Author Archives: Judith Macleod

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.

Gold Award for Gate Church International

Dundee church is seventh to achieve an Eco-Congregation Gold Award

Eco-Congregation Scotland warmly congratulates Gate Church International in Dundee, celebrating the wonderful news that they have achieved our Gold Award.

This means that they have met or exceeded Eco-Congregation’s Gold Award standards in spiritual living, practical living and global living, while also addressing some more general aspects of environmental care. As our most challenging Award, a successful Gold assessment recognises congregations which have developed a long-term commitment to promoting environmental issues as an integral part of their congregational life.

The seventh eco-congregation to achieve a Gold Award were especially commended by assessors for an outstanding contribution in demonstrating practical action taken within the church and involving the local community, through the Gate Church Carbon Saving Project and various Climate Challenge Fund resourced initiatives since 2013.

Dundee West End Community Fridge

One of the projects which was particularly praised by the assessors was their innovative Community Fridge in Perth Road opposite the church buildings which has a major impact in reducing Food Waste in Dundee.  They were delighted to hear the project is using an electric van to pick up excess food from suppliers for the fridge.

We really appreciated their contribution to our recent ‘Feeding our Communities‘ event and the example they offered that can be followed across the country. This took place during Scotland’s Climate Week (14th–20th September 2020) when organisations aim to promote the message that, together, we can help end Scotland’s contribution to climate change.

The Carbon Saving Project aims to make Gate Church International the ‘Greenest Church in Scotland’.

The assessors noted the way that Gate Church International includes so many volunteers within their projects, many of whom do not have a church link, and the integration this brings with the community they serve, enriching the church’s mission.

Also of note was the work that has been done to reduce the carbon footprint of the buildings, a 200 years-old Grade A listed church and century-old community centre. The installation of solar panels, condensing boilers, draught proofing and insulation offers a wonderful example of what can be done in listed buildings and halls like theirs.

Clothes Swap in Gate Church International

The assessors were impressed with the fact that reuse, recycling & up-cycling was well established culturally within the congregation, with lots of examples of best practice. They liked the Sew and Repair classes the church occasionally runs, alongside their Community Wardrobe, as well as the Gift Boxes which help meet material poverty in the city.

The assessors also commended the house groups that meet across the area and discuss environmental matters. They really appreciated the focus on stewardship as a church, and the church focus that worshipping God means caring for those in need and the world God created.

Also of note are the links the church has with Signpost International and Compassion UK, and the support they give for international small projects through their personal connections. The children in the congregation have been encouraged to sponsor children in the developing world through Compassion UK.

News of the Gold Award was confirmed days before the 2020 Climate Challenge Fund Gathering. Gate Church Carbon Saving Project and the church’s volunteers have regularly been highlighted at the yearly event celebrating climate projects across Scotland.