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Eco Church and the Diocese of Coventry

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The overarching initiative the DEG is supporting is the Eco Church project. Eco Church is an A Rocha UK award scheme for churches in England and Wales who want to demonstrate that the gospel is good news for God’s Earth. This programme will help us as a Diocese to address the challenges we set ourselves as a Diocese with our Diocesan Environmental Statement in 2009 in a way that is self-sustaining and self-motivating for every parish.

The Eco Church vision is for all churches to care for creation as an integral part of loving their neighbours and following God faithfully. In order to win a Bronze, Silver or Gold Eco Church Award, churches must complete their own online Eco Church Survey about how they are caring for God’s Earth in different areas of their life and work. The survey focuses on worship and teaching; management of church buildings; management of church land; community and global engagement and lifestyle. The answers a church provides will collect points towards an award - the more the church does, the more points it gets. Churches can indicate what they have done already, such as switching to a green energy company or using Fairtrade products, to gain points and build on these by responding to the many other suggestions for further progress towards an award. Eco Church resources are available to give support and advice about how to make the changes needed to achieve an Eco Church Award.

Eco Church was launched in the Coventry Diocese on the 23rd February 2016 at St Peter’s Church in Wellesbourne. Since then a number of churches in the diocese have signed up to the scheme and one church, St Andrew’s in Eastern Green, has won a Bronze Award. As more churches draw closer to winning awards, the DEG hopes to form a mentoring scheme where churches with Eco Church awards help those who are working towards meeting the requirements for awards.

To find out more about the Eco-Church project and to sign your church up, visit their website - http://ecochurch.arocha.org.uk/

Churchyard Management

Another focus of the DEG is supporting biodiversity in churchyards. In many urban areas the churchyard is the only green area in the community and in rural areas the churchyard can often be the only area of open land untouched by chemical fertilizers. Therefore, the variety of plant and animal life in churchyards can be great if they are managed in such a way as to celebrate the diversity of life. However, there can be conflict between those who wish to retain the churchyard as a tidy place of memorial and contemplation and those who wish to encourage wildlife.

In response to this, the Diocesan Environment Group, in consultation with the Chancellor and Diocesan authorities have produced a Biodiversity Policy Statement which recognises churchyards as first and foremost spiritual places, places of solace and memorials, but which also have a role in enhancing God's creation.

To cut fuel costs and create a rich haven for wildlife the DEG advises leaving certain areas of the churchyard to be cut, and grass removed, once in the summer and, if needed, once again in October. In Coventry diocese, the churchyard of St Mary’s in Oldberrow is a perfect example of old unimproved neutral grassland. An annual ‘Wildflower Weekend’ is held at the church to inform visitors of the biodiversity of the churchyard and the churchyard hay cut is often a community event. Seeds from recent hay cuts at Oldberrow have been used to create new areas of biodiverse grassland. In 2017, we are encouraging churches to have a Cherishing Churchyards Month in June.

And for more information on churchyard management visit - http://www.caringforgodsacre.org.uk/images/uploads/new-action-pack/english/SECTION%20A%201.pdf

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Caring for God's Acre

Caring for God’s Acre is a non-religious Charity dedicated to conserving and celebrating burial grounds and encouraging a holistic approach to management. As well as being a place for people, burial grounds can also be a haven for wildlife. 

Click here to be connected to this campaign.

Operation Noah

Operation Noah is an ecumenical Christian charity providing leadership, focus and inspiration in response to the growing threat of catastrophic climate change; we aim to develop a working relationship with Operation Noah to promote investment in processes that increase carbon capture. Look at the website http://operationnoah.org/ for further details.

Does your church have investments in fossil fuel companies? Ever thought about moving your money somewhere that builds the world you want to live in? Operation Noah have produced a new resource to guide you through the process at http://brightnow.org.uk/resource/divest-church-new-resource-local-churches-available-now/ 

Become involved

If you are interested in becoming more involved in any of these either within your parish, do consider becoming a Care of Creation Champion for your parish.

Working towards a net Zero Carbon Economy:

You can save a lot of money for your church by making it more energy efficient. Change to LEDs as soon as possible; if you have to change one light bulb, consider upgrading the lot while the ladders are out! Cut draughts; suggest people sit away from big windows, if there is space elsewhere. Photovoltaics are becoming much less expensive and less obtrusive; keep an eye on this developing technology.

And check whether your church is paying VAT at just 5% for energy rather than the 20% rate which many churches are unwittingly paying. See https://fiec.org.uk/what-we-do/strand-blog/vat-on-gas-and-electricity

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Photo: Open cast coal mine, Rocky Mountains, Canada (GNA, 1998)

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