To become given a Bronze Award by Christian environment charity A Rocha, St Mary’s Church had to make a number of changes. Firstly, in summer 2021, the church formed an Eco team. It was soon after that they decided to run their first eco event called ‘Wildlife and Grow’ as part of the Great Big Green Week in September. The eco event was a great way of inviting their community back to church after Covid.
The afternoon event included guest speakers, a stall of vegetables from local community farms, a hamper competition and a cake and warm beverage stand (with Fairtrade coffee, of course). The talks included ‘How we can help wildlife in our garden’ and ‘How to help hedgehogs in our garden’.
To encourage wildlife and wildflowers, an area of the churchyard was left unmown for the spring and summer of 2022 and within the first couple of weeks, nine different species of plants had been identified. The rewilded churchyard also included the addition of a bug hotel, two compost bins, with plans for newly planted trees, a prayer garden and bird boxes.
The eco group also looked at how they could improve their energy footprint within the church too, with new LED lighting installed, and a change to using renewable electricity and carbon offset gas.
Rev’d Richard Wise said:
For several years, we have had services and sermons focused on creation care, especially during the Season of Creation. We have also started to have an ‘eco tip’ on our news sheet most months, one of which was for church members to undertake a personal environmental lifestyle audit.
St Mary’s are now working towards their Silver Eco church award with plans for 2023 to include cutting their hedges less and letting nature flourish in their churchyard.