It began 15 years ago with just six bird boxes, but now St Chad’s Far Headingley has a nationally renowned eco-friendly churchyard and has won three Eco-Congregation awards.
And as part of Cherishing Churchyards week*, they’re holding an Environment Weekend (13 and 14 June), offering talks, walks, picnics and environmental inspiration (see programme below).
The churchyard, which includes an oak believed to date from the reign of Elizabeth I, is a place for learning – they run public events such as bat watch evenings, fungus forays and guided tours of the churchyard, and Leeds University students use the site. It also has a mini hay meadow and surveys have found 10 species of waxcap fungus (including, fittingly, Dead Man’s Fingers), 12 species of butterfly, 44 species of birds and 33 species of molluscs.
The nine members of the church’s Green Team plan activities from churchyard work parties to special environment services and they work hard at reducing their carbon footprint. As well as initiatives to reduce their energy consumption, they asked the council to install bike racks and a bottle bank and they have a recycling box for old mobile phones, reading glasses and batteries. They also have a magazine exchange and sell Fairtrade products.
Leader of the Green Team, Suzanne Dalton, says “We have a packed programme of events for Cherishing Churchyards week, and on Sunday 14 June, we will ask the congregation to pledge to do something which either reduces their impact or positively benefits the environment. They will also be requested to complete a survey on their personal attitudes towards the environment and we will compare this with a similar survey conducted in 2013.
“I believe that being a Christian is incompatible with living a profligate lifestyle – it really is our moral responsibility to protect the environment and conserve the finite resources of this planet. But looking after the environment is not all ‘hair shirt’ – our community work parties are great fun and it’s good to know, for example, that your old reading glasses will enable another to see.”
PROGRAMME FOR 13 & 14 JUNE
Saturday 13 June
Church open 10am-3.35pm Visitors welcome to picnic in the church grounds or Community Orchard (gazebos and refreshments available). Two trail leaflets plus quiz sheets for children will be available.
10.30-11.30am ‘Perspectives on sustainable energy’ - talk by Prof Andy Heyes (Chair of Energy Technology & Environment at the University of Leeds). An informative and entertaining review of how we got into our current fix and a (possibly unique) optimistic vision of our energy future.
12-1pm Ringing chamber in the church tower open for fantastic views.
12-1.30pm Volunteers from the adjacent Community Orchard will talk about their work and answer questions
1.30-2pm Guided Walk round the churchyard with a member of St Chad’s Green Team.
2-3pm Guided walk with Dr John Varker on the ‘Geology of the church building and some churchyard memorials’.
3-3.30pm Guided walk round the churchyard with a member of St Chad’s Green Team.
Sunday 14 June
9.30am All Age Church Service – with the theme of global warming.
Bus services – from Skipton, Ilkley & Otley: X84, from Leeds Bus Station: 6, 28 & 97, from Leeds Railway Station (Infirmary St): 1.
*CHERISHING CHURCHYARDS WEEK 6-14 June
A week to celebrate churchyards and burial grounds and to raise awareness of the treasures they contain. Churchyards often contain a rich diversity of animal life and plant life (and veteran trees) and the stonework provides a home for a mosaic of mosses, ferns and lichens. They provide a tranquil place for quiet reflection, are important places for archaeology and history and are a resource for community learning and community involvement.
A new film produced by the Church of England’s Shrinking the Footprint Campaign sets out ways in which parishes can think about small scale practical steps to promote biodiversity and contribute to a more sustainable world.