Author Archives: Judith Macleod

EcoHighland 2021

EcoHighland 2021 is a programme for two full weeks of events, around worship, prayer and action organised by churches locally and supported by Eco Congregation Scotland with Inverness Presbytery Church Support. Running from the 31st of October to the 13th of November, these two weeks coincide with the timing of the vital COP 26 negotiations in Glasgow. EcoHighland 2021 gives local churches and surrounding communities -and those who join us online from elsewhere- an opportunity to share the importance of caring for our planet.

The calendar of events below gives an overview and flavour of the main events happening. It is worth keeping an eye on the Eco Congregation Scotland events page as further events are added. There are activities that will appeal to people of all ages.

These events are only a flavour of the range of things that the congregations are doing. Inverness St Columba have put together a booklet of pledges to help people care for the planet, as well as a collective active travel challenge to clock up the 180 miles to Glasgow over the duration of COP 26. Other congregations are taking greening their grounds and beyond seriously by planting trees, wildflowers and daffodils. Many of the congregations are planning what they will do to keep this going beyond the two weeks of EcoHighland 2021. For example, Inverness Old High St Stephens congregation are planning a series of conversations about climate change and the practical steps we can take to help care for the planet. Inverness Dalneigh and Bona are looking at how to help people make practical changes such as extending the range of things they each recycle. There are many more exciting plans beside these, so it will be worth keep an eye on church websites and social media in the coming months.

Silver Award for Oakshaw Trinity Church, Paisley

The Eco Garden at Oakshaw Trinity Church with their bottle greenhouse.

We are delighted to announce that Oakshaw Trinity Church, Paisley has been given a Silver Eco Congregation Scotland Award for their environmental work. The assessors noted that the team at Oakshaw Trinity church had presented a strong application for their silver award. They were impressed by the way in which the team arranged their meetings to ensure that the Kirk Session is kept fully appraised of their work. The assessors also commended the discussion about environmental matters within the congregation. 

Oakshaw Trinity Church has links with charity shops and various events in the community.  There is a Fair trade shop which operates in the church and links with the shop in the town. The congregation also support the Renfrewshire Foodbank. The church also has strong links with Christian Aid and TearFund. 

Seasons Panels at Oakshaw Trinity Church

Springwatch and Autumnwatch events are held and encourage all of the congregation to participate in caring for the grounds around the church. The youth organisations like to work with gardeners to care for creation.  The services held on these days link the spiritual and the practical, with discussion of environmental matters.

The assessors noted the ways in which environmental messages are communicated within the congregation and to the wider community. Good use is made of notice boards and newsletters.  During the Covid time of lockdown and isolation more use has been made of online communication, with hopes that this will continue beyond the pandemic.  

The team at Oakshaw Trinity have found a number of ways to share environmental learning with the congregation. They have used pledge cards to encourage members of the congregation to review their lifestyle and carbon footprint.  Their Zero Waste events have been successful and will be repeated when the pandemic rules allow.  All age groups have been encouraged to participate in projects. 

The team have linked with the Fabric Committee and this has resulted in an improved environmental performance of the church buildings. There has been discussion about ethical investment and environmental philosophy within the congregation and these discussions have resulted in changes in investment and activity.

International Swifts Awareness week 3-11 July 2021- An invitation from the RSPB

If you live in or are visiting Edinburgh during International Swifts Awareness Week (3-11th July) you are invited by the RSPB to take a self guided tour of some cycling and walking paths around the beautiful city of Edinburgh. The tours take you on a series of self led cycle and walking paths around Edinburgh that join up swift nesting sites, feeding sites, swift murals & the lovely green spaces of Edinburgh. The routes all pass Haymarket, so it’s easy enough to go via the train with your bikes and start from there.

Routes take you past St Mary’s Cathedral one of our recent Silver Eco Congregation Award winning congregations, who host 48 swift boxes. You can explore the area around the water of Leith, Leith Links and Arthur’s Seat to name but a few locations. For more information about the routes have a look at the RSPB Edinburgh Swift Cities page.

St Mary’s Cathedral, Palmerston Place, Edinburgh gains Silver Award.

St Mary’s Cathedral, Palmerston Place, Edinburgh have recently been given their Silver Eco Congregation Scotland Award in recognition of their work and commitment to caring for creation.

St Mary’s Cathedral were praised by the assessors for several aspects of the work that they are doing. The assessors noted that a great deal of work had gone into making the case for the cathedral divesting from fossil fuels, and the congregation had played an important part in persuading the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church to consider further steps to do the same.

The assessors were impressed by the investigations that are underway by the Cathedral team to reduce the carbon footprint of the Cathedral. An important aspect of this is investigating possibilities of installing a lower carbon heat source. This will allow them to reduce heating and other energy uses in the cathedral. Whilst this work is still ongoing, serious consideration is being given to installing a heat pump. The team have sourced grant funding allow them to investigate all these possibilities.

The assessors praised the way that care for creation is embedded and visible in all aspects of the life of the cathedral including prayer, sermons, magazine articles, and can be seen on their website. Recycling is actively promoted within the cathedral. Members of the congregation are frequently challenged to consider ways to reduce their impact on the environment.

Exciting work has been carried out in the cathedral grounds. This has included planting fruit trees  and creating a wildlife area. The assessors praised the wonderful idea of setting up a seed library. This initiative encourages people of all ages from the local community to become involved. There is a good link between the Cathedral Green Team and their neighbouring congregation at Palmerston Church of Scotland. The Cathedral congregation are active members of the local Eco Congregation Scotland network, with members attending some of the national events held by Eco Congregation Scotland too.

The Cathedral is a Fairtrade Church and its One World Stall has been  selling Fairtrade products for many years.  

The cathedral is participating in a scheme to link up a cycling route through the city and will be encouraging travel by bike.

We look forward to hearing how the team continue to develop this good work.

Dunnichen, Letham and Kirkden Silver Award

Bug Hotel

We are delighted to announce that Dunnichen, Letham and Kirkden Church have been awarded their Silver Eco- Congregation Scotland Award. This is the second highest level of award and shows the commitment of the congregation to their work to care for creation.

The assessors specially commended a number of areas of this small congregation’s work. It was noted they had made really effective use of their existing leadership structures to make sure that their Eco work was embedded as a responsibility for each of the smaller groups reporting to the Kirk Session. This structure helped new ideas to be discussed and developed, leading to plans being approved by the Kirk Session and integrated with all aspects of the life of the church.

The assessors praised the good links with community groups in the parish that has led to work on joint projects. This has included asking the local school to help with developing the church grounds. Dunnichen, Letham, Kirkden Church has an established pattern of keeping the community in touch try providing a very valuable Parish Magazine. The congregation also run film nights on an environmental theme. These have generated lots of interest from people in the community.

Promoting the use of net bags to reduce plastic use when shopping.

Our assessors were delighted to hear about interests the church has in learning from and supporting the work of a wide range of charities. The congregation are keen to support and promote Fair Trade goods, encouraging everyone to shop locally, and to reduce food miles.

The congregation have been exploring the journey of recycled goods. The members have also looked at ways to reduce waste and energy use through adapting their lifestyles. They have been running a rag bag scheme to help recycle clothing. Interest and awareness raising in these eco matters has been taken up the children’s and youth groups, and is now an important part of their work.

We wish the congregation well as they continue to develop their care for creation further in years to come.