Dundrum Methodist Church

Dundrum Methodist Church in Dublin has been beavering away on environmental awareness for many years. Its first initiative 20 years ago was to encourage members to recycle newspapers and cans.

Around the time of the Millennium the Leaders’ Meeting agreed to adopt some of the practices suggested in a church audit drawn up by Christian Ecology Link. Progress was made in the areas of property, Bible study and worship.

summerclub2In 2004 half a dozen members of the congregation met to discuss environmental practice within the church, following a recommendation from Methodist Conference that all churches should engage in a programme which makes the link between the environment and faith.

In 2005, having completed Eco Congregation’s Environmental Checklist (see Resources, Section 1), Dundrum Methodist enrolled in the newly-established Eco Congregation Ireland.

Since then work has been undertaken in a variety of areas to integrate environmental awareness into many aspects of church life.
The Eco Committee started by announcing its hopes and aspirations to the congregation, reminding them of the church’s already-established ethos of living simply - recycling of clothes, cans and other recyclables, providing the premises (a space upheld in prayer) for organisations both within and beyond the church, becoming a Fair Trade church and input into Christian Aid.

While one member of the committee drafted an environmental policy (which went on to be accepted by the Church Council), others introduced the church organisations to the resources offered by ECI and offered their help, support and encouragement – from taking Sunday School, Youth Club and dundrumserviceChristian Endeavour sessions to providing recycling facilities, putting information on the Eco Congregation notice-board, preparing announcement sheets and soap box impromptu talks.

Water hippos have been put in the toilets to save water and the church is now signed up to Airtricity. The church held a Car-Free Sunday and the Youth Club held a litter pick.

The church has held several services with a Creation theme and prayers for climate justice are often incorporated into worship. The preaching of the current minister, Rev Jeremy Nicolls, and lay preachers reflects a strong sense of the Biblical imperatives regarding the environment.

summerclub3The church regularly hosts activities that raise environmental awareness within the community, including recession-buster events, which involve rail sales (clothes) and talks, including Meals on a Shoestring, Family Hobbies on a Shoestring and budgetary advice.

Maximum use is made of the church building - 40 organisations per week - and optimum use has been made of zoned heating since its recent installation. Lighting changes and the addition of a double-glazed porch also bear witness to energy conservation. Plans to build a new church with a high spec / low environmental impact have been set back due to the economic recession, and plans are now underway to start a major refurbishment programme with environmental concerns as a priority.

Three years ago Dundrum Methodist invited members of local churches and the community to see ‘An Inconvenient Truth’. Three Rock Churches’ Environment Group – an ecumenical group of churches working together in South Dublin – grew out of this. Three Rock has held ecumenical prayer services and schools’ competitions and has lobbied Dublin Bus for feeder buses to the LUAS.

The attractive grounds are used from late spring to autumn for car-boot sales, which encourage the recycling of possessions within the community. Eco initiatives are not always without their set backs and, unfortunately, bird feeders fell victim to vandalism and a wild flower garden was accidentally killed off by an over-zealous volunteer aiming to kill weeds.

The Eco Committee has found that, while progress can sometimes feel slow, there has been an encouraging take-up of the concepts and materials offered by an increasing number of people within the congregation.

With its many eco initiatives over the past number of years, Dundrum Methodist Church well deserves the Eco Congregation Ireland award it received on 5th June 2011!