The Eco Church scheme: A Ministry Area Perspective
Rev'd Maggie Thorne, Ministry Area leader for greater Bridgend, shares with us the vision of a green Ministry Area and how collaboration helps us care for Creation.
My first engagement with Eco Church was through my previous parish in the Church of England. It was chiefly rural/semi-rural in context, lying at the foot of the Chiltern Hills. For years it had been associated with various local conservation groups, but for whatever reason had gone off the boil. A group of us wanted to re-energise the parish to engage with the natural surroundings and to heighten awareness of how caring for God’s earth was part of our Christian duty. Several parishioners were already heavily involved with A Rocha UK so there was an open invitation to access all that they could offer us in terms of support. We were introduced to the Eco Church scheme and found it surprisingly easy to reach bronze awards in two of the churches. But we wanted to do more.
Unusually for a village location, there were three local churches, and all agreed to work together to celebrate the natural world and to do what we could to encourage everyone to care for God’s Creation. The ecumenical group began meeting every three or four weeks, and over a short time managed to arrange several events including bird watches, moth counts, fungus walks and so on. We also followed the liturgical pattern of creation. To my surprise, our Rogation Day service (held in the barn of a local parishioner/farmer) grew in the number of participants every year, and our ‘Green Communion’, based on resources from A Rocha, was well-received. Now in Bridgend, there are again a band of us who are eager to help to save the planet and to encourage one another to enjoy all that God has given us. What began as an ‘eco workshop’ where old or broken things were upcycled, the group has grown to properly consider embracing Eco Church. So far, one of our churches has been awarded the Bronze status, and now that we’re moving into being a Ministry Area, we have a designated person on the team to keep all things ‘green’ on the agenda. We also have a spare piece of ground which we intend to convert into a pollinators’ garden. It’s early days for us, but we have at least made a start.