The parishioners of St Andrew’s Church in Stratton have recently launched a series of environmental initiatives.
“It needs to be brought to everyone’s attention that the environment is in a dire state,” churchwarden Val Hopper explains. “If the church can do its bit, that’s as it should be.”
The local vicar agrees. Rector to the Benefice of North Kernow, the Reverend Teresa Folland conducted a special service at the end of July to celebrate the natural environment. The service was supported by eight new local worship leaders, with the sermon preached by the Reverend Ben Lillie, environmental officer at the Diocese of Truro.
Teresa has encouraged her parishioners to develop a range of green projects.
“What’s amazing is how all this has happened without much input from me – apart from my enthusiastic support!” she says. “It’s been great to sit back and see these people do these great things.”
One of their latest projects has been to build an actual bug hotel in the churchyard.
The plan was led by the church’s creation care champion Sheila Waring and its school liaison officer Judy Dunne, along with churchwardens Val Hopper and Diana Ohlson, and Val Barker, chair of the Friends of St Andrew’s.
The church team have been working closely with Stratton Primary School on this initiative and on the development of a wild area of the churchyard. They’ve consulted closely with the school council, comprising children from all years, and have enlisted the help of the schoolchildren’s environmental group to support the work of planting and creating new amenities for the churchyard’s wildlife.
“One little boy wanted a river installed,” Judy recalls. “We felt it was a bit beyond our means, but we’re going to have a pond, so we can encourage all the little water beasts!”
They’ve incorporated into their bug hotel smaller insect lodgings made by a dozen of the children at home.
“These children are really aware and concerned about the environment,” Judy says. “They want to make things better. That’s very positive.”
Churchwarden Diana Ohlson recalls the day the bug hotel was installed: “It was terrible weather. The kids all got so wet and muddy, but there wasn’t a single complaint. They were so happy. They loved it.”
The schoolchildren were also involved in the planting of a sapling from the Darley Oak, a historic tree, said to be a thousand years old, that stands on the edge of Bodmin Moor.
The church ran a special ceremony to bless this unique gift, which the children from Stratton Primary helped to plant.
“From their age today, these children will live to see that new tree flourish and grow,” Val Barker says.
The church now includes an area where people are encouraged to pray for the future of the natural environment, and is working to develop its own dedicated creation care chapel. Out in the churchyard, they’re also developing a space for quiet contemplation which mirrors a similar space inside the church. They plan for it to include a covered seating area bedecked with climbing plants.
They’ve also started putting bird boxes into the churchyard and have plans to add more.
“It’s great to have the kids involved in the life of the church,” Sheila added. “And we’re hoping to get even more local people involved too.”