The Carrigaline Union of Parishes in the Diocese of Cork, Cloyne and Ross (Church of Ireland) has been undertaking eco initiatives for several years and well deserves the Eco-Congregation award it received from us in November 2014! Many thanks to their rector, Rev Elaine Murray, for telling us about all the eco steps they have taken:
We began our journey to becoming an eco-congregation when we downloaded ‘An Environmental Check up for your Church’ from the Eco-Congregation Ireland website. Our Select Vestry voted unanimously to support the initiative that environmental issues and caring for God’s creation form part of our parish’s life and mission.
This was followed immediately by a Creation-themed service. Some ideas for this service were copied from the resources available on the Eco-Congregation website.
The next step was informing all of the parishioners what we were doing, which was achieved through the weekly pew sheet and on our parish website. We have a section called ‘Green Matters’ in our page on the diocesan magazine where we let people know what has been happening and look for suggestions as to what we can do to become a greener parish.
v We bought new bins and began separating recyclable items.
v We stopped buying plastic cups and cutlery and began using the existing delph in the cupboard.
v We sourced ‘green’ 100% compostable cups, plates and napkins for big events (like the Flower Festival and the Parish Fete) and these are then put into the Rectory compost bin.
v The Rector became involved in the Parish School’s Green Flag initiative. This resulted in our annual sponsored Parish/School walk joining up with An Taisce’s Spring Clean initiative. All of the participants picked up rubbish as they walked. Several bags of rubbish were then collected free of charge by the local Council.
v The children brought toy tractors and ploughing equipment into church for the special Rogation Sunday Service, which celebrated the planting of seeds in Spring. Normally, we only think about the earth in this way in the Autumn at Harvest Time; this way we appreciate the whole cycle.
v A donkey joins us for our annual Palm Sunday Service in Carrigaline and, together with ‘Billy the Donkey’, the entire congregation walks out of the church, down the road, through the housing estate, into the rectory grounds and through the graveyard back into the Church.
v We had a Flower Festival at Pentecost in Carrigaline, celebrating all the wonderful diversity of flowers. The theme was ‘The Fruit of the Spirit’. Plants were sold at this event and we advertised the availability of allotments in our local community.
v The Sunday School children are all given sunflower seeds and compete to see who can grow the tallest sunflower!
v A major job was done on the rectory garden, which had been left to its own devices for many years. We began by felling some trees which were in a dangerous state (it is interesting to note that in the Church of Ireland, we must apply to the diocesan property committee for permission to fell trees on church land, giving good reason for felling them and committing to planting trees in their stead – a great safeguard for our tree population!) The logs were sold within the parish to bear some of the costs of the renovation. The remainder of the logs will be used in the rectory during the winter.
v We planted bee-friendly scrubs, hedging and fruit trees.
v The entire garden usage was revised and two separate ‘allotment’ type areas were
developed to grow vegetables. A composting area was set up. At the time of writing this report, all of these efforts are ‘bearing fruit’: we have a lovely productive garden buzzing with bees and butterflies and the rectory family are enjoying the ‘fruit of our labour’
v The wider parish benefit too from the rejuvenated rectory grounds as a parish picnic is held at the start of each summer and a barbeque in September.
v The parish supports several developmental charities, including Christian Aid, US and Feed the Minds.
v It is hoped to use our parish hall as a 'community market' each Saturday morning by encouraging local producers to set up stalls to sell their wares, especially things like 'ugly' fruit and vegetables that supermarkets will not purchase from them. Our congregation includes honey producers, bakers, egg producers and soap-makers as well as farmers and market gardeners.
On receiving their Eco-Congregation award, Rev Elaine Murray said: "Over the past two years, by making practical changes in our parish life, we have tried, as a community, to live more lightly on the earth and it means a lot to us to have our efforts recognised in this way by an organisation like Eco-Congregation Ireland.
"We feel that this award is only the beginning: we hope to continue to adjust our individual lives and the life of our congregation. We can continue to learn so much from the online resources available through Eco-Congregation and from other parishes who are also on this journey. We would heartily recommend the Eco-Congregation website's many resources, if you feel that this is something that might benefit you and your church congregation."
Well done Carrigaline and good luck as you continue on your eco journey!