St Barnabas’ Church
St Barnabas as an eco-Church
How the Eco-Church scheme works
Eco-Church is an A Rocha UK project, run in partnership with Christian Aid, The Church of England, The Methodist Church, Tearfund, The United Reformed Church and Allchurches Trust Limited. The scheme is described here.
Eco-Church gives awards at three levels: Bronze, Silver or Gold. Their rigorous assessment occurs via a detailed online questionnaire and subsequent discussion with the staff at Eco-Church. Churches are assessed under the five headings below.
As a Church, we always keep in mind the fifth mark of mission: it’s a visible demonstration of our discipleship. We often mention ecology in connection with working toward God's Kingdom, as well as a response to the unlimited love of God. For example, when we redesigned our liturgy in 2018, we took the opportunity to rewrite the litanies in our all-age worship services, which again stresses a response to God including creation. A tiny selection from out suite of services appears below.
Worship now involves a large screen rather than paper-based resources, though printed service cards are available for the visually impaired.
Our published materials — especially our monthly magazine — contains environmental concerns and tips. We save paper by emailing most copies rather than publishing them on paper.
We changed our banking to providers able to demonstrate their environmental credentials.
And it's a rare meeting of the Church Council that does not mention the environment.
St Barnabas’ Church comprises a large complex of buildings, halls, and offices. Since 2011, much has been rebuilt, revamped, redesigned, reimagined at a cost of about £1/3 million.
For example, virtually every light in our complex of buildings is LED, and we have plans to change the remainder soon. We've replaced many ill-fitting doors and installed double-glassing everywhere we can — all except the worship space with its glorious stained-glass.
And the huge and ironically named "Ideal" boiler was de-commissioned and replaced with three small, independent and modern house boilers. Each is efficient. Their use ensures that we can zone the heat, tailoring our needs and simultaneously decreasing our energy footprint. Side rooms are heatable with small electric panels.
Panorama of the new toilet block: fully insulated, with LED lights on a sensor, water meter, and modern materials.
All the building materials in our conversions have, of course, come from sustainable sources.
The Vicarage was showing its age a little, so has been upgraded with insulation, new efficient boiler, and LED lights absolutely everywhere.
St Barnabas’ Church possesses very little land. That minor area is located between the Church and Vicarage. Only a very small proportion is mown. The remainder is left entirely wild, with boxes and bird tables, and feeders. It also hosts our wide array of recycling facilities.
The small Vicarage garden is also about two-third wild, with boxes and bug-friendly plants. Note the rotting log in the central image hosting an amazing display of fungi. The pile of twigs and branches is home to a wide of array of diverse wildlife such as field mice and bugs.
Community and global engagement
The Church runs a food co-operative that distributes nearly a tonne of food each week that would otherwise go into landfill. We converted a disused part of the hall to create a bespoke distribution space; we now feed up to 150 people a week. All members live locally and come from within our community.
Needless to say, our Church subscribes to Fairtrade products for everything: we host a Faretrade stall, use Faretrade products, etc.
We're a poor Church located in an extremely deprived part of a deprived town. That's why the eco-sponsors in the congregation mention ecology so often in notices and so on in the Church. Just before the first lockdown, we were planning to recycle more household items than can be accommodated in the Council's door-to-door collections: items such as aerosol cans, containers, crisp packets, etc.
And the food co-operative (above) helps defray costs and waste in an individual's homes, and hotwires into the congregation the essential ideals of reduce, re-use, recycle.
Page posted 2 August 2022