Our journey to an Eco Church Gold Award and beyond!
In 2018 Revd Alison Morley became priest in charge of the Haven Benefice, including St Helen's, St Peter's Seaview, St Mary's Brading and St John's Yaverland. Ali brought with her an inspiring passion for the environment. She challenged us to think about how we might manage the churchyard for wildlife, how we might live and shop sustainably and how we might inspire others to come with us on the journey. With Ali's encouragement, St Helen's church PCC signed up for the A Rocha Eco Church award scheme.
We began to think about how we might meet sustainability criteria in the five different categories of: worship and teaching, buildings, land, community engagement and lifestyle. Ali's preaching, book and study groups and outdoor worship gave us a head start, and we found creative ways to promote biodiversity in the churchyard, and to promote sustainable living in our local community.
During the Covid pandemic of 2020 most of these activities came to an end. The churches closed, coffee mornings ceased and community events became impossible. However, Ali's enthusiasm was undimmed. She turned some glebe land next to St Mary's churchyard in Brading into a community farm, with the help of the Community Payback Team and some amazing youngsters. She set up a shop in the church hall where pre-loved clothes, refills of detergents and shampoo, wholefoods in bulk and local fruit and veg could be found. The churches were shut, but shops could open, and you knew where to find Ali if you needed her.
At St Helen's we had a major refurbishment project going on in church and our efforts were needed in redecorating the building after the builders had finished. We also concentrated our efforts on the churchyard, installing a pond and keeping the labyrinth maintained. We began our Eco Church gatherings again in September 2021.
Ali resigned as priest-in-charge during 2022. Level Land Farm is still going strong, as is the Larder. Both have now been relocated to Carters Stables, in Carters Road, Ryde.
At St Helen's Eco Church we began a new stage of the journey, or turn of the labyrinth, without Ali to inspire us. Eco Church remains the key mission of St Helen's church and fundamental to our future vision. We hope you will be inspired to join us, as you look at the events and projects pages of this website.
The Haven Eco Church website remains a testimony to the work that we did: repairing and reinstating our churchyard labyrinth, running an eco-refill stall at local coffee mornings, running community craft workshops, monitoring wildlife in the churchyard, attending climate rallies and going into schools to talk about trees and bees. We were awarded the A Rocha Ecochurch Gold Award in 2019.