On our ECO Church Journey
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We invited Gastard parish residents to observe Earth Hour on Saturday March 26th, 2022. Lights off for 1 hour at 8:30pm in support of action on climate change and ecological damage. In 2022 we held a candle-lit vigil in the church for that hour so the community could get together. We had a thoughtful atmospheric hour! Add your voice: EarthHour.org. See Events page for 2023.
Earth Hour Vigil 2022
An area set aside to encourage bees, butterflies, etc. We hope to see: Paper Daisy, Pheasant Eye, Pot Marigold, Cornflower, Dwarf Morning Glory, Evening Primrose, Forget-Me-Not, California Poppy, Baby’s Breath, Love-in-a-Mist, Corn, Yellow Tansy, Corncockle, Poppy, Golden Tickseed, Blue Lupin, Borage, Purple Tansy, Blanket flower, Cosmos Mixed, Marsh Mallow, Clovers and Zinnia.
We failed to get any wildflowers to grow in 2020 or 2021, so we re-located in 2022 – this time we have flowers.
We have formed a team from the community to collect discarded cans and other litter from the roads and public Rights of Way across the parochial parish of Gastard. Teams go out with our high visibility gilets with “Gastard ECO Team” printed on the back. Volunteers get together once a month at 10am at the church to get the litter picking equipment and briefing. This is generally the first Saturday of each month. If you would like to become a volunteer, please contact LitterPickingLead@GastardChurch.org.uk
Wild-Life Friendly Plantings in the Church Grounds
We have made sure that the plants in the flower borders are friendly to wildlife so that they sustain visiting insects. A team of volunteers looks after our gardens regularly. The lawn mowing avoids any wild flowers that are flowering in the grass and we only use wildlife friendly organic products. We are currently cataloguing our plants and their benefits to wild life. More details coming soon …
In 2021, we held a wildly ambitious exhibition refreshed each week with new material on a different theme. Visitors were asked to take a worksheet with them as they viewed the exhibits on the walls, capture QR codes on their phones for items of particular interest, and choose personal actions from the Action sheets to create their own Personal Action Plan. We launched our month on Climate Sunday and the church was open daily for 29 consecutive days for visitors. The exhibition was also supplemented with a number of pop-up events on various topics for a more sustainable future e.g. Bees, Tree Planting, Climate Protesting, Building a Bug Hotel, Environmental Projects in our area, Getting Back on your Bike and Recycling. The weekly themes were: Climate Change, Over-exploitation & Pollution, Complacency & Anxiety, and finally Adaptation & Children’s Week. This was such an onerous project that we had a break for 2022 but will be holding a Climate Week in October 2023 The project was widely acclaimed across the team and Corsham area.
Climate Sunday & Climate Week
In 2023 we are holding Climate Sunday on 8th October to introduce a week of ecological talks by a variety of local speakers. Climate Sunday is the opportunity to remind ourselves of the progress in the human world. We started in 2021 with the imminent COP26. we pronounce a sobering summary of the state of the world and the hope and aspirations of millions to transition to a sustainable world that minimises the impact of the climate change mankind has set in progress.
Services Focusing on Caring for God’s Creation
Services that focus in on our environment include Climate Sunday, Eco Church Celebration service, Harvest Festival and Rogation Sunday.
We have a rogation walk every year. In 2023 we had a particularly pleasant walk with 23 prticipants in nice dry bright weather, witnessing the fresh green growth of Spring and a colourful display of swaying buttercups in the meadows. Thoughtful snippets from the prayers held at intervals along the walk:
- You have put this world Into our hands … to care for creation
- We are called by you to nourish the earth and its diversity of life
- Psalm 23: The LORD is my shepherd; I have everything I need. He lets me rest in fields of green grass and leads me to quiet pools of fresh water …
- Genesis 1: … have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth …
- … bless our fields and gardens our hills and streams our rivers, lakes, reservoirs and seas …
- … thank you for the gift of water to sustain, refresh and cleanse all life. May we, who have an abundance of water, see it as a precious and scarce resource. Help us to be mindful how much Is consumed so that we can live In the way that we do: guide us to use it sparingly, and keep us mindful of those who suffer through drought, pollution and flood …
- … thank you for … the world and the vast resources of our planet: … that at times we fail to respect; resources that we wantonly exploit. You have entrusted us with the care of your world: Give us wisdom and compassion, and move us to change our thoughts and our actions, that we and all your people may value the whole of your creation.
