Environmental activities of churches

A wide range of environmental activities reported by churches

A wide range of environmental activities are reported by Australian churches, most commonly recycling, purchasing environmentally-friendly consumables, including environmental concerns in worship services and holding church celebrations.

In the 2016 NCLS, over half of local church senior leaders said they preached on the environment and more than a quarter of churches said they included environmental concerns in their worship services. Fewer churches reported running a children's environmental activity, hosting a community garden or working on an environmental project in their local community.

 

Usual environmental activities of churches

Local churches were asked to report on any environmental activities they perform on a usual basis. Churches were most commonly active in collecting recyclables (40%), purchasing environmentally-friendly consumables (30%) and including environmental concerns in their worship services (27%).

 

Activities in the past two years  

When asked more specifically about those activities held in the past two years prior to 2016, some 16% of churches reported celebrating a day or season with an environmental theme. Some 8% of churches had run a children's environmental activity, another 7% had held an environmental audit of the church's buildings. In connecting with their surrounding neighbourhoods, some 6% of churches said they hosted a community garden and 6% had worked on an environmental project in their local community. 

More than half of leaders preach on the environment

Over half of local church senior leaders (55%) reported touching on the environment in their sermons at least occasionally. This includes 6% who did so often and 21% who did so sometimes. 

Including the environment in worship services

Including environmental concerns in worship services was an activity described by more than a quarter of churches (27%). This might involve including environmental concerns in prayer, song lyrics, reflections, discussion or other elements of the worship service.

Holding a church celebration for the environment

Celebrating a day or season with an environmental theme was named by 16% of churches as one of the environmental activities they held in the last two years prior to 2016.

Holding a children's environmental activity

Just under one in ten (8%) churches reported running an activity for children around an environmental theme in the last two years prior to 2016.

Community garden

Hosting a community garden is one way some churches act to care for the environment. Community gardens were reported by 6% of churches. 

Working on an environmental project in the local community

In 2016, some 6% of churches, said they worked on an environmental project in the local community, e.g. Clean Up Australia Day or Landcare projects, in the previous two years.

Having an environment team

Very few churches, just 2% named having an environment team as one of their environmental activities. 

 

As communities draw together around initiatives to care for the environment, churches can also be seen to be somewhat active in this area, either within the life of the church, as part of worship liturgy, or in local community projects alongside their local residents. Most common actions were seen to be recycling, purchasing environmentally-friendly consumables and holding a celebration of a day or season with an environmental theme. In contrast to the results for church activities (a minority or churches undertaking each activity), a majority of local church senior leaders touched on the environment in their preaching, at least occasionally.

Authors:
Kathy Jacka, Miriam Pepper

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