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'A new scheme to make churches green'

Baptist minister Nigel Hopper introduces Eco Church, Christian charity A Rocha's new scheme to help churches become eco-friendly

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From meditation to insulation, from location to invocation; loving God and his creation should impact everything in our church lives…
 
This is why A Rocha UK has developed Eco Church – an award scheme that equips churches in England and Wales to be good news for God’s earth.
 
The project aims to change church culture across all denominations so that creation care blends with evangelism and social action as expressions of mission.
 
Eco-Congregation – A Rocha UK’s award scheme for churches in England and Wales committed to demonstrating that the gospel is good news for God’s earth – has been running for 15 years now. During that time, more than 300 Eco-Congregation Awards have been made to churches from all denominations. The scheme has therefore played a significant part in helping many churches come to a fuller biblical understanding of the importance of caring for God’s earth, and in inspiring them to take practical action to this end.
 
However, having listened to feedback from churches gaining the award, it became clear that the Eco-Congregation scheme was in need of updating, both in terms of content and format. As a result, we have been hard at work for the past year developing a new award scheme for churches that is easier to understand and access, though no less challenging to complete!
 
The result is Eco Church, which will be launched as the successor to Eco-Congregation in England and Wales at a special event at St Paul’s Cathedral on 26 January 2016. 
 


The project aims to change church culture across all denominations so that creation care blends with evangelism and social action as expressions of mission


 
We know we live in a time of unprecedented environmental need and there is a call on the Church to take action, as part of our worship of a creating, sustaining and saving God. The good news is that many churches are now waking up to this call, but they need help and resources to be able to respond effectively.

Eco Church has been designed to do just that – to help churches integrate environmental care throughout their church life: in their worship and teaching; in the management of their buildings and grounds; in their local and global community engagement, and in the personal lifestyles of their members. We’d really love your church to take part in this exciting initiative, which will challenge and equip you to care for God’s world in all areas of your life together.
 
To participate in the Eco Church scheme, register your church at ecochurch.arocha.org.uk. You can then begin completing the unique online survey by way of indicating how your church is caring for God’s earth. As you complete the survey, you collect points towards an Eco Church Award, with different actions earning points according to their level of ease or difficulty.

The survey takes you through five key areas of church life:

  • Worship and teaching;
  • Management of church buildings (if applicable);
  • Management of church land (if applicable);
  • Community engagement (both local and global);
  • Personal lifestyle of church members. 


You can save your survey responses at any point so that you can return to update them as your church completes additional actions. The survey therefore serves as a record of present achievements and a plan for future activities. Accompanying the survey is a suite of supporting resources to help your church take practical action.
 
Once your church has gained sufficient points across the five survey areas, you will qualify for an Eco Church Award at Bronze, Silver or Gold level and can receive a certificate and plaque (at cost) from A Rocha UK. At Bronze and Silver level, we will require a letter of confirmation from your church leader that the survey responses are an accurate reflection of the current work and witness of your church. A Gold Award will be granted following a visit to your church by an Eco Church Assessor.
 
A Rocha UK's work stems from a fundamental belief. Looking after the world, in all the different forms that takes, is a core part of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. We believe this for four reasons:

  • God made the world and he loves it;
  • God created us to look after it;
  • The world has gone wrong because of us;
  • God has a purpose for his world. 


We are excited about the role that Eco Church can play in the life of the Church and hope that you will be too.


Based in Milton Keynes, Nigel is an ordained Baptist Minister currently on secondment to A Rocha UK where he works as Churches and Resources Manager

Baptist Times, 26/01/2016
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