Salisbury Methodist Church: Together for Climate Justice

15 June 2023

About 12 years ago, Salisbury Methodist Church was one of the first churches to install solar panels. Since then, the church, its ministers and its congregation have shared a longstanding commitment to Climate Justice, working towards their Eco Church Silver Award. 

“There was a perception that we could not achieve this, but all it took was finding some imagination in the life of the church,” says Revd Dr Mark Cheetham, Superintendent Minister of the Salisbury Circuit and Minister at Salisbury Methodist Church. The solar panels have now more than paid for themselves and are instrumental in lowering the church’s electricity bill. “That was a start, so the congregation wondered, what else can we do?” adds Mark Cheetham.  

Since this promising beginning, the congregation has worked to become greener with projects big and small, including the installation of an air source heat hump along with a boiler upgrade this summer. “We would have preferred to install two or three heat pumps and no gas boilers, but in the real world, there is a trade-off between efficiency versus the amount of electricity used to run the pump which is higher than normal,” says Mark Cheetham.

The pumps and the boilers are still the most efficient that can be found on the market. The pump will ensure that the church is properly heated over the winter, the boiler helping when the temperatures will be too low. These improvements are a big step toward becoming a Silver Award Eco Church. 

Salisbury Methodist Church is a listed building which means it has several challenges. The roof in the sanctuary is a single-span roof, it is thin, and it would be a struggle to insulate it. The beautiful stained-glass windows are a heat loss issue, they could be triple glazed, but it would never bring the building to carbon neutral. “This building won't get to carbon neutral, it's not possible, but we can get close to it,” adds Mark Cheetham. 

In the future, they hope to add a second SOC pump, but before that, they would like to install batteries for the solar panels, so the excess electricity produced is sold back to the grid... The aim is to store 100% of the solar energy to mitigate against the extra electricity needed for the SOC pumps.  

Among the small initiatives by the church and its congregation are cycling to church instead of driving, having online meetings and installing recycling stations on the church premises. Some members of our congregation advocate for the climate in the Exchange, the centre for business and commerce in the city, during their monthly gathering.

They talk about green initiatives and question the organisations that do not appear to be green. “As a church, we are really proud of what we’ve done what we are trying to achieve and where we are going,” says Mark Cheetham.