In March 2021 we became a Bronze Award level Eco Church, working towards fulfilling the criteria for the Silver Award and helping to make the Diocese of Southwark an Eco Diocese (read about the diocesan eco campaign on page 6 of this issue of The Bridge).
This page explains how we did it, and what comes next.
There are 3 levels of Eco Church recognition: the Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards. Awards are determined by means of an online survey that asks churches to self-assess in 5 key areas:
- Worship and Teaching
- Community and Global Engagement
Our Bronze Award is based on our survey responses as of March 2021. You can view our submitted survey by registering at the Eco Church website and linking your registration to the existing St Barnabas account there. This will let you see the criteria for self-assessment in each category and give you a sense of how we think we are doing. Each of the 5 areas is assessed separately, and we are already provisionally at gold or silver in 4 out of the 5.
So, what have we been doing right, and how might we progress to Silver overall? Here is a brief digest of some of the things that stand behind our Bronze Award:
Worship and Teaching (Gold)
- We make a point of observing Creationtide (1 Sept – 4 Oct) and Rogationtide (the week leading up to Ascension Day) in our worship through prayers, preaching, and music that give thanks and enjoin care for creation. We augment this by highlighting environmental issues whenever possible, as, for example, our focus on the 2021 Christian Aid Week theme: the link between climate emergency and climate injustice.
- We have made care for creation central to our Lenten devotions, adopting resources such as the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent book, Saying Yes to Life by Ruth Valerio (in 2020) and the Sarx course 40 Days with God’s Creatures (in 2021)
- We regularly announce environment-related education and activism opportunities in our pewsheet.
- Our Twitter and Facebook feeds regularly feature news and information about climate science, environment-related publications, and local environmental activism, as well as photographs of the biodiversity in our garden.
- Through our website we share Revd Tattum’s inspirational nature writing with a wider public.
- Our iconic triptych by Katie Ault invites all who enter St Barnabas to share our awe and reverence for creation.
- Our beloved Edwardian Gothic sanctuary will always pose challenges for our green agenda. We have made significant efforts, nevertheless, to install the latest energy-efficient lighting and heating systems.
- Our bathrooms have been fitted with timed lights.
- Our vicarage is Eco code 4.
- Our church hall has a sedum ‘green’ roof (i.e., a roof covered with a layer of small, low-growing succulent plants of the sedum family which require little soil and maintenance). Among the eco-benefits of such a roof are:
- Its insulating effects cut energy use and costs.
- It helps with rainwater run-off management.
- It reduces the inner city ‘heat island’ effect and filters the air
- It absorbs C02.
- It supports biodiversity.
- It can extend the life of the underlying roof materials by protecting them from the elements.
(Adapted from information provided by the US National Park Service.)
Through a balance of ecologically-informed management and non-intervention, our garden
- supports local biodiversity
- provides a site for life science education to school children
- offers space for quiet meditation, and
- is a recreational green space for young families in the wider community
Read Ian’s account of some of the flora and fauna that thrive in our garden.
Community and Global Engagement (Silver)
- By hosting election hustings, St Barnabas provides opportunities for local people to engage with local leaders on local environmental issues.
- We hold an annual Harvest Festival at which church members and the wider community come together to share the yields of their home gardens and allotments. Local businesses that sell and use locally produced goods are also invited to participate.
- We publicize and support local eco-friendly initiatives, such as Green the Grid and the campaign to save the Granville Road allotments (read Ian’s reflection on this, ‘In defence of allotments’.
- Together with other churches in the Wandsworth Deanery, we organized an Environment Day workshop in June 2021.
- As a church, we strive as much as possible to recycle, reduce wastage, and avoid single-use plastics.
- By this example, and by our marked emphasis on ecology as Christian ethics, we encourage others to follow similar disciplines in daily life.
Lifestyle is the area hardest to assess, because it pertains to our everyday practices beyond the church walls. You can help St Barnabas achieve a Silver rating in this area – and thus merit the Silver Award overall – by letting others know what you’re doing. What are your eco-oriented spiritual disciplines? Email us your eco-news or share tips and advice for us to post.
Eco Church publishes a wide range of resources for a more planet-loving lifestyle.
And ‘Thank you’ to Claire Stewart for alerting us to the work being done by Recycle More Southfields. Visit their website to find out how to participate in their network. Download their information booklet here.