The Diocese of Sheffield is delighted to announce St Mark’s as its first Gold Eco Church.
It follows the gathering of detailed evidence by St Mark’s and a visit from A Rocha representatives.
Listing some of the highlights, the visiting A Rocha team said:
- You have been on the caring for creation journey for many years and it is clear how much you have learned and progressed as a team and a church community. You have embedded environmental principles in everything that you are doing as an intergenerational church community; from running Muddy Church and building bug hotels to holding regular Climate Sunday services. Your noticeboard was a highlight as it outlined all the care for the earth activities you’re involved with alongside the solar panels energy stats.
- Wonderful to hear and see how you have been innovative with some of the challenges around your building especially the double-glazing trial and that you are continually looking for ways to improve and how you deal creatively with situations as they arise, especially as the church is in a conservation area.
- The participation and involvement of the wider church congregation to get involved with surveys as part of the lifestyle section
- The series of tapestries worked on by the congregation to tell the creations story will be a great visual testimony to how central creation care is to the church when completed.
- The Green in front of the church is a well-used community space especially given your location near to a hospital and other public buildings. Great to see bat boxes and newly planted trees and your intentional management plan to be wildlife friendly.
- Impressive discussion and continued lobbying for action on climate change with your local council and MP and given that Hope for the Future (a climate change charity) started with a couple of your church members, and your positive collaboration with other environmental networks.
Margaret Ainger, on behalf of the Environment Group at St Mark’s, says:
‘We’re absolutely delighted with the news. With having a historic church which is Grade 2 listed to care for and has poor insulation, gas boilers and no double glazing, these are not straightforward and simple projects to take on. They take time to see through.
‘I’m just really pleased that we’ve done it and so impressed with our buildings team at St Mark’s and their can-do attitude to this.’
The team at St Mark’s have been asked to look at next steps to building on their success, including updates on the progress of their double glazing, producing an ongoing Lifestyle survey to measure the impact of the changes and looking at other local Ecumenical networks to support other churches on their Eco Church journey.
Margaret hopes that other churches will be encouraged to join the programme as part of our mission to care for creation and achieve net zero:
‘It is possible. There are hurdles, but there are ways that you can get through and you just need some determination and some know-how. There are resources and support available, which is really encouraging to know. We at St Mark’s are happy to share what we have learned.
‘I think the most encouraging thing is how positive and energised our team is. We have appreciated the structure and resources offered by the programme and enjoyed the challenge in many ways. It has given us a sense of achievement, brought us closer together as a church community and helped individuals feel supported and connected in their efforts to work for a more sustainable world.’
Dr Cathy Rhodes, Sheffield’s Diocesan Environment Officer said:
‘I am delighted that St Mark’s has their Gold Eco Church Award, the first one in our Diocese.
‘I hope this will encourage more of our churches to register at ecochurch.arocha.org.uk to join the 59 Eco Churches throughout Sheffield Diocese. You could be our 60th Eco Church! We hope this first Gold award will inspire those 59 churches as they continue work towards their awards. Eco Church work towards reducing emissions also chimes with our target to achieve net zero carbon by 2030. This is now supported by David Castle, our new Net Zero Project Officer funded with national money from the Church Commissioners.
‘Our registered Eco Churches now have 22 Bronze or Silver Awards between them and rising, which is wonderful. But everyone has different capacity for working on the Eco Church Survey and the building can be a big challenge. Registering online is a great first step and to be celebrated, and every small action on the survey counts. Praying for God’s Creation is part of the survey, and something every church can do to start their Eco Church journey. We will be praying for and celebrating all our Eco Churches at Sheffield Cathedral on Saturday 9 September from 11am-3pm. There are stalls and activities for all ages, including singing/drumming workshops and an A Rocha stall, and a service at 2pm with Bishop Pete preaching and celebrating our Eco Churches. Do put the date in your diary!’
Please contact Sally Hunter at firstname.lastname@example.org for information and advice about our environment programme.