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 report on Lomond and Helensburgh Network’s Arrochar Beachwatch Event – 14 Sep 2018
From what I understand there were 60 volunteers signed up and around 50 turned up, which our organiser (Helen Downie) was very proud of.
Together 20 of us carried out a beach survey for Marine Conservation Society (MCS) in a 100 yard stretch of Arrochar beach towards the river mouth whilst the others went for pure litter picking. After an hour of picking and gathering the litter data, our team went back to a nearby picnic table and recorded our results. At that point there were a fair number of bags collected. Our record sheets were collected and collated by Helen and people broke into smaller groups to pick more, have lunch or head back to their offices.
After a little break for lunch and getting to know some of the volunteers I paired up with a lady (Mari Cowan) and we headed further round the beach to collect more litter. We were surprised how much plastic was about in various sizes with the most abundant being small squares that had broken off a larger sheet or container.
Another disturbing realisation was how ingrained some of the debris was into the soil, vegetation, sand and water. We were told that Marine Scotland had had a volunteer day in May when they brought in huge diggers to scoop up a section of the beach in hopes of removing these harmful micro plastics from the sediment. It was sad to hear that it was almost as bad if not worse on the day I was up helping out.
I know this probably sounds bad, but due to the geography of Arrochar and the currents around the mouth of the Loch, it naturally acts like a giant sink; pulling huge amounts of marine litter and debris in from the Irish Sea and open oceans. Basically they need people to volunteer their time to keep the monumental piles of rubbish away. That’s why Marine Scotland and Marine Conservation Society are interested not just in cleaning up Arrochar but trying to document what gets washed up on the shores. Their hope is that with the evidence they collect, the findings will support policy and influence change on higher levels. For example how the word spread about plastic straws and cotton buds. Thanks to Blue Planet 2 it appears as though people are starting to take notice of the world around them and from what I see with some of the groups I’m connected to is that more and more people are getting interested and trying to help in whatever way they can.
That’s why I wanted to help out on the beach clean and why I am very excited for the community woodland litter pick up at our church on Sunday 30th September. Marjory, I think you and the Eco team are doing a marvellous job with the plants and clean ups and I hope I can help even if it is in a small way.