Eco Church

 Church yard

 Eco church

In April 2019 St Laurence's registered with Eco Church, a helpful project run by A Rocha UK to help churches become more environmentally aware and to care more efficiently for God's amazing creation. Once registered, churches are facilitated to work through five key areas of church life: Buildings, land, worship, community and lifestyle.

In our first meeting we were really encouraged to discover that due to the efforts of many people over the years, it seemed that St Laurence's might have already reached Bronze award level overall, and indeed Silver in some of the categories. Various measurements and assumptions were then double-checked - re buildings, heating etc. The Churchwardens checked the survey and agreed with the results and made an application for Bronze award. This duly arrived and was presented by our Rector, Steve, in July 2019. In September 2019, the PCC agreed that Eco Church should become a regular item on PCC agenda and that our services would include quarterly prayers for Eco Church/A Rocha,

A Lent eco-challenge - focusing on lifestyle - was agreed and carefully assembled. This was introduced across all three churches of the Parish at the beginning of Lent, together with the assistance of Eeyore (our friendly Eco donkey and mascot). Our Rector, Steve, and others encouraged people to respond to these challenges and Mike Bourke led a very helpful session on measuring our Carbon Footprints. Alas, all our planning was cut short due to lockdown and the full survey results could not be collated at the end of Lent. However, progress has gently continued during the pandemic. All three churches of our Parish are now signed up as Eco Churches following the launch of Hereford as an Eco Diocese in September 2019. All Saints was delighted to reach Bronze award in October 2019, and St Michael's is close behind, with the benefit of their wonderful biodiverse churchyard. 

St Laurence's has continued its progress, for example: services focusing on environmental issues at least annually; quarterly meetings of "Messy Church Outdoors" in 2019 were very favourably received by youngsters and parents (and will continue when possible!); and regular eco tips now appear in our weekly contact sheet. This progress has been recognised when in November 2020 St Laurence's was delighted to achieve the Eco Church Silver Award level (the second Anglican church in the Diocese). Hereford Cathedral was also excited to announce they have reached Silver level too - a wonderful example for churches around the Diocese.

In November 2020, the Diocese hosted an online Eco Church conference introduced by Bishop Richard with Andy Atkins from Eco Church as an inspiring keynote speaker. It was a real encouragement to the 90 participants - including several from our Parish - and others who have listened since.

To achieve the Eco Church Gold level is challenging. With solar panels installed many years ago on the Parish Centre, St Laurence's is now considering how to move further towards using more green energy. In such a rural area reducing car use is difficult to promote, but we benefit from a local group which has a Carbon footprinting tool which we are encouraging our church members to use. Thus, we will all be able to review and reflect on our impact on the planet which we trust will lead to lifestyle changes, and so demonstrate our commitment to caring for God's wonderful creation.