A District Climate Emergency Fund to invest in churches

03 November 2023

The Manchester and Stockport Methodist District has recently started a District Climate Emergency Fund to help churches on their path to net zero.

The idea sprouted from the monthly discussion of the district climate group. Following Action for Hope, the Methodist Church's long-term plan, the district aims to become Net Zero by 2030. One of the objectives is to promote action to address responsibilities for the climate emergency. “We'd like to encourage more churches to consider how they can take practical action in caring for the environment, both locally and globally,” says Deacon John Brobbey, Mission Enabler and Social Justice Officer.

The group offers biblical worship at climate emergency workshops and participates in the Our Faith, Our Planet annual conference, an interfaith conference about climate change. Richard Baker, a member of the group, is also involved with GM Faith, an initiative encouraging the installation of social panels in the Manchester area.

When the district sold a property, they used about a third of the proceeds to help churches reduce their carbon footprint. Instead of simply giving grants to the churches, they chose to loan the money. This means that successful churches will be required to give back part of the proceeds they achieve from the savings to the District Climate Emergency Fund. This money will then be invested in other churches. “This approach aims to ensure that the funds have a lasting impact,” says Richard Baker.

And the first step is getting an energy audit done, which the Climate Fund will pay for. “Then we will decide how, whether and how much of the climate fund they can make a claim on in order to do that,” adds Richard Baker.

The district is also aware of financial and social disparities between circuits and even between churches. “There are a number of churches that can afford to take the risks, but there are less well-off churches that will need support to go down the Eco Church route,” says John.

In an ideal scenario, they wish to lend money to a church in every circuit of the district. However, one of the challenges faced, especially with solar panels, is finding a church that has long-term significance and potential for growth. With smaller churches, it can be challenging to justify such an investment.

To apply, go here and express your interest (the details of who the key person is, e-mail address and telephone number and which circuit they are part of). Richard then talks with the candidates to understand their needs and challenges.

“We genuinely believe we have the right scheme in place to support our churches and we hope that it will become a beacon throughout the district. We all have a responsibility to care and to protect God's precious gift,” concludes John.

The application for Churches in the Manchester and Stockport Methodist District  for the first round is 30 November 2023.