To mark World Environment Day 2023, we share the story of All Saint’s Church Hordle who recently qualified for their Bronze Eco Church Award. This has been the result of many enthusiastic green initiatives over the past 18 months and an example of how one parish has been able to take a significant step forward in becoming more environmentally sustainable.
Some of the most notable activities have included taking part in Tearfund’s Clothing Fast, hosting a Repair Café, supporting the village Litter Pick, and hosting a school uniform Clothes Swap. The parish magazine has also published lots of environmentally conscious articles such as ‘Why we should choose Fairtrade chocolate’ and ‘How to celebrate a Greener Christmas’, as well as ‘green’ recipes to try and regular Eco tips.
A number of church members also supported Greenpeace’s Big Plastic Count last year (see photo above), posing with Sir Desmond Swayne MP with just a week’s worth of hard plastic, making the point about the amount of unnecessary non-recyclable plastic in our food shopping! It was the first time that many of the participants had ever protested before, but they have since gone on grow in boldness, writing to supermarkets, the local MP, and New Forest District Council about the damaging waste.
The Parish of Hordle and Tiptoe has two lovely rural churchyards and the sunny areas in these are now managed as wildflower meadows to encourage biodiversity. The children of the church helped to site robust, squirrel proof bird-feeders donated by some of the home groups. Brandon Tools in Christchurch also offered favourable terms to hire their brush cutter for a weekend to strim in September, after which a small team raked the cuttings to generate spoil heaps which protected hibernating insects through the winter.
Approaching cold weather and soaring energy prices encouraged the team to support the community with a Warm Space Café, strengthening links with the village and offering a place where anyone can come and be welcomed. The church has also found itself working more closely with our Parish Council, having more of a voice in public discussions, as major housing developments are proposed locally which will impact the life of the community and the natural environment.
The practical work has also been supported by theological teaching. Through Lent 2022 there was a preaching series on the first three chapters of Genesis to explain our Christian responsibility to care for Creation.
Following a recent survey of the congregation, the next big challenge is to tackle heating the buildings sustainably. The first step is to seek expert advice through Parish Buying and the Diocesan Advisory Committee.
The Lord asks us to care for Creation whether or not we have green fingers. There’s so much to learn about good stewardship. So, thank you, A Rocha, for the Eco Church survey to help us get started. And thank you, Lord, that we don’t do this alone. Our lives are enriched by loving and prayerful support within our small team. The Eco Church framework is helping us to monitor our progress as we, God’s worshiping community here, work to live more lightly in his beautiful Creation.Helen Edmonds, Hordle Eco Church lead