St Mark’s, Highcliffe - our Eco Church journey. 

In 2016 St Mark’s Church Wardens and Incumbent attended a Diocesan Conference and came across the Eco Church project for the first time. The project identifies key areas of church life where caring for God’s creation could become embedded in the life and practice of a church community. An easy to use survey acts as a guide to what an Eco Church looks like. The survey helped St Mark’s to identify areas for more development beyond which was already being done, because it had quickly become apparent that the good stewardship of St Mark’s land and buildings meant the church was already fulfilling criteria that took us well on the way towards an Eco Church Bronze award. After the conference an Eco Team was set up to do more. Since that encouraging start lots of groups and individuals have contributed. 
Here are some examples:-

·       The Parents and Toddlers group ‘Little Fishes’ fed the birds and set up a bug hotel.    

·       The person employed to garden the church yards keenly ensures that any wild flora and fauna is allowed to thrive by being careful where he mows, letting designated areas grow during the summer months as well as avoiding cutting bushes and shrubs during the months when birds nest.

·       We had visits and took advice from Dorset Wildlife Trust’s ‘Living Churchyards’ experts on how best to care for the existing wildflowers, plants and wildlife at St Mark’s, as well as how to further encourage biodiversity.

·       To ratify the management of the buildings in the light of a green agenda we made use of the Energy Efficiency Survey and Zero Carbon Advice that the Diocese subsidised. 

·       This year the PCC supported switching to a greener tariff for some of our utilities.

·       A cheese and wine evening was hosted, entitled ‘Rising Tides’, which featured thought-provoking talks about the ocean’s rising tides and the impact this has on global and local coastlines. Speakers were Dr Ivan Haigh, associate professor in coastal oceanography at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton University, and Dr Matt Wadey, Coastal engineer for BCP Council. Many members of the public were attracted to this event.

·      We held a Green Fayre, opened by Bishop Debbie, where we worked in partnership  with local businesses, voluntary groups, Highcliffe Rotary, Christchurch Men’s Shed and Highcliffe   Resident’s Association. The Fayre enabled church members, the public and the   above groups to come together and highlight local environmentally friendly enterprises, both business and voluntary.  There were creative children’s activities inside the decorated church on the theme of a children’s story written by a local author. Attendees were encouraged to do a ‘how green is my lifestyle?’ questionnaire to help us all to think about things we could additionally do to combat climate change and other pressing environmental challenges.            

·       St Mark’s supports Christchurch Win on Waste by collecting items from our congregations to recycle items like printer ink cartridges and stamps that are used to make money for Lewis Manning Hospice or to repurpose everyday items such as milk bottle tops.

·       Our Incumbent continued the previous Minister’s enthusiastic support of Eco Church reflected by the regular emphasis in our teaching and worship on our responsibility as Christians to care for God’s creation.

In February 2024 we were awarded an Eco Church Silver Award………, St Mark’s Eco Church journey continues.



St Mark's Highcliffe Engages with Local Community Through Creation Care Events - Diocese of Winchester