Scottish churches blaze a trail for eco-congregations action

By staff writers
January 18, 2008

Church congregations across Scotland committed to environmental action are due to meet in Stirling this weekend to develop and promote their work for people and planet. The event is being sponsored by the Church of Scotland and Keep Scotland Beautiful.

The all-day inter-church conference will take place on Saturday 19 January at Stirling Baptist Church, coinciding with the ebginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity today.

Organisers say it will celebrate the success of Scottish eco-congregations, and will examine future challenges in raising global warming and climate change awareness within local churches of different traditions.

Eco-congregations have expanded and developed rapidly over the last five years. In Scotland there are currently 172, whilst in England the figure is over 270. Given the population disparities, that indicates a huge level of commitment in Scotland.

The term ‘eco-congregation’ is awarded to churches that have made a commitment to address environmental issues systemically through worship, programmes, the management of church property, outreach and community action.

The idea is to move away from seeing the environment as a "special interest". Resources and an audit are available to those taking part.

The weekend conference also indicates the importance of peer-to-peer support and information sharing.

Speakers in Stirling will include the Scottish Environment Protection Agency's John Ferguson and Fred Edwards from Scottish Environment Link.

Adrian Shaw, climate change project officer for the Church of Scotland, the country's largest denomination, will deliver the keynote speech for the afternoon session.

Mr Shaw declared: “The Kirk is concerned about the implications of climate change not just in Scotland but across the world particularly because of the threat it poses to the poor."

“Eco-congregations have a vital role to play in addressing this challenge”, he added.

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