As we begin another year with renewed hope and good intention, it’s the ideal time to refresh our everyday action as Christians and think about how we can be living out our faith.
One church community in the diocese is exploring its calling to take care of God’s world around us, through the creation of its eco group.
Whilst on his own journey to a more eco-conscious lifestyle, Fr Martin Court of All Saints Church in Scraptoft, began to talk with others about how they were trying to do the same and what eco-initiatives were around the local area.
Those discussions included Melissa Woodhead, a member of the church family, who felt called to join others in raising awareness of the climate disaster and explore ways to make our lives greener and better.
The Scraptoft Eco Group held its first meeting in June last year, not knowing who or how many people would show up. In fact, around a dozen people came along, and have continued to meet up, regularly, since.
At the first couple of meetings, they watched videos from ‘The Climate Emergency Toolkit’ and used the areas mentioned as catalysts to discuss the importance of acting now.
Father Martin’s vision is for Scraptoft Eco Group to be a group for the whole community, Christian or not. The group was formed through a desire to be a base for people to share ideas, educate themselves and each other, and be a group actively trying to improve the way we all engage and interact with the world around us.
Melissa says: “As portrayed in Genesis; we were made ‘caretakers’ of everything God created, and sadly we’re not making a very good job of that so far. But we’re not out of time - we all have a voice and can use it to call for change. Our world, and all the miracles of nature that it entails, are surely some of the greatest things we all have in common, and thankfully we are now becoming increasingly aware of our need to be far better custodians of the world we have been gifted.”
The members of Scraptoft Eco Group have been inspired by Prof Katherine Hayhoe, a Christian Climate Scientist, who says that whilst we may feel helpless about what we can do, it’s important to talk ‘…not only about the risks and challenges facing our world, but also about the solutions and how every single one of us has a role to play. That role begins by using our voice to talk about why it matters and what we can do to fix it where we live, study, go to worship - wherever we connect with other people.’
Melissa says: “Every one of us, across the generations, has much to offer and we are committed to learning from each other and supporting each other in committing to greener and more sustainable lifestyles.”
Of course, no-one is expecting us to become eco-perfect people immediately, but making small changes, regularly, can make a world of difference. The group has been setting itself monthly challenges, such as choosing packaging-free fruit and veg, and saying no to plastic bottles and takeaway cups. This has helped them to develop good habits, such as remembering to take a reusable water bottle, flask or cup out with them, or keeping a spare one in the car for all eventualities.
They’re also trying to support local businesses, including farms, zero waste shops and other sustainable and environmentally conscious companies. And the church is currently working towards its Bronze Eco Church status.
With a desire to be making a practical difference, the group decided its first aim would be to try and make the recent Scraptoft Christmas Market, held at All Saints Church, a plastic bag free event.
With a tribe of sewing machinists and a mountain of donated fabric including curtains, duvets and sheets, they spent two evenings together making Morsbags (so named by the founder, but essentially a bag made from leftover materials) crafting a whopping 158 bags in total.
“Every time someone finished sewing a bag, they dashed to the front of the church to ring the gong and receive a great whoop of appreciation from all the other Morsbag elves!” says Melissa.
“We were able to give away, totally free, one bag per family who came to the market, and achieve our goal of having an entirely plastic bag free event. Plus, those bags will hopefully be used for many years to come,” she says. “Recycled, reusable, washable and free!”
The hope is that the Christmas event will have raised local awareness of the eco group and new people will be encouraged to join them in their future endeavours. They have ideas, including partnering with their local Co-op store to give away reusable Morsbags, instead of plastic ones, on World Eco Day.
Melissa says: “We have begun to plan more events for 2023. We hope to grow local involvement, invite guest speakers along, and would love for anyone with any suggestions for the group to get in touch via our Facebook page, Scraptoft Eco Group | Leicester | Facebook , or All Saints Scraptoft – The Church of England in Scraptoft Parish (scraptoftchurch.org.uk)
The group get together most months, the next meeting being January 22, at 6pm in All Saints Church, Scraptoft, and all are welcome to attend.
If your church or worshipping community would like to start an eco club, there is help available.
The Diocesan Environment Group (DEG) meets roughly five times a year and works as a channel of communication between parishes and those working to safeguard creation, particularly working on the Eco-diocese target, planning events and sharing information. It seeks to be an encouraging and empowering group of people passionate about God and planet! Find out more here.
Could your church be working towards becoming an Eco Church? Visit: https://ecochurch.arocha.org.uk/
Andrew Quigley is our Environmental Officer and can be contacted about the DEG or advice on Eco Church activities on: T: 0116 254 4113 email@example.com