How two churches in Fazakerley declared a climate emergency

First published on: 20th May 2022

Image of the Fazakerely climate team

The Fazakerley Parish is home to St Paul's and Emmanuel Bronze Eco Churches. The churches work as one in many ways including their commitment to climate action – they are the only parish in the Diocese to have declared a climate emergency and are in the first cohort of churches making a commitment to become net-zero carbon by 2030. Net Zero Carbon 2030 and Eco Church is a project delivered by the Diocese of Liverpool in partnership with Faiths4Change and supported by the Benefact Trust.

 

The Journey so Far

To begin with, the parish was moved to action by the global school strikes, with one of the families attending the school strikes in 2019 in Liverpool and London. Recognising there was much that could be done locally to respond to climate change as loving neighbours, members of the congregation got involved in establishing the Fazakerley Wombles supporting regular clean ups in their neighbourhoods, made contact with their local MP Dan Carden, and attended Christian Aid webinars.

What became clear was that climate change and the environment were not just about local impact, but the global impacts such as displacement of people due to rising water levels and droughts, UK refuse ending up in Indian landfills. Eight members of the PCC attended the Faiths4Change Carbon Literacy training, and at that point they and other members of the churches decided to come together to consider their response to climate change holistically, meeting under a gazebo during lockdown to plan.

 

Net Zero Carbon and Eco Church in Action

Subsequently, members of this group began to energise the whole church community on this subject, including through worship and teaching, songs, and prayers. The parish held a Climate Emergency Service at Emmanuel church; different members of the congregations were involved, the MP’s Office Manager presented the Bronze Eco Awards and Annie from Faiths4Change presented the Carbon Literacy Accreditation certificates.  The parish declared a Climate Emergency, and one of the prayers that was used in the Climate Emergency Service is now used in Sunday services in both churches.

The parish has embedded climate action in the 5th Mark of Mission, ‘To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth’. This has been achieved through the development of worship and learning resources, and both churches have ensured that the Net Zero Carbon and Eco church are embedded in their church life, examples of this have been through recent study session around Lent, and each month there is an eco-challenge for the congregations, featured in Faz News – the parish newsletter – it’s also spoken about in church.  The monthly challenges are suggested & researched by the eco team.

 

Successes

Members of the Eco team feel that one of their greatest successes has been including issues relating to eco-church and climate change in the preaching and teaching at church, initially discussions were held about whether there should be one or two big services a year or drip-feed it into all the services, sermons, and notices. A final decision was made and each week it is included so that it becomes part of everyday life and mission.

Significant success is being able to reach out into the local community and connect with other groups, organisations, and residents who do not necessarily attend church.  The climate emergency service enabled the church to share its vison with the congregation and wider community, enabling them to develop links with others working on climate change and the environment. The Wombling group, in particular, has supported the development of networks within the wider community, which in turn is supporting the parish mission. It is through this community action that the parish is creating sustainable change in their neighbourhood.

 

Barriers to Moving Forward

The barrier that the parish faced in the early days was apathy, as not everyone embraced or understood the potential to act on climate change as being fundamental to what it means to be a Christian.  Working as a whole parish with monthly challenges, weekly prayers and teaching and feedback from active members of the congregations understanding and commitment is growing. People are looking for the next step to take.

 

The Future

As members of the PCC undertook the Carbon Literacy training there is positive support for achieving net-zero carbon and moving on in the eco church journey, reaching out to the local community in the process.  LED lighting, a detailed heating systems survey and a Green Christian ‘Joy in Enough’ economics course are just a few actions undertaken.  During Christian Aid Week, the focus for raising funds was a solution to farming with little / no water – the target set to reach £250.  The target has been smashed with the congregation giving an incredible £2000.  Practical solutions enable people to understand the challenges of the climate emergency, contribute to solutions as their Christian commitment to justice and hope. 

In the year ahead, the parish is undertaking a tree planting event at St Paul’s, aiming to reduce the energy footprint of the church hall and move toward becoming Silver Eco Churches.

 

Top Tips for Other Churches

  • Seeing the difference, you can make “Last year we exceeded our fundraising target for our Christian aid appeal about creating sustainable farming in Africa, and this thing worked well because people saw the practical impact of where the fundraising would help make a difference.”
  • Carbon Literacy Training “The Faiths4Change training was really useful; as it educated and  informed us as a PCC & group of people; we had space to plan what changes our parish  could make to have an impact.”
  • Don’t re-invent the wheel “There is all the information out there, it’s about identifying what you want to achieve then going out and finding resources. The Church of England has a lot of useful webinars you can use as a starting point.”

 

Links/Resources 

Read:  Jesus & The Earth by James Jones (opens in a new window)

 


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