……. to admire the new wood-pellet boiler recently installed in Park United Reformed Church, Reading. I was at the church to lead worship and share lunch with many of the members and friends but this is an Eco-congregation so you don’t spend long in the building before you are shown the various things which have helped to ensure the congregation has that status. There are the photovoltaic solar panels on the roof and gauges in the entrance and beside one of the doors to the hall which tell how much power is being generated and sold back to the national grid. Yes, this is a church which has taken all the opportunities there are to enable them to be environmentally friendly and reduce the carbon footprint. It is also a church which takes the opportunities to maximize their financial position both by accessing grants available to help with the initial costs but also by having an eye for the future possibilities of selling ‘spare’ energy.
On their website they say “We believe in a creator God, it is important that we play our part in being good stewards of God’s creation. The churches should be leading the way in protecting the planet for the sake of all God’s people. Christ calls us to take action and to be salt and light in our communities, this is part of our response to the challenge of good stewardship.”
Churches which gain Eco-congregation status do so because of major initiatives such as these but they also have to demonstrate that they are taking other aspects of the environment seriously. From the relatively small things like the photocopying paper they use to the bigger issues of working with or through the local community on environmental issues. Park is also a church which embraces change and maintaining the Eco-congregation Award requires ongoing activity – this is not a church which will stand still in this, as in the many activities which it has for people of all ages.
As we talked we wondered whether there were any other United Reformed Churches which had taken the step of installing a wood-pellet boiler. As I came away I could not help thinking that this was church which had much to teach us even as they continue to learn about their own part in preserving God’s wonderful creation.