- … in all that we do we generate waste; we are profligate in the way we consume energy; we throw away food without thought and we create great mountains of rubbish. Help us both as individuals and communities to value your creation, not to treat the treasure you have entrusted to us casually or as a thing that can ever be replaced, but teach us to make better use of your gifts and save us from squandering the world’s resources.
We have twinned our toilet with one in South Sudan. The scheme isn’t just providing a toilet, but education and training so the villagers can make and maintain their toilet and live a more hygienic life, reducing sickness and increasing the days that children go to school. To encourage others we have displayed our twinning information on the door.
Our team of volunteers that create topical prayers for each service (the intercessors) always include climate or ecological prayers. We also choose an overseas environmental project each year to include in the prayers and to support in other ways.
Overseas Ecological Development Projects
For 2021, the PCC endorsed Margaret’s choice of the Watu Wa Miti project in Kenya supported by the International Tree Foundation (ITF). Margaret led a pop-up event on the ITF during our Climate October and has gained enough support to raise £2,000 – twice her target. Well done.
For 2022, we have created our very own project through the efforts of a parishioner, Finlay, who has done voluntary work in Kenya – we raised enough to drill a water well for the village of Cheputue, Kenya. We got all the required permissions and survey. More details on our dedicated Just Giving page. The villagers are very grateful and have been able to grow garden produce boosting their income.
For 2023, we have yet to choose a project …
For 2023, we plan to support a UK wetlands charity as peat/ wetlands are an important means of carbon sequestration as well as providing valuable habitats. Details coming soon …
Local Ecological Projects & Groups
Our Eco Church also supported the tree copse planted in the recreation field, Coppershell, Gastard in December 2021. We are also members of Corsham Climate Action (a Transition Towns group) and Corsham Town Council’s Environmental Task Group. In 2022, our Eco church supported the planting of daffodils around the verges throughout the parish as part of Gastard’s Jubilee celebrations sponsored by Octavian Wines.
Communal Christmas Cards
Every year since 2020 we have run an online Christmas card scheme with the aim of reducing resource usage: send just one card for the congregation rather than one for each person. Changing habits takes time, so we shall continue to offer this and by adding the online service on JustGiving.com we have been able to generate useful funds for our church.
Global Environmental Campaigns
We support the Climate Justice Day of Global Action timed to demonstrate to the United Nations’ COP conferences that we care for environment and implore global leaders to take effective action. In 2021 we had some people march in Bristol and in 2022 in Bath.
We are supporting the Corsham Recycling Hub which provides a means to recycle ‘hard to recycle’ items like crisp packets and even have our own in-church receptacle for pill blister packs for the congregation & community. In 2023 our church became a Community Ally in support of Corsham’s Plastic-free Community project. We pledge to remove 3 items of single-use plastic. Garden Produce Swap – During the summer Open Church we encourage our community to donate surplus garden produce for anyone to take and use.
Eco Products in Church
To spread the message and encourage others to follow suit we have made visible, with small notices, our use of recycled toilet paper, printing double-sided on recycled paper, eco-friendly cleaning products like washing-up liquid and recyclable/ compostable disposables, like plates, when church events are held.
Low Energy Lighting
We are replacing light bulbs with low energy LED bulbs to reduce energy consumption, and often providing a better light.
We have measured the carbon footprint of running our church, including how congregants get to the church, using 360oCarbon by Climate Stewards and offset our usage for 2021 and will be doing so again each year once the church accounts are finalised.
Community Access to Churchyard
Whilst the community have always been welcome to use the grounds we have increased our welcome with a gate notice and the provision of a bench.
Corsham Eco Fair
We had a team churches Eco church stall at the 2022 Corsham Eco Fair and plan to repeat this in 2023 (See Events page). Here we told people all about the Eco church movement and displayed Gastard’s Bronze Award. There was a lot of interest and by pulling together the other 3 churches in the benefice are igniting more positive interest in church action. We were amongst several dozen other ecological aware businesses and groups, including FairTrade, at the town’s green fair.
We only use FairTrade coffee, tea and sugar at our post-service fellowship and in 2023 we are ramping up our promotion of FairTrade to congregants during our FairTrade Sunday service 5th March and the community during FairTrade fortnight and supporting local FairTrade events in our FairTrade Corsham town and at FairTrade Place of Worship, St Cyriac’s, Lacock.
For 2023, we are promoting LOAF purchasing to our congregation at our FairTrade Sunday service (see Events page). Use your LOAF is a campaign by Green Christian urging consumers to buy Local, Organic, Animal-friendly and Fairly traded.
St John’s is an active partner in Corsham Churches Foodbank. We provide lots of volunteers and provide a collection point whenever the church is open.