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Eco-Congregation Program


Abstract Eco-Congregation is a joint project of the Environmental Issues Network of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland which helps Christian congregations in Britain and Ireland address environmental concerns on both spiritual and practical levels. Eco-Congregation is a free program that is flexible enough to suit the unique needs and situations of individual churches. Eco-Congregation provides information about specific ecological issues in the form of a set of twelve free Resource Modules for use in church life. The Modules are divided into four categories (Grounding in Faith, Managing in Faith, Growing in Faith, and Living in Faith), which are designed to help congregations integrate creation care into their worship, group activities, institutional management procedures, and personal lifestyles. Module one, "The Church Check-UP," is a basic environmental audit for churches that aims to help churches recognize and affirm their positive environmental practices and to prioritize future areas that need improvement. The other eleven modules are divided into three categories, "Growing in Faith and Understanding," "Putting God's House in Green Order," and "Changing Lives: Changing Communities, and are designed to help congregations integrate creation care into their worship, teaching, group activities, management procedures, community engagement, and personal lifestyles. Eco-Congregation supports participating congregations through workshops, an informational website, newsletter, and networking opportunities for connecting with local environmental groups and other Eco-Congregations. Eco-Congregation recognizes valuable creation-care work with its Eco-Congregation Award, which is given to churches that have completed the “Church Check-Up,” incorporated creation-care into their teaching and worship, undertaken practical environmental projects, and engaged with the local community around environmental issues. More than 250 churches from a wide variety of denominations are involved in the program. Accomplishments of individual Eco-Congregation churches include: creation care services, energy-saving measures, recycling projects, conservation initiatives, wildlife preservation, and environmental education. Eco-Congregation’s newsletter features creation-care activities at individual churches; opportunities such as grants, conferences, and collaborative projects; and faith-based reflections on environmental issues. Eco-Congregation is delivered to churches in Scotland and England by national agencies, with some limited support available for churches in Wales and Ireland.
Religion Christianity
Geographic Location United Kingdom
Eco-Congregation is available to churches across Britain and Ireland, with full support for churches in England and Scotland. Currently, funding precludes supporting churches or sending resources outside these islands, but all resources are freely available in a downloadable format from the Eco-Congregation website.
Duration of Project 2000–Present
History

Started by Environmental Campaigns (ENCAMS), a government-funded environmental charity, and the Environmental Issues Network of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, the Eco-Congregation Program was officially launched in September 2000 at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Representatives from most of the major denominations in the United Kingdom (UK) attended the ceremony. The Program began as a pilot project with twenty-two churches from England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Participating churches experimented with different environmental initiatives and tested three different information packets supplied by the United Reformed Church, the London and Southwark dioceses of the Church of England, and Christian Ecology Link. Information from this pilot study was used to develop the current Program. Eco-Congregation was launched in Scotland in March of 2001 at Dunblane Cathedral, where denominational representatives committed to the program by signing a pledge. Within two years, 200 churches were involved in the program. The first Eco-Congregation Award was given in March of 2002. In March 2004 ENCAMS handed its share of responsibility for Eco-Congregation back to the Churches. As of July 2004, Eco-Congregation is delivered in England, with some responsibility for Wales, by the Arthur Rank Centre. In Scotland, the Eco-Congregation is delivered by a partnership between the Society, Religion, and Technology Project of the Church of Scotland, and the environmental awareness charity, Keep Scotland Beautiful (with some repsonsibility for Ireland). In Scotland, Eco-Congregation is supported financially by the Scottish Executive's Sustainable Action Fund. In England, Eco-congregation is supported financially by the Methodist Church Relief and Development fund. As of July 2004, thirty-seven churches had received awards.

Mission Statement Eco-Congregation aims to encourage churches to celebrate the gift of God's creation and to care for it in their life and mission through the members' personal lifestyles.
Partner Organizations

Churches Together in Britain and Ireland
The Society, Religion, and Technology Project of the Church of Scotland
Keep Scotland Beautiful
The Arthur Rank Centre
Action of Churches Together in Scotland

Other organizations that promote or work with the Eco-Congregation Program, but do not share responsibility for it include:

A Rocha UK
Christian Ecology Link
The John Ray Initiative

Long-Term Goals None Listed
Bibliography None Listed
Additional Research Resources None Listed
Contact Information

Eco-Congregation, ENCAMS

England and Wales
Jo Rathbone
Eco-Congregation Co-ordinator
The Arthur Rank Centre
National Agricultural Centre
Stoneleigh Park
Warwickshire
CV8 2LZ
Ph:       0247.685.3061
Email: (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Scotland and Ireland
Margaret Warnock
Eco-Congregation Scotland
Keep Scotland Beautiful
Islay House
Livilands Lane
Stirling, Scotland FK8 2BG
Ph:       0178.647.1333

Victoria Beale
Eco-Congregation Scotland
Society, Religion, and Techology Project

John Knox House
45 High Street
Edinburgh, Scotland EH1 1SR
Ph:       0131.556.2953