THE congregation of a parish church in Lancaster have raised more than 90 per cent of the £2.5 million needed to build a new, energy-efficient church centre for community use. The centre is a key initiative of the three-year climate action plan that followed the church’s declaration of a climate emergency.
St Thomas’s, Lancaster, in Blackburn diocese, is working towards an A Rocha Eco-Church Bronze Award later this year, with hopes of achieving a Silver by 2023. It is urging its 600-strong congregation to live more sustainably, and is taking part in national awareness-raising events in September in the run-up to the COP26 climate change conference.
Solar panels have been installed on the south-facing roofs of the centre, with the aid of a £5000 grant from the Lancaster University Wind Turbine Fund. One third of the electricity generated will supply all the building’s energy needs; the remainder will be donated to the National Grid.
The building uses Burlington slate from the Holker Hall estate, near Cartmel, and the work is being carried out by a local contractor, as part of the positive social impact that the church wants to have on the community. Parishioners and members of the congregation have raised the money themselves, with about £190,000 from grants and trusts. The building incorporates a new Family Life Centre to support families under pressure in the city.
The Vicar of St Thomas’s, the Revd Jon Scamman, said: “As a church, we believe God has called us to be good neighbours in the city. We’re delighted that this building project has given us new ways to live this out, working with some great local partners in the Lancaster area.”
A modern piece of stained glass, by the artist Sarah Galloway, is to be installed across three windows over the entrance to the new centre, based on biblical passages important to the church. The landscape reflects the Lancaster setting, with the River Lune flowing past Bowland Hills out into the bay, illuminated by a Morecambe Bay sunset.