Genesis, the first book of the Bible describes how God created the earth and everything in it and how he said it was very good. It also reports how God commanded humankind to be stewards of the earth, not to plunder it, but to tend it for the benefit of future generations.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (an independent board of over 1000 scientists) warns we have fewer than 11 years to drastically alter our path and reduce carbon emissions before it will be too late to avoid catastrophic climate change. And as Christians, we are driven to urgent action by our love for our neighbour, for our world, and for our creator God.
On Saturday 16th November Bristol Diocesan Synod, meeting at the Deanery C of E Academy in Wichelstowe, declared a climate emergency and became the first in the UK to commit to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2030 (20 years earlier than the aim of the national church). This ground-breaking announcement comes as the wider world seems to be waking up to the severity of the climate crisis. At the same time it agreed a Environment and Climate Justice Policy .
But this is not just about jumping on a band wagon. The Diocesan Synod also agreed an implementation plan.
As a Parish within the Diocese of Bristol, Wroughton and Wichelstowe has registered with the Eco-Church Scheme run by the Christian environmental charity A Rocha. We have used this to undertake an audit of our own environmental credentials. As a result of this in December 2019 we were awarded the Eco-Church Bronze award and in May 2022 we were awarded the Eco-Church Silver award. The Parochial Church Council has now set ourselves the task of working towards the more challenging Gold award.
We are already a Fair Trade Church, we buy our electricity from an electricity supplier who supplies 100% renewable electricity, we have undertaken some improvements to reduce the amount of energy used in heating our buildings, we compost waste from the churchyard, we have cycle racks at both the church and the church hall, and we use real crockery rather than disposables.
In September 2021 our Church Hall roof had solar photovoltaic slates added, to generate carbon free solar energy – see our storyboard for further information on this initiative: Church Hall Solar Panels Storyboard. This was partly funded by a grant from the Wiltshire Community Foundation.
Our plans for 2022 include further changes to our buildings to reduce our energy consumption and looking at how we manage the churchyard. However, the church is not a set of buildings, but a community of believers and we must also look at how we change the way we live our lives to tread more lightly on the earth.