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Eco-Congregation Award

St Mary's Church, Easington in County Durham will be presented with their Eco-Congregation Award on 2nd February 2003 at 9.15 at the Sunday Family Service by botanist and wildlife guru David Bellamy.

The people in the church, especially the young people, have carried out many activities. The Brownies, Guides, Rainbows, Junior Church and Local C of E School children have been involved. The activities include:

Expeditions to the sea shore and rock pools to learn more about different types of environment.

Building bird feeders (the Junior Church) and bird boxes (the Guides) and put them in the church yard

Finding ways to make the churchyard more wildlife friendly such as having log-piles (this is good for fungi and insects and thus good for birds)

An area has been left for the grass to grow in summer. The churchyard is on magnesian limestone which can have a very special flora.

The church contacted the Durham Wildlife Churchyard Group (part of the Durham Wildlife Trust) who gave them helpful suggestions. One of them is to plant some shrubs, especially honeysuckle in the churchyard which will be good for insects in summer and the berries will be good for birds later on.

The children took home questionnaires so that they could carry out energy use surveys.

They planted bulbs both in the churchyard and for elderly residents nearby.

The young people collected aluminium cans.

They collected other goods and had a table top sale, which raised money for the bulbs.

The local C of E primary school performed a play about Caring for the Environment.

The church was pleased to have the support of the Easington Local Agenda21 officer and lady from Easington Parish Council who found them a grant for the can crusher. and to have the support of some people in North East Churches Earthcares Group.

One of the organisers had borrowed the Christian Ecology Link posters/charts in July 2001 which she took and put up at meeting of a group of the leaders of the different groups when the church was beginning to plan the activities 18 months ago. She said they have used some of the CEL material in services.

The Eco-Congregation Process has a set of 12 modules, and churches entering Eco-Congregation are encouraged to use the introductory module and then chose three others. St Mary's chose the module on Worship and the module for Children, and the module for Teenagers.

When asked what advice she would give to other church groups thinking of starting the process the organiser said:
    "Don't be afraid to take it slowly. Don't expect an immediate response from everyone. It gradually develops, it slowly gathers momentum.

    It is important to build a small enthusiastic planning group - I have had to work on that.

    But over the past year other people have joined in and added to the enthusiasm and activities.

    We couldn't take on a huge project. We have involved the young people. It's their world tomorrow, isn't it?"

Eco-Congregation does not just stop with the award. The church members will continue with their interest in looking after the environment, and apply for the award again in three years time. They plan to use some of CEL's Operation Noah material (on climate change) later this spring

Copyright © 2003-2007 Christian Ecology Link and Judith Allinson     email: CEL
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