street. ‘I’m delighted our church has started on the road of Eco Church,’ he said. ‘The bronze award will do a lot to encourage our members to do more – and our goal now is a silver award.’
A Rocha UK is a Christian charity working for the protection and restoration of the natural world. They run Eco Church to help congregations become more environmentally-friendly. The scheme is supported by Christian Aid, the Church of England, the Methodist Church and Tearfund. (Pictured from left to right – ecologist Sir Ghillean Prance, activist Izzy Woodman and Lyme Regis Baptist Church pastor Christopher Woodman.)