Our Green Journey
High Street Baptist Church - Tring
We do not see creation care as simply an add-on to the usual ‘business’ of being church. As Christians we believe that God is our Creator. He not only created the world that we might live in it, he gave us stewardship of it. With this comes responsibility:
Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it… (Isaiah 42:5)
What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)
In September 2020 we were awarded a gold Eco Chuch award. This was the culmination of many years of work and discovery by members of High Street Baptist Church. We know that the journey does not stop here, and strive to continue to care for creation throughout our church life.
The vision of A Rocha is for churches of all denominations to care for creation as an integral part of loving their neighbours and following God faithfully. They invite churches to complete a survey addressing five key areas of church life:
- Worship and teaching
- Management of church buildings
- Management of church land
- Community and global engagement
Click on the logo below to find out more about A Rocha and Eco Church. Click on the image to learn about Wild Christian, A Rocha’s community of families and individuals explorng the connections between Christian faith and the natural environment.
Welcome to High Street
Watch this video to learn more about how we care for Creation at High Street Baptist Church.
It can be hard to sift through the resources relating to creation care so we have created a useful list of study guides, websites, courses, campaigns and movements to help get you started – or deepen your learning.
Recycling at High Street
Our recycling area has grown to encompass a number of items which cannot be recycled in the usual council collections. Some of these items are sent off to agencies who deal with them directly, whilst others provide a more convenient drop-off point before being fed into other local collection points.
The recycling area is located outside the building, next to the ramped access to the left of the church.
We collect baby food pouches, bras, pens and writing equipment, stamps, plastic bottle tops and corks, printer cartidges, batteries, and spectacles.
The Baptist Union Environment Network – ‘BUEN’, meaning good in Spanish – aims to raise awareness and respond to the environmental crisis. High Street Baptist Church is part of a network of environmental partners across the Regional Associations. Click on the BUEN image above to find out more.
Hold a climate-focused service, to explore the theological and scientific basis of creation care and action on climate, to pray, and to commit to action.
Show the Love is an annual celebration of everything we care about and want to protect from the worst impacts of the climate crisis. Click on the image above to find out more about the campaign.
Ruth Valerio is an environmentalist and theologian, social activist and author. Click on the link above to listen to her 2020 Harvest Sermon.
The Season of Creation
The Season of Creation, held during September each year, is a global movement of Christians seeking to renew our relationship with our Creator and all creation through repenting, repairing, and rejoicing together. Find out more about the Season of Creation by clicking on the image above.
Net Zero for 2019
We completed High Street’s carbon footprint calculation for 2019. This gives us a baseline to work from going forward. While we will aim to reduce our carbon footprint year on year (and 2020 will almost certainly be an unusually low year!) we have also committed to offset our emissions. Therefore we have made a corresponding donation to Climate Stewards.
This means that, as a church, we will have achieved an effective level of ‘net zero’ carbon emissions in respect of 2019.
Our Green Journey
In the first decade of the new millennium a number of us at High Street Baptist Church in Tring became convinced that the churches should be doing and saying more about the big issues associated with resource depletion and climate change. We formed a small ‘Green Group’ and encouraged the diaconate that this was something we should commit to as a church fellowship. In 2009 we achieved our first Eco-Congregation award and, having succeeded in making further progress in raising awareness of green issues, as well as in collaborating with local environmental and other groups such as Transition and Justice & Peace, we achieved a second award in 2013. Eco-Congregation was an interdenominational scheme that is still operating in Scotland, Ireland and elsewhere but since February 2016 it has been replaced in England and Wales by Eco Church, which is operated by the Christian environmental charity A Rocha, with support from Tearfund, Christian Aid, the Methodist Church and the Church of England. At High Street, we gained a Bronze Eco Church award in October 2016 and achieved Silver in July 2018.
We face all the usual challenges associated with churches – lack of insulation in our building, a limited budget and a wealth of competing demands on time – but we have nevertheless been able to reduce the waste of energy and generally heighten awareness, both among our regular congregation and also among other members of the local community who use our building regularly. Among other things, we have installed an array of solar panels on our church hall roof.
