St Barnabas’ Church
Clarksfield, Oldham

 

St Barnabas as an eco-Church

Eco-Church

St Barnabas is an eco-Church. Eco-Church awarded the Church its coveted Silver Award in March 2021 to recognise its commitment to ecology sustainability.

 

Marks of mission

The word ‘mission’ means seeking God’s will and then sharing it as a way of establishing the Kingdom of God. Jesus summarised the mission of the Church when he told us to love God with our whole heart, and to love our neighbours as ourselves. Loving God requires prayer, worship, adoration, the reading of scripture and so on. Many people, when they hear the word ‘Church,’ think first of these aspects of faith. Mission to our neighbours can take a large number of different forms, so the Church usefully collects them into five ‘marks’.

Our Church seeks to incorporate these marks into our life and ministry. We believe they are signs of our obedience to the Lord Jesus.

The fifth mark says, "To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth". This mark is written in terms of creation: to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth. The statement tells our Church to take environmentalism seriously because going against God’s mission for His Church is confounds His love. We need to show God that we value His creation: an obedient Church must be a green Church.

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Please click on the image to see the certificate

How the Eco-Church scheme works

Eco-Church is an A Rocha UK project, run in partnership with Christian Aid, The Church of England, The Methodist Church, Tearfund, The United Reformed Church and Allchurches Trust Limited. The scheme is described here.

Eco-Church gives awards at three levels: Bronze, Silver or Gold. Their rigorous assessment occurs via a detailed online questionnaire and subsequent discussion with the staff at Eco-Church. Churches are assessed under the five headings below.

Worship

As a Church, we always keep in mind the fifth mark of mission: it’s a visible demonstration of our discipleship. We often mention ecology in connection with working toward God's Kingdom, as well as a response to the unlimited love of God. For example, when we redesigned our liturgy in 2018, we took the opportunity to rewrite the litanies in our all-age worship services, which again stresses a response to God including creation. A tiny selection from out suite of services appears below.

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The printed service card

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Page from the rewritten litany of confession

Please click here to access the full service.

Worship now involves a large screen rather than paper-based resources, though printed service cards are available for the visually impaired.

Our published materials — especially our monthly magazine — contains environmental concerns and tips. We save paper by emailing most copies rather than publishing them on paper.

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Click here to see issue of our magazine from which these extracts come.

 

Pages from the August 2020 issue of our Church magazine.

 

We changed our banking to providers able to demonstrate their environmental credentials.

And it's a rare meeting of the Church Council that does not mention the environment.

Buildings

St Barnabas’ Church comprises a large complex of buildings, halls, and offices. Since 2011, much has been rebuilt, revamped, redesigned, reimagined at a cost of about £1/3 million.

For example, virtually every light in our complex of buildings is LED, and we have plans to change the remainder soon. We've replaced many ill-fitting doors and installed double-glassing everywhere we can — all except the worship space with its glorious stained-glass.

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And the huge and ironically named "Ideal" boiler was de-commissioned and replaced with three small, independent and modern house boilers. Each is efficient. Their use ensures that we can zone the heat, tailoring our needs and simultaneously decreasing our energy footprint. Side rooms are heatable with small electric panels.

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We heat the Church and hall with modern high-tech boilers, funded by Viridor Environmental-Credits.

Panorama of the new toilet block: fully insulated, with LED lights on a sensor, water meter, and modern materials.

All the building materials in our conversions have, of course, come from sustainable sources.

The Vicarage was showing its age a little, so has been upgraded with insulation, new efficient boiler, and LED lights absolutely everywhere.

More details

Eco-friendly lights in the Church and Hall: detail and images

Eco-friendly toilets in the Church: detail and images

Eco-friendly heating in the Church and Hall: detail and images

Eco-friendly food co-operative: detail and images

Land

St Barnabas’ Church possesses very little land. That minor area is located between the Church and Vicarage. Only a very small proportion is mown. The remainder is left entirely wild, with boxes and bird tables, and feeders. It also hosts our wide array of recycling facilities.

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The small Vicarage garden is also about two-third wild, with boxes and bug-friendly plants. Note the rotting log in the central image hosting an amazing display of fungi. The pile of twigs and branches is home to a wide of array of diverse wildlife such as field mice and bugs.

Community and global engagement

The Church runs a food co-operative that distributes nearly a tonne of food each week that would otherwise go into landfill. We converted a disused part of the hall to create a bespoke distribution space; we now feed up to 150 people a week. All members live locally and come from within our community.

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Panorama of the ambient food room: we distribute tins and jars, packets, frozen and chilled food, and fresh fruit and vegetables.

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Description automatically generatedWe distribute as much as a tonne of food a week. It would otherwise have gone into landfill.

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Description automatically generated with low confidenceOur bespoke suite of food rooms to accommodate our food co-operative

The fridge and freezer room.

Needless to say, our Church subscribes to Fairtrade products for everything: we host a Faretrade stall, use Faretrade products, etc.

And we collect regularly for third-world projects — most recently The Fairtrade Foundation, WaterAid and Christian Aid.

Lifestyle

We're a poor Church located in an extremely deprived part of a deprived town. That's why the eco-sponsors in the congregation mention ecology so often in notices and so on in the Church. Just before the first lockdown, we were planning to recycle more household items than can be accommodated in the Council's door-to-door collections: items such as aerosol cans, containers, crisp packets, etc.

And the food co-operative (above) helps defray costs and waste in an individual's homes, and hotwires into the congregation the essential ideals of reduce, re-use, recycle.

 

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Page posted 13 April 2021