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Eco-Church Blog

Spring on its way!

The church fell silent again after worship on Christmas Day and has not opened since as we wind our way through Lockdown 3.  But on Saturday 6th March we will be meeting to receive donations for the Food Bank and will take the opportunity to scatter wild flower seeds in our wild garden.

Meanwhile, members have been getting out for walks, in the whole range of winter weather, snow, ice, wind, rain - and sunshine, and are beginning to see the signs of spring in the natural world.

We have had to cut back some overgrown trees which were blocking light to the neighbours.  We made sure our gardener did this before bird nesting time.  We are encouraging members to make donations to the Woodland Trust or similar charities to help them plant more trees.


Autumn catch up!

After we struggled through the difficult days of spring and summer, we now face autumn and winter with rising Covid cases.  Chesterfield moved into Tier 2, High Risk, today, 17th October.  Yet the seasons turn much as they always do although conditions are affected by climate change.  

There were very few people visiting the church between March and September, so not everyone will have seen the new wild flower section of the church garden in the long stretch down to the vestry window.  The grass in that section was unmown and a surprising array of flowers and grasses sprang up.  Over winter we will give it a helping hand with wild flower seeds scattered to provide an even better display and attraction for bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects next year.

Shortly the bird feeders will be filled up and fat balls put out to help the birds through the winter.

The virus has demonstrated with ruthless efficiency how dangerous it is to ignore the natural world.  Every small action we can take helps but we need the world's governments to take seriously the need to protect the natural world and address climate change.  Ravaged economies can be turned around by investment in green industries and technology.  Let us not give up on our campaigning and our prayers.


Eco-Church in the time of coronavirus April 2020

During February the coronavirus pandemic started to make itself felt in the UK and we soon had to take some tough decisions.  After Sunday worship on 15th March we cancelled all services and meetings for the time being.  During the week we contacted all hall user groups; most of them had already decided to stop meeting and we asked the few outstanding groups to cancel their meetings so we could comply with government guidance and close the premises.  So now the whole building stands locked up.  But the garden is coming to life, with magnolia trees in bloom, bees beginning to investigate the opening flowers and birds raiding the seed holders and investigating the new nesting boxes.

As the building is not in use, we are not consuming gas, electricity or water so the carbon footprint of the premises is dropping.  People are not driving to church or to group meetings, so the carbon footprint of the members of our user groups is also reducing.  In the wider world, we read that pollution in our towns and cities has reduced dramatically, so too has noise pollution from traffic, and the massive reduction in air travel has led to clearer skies.  

Ecologists are warning us that our global consumer lifestyle is in part to blame for the rise in diseases crossing from animals to humans and circulating rapidly through populations.  It is more than time for us to reflect with humility on the destructive habits of humanity and the disruption we cause to the delicate balance of the ecosystem.  As Christians, as we face up to the biggest challenge of our generation, we are called to repent and  start again.  Being an Eco-Church challenges us anew


Eco-Church Silver Award February 2020

St Andrew's achieved its Silver Eco-Church Award towards the end of 2019.  The plaque and certificate are now framed and displayed in the church.  We committed ourselves to keeping up our commitment and even working towards a gold Award. 


A Short Prayer  January 2020

Lord God

We are finding out that this planet and its elements 

are held in a balance which is more complex than we ever thought possible.

Forgive us, Lord, for our pride

in thinking that we can control this world that you created

without consulting you.

In Jesus' name, Amen

John Bazlinton, from 'Prayers for a Fragile World', compiled by Carol Watson  Lion Children's Books


Thoughts for our life style - December 2019

As a silver level Eco-Church, we should be looking at ways to reduce our carbon footprint both at Church and in our daily lives.

During the damp and cold days of winter, we should be setting our heating thermostats to avoid heat waste....and wear an extra jumper or a rug over your knee when sitting watching television!  Turn appliances and lights off when they are not in use.  Use your smart meter to check your electricity use.   

Leave your garden alone through winter - those untidy bushes and lank plants are a haven for bugs and birds.  Plan where to create a wild garden in 2020.

If you can, try to buy locally supplied food to save on air miles and other excessive transport costs. Look for fairly traded goods which help local suppliers and address the impact of climate change.

Buy trees for planting. For example you can make a donation to the Woodland Trust, which has planted 43 million trees since 1972 (the life-time of the United Reformed Church).  Yorkshire Tea has a scheme with Kenyan  producers and have planted 2.5 million trees, twice as many as they originally planned.

A New Year's Resolution?  Make at least one change to your life style by the end of January which will benefit the environment.


General Election promises? - November 2019

When we consider how to cast our vote on 12th December, do we think about the parties' policies on climate change?  Devastating floods swept through the Midlands and South Yorkshire during November, not least in Derbyshire, brought by unprecedented rainfall bringing water pouring off the moors into rivers unable contain the flow.  It is more than time to recognise what scientists have been telling us with increasing urgency, climate change is here, now, and we are called to respond.  

The URC Trust and the Pension Fund have accepted the call from Mission Council to remove investments from fossil fuels and several Synods have taken the same decision.  The East Midlands Synod has accepted a draft environmental policy and all its churches are asked to consider it in church meetings and send their ideas to the team working on it with a view to adopting it as Synod Policy in March 2020.

Meanwhile, a General Election looms.  What are your candidates saying about climate change?  Will that affect your vote?

Eco-friendly products - September 2019

Our friends from Holymoorside discovered an Eco-stall in the market when they stopped in Skipton on their way to a holiday in the Lake District.  "We found this amazing Eco-stall where we could refill your bottles with shampoo, washing up liquids etc.  Also on sale were eco-friendly items e.g. plastic free wipes for children and make up, bamboo toothbrushes and non-plastic deodorant. When can we have a stall like this on Chesterfield market?"

At St Andrew's we are committed to using eco-friendly cleaning products and buying them in quantity to re-fill bottles of washing up liquid, hand soap, floor cleaning products etc. Thanks to LIz for organising this.  Some of us have made a commitment to doing this at home too.  Ecover has been producing eco-friendly cleaning products for decades, they are now becoming mainstream and are being joined other brands, such as Ecoleaf, and own-brand products produced by the major supermarkets.  After blenching at the cost of a small bottle of Ecover washing up liquid (twice that of ordinary brands) in my local Co-op, I'm definitely going to look out for  bulk supplies!


Introduction - August 2019

St Andrew's registered for the Eco-Church award scheme two years ago and at the time there were some significant gaps in our responses to the five sections of the environmental survey.  Since then we have made marked improvements to the insulation, heating and lighting of the premises.  We have taken steps to encourage all our user groups to recycle paper, card and glass.  We regularly share ideas on ways we can address climate change and improve the environment in worship and in children's activities.  We use Fairtrade tea and coffee and we support organisations engaged in addressing the effects of climate change in various parts of the world, such as Christian Aid. St Andrew's Ramblers get people out and about in the countryside.  Members of the congregation belong to various organisations such as the RSPB and the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust.  This month by planting a tree, hanging up a bird feeder, protecting nesting birds, and growing plants which attract bees and butterflies we are starting to make our garden more wildlife friendly.  We plan to reach out to other local groups addressing the same issues.

In our church newsletter and on the website we will provide 'Eco-tips' and provide updates on our work to achieve an Eco-Church Award.