Kilbride Presbyterian Church, near Doagh, Co Antrim, is a small rural church which reaches out and fosters positive relationships with nearby churches as well as the local community.
People from all walks of life regularly come together to participate in a wide-range of cross-community events, including craft fairs, fun days, carol-singing and walks of faith between the churches as well as environmental endeavours, such as litter picks and bulb-planting.
There are local rambling and cycling groups and summer school activities are held out of doors, when weather permits!
Members of the congregation at Kilbride have been actively involved in developing a local river walk in conjunction with the local council and community association.
Wherever the opportunity arises, a Fairtrade stall is set up at community events … and Fairtrade goods are available to church members throughout the year. This is organised by a designated Fairtrade co-ordinator.
The congregation has undertaken a number of planting initiatives in the church grounds and graveyard, including planting trees and spring bulbs. Bird boxes have been made and sold to interested parties.
Special environmental events are held from time to time. These have included a star-gazing night and a talk given by a speaker from the Woodland Trust.
Kilbride started recycling a range of materials five years ago. As well as the regular collection of cardboard, paper, plastic, clothing and green waste, special collections are sometimes organised for cards, bottle tops, spectacles etc.
The church buildings have a zoned heating system and light bulbs are gradually being replaced with low-energy ones, where possible. The boiler isserviced regularly and efforts are made to use environmentally-friendly cleaning materials and to buy from local suppliers. The toilets are dual flush, to reduce the amount of water used, and are twinned with toilets overseas (see http://www.toilettwinning.org/ to find out about twinned toilets)!
There is an annual harvest service and, during the year, natural materials are also used in church – as well as flowers every week, water, peas, barley, oranges, flour, eggs and stones have all featured during Sunday services! Hymns and prayers with a Creation theme are used. Prayer and meditation is sometimes held outdoors.
Sunday School activities often include an environmental dimension. A ball of string activity was used to show interconnectedness (see Section 4, page 11 of Resources) on one occasion. The children have also participated in a water walk and in bulb- and tree-planting. They love it when a real donkey visits before Christmas each year!
Kilbride supports Christian Aid activities through lunches, quizzes, door-to-door collections etc and members of the congregation have undertaken voluntary work overseas in Romania, Portugal, Nigeria and Peru.
Kilbride Presbyterian Church well deserves the Eco-Congregation Ireland award it received on 26th May 2013!