Eco-Congregation inspires green mission in churches and local communities

Project 'Eco-Congregation' continues to help churches and theirlocal communities go green. Control of the initiative passed fromEnvironmental Campaigns (ENCAMS) to the Arthur Rank Centre earlierthis month.

Methodist churches around the country have embraced a projectthat encourages them to focus on the environment and take action intheir buildings, churchyards, worship and community groups:

Evesham Methodist Church in Worcestershire was the first churchin the country to receive the eco-congregation award, and theycontinue to set an example through strict recycling practises.Their 'Green Apostle', Graham Gooderham, explained one of theirmost wacky initiatives: "We even recycle broken biscuits that getdropped on the floor at our twice weekly toddlers group - as weoverlook the river Avon, they go to feed the ducks and swans."

Saffron Walden Methodist Church in Essex is another proudeco-congregation. Green Apostle Jean Wheeler: "Working for theaward made the congregation much more aware of the need to conservethe resources the Lord has given us and to consider how our way oflife can affect people in other parts of the world and ingenerations to come.

The new 'computer mountain' has been in the news lately, butthere is no problem in Saffron Walden. Mrs Wheeler again: "Unwantedcomputers are taken to 'Interact', an Essex based charity whichsupports established and registered training centres and selectedNGO's in many African countries with computer equipment. Through our re-cycling scheme, two or three computers are taken to'Interact' each month."

On receiving the eco-congregation award, Selly Oak MethodistChurch in Birmingham were especially commended for rooting theenvironment ministry in worship. Their Green Apostle Prof DavidEdden: "Some of our initiatives are relatively small, but manysmall projects add up to something much bigger. More significantly,we sense that through our environmental initiatives we haveencouraged our members and some people in the neighbourhood tothink about caring for the environment in all their lifestyledecisions."

Steve Hucklesby, Secretary for International Affairs at TheMethodist Church, said: "The ECO-Congregation programme provides awealth of well-produced materials aimed at various groups within achurch to inspire young and old, ordained and lay.  As well astaking action in the management of resources, the churches involvedhave encouraged members to think through their own personallifestyles and initiated projects in the widercommunity." 

The Methodist Church believes that mission includes 'caring forthe earth', and an objective of the Methodist Church EnvironmentPolicy, says Ruby Beech, Co-ordinating Secretary for Human andFinancial Resources, is to "encourage us to take seriously ourresponsibility as co-partners in the on-going creative and renewingactivity of God."

Funding from the Methodist Relief and Development Fund will nowhelp the Arthur Rank Centre carry the work forward, with guidance,modular resources and an award scheme to help participatingchurches.


Eco-Congregation was developed from a PilotStudy involving churches from across Britain and Ireland anddedicated in a service at St Paul's Cathedral in September2000.

The Arthur Rank Centre, a collaborative unit supported by theRoyal Agricultural Society of England, the National Churches andthe Rank Foundation serving the rural community and itschurches.

19 out of the 61 churches registering for the Eco-congregationaward in 2002/3 were

Methodist churches, and 5 out of the 57 churches registering in2003/4 were Methodist. 7 out of the 36 churches which have achievedthe Eco-congregation award are Methodist churches.