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Churches Count on Nature

Published: 4th May 2022

Bishop MartinAn article for June editions of parish magazines from Bishop Martin, Bishop of Dudley.

Does your church have a churchyard, or even just a small patch of ground?  If it has, I wonder whether you’re taking part in Churches Count on Nature? (www.caringforgodsacre.org.uk/love-your-burial-ground-week)

During a week in June, Churches Count on Nature brings people together to discover the wildlife in their local churchyard, recording the species they find. Results from across the country are then combined on the Beautiful Burial Ground portal (burialgrounds.nbnatlas.org) within the National Biodiversity Network, a nationwide database of wildlife in the UK. It sounds fun, and I see St Peter’s Pedmore is one of the churches in our diocese who have already signed up to take part, with seed planting, bug hunting and other activities!

As I travel around the Diocese and visit our 250+ churches I’m struck by how many are havens for wildlife, whether in town or country. Many, like St Giles’ Bredon, have developed areas sown with wildflowers that look beautiful in spring and summer and are literally buzzing with bees, butterflies, and all kinds of life. Many are working towards Eco-Church awards (ecochurch.arocha.org.uk), like St Cassian Chaddesley Corbett who gave a beautiful pot of cowslips to every house in the village as a gift on Mothering Sunday. A joyful gift, and one that will go on giving in future years if planted out in the garden.

When I was Vicar of Smethwick Old Church, I had a large churchyard to care for in a densely populated urban area. It could be quite a headache at times I must admit, caring for the varied needs of funeral directors arranging burials and people visiting graves, as well as trying to develop a nature-friendly oasis in the heart of the community. But it gave me real joy too. I love butterflies and was delighted to discover a colony of Speckled Wood that probably dated back to when Smethwick was just a hamlet set amidst rolling countryside. The trees and shrubs of the churchyard had enabled those butterflies to survive in the midst of the Black Country industrial revolution, rapid expansion of population and all that followed. Nature is resilient and gives hope and encouragement for us too. Children of earth, as well as children of God.

Let me know what your church has been up to, and do let me know of any interesting plants, bugs, birds or animals that you find in your churchyard!

Page last updated: Wednesday 4th May 2022 10:18 AM

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