THE Church Times, in collaboration with members of both the Church of England and Roman Catholic environmental working groups, is today launching the Green Church Showcase — a hunt for inspiring church initiatives to protect and preserve the planet.
The Showcase builds on earlier successful collaborations: the Church Times Green Church Awards and the Green Health Awards.
We are inviting churches, church schools, dioceses, and Christian groups of any denomination to submit details of work that they have undertaken to combat climate change, to protect nature, and to involve their communities in making changes.
A judging panel chaired by the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham Usher, the new lead bishop for the environment (News, 26 February), will sift through the entries at the end of July. They will be looking for projects that are most easily reproducible by others, so that the whole Church contributes to the reversal of climate change.
These selected projects will feature in a specially commissioned video — the showreel — to be launched during the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow at the start of November.
Because this is not an awards scheme, there are no specific categories. But we will be encouraging people to tell us about:
- building projects moving towards net-zero carbon, such as energy efficiencies, pew heaters, heat pumps, and solar panels;
- building projects that balance conservation and the environment, such as maintenance programmes, sympathetic retrofits, and using low-carbon materials;
- courageous advocacy and community engagement;
- nurturing the natural world, and using church land to develop health and wellbeing;
- involving young people at every level;
- diocesan initiatives that break new ground; and
- simple but effective gains on a shoestring.
Past winners of Green Awards, Eco Churches, and groups from any denomination are invited to tell their stories.
The showreel will be launched during an online debate about the Church’s response to the climate crisis in early November. The selected projects will also feature in a booklet, published at the same time. And detailed advice will be available online, to give other churches and groups the tools they need to replicate the successful projects.
Launch: Friday 4 June
Closing date for entries: Wednesday 21 July
Judging w/b: Monday 26 July
Creation of videos, booklet, and dossiers: August-October
Launch event and publication: w/b 1 November
The announcement comes on the eve of World Environment Day, 5 June. One of the Church Times’s partners, A Rocha UK, is tomorrow launching its Big Green Vision, co-ordinating the work it does through Eco Church, Partners in Action, and Wild Christian.
It hopes by 2025 to raise the number of Eco Churches from five to 15 per cent of the total in England and Wales, improve biodiversity and land use on 75,000 acres of church-owned land, and involve 25,000 people in routinely caring for nature at home, in the community, and through campaigning.
For more information, and application forms, see https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/green-church-showcase (goes live on Friday 4 June 2021)
Read more on the Showcase in our leader comment
Support for the Showcase:
Diocese of NorwichThe Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham UsherThe Bishop of Norwich and C of E lead Bishop for the Environment, Graham Usher, said this week: “It’s my great pleasure to support the Green Church Showcase as one of my first actions, in the week I take over as lead Bishop on the Environment.
“In this vital year for climate action, I encourage churches and church schools around the country to tell their stories. The Showcase aims to celebrate practical action on the ground and, through these real examples of what is possible, inspire others.
“Whether your project has tackled the energy use in your building, cared for nature in your grounds, or engaged your community, please do apply as part of the Green Church Showcase.”
Mazur/cbcew.org.ukThe Bishop of Salford, the Rt Revd John ArnoldThe Rt Revd John Arnold, Bishop of Salford and lead Bishop for the Environment for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England Wales, said: “The Green Church Showcase is a welcome opportunity to acknowledge the achievements of those parishes who are at the forefront of making green changes, which are key to creating a more sustainable future for our society.
“Sharing examples of best environmental practice and supporting creative change will help us to better understand how we can make progress together, as the Body of Christ, on the pressing issue of climate change. In my own diocese of Salford, through the ‘Guardians of Creation’ project, we are leading on research into the local church’s response to the ecological crisis. We will share this research across ecumenical networks, as the project unfolds.
“Catholic communities are already pioneering change in various ways, including engaging with CAFOD’s ‘Livesimply’ award, transitioning to greener energies and developing education on this issue in our schools. As we move towards COP26, we hope that ‘Green Church Showcase’ provides a platform that will enable and encourage churches to learn from each other across denominations.
Andy Atkins, A Rocha UK CEOAndy Atkins, Chief Executive of A Rocha UK, said: “The Green Church Showcase is a very timely initiative to celebrate — and learn from — the achievements of churches who have been working so hard to make a difference on climate change. In all my 35 years of campaigning on social justice and the environment, I cannot remember a time so fraught with risk and so overflowing with opportunity. Christians and churches can have a critical influence on this outcome by becoming beacons of good practice, and, speaking up together, on climate change.
“Five years after A Rocha UK launched Eco Church, it has become a national community of more than 3500 churches addressing the environmental crisis, using practical ways to restore biodiversity and reduce carbon emissions. Christians and churches have a wealth of assets — buildings, land, community links — to bring to bear to this challenge of our generation. And Eco Church provides a learning community with shared tools in which churches can draw on those assets and advance together”.