St Paul’s Marylebone Eco Church Journey
Photos in gallery above: 1&2) Raise the Roof, 2019 3) Community litter pick, 2018 4) Kayaking on the Regent’s Canal for the ‘Let there be light!’ project, 2016 5) the small garden at St Paul’s (they are crowdfunding improvements)
Martin Carr describes the journey St Paul’s have been on to reach their Gold Eco Church Award.
Where does a journey start? When I talk about St Paul’s and Eco Church I like to start with a lightbulb! When the rector (Revd Clare) and I were both fairly new at St Paul’s, we noticed the bulbs in the chapel were halogens. Having heard of a new variety (LED) and keen to save money on electricity, we bought some and replaced them – they’re still there; they don’t seem to blow like the older types.
That was 2016, but soon we needed to replace the lighting in the main hall. Our ‘Let there be light!’ project helped us install a bespoke LED system which was low energy and flexible. Other lighting around the building followed (do you feel a theme emerging?).
By signing up to Eco Church in 2019, the PCC took a decision that we weren’t just dabbling in creation care – we were serious. We had the opportunity to integrate more material into our worship, invite appropriate speakers, and the children even formed a Climate Club. We formed links with our local school and community, and our flagship Foodcycle project, taking unwanted food to cook a healthy vegetarian meal for local people, went from strength to strength.
The roof needed work too, so we launched ‘Raise the Roof’ – our biggest fundraiser to date. Insulation and the addition of solar panels helped us towards becoming more sustainable, as well as watertight. And when we refurbished our toilets (that project was called Alle-loo-ia) we twinned them and reduced water use.
As the community became more enthused we achieved a bronze award, then quickly afterwards a silver. Nature walks, litter picks, film afternoons and events in the vicarage garden helped us stay close to God’s creation, even in an urban environment.
Though Covid slowed us down a bit, we pushed on, recycling more, using less, banishing single-use materials and sourcing sustainable cleaning and office supplies.
In 2022 we have included ‘Ecotips’ in our weekly newsletter and on our website, to help individuals think through the choices available in their own lives to help care for the Earth.
Being an Eco Church is now integrated into everything we do, and we are increasingly promoting our work to other local organisations and churches. We were delighted to receive the gold Eco Church award, and Bishop Sarah visited us on 12 June, alongside the Mayor of Westminster, local councillors, and representatives of the diocese and community to celebrate.
The gold award isn’t the end of our journey. We’re crowdfunding to improve our small garden and make it more biodiverse, and in the future we’ll try to store energy produced on sunny days for use at other times, and eventually move away from gas heating to a more sustainable solution.
There are challenges in becoming an Eco Church, but also huge rewards, and you can have fun along the way, seizing the opportunity to celebrate all that’s good about God’s gift in creation.
We hope other churches will follow our example by signing up, doing the survey, and beginning to take action. And of course, if anyone needs any advice we would be happy to talk to you!
Martin Carr, Operations and Finance Manager, St Paul’s Marylebone, June 2022
To find our more about Eco Church and how to register your church please visit the A Rocha website.