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Green Grows Baildon 

People in various churches say to me how they feel isolated, if they wish their church to act to reduce the damage that climate change is doing to God’s creation. Here is how we dealt with such feelings at Baildon.

In 2006, I drew up a job description for a church Eco-officer and asked for applications. No one applied. So I applied and, amazingly, was appointed! That gave me a platform to measure all our usage of utilities, and set up a Green Fund whereby folk paid a certain sum for their flights, car journeys and domestic gas usage to compensate for their CO2 emissions. With this money we built, on Wesley’s café, a porch which materially reduced the draughts. By getting grants, we were able to insulate some ceilings and all the doors – which were sometimes ornate Victorian draft generators - halve the wattage of some lights, and install weather compensation equipment on the gas boilers.  We were thus able to save in five years one third of the church's consumption of gas and one tenth of its electricity. The aim of course was to reduce CO2 emissions, but we were gradually gaining approval by reducing our bills. The church treasurer was particularly helpful; he agreed to use Ecotricity and then Good Energy to supply totally fossil-free  electricity: their prices are the average for the market.

Not everyone was delighted: some said they were cold in church; some said they could hardly see in the areas where we had reduced the lumens from the lights.  After five years, I resigned and my replacement, Mervyn Flecknoe, almost immediately raised £14,000 for PV panels on the roof. Crucially, he persuaded the church treasurer to agree to be so delighted at the savings on the electricity bills, that he would allow Mervyn to use the Feed-in Tariff income for further eco-improvements. This generates well over £1,500 a year and has enabled us to put LED lights in the church, thus saving 9/10 of the 2005 electricity usage, and install very bright LED lights throughout the rooms where I had introduced energy-saving gloom. Thus our eco-work is regarded with favour.  Now the church itself has zero carbon emissions because we have installed Far Infra-red electrical heating. Our beautiful church garden grows much fruit which we cook in Wesley’s kitchen.

We have a huge building programme for which we have raised several hundred thousand pounds so far. We began this with a Vision Group; then a Future Building Group (a ‘double  entendre’ of course) and now a Big Fund which has committed to demolishing our old Marley hut and replacing it with a Passivhaus two-storey building called the Fold. We are building our people as well, attracting younger families because we face the future.

Photovoltaic electricity-generating panels.

LED lighting and
Far Infra-red electrical heating panels

We are a triple-certificated Eco-congregation; most of us are proud of this but some see it as not part of a Bible-based Christian mission. As a local preacher, I preach eco-theology, which I define as the study of God as if all God’s creation mattered. Baildon Friends of the Earth was founded in our church; it has run campaigns on improving our bus service, encouraging vegetable growing, multiplying the number of photovoltaic (PV) electricity generating panels in Baildon, and installing PV panels on Glenaire Primary School.

By widening the circle of those involved in acting to preserve all God’s beautiful created world, we cease feeling alone.

 John D A, Baildon


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