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Churches take up the Creation Care Cause for World Earth Day

portait Tamsin Morris
4 min

On World Earth Day, Friday 22nd April, the theme is ‘Invest in Our Planet’. Scientists are very clear that we need to act over the next decade, starting yesterday, to avoid catastrophic global warming and nature loss. It’s not surprising that our young people are experiencing eco-anxiety. 

What does this mean for us and how do we respond?  As Christians rooted in our church communities, the Eco Church scheme is a good place to start. Our approach provides a practical framework and, of course, never loses sight of hope! Eco Church is also about celebrating creation as a gift, finding joy in and connection with the natural world around us, and, critically, recognising and taking action in light of our responsibility to care for it. 

Eco Church stories are wonderful, as they provide testimony to how acting for nature and the planet has enhanced church lives in so many ways, including reaching out to their local communities more and communicating their faith in practical ways that make a real difference. Here are some recent testimonies.

St Peter’s Pebworth awarded Eco Church Silver.  

St Peter’s Pebworth has re-homed hedgehogs, built hedgehog homes in the churchyard, installed hedgehog crossing signs, and even appointed a Hedgehog Warden. To everyone’s delight, the past year has seen little hoglets emerge. The churchyard has wildflower areas that are home to bees and other mini beasts. The ancient lime trees have been pollarded, owl, bat and bird boxes have been put up and wildlife shelters and insect hotels have been made from branches and log piles. Church members are raising awareness of wildlife locally and sharing their experiences with other churches. Annual wildlife lectures accompanied by a delicious Worchester cream tea, encourage sustainability.

Epsom Methodist Church awarded Eco Church Silver. 

This town centre church has surrounded itself with mature lavender bushes which are covered in bees during the summer.  Once the lavender has stopped flowering, it is harvested and ‘recycled’ into small bags ready to include in gift parcels to those in their community who are on their own at Christmas. Insect hotels, a bird box and two bat boxes all create a haven for wildlife. The children from the church nursery school joined the activities and had great fun helping to fill the bug hotel.

St Richard’s Ham awarded Eco Church Bronze.

St Richard’s Church in Richmond, south-west London, has only a small patch of land in front of it, but is making the most of it for the benefit of nature, with a wildflower garden and bug hotel.

During June 2021’s Churches Count on Nature week, 91 species of plant, animal and insect were discovered there, and a rare bee orchid was identified by a botanist from Kew Gardens. Each church group, the local school and walking group, share responsibility for the upkeep of the bug hotel and the monitoring of its occupants.

Behind the church is Ham Lands, a nature reserve of 70 acres, and connections are being made between the church and reserve volunteers, with church members learning more about the management of the land and helping initially with litter-picking. 

Chelmsford Cathedral awarded Eco Church Gold.

The Muddy Church group encourages the community to explore local ecology with hands-on sessions, including pond-dipping and vegetable growing. The children created bug hotels and a butterfly garden to help native wildlife thrive and an action plan was agreed and implemented to encourage birds into the grounds.

A special community art project, ‘Lament and Hope’, encouraged reflections on pandemic experiences through the making of recycled fabric postcards. The exhibition revealed how much nature has been essential in helping people during the crisis and a deepening appreciation of the natural environment. 

On World Earth day what will you do? 

The next decade will be critical for the environment and the need for churches to stand up for it right now cannot be understated. Acting together is vital, and it will surely build our own churches and communities too. At a time so fraught with risk and so overflowing with opportunities to act for nature, you can sign up to A Rocha UK’s free Eco Church programme and investigate our other resources here or you can support A Rocha UK here.