29 May 2019
Stratford-Upon-Avon Methodist Church has become the first Methodist Church in the country to receive a Gold Eco Church award. The award recognises the top level of achievement as part of environmental charity A Rocha’s Eco Church scheme, which encourages churches to make changes to improve their climate impact and take action for the environment.
Stratford Methodist Church building was refurbished in 2014 which has significantly reduced its gas consumption, successfully reducing the carbon footprint of the church premises from 40 tonnes to 16 tonnes CO2 annually.
The church has also installed solar panels and a ground source heat pump, and started using rainwater to flush the toilets. This has allowed the church to invite more community groups to use the building while continuing to reduce the environmental impact.
Alongside Stratford Climate Action Network, the church organised the first Eco Fair in Stratford-Upon-Avon, and are busy preparing for this year’s Stratford Climate Action Day on 22 June. Future environmental work for the church will involve more interaction with local groups, on a Climate Emergency campaign.
As well as working with environmental groups in the town, the church is working to encourage other local churches to become Eco Churches. It hopes to support their circuit, the newly created South Warwickshire Circuit, to take part in the new Eco Circuit scheme.
Members of the church who worked on the award said they were most proud of their wild flower garden which they developed on a small strip of land behind the church to encourage biodiversity.
Members of the church said:
“We appreciate very much the way the congregation supported the green measures we included in the redevelopment plan. The way the congregation took over the development plan of the small land strip at the back of the building is very inspiring.
“The Eco-Church programme provides a very comprehensive schedule to help congregations do what they can to care for the environment. It is not just for big congregations with a lot of resources. By taking part in both the Eco Congregation and Eco Church programmes we have become more aware of the way we can be good stewards of God’s creation.”
A Rocha, who organise the scheme, commented:
“We are delighted that Stratford Methodist Church has recently become the first Methodist church to achieve a Gold Eco Church award. It’s reflective of years of hard work and investment to put caring for creation front and centre of every aspect of their church life.
“There has never been a more critical time than now for Christians to be caring for the whole of the earth in the way that God intended. With 176 other Methodist churches registered for Eco Church, it’s also reflective of the Methodist Church’s commitment to seeing ‘all of God’s created Kingdom not just survive but thrive’”.