Environmental activity in local churches (2011)

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Within church circles, there has been increased attention over recent decades to environmental concerns. However, knowledge about the relative uptake of activities in local churches in Australia, and who is doing what and where, is mostly patchy and anecdotal. Results from approximately 2,400 local churches that participated in the 2011 National Church Life Survey address this gap. The results indicate modest increases in environmental engagement among churches over the last 15 years. 


With the exception of recycling (two thirds of churches) and the purchase of environmentally friendly consumables (one third of churches), the most common activities in 2011 were implementation of energy and water saving measures at church buildings, the usual inclusion of environmental concerns in worship, and the celebration of a day or a season with an environmental theme in the previous five years, with approximately a quarter of local churches having done these activities. Biodiversity conservation activities and switching to GreenPower were the least common, with less than a twentieth of churches. Engagement varied markedly across denominations and was particularly high in the Uniting Church, followed by Catholic and Anglican churches. The Pentecostal churches were the least active. Activity was particularly high in the centres of capital cities and lowest in rural areas.

Authors: Miriam Pepper, Ruth Powell


Pepper, M. & Powell, R. (2013) Environmental activity in local churches. NCLS Research Occasional Paper 20. Sydney: NCLS Research.