Part of Living Lent is about exploring how our practical lives affect our spiritual lives, and how our relationship with God affects our practical action.
Theologian Richard Rohr says “we do not think ourselves into new ways of living, we live ourselves into new ways of thinking”. This Lent, we have the opportunity to discover a new way of being.
But how can we help this to develop not only in our personal lives, but in our church communities too?
As church communities, we have an opportunity to show our commitment to preserving God’s creation through action. We can be pioneers in reducing our climate impact, and make space for a change in attitude in worship and mission, to show our commitment. As a global community, the church has a responsibility to recognise the commitment we share in preventing climate disaster not only in our local area, but around the world. Seeking redemption for our climate is not only about preservation, but about hungering and thirsting for righteousness, in our relationship with God and with the world.
The world is God’s gift to humanity, and as good stewards we can not only take care of it, but use it as a chance to build God’s kingdom, displaying God’s care and compassion within our communities.
As church communities, we have responsibility for significant resources and opportunities. These could be physical, such as our church buildings, or opportunities for worship and teaching. We have the chance to use these as tools for building God’s kingdom. One way in which we can do this is by assessing how they affect the environment, and how we might be able to actively make changes not only to reduce our environmental impact, but to have an actively positive impact on the world we live in.
Eco Church (England and Wales) and Eco Congregation (Scotland and Ireland) enable churches practical opportunities to show that the gospel is good news for God’s earth.
They provide resources and support to equip your church to express your care for creation in five different ways:
- Worship and teaching
- Management of church buildings
- Management of church land
- Community and global engagement
After registering your church for the scheme, you can use the self-assessment systems to review where your church is currently at, and identify places for growth. As you do so, you have the opportunity to qualify for Bronze, Silver and Gold level awards, to recognise your active commitment to the climate.
One of the great things about the Eco Church and Eco Congregations schemes are that it’s not a big step to get started!
Eco Church (England and Wales) and Eco Congregation (Scotland and Ireland) are schemes for church communities in the UK who want to show that the gospel is good news for the whole of God’s earth. They provide the opportunity to assess the impact your church has on the environment, and where you might be able to make productive changes.
Lyme Regis Baptist Church gained a Bronze Eco Church Award in February 2016. One of the things they did by way of working towards their Award was to switch to a renewable energy company to supply the electricity and gas used by the church. This has made a big difference to their carbon footprint! However, they also found that smaller things – like using eco-friendly cleaning products – really helped the church family to reflect on the importance of looking after the environment as an expression of their faith. 
You can read more Eco Church stories here.
Both schemes offer access to resources, from top tips and practical advice, to devotional and worship materials. They also offer the chance to see how you fit into a map of other Eco Churches, offering opportunities for partnership and encouragement.
Eco Church and Eco Congregation provide access to resources, from top tips and practical advice, to devotional and worship materials. They also offer the chance to see how you fit into a map of other Eco Churches, offering opportunities for partnership and encouragement.
If you’re a Methodist Church, URC church or Anglican Church, you can get involved with local network.
The Methodist Church have just launched the Eco Circuit and Eco District scheme, which allows Methodists to connect across a circuit or district to act together. You can read more about this here.
The United Reformed Church is committed to developing Eco Synods and so far two URC Synods have pledged to begin this journey. Could your URC Synod be the next?
The Church of England already has four dioceses that have achieved a Bronze Eco Diocese award.
Call to Action:
If you aren’t an Eco Church…
Start the journey to signing up! You might need to take the suggestion to your church council or leadership committee. But it’s really easy to get started. Head over to the website:
If you’re already an Eco Church…
What’s the next step? Have a think about what you could do to take your church’s commitment to the climate even further. What does the responsibility towards care for creation imply for the roles or responsibilities that you exercise in your church? How could it be not simply a concern, but a priority for the way you steward your resources?
Perhaps you could start the initiative to become an Eco Circuit, District, Synod or Diocese?