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St Mary’s church is pleased to announce the formation of an Eco Church Committee which seeks to promote care for God’s creation by way of personal and collective actions towards a greener and more sustainable future.
We are taking direction and inspiration from the Eco Church award scheme of which many UK churches are already members.
The award scheme is run by Christian environmental charity A Rocha and aims to recognise churches taking steps to a greener approach in their ministry, practical management and community outreach.
Churches work their way through the various criteria to achieve Bronze, Silver and Gold awards depending on progress.
The award criteria are split into 5 categories;
Worship & Teaching - ensuring the topic of caring for creation is included in ministry for the wider church and youth work, praying for environmental issues and communicating these concerns in our publications and online.
Buildings - calculating the carbon footprint of the church buildings and taking necessary measures to reduce it, ensuring consumables are sourced ethically with as little waste as possible and developing green facilities on site to serve both the church and local community.
Land - considered management of our Churchyard which respects the resting place of the generations that have passed on whilst nurturing and safeguarding the ecosystem for the generations to come.
Community & Global Engagement - working with local groups to share resources and ideas, organising events to engage with the community, local council or MP on environmental issues and fundraising to support environmental charities.
Lifestyle - providing information and resources to the local community to encourage sustainable lifestyle changes and ensuring church members are leading by example and practicing what we preach!
We are one of seven C of E churches within our Benefice group; Overton, Laverstoke & Freefolk, North Waltham, Steventon, Ashe and Deane.
We have a vision to see all seven of us working together to put concern for creation at the centre of our church life, sharing resources and collaborating to organise events and projects.
The existing Churches Together group gives us the opportunity to join forces with the Community, Methodist and Catholic churches in Overton to encourage each other in a collective effort towards a more sustainable future.
We are also incredibly fortunate as a town to have proactive and dedicated community groups such as Sustainable Overton and The Overton Biodiversity Society who have already established some fantastic projects which we are keen to learn from and support in any way we can.
Through supporting initiatives such as Plastic Free July and reforming our collective behaviours we hope that this will strengthen support for our local businesses who are already taking steps to reduce their impact on the environment.
Jesus said:‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.This is the first and greatest commandment.And the second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself.” (NIV)
As Christians we believe that God created all things, seen and unseen, and that he “saw all that He had made,and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31, NIV). Part of loving God with all our heart, as Jesus so clearly commanded us to do above all things in the gospel of Matthew, is to take care of that which he has created. We have been entrusted to act as stewards for the natural world though sadly for too long we have not fulfilled our mission.
“For you Europeans, climate change is a problem for the future. For us (in Fiji), it is a problem of everyday survival”
(Valerio, 2019, page ix)
If we are to truly love our neighbour as ourselves then we must act in solidarity with those most affected by climate change.
For example, right now rising sea levels are forcing the relocation of long-established coastal communities in Bangladesh to overcrowded slums on the outskirts of inland cities, often with little or no infrastructure and poor sanitation.
Rather than acting to mitigate future threats to our own communities, we must recognise that distant communities, particularly those in developing countries, are already experiencing the consequences of climate change and thus we must act in a way that acknowledges the urgent nature of the situation.
At the Church of England General Synod in February 2020, the assembly voted to amend the original target of being carbon neutral by 2045 in favour of the more ambitious target of 2030.
Carbon neutrality refers to the balancing of carbon emissions using measures to offset, such as planting trees.
With this new target in place, support from the Diocese of Winchester to churches like ours has gained momentum and we hope that by coming together as a Diocese to share experiences and ideas, our efforts will be accelerated.
“This is a social-justice issue, which affects the world’s poorest soonest and most severely. If the Church is to hold others to account, we have to get our own house in order.”
Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam
We recognise that as Christians we should have been the first to stand up for the protection of the world which our creator who we love has made. We know we are ‘late to the party’ and we have a lot of catching up to do, but our collective enthusiasm combined with the openness of local organisations and individuals is driving forward initiatives that we are extremely excited to see come to fruition.
The bible teaches us that to follow Jesus means teaching and exercising simplicity of living, care for the poor and veneration for the natural world. We come together renewed and committed to putting these values into practice.
If you would like to reach out to us, to be directly involved or simply to offer
ideas, please do so. You can email us at acfmt