Treading Lighter on the Earth


Parishes may still be thinking Christmas, but the Diocesan Environment Task Group would like us all to look a little further ahead as we celebrate the birth of Jesus.

The group is gearing up for a major campaign in the New Year, aiming to encourage Christians to “tread lighter during Lent”. It follows a General Synod motion last summer that called on diocesan synods to develop “an integrated and holistic response to climate change.”

Diocesan Environment Officer Rob Kelsey says: “This has given the Diocesan Environment Group an added incentive to develop the good work that it’s already doing.”

He explains: “Over the past year, members of the Environment Group and the Property Managers of both Newcastle and Durham dioceses have worked together to arrange energy-efficiency audits of all the clergy houses in both dioceses. Now we’re working with the Energy Saving Trust in developing a strategy for improving the overall energy-efficiency of the housing stock, in the first instance through the bulk purchase of roof and cavity wall insulation.”

This work, in turn, has led to the development of the “Treading Lighter During Lent” initiative, now endorsed by Bishop Martin.

The Bishop says: “ Treading Lighter During Lent provides an opportunity, for those of us who wish to do so, to measure and reduce our carbon footprint. It's good to see the Energy Saving Trust and the Diocesan Environment Group working together on an initiative that combines practicality and spiritually.

“The office at Bishop's House will be taking part, and I invite you - either as an individual or as a church - to join us in using Lent next year as a means of becoming more aware of our own carbon footprints, and of treading lighter on the earth."

The essence of the initiative is that both clergy and parishioners are invited to use the season of Lent 2009 as an opportunity to measure and reduce their carbon footprint. For the six weeks prior to Lent, the seven weeks of Lent itself and the eight weeks after Lent, those taking part will record their meter readings for electricity, gas and/or oil, and the mileage on their cars. This will give an indication of  weekly energy use and carbon emissions.

During Lent itself, they will make an effort to reduce their energy use, with the help of ideas and advice from the Energy Saving Trust and liturgical and spiritual resources from the Environment Group.

“By the end of the 21 weeks, they should be more attuned to the relationship between the Christian faith and environmental issues, be more aware of their own patterns of energy use and have seen a reduction in their weekly carbon footprint,” says Rob Kelsey.

If you’d like to take part in ‘Treading Lighter During Lent,’ please contact the Diocesan Environment Officer, Rob Kelsey, on (01665) 578250 or email


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