Reducing food waste and poverty, the Harrogate Clothes Bank, solar panels, Car Free Sundays, renewable power sources and a redevelopment of the church garden are just part of St Mark’s Harrogate’s journey towards achieving their Silver Eco Church award this month.
At a special Eco Service, Andrew Jones MP visited the church to officially present the award given to St Mark’s by A Rocha UK, a charity which measures how churches look after buildings and land; how they engage with their local community and in global campaigns, and the personal lifestyles of congregations.
Mr Jones said: “It is important that we all reduce our carbon emissions and our reliance on fossil fuels.
“That is why I was so impressed by the progress St Marks Church has made to realise the net-zero ambitions the Church of England has for its estate which is among the biggest property and land portfolio in the country.
“I know that other churches will want to learn from St Marks about how to begin or continue the journey to lower bills and lower emissions.
“I really admire the leadership shown by Jemima and the St Mark’s team and so was honoured to be asked to present them with this award.”
St Mark’s, Harrogate started its Eco journey in 2011 when it became one of the first churches in Harrogate to install solar panels on its roof.
Since then, eco improvements have continued as the church seeks to be responsible stewards of God’s earth.
Diocesan Environment officer and member of St Mark’s, Jemima Parker, said: “This silver award is recognition of the many leaps forward St Mark’s has taken to demonstrate its ongoing commitment to creation and environmental issues.”
Deborah Booth, St Mark’s Environment Officer commented: “As we become increasingly aware of the threats facing our natural world, St Mark’s has huge potential to raise the profile of creation care and facilitate and inspire action.”
As well as building improvements and community initiatives, the church has looked at ways to improve its surrounding land and provide a place for the whole community to connect with nature.
Developments include a new wildflower area, the planting of 50 native trees, a new prayer bench and a woodland walk.
Vicar of St Mark’s, the Revd Mike Resch said: “I want our ceiling to be the floor for the next generation, I urge us to leave this earth in a better place than when we inherited it.
“We know there is much more work to be done as we look ahead towards achieving a gold award.”