At times living as we do with a rapidly changing climate and nature in crisis can feel overwhelming and it can be hard to know where to start in your own church community.
Step 1: Become a team
Integrating care for creation into church’s ministry and mission can feel like a big task if you are trying to do it solo. Gather a team of the key people you need to work together. You will need one or two people from the PCC and others who will bring different skills and experiences. Praying together and supporting each other can share the load and be vital to bring about an effective church response in the current ecological context.
Step 2: Ask the PCC to pass a Parish Environment Policy
Ask the PCC to put in place an Environment Policy. This gives the church leadership the opportunity to openly discuss the environmental crises and how your church will respond. Once you have a policy, look to make a plan as to how you could become a carbon net zero church (use the Saving Creation: Six Steps to Net Zero Churches Toolkit to help you). Don’t forget to assess other PCC decisions in the light of the Environment Policy.
There is a template model policy here. You can amend and adapt this to suit your church and its situation.
Step 3: Appoint a Parish Environment Officer
It can be helpful to have a nominated person who ensures that environmental issues are championed. This should never mean that the rest of the congregation feel that they don’t have to think about creation care! Please let charlie.scott [at] leeds.anglican.org (Charlie Scott) at Church House know who your Parish Environment Officer (PEO) is, so that they can be kept informed about training opportunities, resources and supported by the Area Environment Champions. A template PEO role description can be found here.
Step 4: Register on the Eco Church website
It’s easy to register your church on the Eco Church website. Go to Eco Church, click on the “Register now to get started” tab and follow the instructions. Registering costs nothing and does not commit you to complete the award, what it does do is give you the opportunity to view the Eco Church survey and “play” at entering your churches achievements.
Step 5: Write a plan
Becoming a carbon net zero church, having a wildlife churchyard, being single use plastic free and so on are all big challenges! It is important to have a realistic plan that sets out what needs to be done, who will do it, who needs to be consulted and what it might cost. Use the Saving Creation: Six Steps to Net Zero Churches Toolkit to help you. Make sure you start with an easily achievable task to get you underway. You may find the template Carbon Net Zero Parish Plan sheet helpful.
Contact your local Area Environment Champion who will be able to support you. Their contact details are on the home page here. If you need specific advice they will be able to direct you to members of the Diocesan Environment Group, a team of voluntary specialist environmental advisors.