Westray Parish Church on the island of Westray in the Orkney Isles has become the 5th congregation to gain an Eco-Congregation Scotland Gold Award.
Westray Parish Church had applied for a silver award. However when the assessors visited them they realised that the work being done by the congregation far exceeded that standard and decided that they should be given their Gold Award. The congregation have been especially commended by the assessors for the way the church has been leading the community through involvement in island wide energy projects such as installing a community owned wind turbine and a project with Lottery and Scottish Government grant funding which worked to identify the 9 houses on Westray most severely affected by fuel poverty and energy inefficency. The project took them out of fuel poverty by installing ground source heat pumps, double glazing, extra insulation and draft proofing in each home. The activity of Fair Trade Group, under the Chairmanship of the minister resulted in Westray being recognised as a Fair Trade island in 2007.
The award assessors noted the great connections that the church has with their local community and their commitment to Eco-Congregation Scotland which now spans over 20 years. They were impressed with the legacy fund that the congregation have made available to other Orkney Parish Churches. This fund has allowed other churches to proceed with their own eco work. The assessors said that Westray Parish Church is a case study of how to do it. Amazing and inspirational!
Westray Parish Eco-Congregation co-ordinator Alasdair McVicar said: “This should be a source of great pride for the congregation and it’s very fine to have good news during these strange times but we know it’s an ongoing commitment and we welcome that”.
Parish Minister, Iain MacDonald added: “It’s lovely to have something to celebrate collectively but these awards should never be seen as something to stick on the wall so we can sit back and admire them but as an incentive to us all to maintain the high standards and to build on them”.
Eco-Congregation Scotland Stirling network are looking forward to their meeting on Wednesday 25th of March from 2-4pm(New date to be confirmed) when the topic is “All about Food.” Stuart Guzinski of Forth Environment Link will be talking about the work that they do involving food and growing. FEL has run Stirling NeighbourFood an online farmers market for ethical, local and seasonal produce which they have recently handed over management of to The Kitchen at 44 King Street, a soon-to-open community kitchen, food event space and cookery school. Sara Macmillan from this social enterprise will also be joining us to share her exciting plans for more community food activity in Stirling with the network.
All are welcome to attend this event. To assist with catering, if you would like to come along please let us know by filling in the contact form on the events page of this website.
Cadder Parish Church, Bishopbriggs, are offering an opportunity for you to consider your response to climate change. Come along between 10 and 12, to hear speakers from Eco-Congregation Scotland and Christian Aid, Scotland. Join in discussion and find out what other folk are doing personally and in their congregations in response to climate change.
All are welcome. To help with catering, please can you use the form on this page to indicate if you are likely to attend.
Buchlyvie Church have been holding a Christmas tree festival on the December weekends in the run up to Christmas. The theme is “He’s got the whole world in His hands” Fifteen trees have been beautifully decorated by village groups and individuals and include up-cycling, save the oceans, polar ice cap, after the rains comes the rainbow, and birds, bees and butterfly conservation.
If you are in the area this weekend (21st and 22nd December 2019) it would be worth popping along to see the trees. (Please see our events page for details)
The Gold award which Lomond Parish has achieved recognises that their congregation has met or exceeded Eco-Congregation’s highest standards in spiritual living, practical living and global living, and is seen as a beacon in the area for caring about environmental issues.
The congregation has been especially commended by the assessors for the breadth of their work, with many members taking positive action to reduce their individual carbon footprint as well as that of the church building. Environmental issues are embedded in worship and extend beyond the grounds, with a reflective walk being prepared for RSPB Loch Lomond as part of a Faith Action for Nature project.
The assessors were very impressed by the commitment and enthusiasm of the congregation. Strengths were noted in all the areas being assessed but particularly in the area of spiritual living. They were commended for the outstanding work they are doing in making connections between Christian faith and environmental concerns for the whole congregation.
The church grounds are used to provide community allotments. These are managed in an ecologically positive way and this has had an impressive impact both within the congregation and the wider community.
The church has been involved in the pilot of Faith Action for Nature, supplying locally grown plants for community displays and running an Eco fair. This work has contributed significantly to the church becoming very well known locally for their leadership and their commitment to environmental concerns.
Energy use within the church buildings has been monitored and they now have a zoned heating system with smart WiFi enabled controls, which has helped them to minimise the energy they use in heating their buildings. They are careful to monitoring and evaluate their use of energy. Members of the congregation have taken steps to address the use of energy in their own homes, addressing a range of issues from buying locally to attending a course to learn how to change their driving habits to reduce the use of fuel. There are a variety of examples of the congregation going the extra mile to find environmentally friendly solutions such as switching to bio oasis for flower arrangements and finding a recycling provider for old photographs
“We started on this journey in 2011, and have worked through the levels of the award, raising awareness among the congregation and users of our buildings on the importance of reducing our carbon footprint to protect God’s Creation. With the Climate Emergency now declared by governments we will continue to strive help the transition to a low carbon economy, so that our children and their children can continue to enjoy the beauty of Loch Lomondside and the Leven Valley ” Mary Sweetland, Eco-Convenor
Lomond Parish is the new name for the Church of Scotland in north Vale of Leven following the union recently of Alexandria Parish and Jamestown Parish. The award was assessed for Alexandria Parish Church.
A free, interactive and fun workshop to help you find new ways to reduce food waste. Coming along to this workshop could help you save as much as £460 a year (that’s the amount of food the average Scottish household throws away and much of it could have been eaten.) Come and learn some new food saving tips and help play your part in creating a cleaner, greener Scotland.