The EcoChurch journey - Hathersage, Derbyshire

31 August 2022

Tamsin Morris from Arocha UK which runs the EcoChurch scheme, shares the journey of a Methodist Church that recently gained a bronze award.

Hathersage Methodist Church in Derbyshire is one example of a small church that has used the EcoChurch scheme to help them with ideas and inspiration for environmental action.    

Hathersage is a village in the Peak District and many church members have long been involved in local conservation work and wildlife initiatives. Over more recent years the congregation has become increasingly concerned about the climate crisis. Conversations between church members and with other local churches led them to decide to sign up to the EcoChurch scheme as a way of getting some new ideas and giving focus to their efforts.  


The Hathersage Methodist Church garden team

Several church members got together to form an EcoChurch Steering group to lead this work. They decided from the beginning that they needed to find ways to involve the whole church and the wider community in this journey. Steering group member Dave Fisher said, "The great thing about EcoChurch is that there is something for everyone. Some of our congregation are passionate about campaigning and global change, others are more interested in local wildlife and biodiversity. Some are very focused on practical actions on the church premises, others are great at engaging the wider community. EcoChurch has given us a broad perspective on what we can do to cherish creation and help protect the planet."

This holistic approach to environmental action has been reflected in Hathersage Methodist Church’s journey so far. Some of the church’s actions have been about the church buildings and land: for example, changing all the light fittings on the premise to LED bulbs, and creating havens for wildlife on church land through birdboxes, bug-hotels and re-wilding. Other initiatives have been about engaging the community, such as hosting a regular Repair Café in the church hall, or launching a volunteer group to maintain the woodland garden next to the church. On the campaigning side the church helped to organise a local rally to coincide with the COP26 summit in Glasgow in 2021. The church has also been trying out ways to include care for creation in its worship, such as holding more services outdoors and including prayers for the environment in each Sunday service. 

The church was delighted to receive the EcoChurch Bronze Award in June 2022. They celebrated this in a special service where each person was given a sunflower seedling to take home and plant as a reminder of the wonder of nature, and our responsibility to nurture and protect it. The church has installed their EcoChurch plaque by the church entrance as a public sign of their commitment to further action. This Bronze Award has given a boost of motivation and the church is now drawing up plans to radically improve energy efficiency on the premises and to generate some of their own energy through solar panels or heat pumps.  


Celebrating their EcoChurch award with sunflower seedlings for the congregation

Is your church registered with EcoChurch? Why not consider this as part of your response to Creationtide this year.