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Small steps, big vision

Hi! My name is Lucy and I lead the Eco Team at The King’s Church Mid Sussex. For us, it all started with a cup of tea…

At The King’s Church, our leadership team has always been on board with caring for creation but, in the busyness of church life, we hadn’t had the capacity to take action.

So, knowing I was a bit of an eco warrior, one of the elders invited me to speak at a church staff day. I was able to share some of what the Bible says about creation, and why it is part of God’s calling for us to protect the planet he has gifted to us.

A few months later, in 2019, we did a preaching series called ‘God cares’ which included a sermon titled ‘God cares for the planet’.

Now, being a UK church who love tea and biscuits, the refreshment time after our Sunday services is, of course, a very important part of church life! So we decided to use this ‘God cares for the planet’ Sunday to launch our response to caring for creation. For us, the first step was switching from using disposable cups on Sunday mornings to reusable cups.

The church bought every member a recycled plastic reusable cup, and these were then given out after the service. It was a great way to give people a practical next step, and powerful to see the investment the church had made in buying the cups. It sent a statement that caring for creation matters to God, and it matters to us as a church!

After chatting more with the leadership team, we then declared a climate emergency, hosting a meeting with our church members to let them know what our commitments in caring for creation were and why we’d made them. Initially we decided that we wanted to:

  1. hold at least one annual teaching on climate change/creation care across church platforms (main service, youth and kids’ works, small groups)

  2. achieve our Bronze Eco Church award

  3. reduce our carbon footprint, both as a church building and as individual congregation members.

Knowing I definitely couldn’t achieve this alone, the next key step was building a team. I recruited a few core members to take ownership of each key aspect of the Eco Church award structure: lifestyle, building, land, community and global engagement, and worship and teaching. We meet once a month to chat, share and look at how we can holistically help the church engage with creation care. And eat cake, because that’s important too!

Together, with the church, we have been able to take some really exciting steps forward. We’ve set up an Eco Church page on our website, planted trees on some of our land and installed three bike-rack planters outside the building to create a space for wildlife and green travel.

Alongside this, we hosted a Climate Sunday in the run-up to COP26 climate conference and had a prayer focus around COP27. We’ve also run events like nature walks and clothes swaps.

We also try to regularly post on our church social media accounts about creation care. For example, in 2022 we created an ‘Ethical Christmas guide’ with tips from the congregation and Eco Team.

What are the challenges? Do you have any advice?

The first challenge we faced was knowing where to start! Climate change can often feel like an overwhelming issue, with so much action that needs to be taken. Some of the best advice I can give is: just take a step. It doesn't have to be anything huge, but once you have taken that first step, you can then begin to build and grow from there.

Another challenge was capacity. It really is true that teamwork makes the dream work! Getting a good team together is key to making a sustainable plan on how your church can take action on climate change. I would also say, if you can, get your church leader and church staff on side. Having their support makes a huge difference (and everything a lot easier!)

Something I’ve learnt along the way is that having a framework is also really helpful. We have used the Eco Church scheme and Climate Emergency Toolkit, which has given us a structure to follow and goals to aim for. Having goals also means you can celebrate them when they are reached. For example, this year we celebrated with the church after getting our Bronze Eco Award. We bought party hats and everything!

Hopes for the future

Going forward, I am really excited to see what we are doing grow and flourish. My dream is that, as a congregation, we will see caring for creation as a core part of our faith rather than an additional extra. It’s been so encouraging to see this shift start to happen already.

I am also excited to see how our church – which is part of New Frontiers – can help influence our wider network around climate change.

Lastly, I would love to build more partnerships with the local community and other churches. Our work to care for creation is a wonderful opportunity to reach out and share that God’s gospel is not only good news for us personally, but also for the whole of creation!

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