St Helen's Eco-Church
Caring and Sharing Together
St Helen's has received a Gold Eco-Church Award.
Please click on the above to learn more.
St Helen's Church is supporting all its environmental efforts with a regular monthly gathering for families called Eco-Church.
This is from 3.30pm on the 4th Sunday of the Month
and includes an act of worship, an Eco activity and a bring-and-share meal.
Why not come and spend an informal couple of hours with us at Eco Church. A social time of sharing together as we chatter, discover and create ‘eco’ friendly activities around our church and churchyard, from bird and butterfly counts or pond dipping, or just relaxing whilst enjoying the wild flowers in summer, to practical tasks like clearing leaves and strimming the labyrinth, planting bulbs and tending to the pond. Or discover your inner artist as we create lanterns, decorations, cards – a bit like messy church for adults!!!
Every month is different, something for everyone, but one thing is constant – a cuppa and a short time of reflection to start with and an amazing bring and share meal of soup, cheese, bread, salad, cakes etc. to finish.
You will all be made most welcome, and I’m sure you’ll have fun.
Please contact Helen (Tel: 01983 874273) or Mary (Tel: 01983 872326) for more information, or just come along on the day.
Our October meeting was a hands-on session, as we made a bug hotel for the churchyard.
Our September Eco Church meeting fell near to the autumn equinox, so our prayers followed this theme. Paul and Mary organised a wonderful autumn wreath-making activity, having gathered lots of foliage with berries from the churchyard. This was great fun and the wreaths have been displayed in church throughout the harvest season. We finished with a Harvest Supper in the church.
Our group did not meet in August, but our fundraising for the Kids' Shed Appeal continued, with two wonderful concerts in church.
At the end of July, our Eco Church group visited Level Land Farm, which has now relocated from Brading to Carters Stables, at Upton Cross, Ryde. It was fascinating to see how the shop and farm, formerly St Mary’s Church hall and field, are being run by Alison, Christie and Aleks Morley.
At June’s Eco Church meeting we up-cycled some old children’s tables by scrubbing them and painting their legs.
On 4 June we held our Wildlife Count event in the churchyard. We had experts from the IW Natural History Society on site and they identified 141 different species of plant and animal life.
In May we repainted the picnic furniture at the pond, cleared some pond weed, repaired a hole in the pond lining, and weeded the labyrinth.
Our April Eco Church meeting provided an opportunity to reflect on the concept of pilgrimage and to think about interesting features of our church and churchyard for potential visitors.
In March, we planted wildflower seeds - gifted by Dan, our groundsman - around the churchyard to enhance the summer wildflower meadow. We also tidied the pond area and planted shrubs around the fencing.
During our February meeting we had enormous fun making bird, squirrel and bat boxes for the churchyard using kits that Paul Jackson had kindly made for us to assemble.
In January we had a fascinating talk from George Rowing of the Isle of Wight Bird Ringing group on the methods of trapping birds for ringing and the improved knowledge of local populations and their movements that ringing can reveal.
During our gathering in November 2022 we made eco-friendly Christmas decorations for a Christmas tree, ready for our contribution to the Brading Christmas Tree Festival.
October was given over to planning, plotting and scheming about plans for future meetings, and also discussing the vision and purpose of Eco Church.
A very satisfying afternoon was had at the September meeting of Eco Church, removing ivy from yew trees in the churchyard!
Following our groundsman, Dan, beginning the enormous task of strimming the wild-flower meadow at the end of the summer, we had fun during our August meeting raking up some of the clippings. We were amazed how much grass we raked up and added to the spoil heap. Although we only raked a small section of the churchyard we hope to have made a small difference to the flowers in that area next year.
July’s Eco Church meeting included a survey of the butterflies in the churchyard for the Big Butterfly Count.
At our June meeting we took part in the Big Pond Dip. This is a scheme run by the Freshwater Habitats Trust to survey the wildlife and assess the health of ponds.
At our Eco Church gathering in May we had prayers in the churchyard, led by Andrew, and then we painted some outdoor furniture which had been donated to the church. This is now positioned in the pond area. We also did some more weeding at the labyrinth and arranged some rocks around the pond. We ended with our bring-and-share feast in the church.
