Tuesday, February 27, 2024

10th parish receives Silver Eco Church Award

St. Mary’s Partington has become the 10th Silver Eco Church Award winner in our diocese. Organised by A Rocha UK, the scheme is for churches in England and Wales who want to demonstrate that the gospel is good news for God’s earth.

There are three levels of award that Churches can achieve, Bronze, Silver and Gold. Gaining a Bronze Award can be accomplished with a few, easy-to-implement steps. Some churches might already qualify for this award through their own ECO activities in relation to recycling, management of buildings, and worship. St. Mary’s were awarded their Bronze in 2022, a process that was; “relatively straightforward”, according to their vicar Revd Andrew Knight, adding, “It spurred us all on to do more, engaging all generations and especially our children and young people. For example, our youth group spent many weeks creating large mosaics on eco themes, putting on an exhibition with prayerful reflections, with artwork that now adorns the church.”

Making energy savings to historic buildings can have its hurdles to overcome but St Mary’s has made progress by introducing water-saving devices, low-energy bulbs, carbon offsetting and a bicycle rack, which can get people thinking about cycling to church, even if it’s just on the odd occasion when it’s nice weather. 

In the grounds of the church, they have developed a small garden that tells Bible stories from The Burning Bush to the Last Supper, gaining recognition by the RHS North West ‘Britain in Bloom’ competition. Wildlife provision includes bird and butterfly boxes, hedgehog houses, a bug hotel, pond, bird feeders, and drought-resistant, insect-attracting flowers. The local primary school helped them in a wildlife survey as part of “Love Your Burial Ground Week” in June, identifying 70 different wildflowers.

Engaging with their community was one of the main goals for St Mary’s. A Plant Fair, held in the church grounds, proved to be one of their most popular events, selling hundreds of flowers, herbs, and tomatoes raised from seeds in recycled plastic pots, which encouraged local residents to ‘grow their own’. The event raised £2500 for church funds, but perhaps more importantly, encouraged others to think about re-cycling and growing their own produce to help reduce energy use in transportation costs. 

In total, there are currently 30 Bronze, 10 Silver, and 1 Gold (Christ Church, Higher Bebington) award-winning churches in the Diocese of Chester. 

To find out how your church can gain an award, visit Ecochurch

More information on St Mary’s, Partington’s EcoChurch commitment is on their website.