John Anderson of Baildon Methodist Church is a Local Preacher in the Bradford North Methodist Circuit. He has worked hard for green issues and Fair Trade issues for many years.
He wrote this article in February 2017 for Green Christian, and for March 2017 for the Bradford North Magazine.
I would like to share how I reduced my isolation syndrome at Baildon Methodist Church, Bradford.
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 I got built a porch on our church cafe which materially reduced the draughts.
By applying for grants I was able to:
- insulate all the doors – which were sometimes ornate Victorian draft generators
- halve the wattage of some lights
- install weather compensation equipment on the gas boilers.
I was thus able to save in five years one third of the church’s expenditure on gas and one tenth of its expenditure on electricity.
The aim of course was to reduce CO2 emissions, but I was gradually gaining approval by reducing the bills. The church treasurer was particularly helpful; he soon agreed to use Ecotricity and Good Energy to supply green electricity, especially as now their prices are about 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 I had reduced the lumens from the lights.
So, after five years, I resigned and my replacement almost immediately raised £14,000 for PV panels on the roof.
Crucially, he got the church treasurer to agree to be so delighted at the savings on the electricity bills that he would allow the new eco-officer to use the feed in tariff income for further eco-improvements. This generates well over £1000 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 he has gained far more popularity than me and our eco-work is now regarded with favour.
Now our sanctuary (main worship room) has zero carbon emissions because we have installed for infrared electrical heating and turned off the gas.
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 one ancient 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.
We are a triple-certificated Eco-Ccongregation and I think most of us are proud of this. Some still 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 creation mattered. Certainly the whole circuit of 16 churches knows about eco-theology; many understand it; a fair few support it enthusiastically.