Bethesda is well-known as an “eco-church” and was the first Methodist church in the Bristol District to receive the National Eco-Congregation Award which recognises its stewardship of God’s Creation through practical action. After almost a decade of increasing commitment to live more “sustainably”, it is one of a handful of churches in England to have received Three national awards – only the third church in England to have been so-recognised.
Bethesda has a flourishing “Traidgreen Stall” selling Traidcraft goods, low energy lamps and recycled paper alongside coffee after the morning service. There is a thriving recycling programme which collects mobile phones, used printer cartridges, spent batteries, spectacles, postage stamps and plastic bottle tops for re-use of safe disposal.
The church is a corporate member of the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, Christian Ecology Link (CEL) and A Rocha. It also makes its facilities available to other ‘Green’ groups and arranged a community showing of the climate change film “An Inconvenient Truth”.
The church is fitted throughout with low energy lighting, sells low energy bulbs on its Traidgreen Stall, and has its own carbon offset scheme funds which have recently been used to install a solar hot water system on an AIDS orphanage in South Africa. Gill & Keith emailed from Durban:
“The solar roof has been working perfectly; we are fitting a time switch to ensure the electricity is switched off whilst the sun is shining and at night. They have had as much hot water as they needed; thank you soooo much”
Since installation in September 2009 the photovoltaic (PV) panels have produced about 6,700 kWh of electricity each year. This reduces the annual CO2 emissions of the church by about 3 tons. Since registering for Feed-in Tariffs they have also generated a cash income for the church of £2,800 per year which, combined with savings from buying electricity of about £200, has provided valuable extra resources that have been recycled into supporting the many activities described elsewhere on this website.