The ethos of Eco Church, as with Eco-Congregation before it, is very holistic and takes in every aspect of church life, and of life as a whole. Almost everything that we do has an impact on our environment, both near and far. We are reminded that the teaching of Christ centred on love of neighbour and care for the poor, and that the opening chapters of the Bible tell us not only that all of creation is loved by God but that he made it and saw that it was ‘very good’; furthermore, he called humankind to share in the task of caring for all of creation. At High Street Baptist Church, Tring our mission statement is to be ‘growing in the message and challenge of God’ and creation care is a central part of both the message and the challenge.
Calculate your carbon footprint
It is easy to switch to a renewable energy provider for your electricity needs. Find out about switching to 100% renewable energy at Simply Switch
Click on the link (above) to access some excellent resources about creation care from a biblical perspective.
Enjoying nature is the first step toward caring for creation. Getting outside, noticing the seasons and looking and listening. Even in urban environments we can see God’s hand.
We have a relatively small garden at High Street Baptist Church but we try to use it whenever we can. We have Junior Church outside on warm days and involve the children in looking after the garden.
'Make Tring a bee town'
We are supporting the ‘Make Tring a bee town’ campaign launched by Tring’s Justice & Peace Group. Download the leaflets outlining more about the project, and how you can help; leaflets are suitable for organisations or groups.
Visit the Justice & Peace website for more details about this and other projects.
In May 2017, High Street Baptist Church became the first Baptist church around the world to make a public commitment to divest from fossil fuels! As such, we have been added to the list of divestment commitments on the Fossil Free (350.org) website. High Street has been in close touch with the Bright Now campaign on Church divestment, organised by Christian climate change charity, Operation Noah, and indeed we feature as a case study in a recent publication from the campaign (see link). With this latest commitment, however, we are joining a list that includes some very large institutions and hope that before long we may be joined by many more Baptist churches up and down the country.
Divestment is the opposite of an investment – it simply means getting rid of stocks, bonds or investment funds that are unethical or morally ambiguous. We have pledged not to invest in fossil fuels in the future and to do all we can to ensure that, as far as possible, the church uses energy that is generated from renewable resources.
Putting our ethics into practice
Solar panels and utilities
The solar panels on our hall roof generate electricity when the sun is shining and we use this electricity, which reduces our energy bills; surplus electricity is fed into the national grid and we are paid for this contribution to the country’s energy supply. We purchase the remainder of our electricity from a fully renewable supplier. From April 2018 all our gas will be supplied through the Big Church Switch initiative, which links churches with suppliers who are doing the most to provide renewable energy.
In the garden
Outside we have added bird and bat boxes, built a bug hotel, put up a bird feeder and left areas of the grass long for wildlife. Enjoying nature is central to our appreciation of creation so we try to use the garden whenever we can for Junior Church or social events.
We have explored options for moving our bank account away from one of the high street’s big four and had discussions with our current bank about their investments in fossil fuels.
With so much activity on the premises involving babies and young children, we generate a lot of used nappies! We are using a cleaning service which turns used nappies into fuel bricks to be used in hospital heating, thus avoiding landfill.
We use environmentally friendly cleaning products throughout the building and we also offer members of the congregation the opportunity to share in bulk purchasing in order to reduce the use of plastic containers. We use recycled paper handtowels and toilet rolls.
Purchasing and recycling
We encourage all our users to think ethically about their purchases regarding packaging and the types of products brought onto the premises. We recycle as much as possible, offering appropriate bins and advice about this topic. We have a recycling collection centre. We consciously source Fairtrade, organic or local products. Where paper products are needed (e.g. toilet paper, hand towels, office paper) we use recycled paper.
Fairtrade is a simple way to make a difference to the lives of the people who grow the things we love. Fairtrade ensures the growers and producers of goods have decent working conditions and a fair price for their goods. We use Fairtrade tea, coffee and sugar for our Sunday services and midweek activities.
Worship and education
We emphasise that all people and all of nature are part of God’s good creation; we hold special services on environmental themes as well as integrate prayers for the envionment and climate justice into our regular prayer time.
A number of church members support aid and development agencies that care for people and for the earth. We collaborate with Churches Together in Tring’s Justice & Peace Group, who are the Fairtrade Steering Group for Tring and who also campaign on issues to do with climate change. We host the open meetings held by Tring in Transition, which helps the community take the first steps from a wasteful, oil- and car-dependent consumer society to a safer, more responsible and happier one. We have members who are involved with Christian environmental organisations, Green Christian and Operation Noah.