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Renewing Hope: Church Buildings and the Environment

by Michael Ford last modified 02 Oct, 2018 11:35 AM

For the first time ever, a national conference of 180 delegates from Church of England Diocesan Advisory Committees* has been joined by Environmental Officers. Though based in Salisbury, there were visits elsewhere.

Renewing Hope: Church Buildings and the Environment

L-R David Morgan, Bishop Nicholas, Rachel Knight, David Shreeve. Photo Michael Ford

On the second day, DAC delegates travelled to Blandford Parish Church to hear from the Rector, Canon Jonathan Triffitt, and Church Architect Marcus Chantry about the aims to make the Church in the Market Place a centre of mission and hospitality for the whole town.

At Milton on Stour, Canon Peter Greenwood showcased an extraordinary transformation in the church building, to make a place where an encounter with God was open to all.

Back in Salisbury, a lunch was provided in the church extension at St Francis’ Church. Project manager Colin Reed and the Revd Matt Levinsohn outlined the project and the difference this has made to mission and ministry to the wider community.

The afternoon brought together the national meeting of the Diocesan Environmental Officers with the DAC Conference for a shared agenda entitled ‘Renewing Hope – Buildings and the Environment’.

The Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury and Lead Bishop on the Environment, welcomed everyone, and reminded delegates of the reality of global warming.

He said, “What took a billion years to lay down fossil fuels has been consumed in the past 250 years. Many species have been eliminated from our biosphere through our lack of care of the environment. It is a failure of one of our Marks of Mission as the Church of England, if we do not embrace tending to God’s creation as a gift to us, and those who will come after us.”

Bishop Nicholas continued, “As Christians we bring three key things to the ongoing debate and action to preserve our balance in nature.

“Spirituality, connecting our belief with our action. Both politicians and scientists are looking to the Churches for support and democratic legitimacy.

“Morality, recognising the impact of climate change on the health and wellbeing of all humanity. 2018 is the hottest year on record, causing spontaneous wildfires and an increased number of deaths, together with an impact generally on the poorest in global terms.

“Thirdly, we bring faith, hope and love. As people of faith we should be standing at the centre of this work. We are people who are about the truth and are expect to be judged by the truth. As a Church nationally and locally, we need to understand how our financial assets can make a difference to the companies we invest in. How we use our finances to support a sustainable ecosystem for the good of all. People do not respond to climate change out of fear but for the love of our children, our neighbours, this fragile earth.”

The Bishop concluded by reminding everyone that “The Diocese of Salisbury encourages all parishes and communities to consider three questions: What do you Pray for? Whom do you Serve? And how will you Grow? If we make time for these questions, then our answers should offer us a considerable amount of renewable energy!”

Other speakers included Environmental Policy Officer Ruth Knight, outlining some principles for policies and support for environmentally sustainable churches and the Cloudesley Trust’s Catherine Ross, who gave helpful processes for obtaining grants to reduce energy consumption in churches.

Lisa McIntyre and Jemima Parker from the Diocese of Leeds shared how close cooperation between DACs and Diocesan Environmental Committees can bring greater support and encouragement for parishes seeking make their church buildings fit for mission, whilst reducing costs and impact on the environment.

Twitter: #DAC2018 #DACconf2018

*DACs assist parishes with the care of churches across England, whether in conservation work, maintenance or innovative updates.

There are examples on the ChurchCare ‘Shrinking the Footprint’ page:

The Salisbury DAC gives annual DAC Awards to celebrate excellence and innovation.

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