We met at Level land Farm in Brading in April. This was a great chance to hear Rev Ali talking about the sustainable farming methods they are using there, and the plans for the Level Land Larder and café - which is now operating from an amazing horse-box on the farm.
In the run up to Easter, we worked on the Labyrynth , which, having been mown by our groundsman, Dan, is now looking great.
At our February meeting, we were fortunate to have a lovely sunny afternoon for a tour of the churchyard with Dan. He was able to show us the work he'd been doing over the preceding few months, including clearing large areas of the churchyard of brambles and thereby enabling access to almost all the graves.
Before Christmas 2021, a group of us were able to take part in the Westbrook tree planting project in Nettlestone. It was a very cold and windy day, but we planted about 60 trees. It was great to support this wonderful project, which will help to create a tree corridor for wildlife in the area, and contribute to national tree planting and carbon reduction targets.
At November's meeting we made beautiful Christmas leaf lanterns and during that in October we carved pumpkins for display outside St Catherine's Chapel at St Helens' Community Centre as part of the village event on 3lst October,
September 2021 saw the restart of our Eco Church Sunday gatherings on the fourth Sunday of the month. We went pond-dipping. Armed with nets, trays and identification guides we marched to the corner of the churchyard, leaving soup keeping warm in the church. We were amazed at how many different species have made their home in our pond since we filled it with water, only five months before. We identified greater and lesser water boatmen, water beetles, water snails and dragonfly nymphs among other things! We will repeat the exercise in the spring, to see what different species are in evidence. A feast of homemade soup, bread, cheese and cake rounded off the afternoon.
The redecoration of St Helen's church was the focus of our activities in July and August, in readiness for the re-opening service on 29 August.
In June our group took part in a wildlife count in the churchyard. We used identification guides, books and the “Picture This" plant identification app, to identify many different species of plants, birds and insects. Our efforts to create a wildlife pond in the corner of the churchyard near to the labyrinth were rewarded with the area becoming host to broad bodied libellula dragonflies and damsel flies.
It had been back in September of 2019 that we had decided on the location for the pond. That same month, Jackie from IOW Hedgehog rescue had come to talk to us about the suitability of our graveyard habitat for hedgehogs and how we might encourage them to come and stay.
Our August 2019 meeting took the form of a Plastic Awareness Afternoon.
It was a lovely time with great company, lots of brilliant ideas and creativity.
Revolution in a sunny garden with tea and cake!!!!
In July 2019 we walked to the old church on the Duver for a Sea Service on the beach. There was storytelling, fried fish and bread, and a sea baptism with our new archdeacon, the Revd Peter Leonard, presiding.
At our May gathering we planned our display for the flower festival at the church in June.
In April a wonderful time was had by all, with lots of good work done to the Labyrinth and a well deserved soup and delicious banana cake for reward.
Together we have achieved so much since receiving our Bronze Award in February 2019, including working towards achieving the targets we set out in Going for Gold and receiving that award in December 2019.
St Helen's was the first church on the Isle of Wight to be registered as an Eco-Church. The details below show what an Eco-Church is trying to achieve in collaboration with A Rocha and the Eco-Church Network.
Churches complete the unique online Eco Survey about how they are caring for God’s earth in different areas of their life and work. The answers a church provides will collect points towards an Eco-Church Award – the more your church does, the more points you get!
If your score doesn’t gain you an Eco-Church Award straight away don’t worry – the idea is to complete further actions in order to gain the points necessary for an Award. For example, you can switch to a green energy company or start using Fairtrade tea and coffee supplies to gain Eco-Church Award points.
The survey takes you through five key areas of church life:
- Worship and teaching
- Management of church buildings
- Management of church land
- Community and global engagement
There are three levels of Eco-Church Award – Bronze, Silver and Gold. In order to qualify for an Award you must attain the required standard in each of the areas covered by the Eco Survey that apply to your church (some churches do not have buildings or land). Once your Award is confirmed, you will receive a certificate and plaque from A Rocha UK to mark your achievement.
A Rocha UK is a Christian charity working for the protection and restoration of the natural world, both as a response to the biblical mandate to care for the earth, and as a demonstration of the Christian hope for God’s world. Part of the worldwide family of A Rocha organizations committed to conservation action as an expression of Christian mission, we work collaboratively with others who share our passion for the planet and its people, and our desire for their mutual flourishing.