information for transformational people

Climate 246Becoming a carbon neutral church

From materials by Eco Congregation

“The earth is the Lord’s” declares the psalmist (Psalm24:1). It is God’s creation, not ours to do with as we please. In the Biblical creation stories, God subordinates rule over creation to humans to “fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:26-28). But in doing so God lays on human beings the responsibility for how we manage the earth and every living creature, in ways consistent with the ways of the Owner, to whom we will have to give account. This expresses the now familiar notion of stewardship or trusteeship.

In line with this notion of stewardship, there are various sources of information to help you to manage and reduce the carbon footprint of the church i.e. the people and the buildings/events. The Church of England's Shrinking the Footprint is one example.

First of all the congregation. What can you do to encourage individuals to green their lifestyle? This might include:

  • preaching on environmental issues
  • scheduling small group bible studies (many available - example from Jubilee Centre here)
  • publishing material regularly in church bulletin
  • having a section on noticeboard for posters/info from environmental organisations
  • providing recycling collection points
  • encouraging walking and cycling
  • getting everyone to measure their carbon footprint and reduce it (there are various online calculators available - example here)

Then there are church buildings and land. Good stewardship of energy and maintenance issues can both reduce your church’s impact on the environment and save your church money, particularly in the long-term. What could be actions:

  • calculating the carbon footprint of your buildings and reduce
  • insulating church buildings wherever possible
  • choosing appropriate sized rooms for activities
  • timetabling meetings to minimise heating use
  • fitting the heating system with multi-setting timer and thermostatic controls
  • fitting energy saving light bulbs
  • encouraging building users to switch off unnecessary lights and not leave items on stand-by (e.g. photocopier)
  • checking water outlets – fix drips and leaks
  • installing water-saving devices (e.g. dual flush toilets and low spray flow or auto turn-off taps)
  • creating carbon reducing, wildlife-friendly land areas - using native plant species and plants that benefit wildlife, installing bird feeds, nest boxes, insect shelters, etc.

Churches are responsible for the good stewardship of money and a range of consumables. What policies could be put in place:
  • purchasing Fairtrade products
  • using local suppliers where possible (promoting a sustainable local economy and reducing transportation)
  • using environmentally-friendly cleaning materials and supplies
  • using products with recycled materials e.g. paper
  • checking the environmental policy of your suppliers
  • having an ethical investment policy for any savings/reserves
  • using crockery rather than disposable cups and plates

Influencing the community. Churches can work with and through their local community to improve their neighbourhood. Possible actions:

  • establishing links with community organisations with a view to sharing your environmental ministry (e.g. schools, youth groups, local environmental bodies)
  • advising any building users from the community of your environmental concerns and request that they utilise any environmental facilities
  • participating in local environmental initiatives or policy formation
  • supporting or initiating community schemes with a positive environmental element e.g. neighbourhood clean-up
  • promoting Fairtrade

I suspect many of you are already on this journey but there may be a few ideas above that could help.

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From materials by Eco Congregation, 17/03/2020

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