All Powered Up - environment conference lights the way

More than 60 delegates from churches across the north of England have been at Wakefield Cathedral learning about better ways to heat and light churches in a more sustainable and environmentally friendly way.   

The regional “Powering God’s Northern Powerhouse” conference was a collaboration between the Anglican Diocese of Leeds and the Church of England Church Care team, with Lisa McIntyre, DAC Secretary and Jemima Parker, Diocesan Environment Officer, taking the lead.

The delegates learned about the latest lighting and heating technologies from experts such as church lighting professional Bruce Kirk, Director of Light Perceptions Ltd and heating expert Robyn Pender, Senior Architectural Conservator at Historic England.

The day was opened by Dean Simon Cowling, who until recently was Chair of the Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC). Bishop Paul Slater, who chairs the Diocesan Environment Committee, was one of the keynote speakers, commending delegates to consider God’s love for all creation and their global brothers and sisters with  carbon emissions contribute to their suffering from climate disruption.

The afternoon focused on how LED lighting schemes and renewable heating projects worked in practice with four local churches telling of their experience. Sarah Hinton spoke movingly of how raising funds for their biomass boiler had drawn the community together at St Stephen, Bowling. From St Mary, Allerton Bywater, Lynne Tomlinson, shared the learning points of reordering and installing an air source heat pump. Paul Middleton told of the different stages and hurdles that Bolton Priory had been through to achieve an effective LED lighting scheme. There were colourful tails of the different opinions of architects and community involvement from Debbie (St Mary, Birkin) concerning their Grade 1 listed buildings’ ground source heat pump heating system.

Conference organisers say they were delighted that the day was a success. “On the DAC we see so many churches just replacing their existing gas and oil boilers like for like,” said Lisa.

“We wanted to share good practice illustrating where sustainable solutions have been found that have worked sympathetically with our historic buildings to protect what is special about them whilst making them welcoming for worship and for wider community use.”

“We have a huge challenge ahead of us, reducing our carbon emissions by half in the next 11 years to prevent our global temperatures rising above 1.5oC.” added Jemima. “This is hard for churches, but I hope the conference has shown that it’s not impossible. We all have a part to play and with God’s grace it is possible.”

The speaker’s notes and slides from the conference can be found here. https://www.leeds.anglican.org/dac/sustainability

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