Caring churches achieve EcoCongregation Award

The commitment of Church of Scotland parishioners to caring for their planet has been recognised with a national award.

Buchlyvie Parish Church linked with Gartmore Parish Church in West Stirlingshire has received a Bronze Award from EcoCongregation Scotland after meeting, or taking considerable steps towards achieving, 11 criteria aimed at minimising any environmental impact.

Buchlyvie and Gartmore minister Rev Scott Brown joins church members Tricia Cumming and Carol Irvine on the EcoCongregation stall at Gartmore's gala day.

Assessors from EcoCongregation Scotland, an environmental charity which works with churches across Scotland's denominations to provide support and practical guidance on how the Christian community can play a part in combatting climate change, were particularly impressed by the way the Buchlyvie and Gartmore congregations had woven care for creation into the life of both churches.

This saw the congregations set up recycling schemes with a particular focus on dealing with hard to recycle products, support Fairtrade and other fairly traded products, and develop links with local schools, including supporting a twinning initiative with a school in Africa.

Both church buildings have noticeboards dedicated to sharing ideas and tips on environmental matters with members also contributing articles on these topics to local community newsletters and newspapers.

Services at the two kirks have also seen a special focus on care for creation, especially at Creationtide and harvest and in the lead up to the United Nations COP26 climate emergency conference in Glasgow last November.

Eco-faith garden is open to all

Tackling the toilet roll tower challenge as EcoCongregation supporters find a fun way to get the sustainability message across.

Members of the congregations are invited to consider their own use of resources and energy in their homes and a Christmas tree festival challenged village organisations to decorate their trees using items from their homes and led to further events focussed on reducing waste.

Gartmore Church has developed part of the church grounds into an eco-faith garden, providing a welcome space for the community and congregation to socialise. A similar eco-garden is planned for Buchlyvie Church.

Church looks ahead to next challenge

Having achieved Bronze Award status, the two congregations are now looking towards the challenge of achieving Silver.
Buchlyvie and Gartmore minister Rev Scott Brown said: "It's been amazing to observe my two congregations on their eco journey over the past few years.

"From low energy lighting, to buying green energy, to recycling, to seeing care of the planet as one of the core aims of who we are as the people of God. We don't think we are far away from the Silver award, so watch this space!"

To find out more about EcoCongregation Scotland and how to apply for an award, please visit the EcoCongregation Scotland website.