Lots of churches had to find new ways of doing things during the various Covid lockdowns, and Avenue St Andrew's United Reformed Church in Southampton is a great example of this. They started a virtual ‘Green Living Group’, choosing to study the Dorset Green Living Guide to look at their individual carbon footprints relating to food, energy, transport, waste, water and community. At first they thought they might wrap it up by July 2020, but then ran another course based on the Sustainable Dorset project for church members and also involving Roman Catholic and Methodist friends.
Gwen from the Green Living group takes up the story: ‘By January 2021 we were looking for a framework going beyond personal responses to steer our efforts during the year leading up to COP26. The Climate Emergency Toolkit looked promising, and we did indeed find it useful as we worked towards a wider involvement from our church.’
In October 2021, the church discussed and adopted a Climate Emergency Declaration – which you can see on their website. Their declaration also links to a detailed action plan with specific goals and desired timeframes. It includes a number of practical outworkings for the church, from greening the church courtyard to displaying a banner (see picture) outside the church to encourage others to act on climate too.
Gwen explained, ‘The banner on our building is on a busy main road with traffic lights, a pedestrian crossing and a bus stop outside, so we hope the message will get through! And the very same banner is displayed outside St Edmund's Roman Catholic Church just down the road – a demonstration of Christian unity in our mission to become better stewards of God's creation.’