Just because our church has been closed that hasn’t stopped us from looking at how we maintain our church and make it accessible to everyone.

We decided to enrol in the Eco Church (the A Rocha UK project) and signed in to the unique online Eco Survey.  This looks at how we are caring for God’s earth in different areas of the life and work of our church. The survey took into account whether or not our church had buildings or land, and things such as whether we served Fairtrade tea and coffee for refreshments; whether we had a wildflower area, bird boxes; whether we had bats; how green we were; whether we had signs to switch of lights when not in use and many other questions.

The survey itself took us through five key areas of church life:

  • Worship and teaching
  • Management of church buildings
  • Management of church land
  • Community and global engagement
  • Lifestyle

Having completed all the questions we were absolutely delighted to find out that we had obtained a Silver Eco Church Award.  Once this had been confirmed we received a certificate that we have framed and put up in the porch of St Mary’s Church.

We then decided to register as a Fairtrade Church as we used Fairtrade tea, coffee and sugar for refreshments at the end of services.  The questionnaire was completed and lo and behold we found out that St Mary’s qualified as a Fairtrade Church.  Another certificate arrived and that too has been framed and put up in church.

Finally, we decided to see whether we were an animal friendly church so we decided to log into the Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals.  The questionnaire asked a variety of different things including whether we had a wild area in church for hedgehogs and other animals and birds; whether we ever had Pet Services; whether we provided prayers for pets that had passed away (this is done at Collective Worship in school); whether we had a water bowl out for visiting dogs and a number of other questions.  The answer came back as ‘yes’ we could be classed as an animal friendly church and a few days later a framed certificate arrived.

Rather than sitting worrying and being frustrated by the lockdown we decided to try and cheer ourselves up and give St Mary’s a pat on the back.  Well we have certainly done that and we can be very proud of all the things that St Mary’s is doing to care for God’s creation and our wonderful church building.