The Diocese of Derby understands the challenge posed by the energy crisis to our worshipping communities and will provide support.
We do hope that this overview is useful in terms of offering advice and practical help in meeting this challenge.
There are four main points to note:
- Please convene an extraordinary PCC or dedicate significant time at an imminent PCC to making local plans for the energy crisis.
- Financial support has been given to the diocese from the national church to distribute to parishes.
- The Parish Buying Scheme’s energy provision has expanded capacity.
- Parishes and worshipping communities are encouraged consider alternative, lower cost venues for worship and activities. Permission for worship away from our church buildings can be explored.
The Archdeacon’s Office will coordinate the diocesan response to the energy crisis and distribute further information as it becomes available.
Parishes and worshipping communities are encouraged to contact their archdeacon for support as required.
We know that many of our parishes have already taken steps to mitigate the impact of the energy crisis, so if your parish has a particular story of innovation or creativity in responding to either the energy or cost of living crises, please contact your archdeacon, who can share good practice.
Good ideas from across the diocese will bring encouragement and wisdom.
Saving Energy and Money
In addition to the Parish Ministry Energy Grant, there are cheap or free steps that parishes can take to reduce their energy usage.
Many parishes in the diocese are also exploring the environmental impact of their energy use.
The Cathedral and Church Buildings Division have issued the following guidance:
Energy Use Guidance
National church has identified a number of resources/guides for parishes to help reduce energy use and carbon emissions.
Whilst each church building is different, there may be a number of short to medium term actions PCCs can take that will temper the impact of the high fuel bills you are facing.
↓ Download resources and guides to help reduce energy use and carbon emissions (Appendix 1).
↓ Download a list of practical actions which as a PCC you could go through together, identifying the things that will help in your particular context (Appendix 2).
Ecumenical Letter to Church Leaders
Churches are collaborating ecumenically across the Diocese of Derby. Bishop Libby has joined with regional leaders from the Roman Catholic, Baptist, Methodist and URC churches in Derbyshire and the wider East Midlands. Together they have issued the following letter to church leaders, offering an encouragement to partner ecumenically in tackling the energy crisis. Their letter also includes helpful links to sources of further support.
In the last two years, we have seen a significant shift in the way that we do church. We have adapted to changing circumstances and the Church showed remarkable adaptability and innovation in opening new missional spaces through online church.
This meant those who previously found it difficult to access church now had new ways to be present.
Out of the tragedy of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have seen the Holy Spirit working through His church to reach out to new people with the love of God.
The energy and cost of living crises present an equal challenge to think more simply, more boldly and humbly as we seek opportunities to be similarly creative in the way that we minister.
We welcome Bishop Libby and Bishop Malcolm’s encouragement to worshipping communities to be creative in how and where they meet as they seek to be Good News for All; to try new things and to stretch into new spaces and communities.
We can think about meeting in different buildings, in different locations and new communities, where local people can more easily access worship and events and where creating warm spaces is easier and more cost effective.
We may find that, in doing so, we are “expanding God’s tent” and sharing the Good News of Jesus in ways that we hadn’t previously considered.
You may wish to consider the following points:
- Blending the use of your buildings to ensure inherited spaces can be open (warm) and available at key moments of mission (Christmas, etc) whilst at other times using smaller venues.
- Giving strong consideration to using this opportunity to build ever deeper relationships with Church schools and other community partners. Places that others may actually feel familiar with and more comfortable accessing. By using other community spaces and halls that can be hired more cheaply than the traditional meeting spaces may be heated, the church reduced its costs and carbon footprint whilst forging new partnerships!
- Using different parts of your building, meeting in core spaces that are easier to heat (side chapels etc).
- Having the humility to recognise that rather than being a ‘provider’ of warm space that actually the need is to be a ‘recipient’ of the hospitality of others. This may include, sharing spaces with other churches and denominations across parish and community boundaries, using halls and centres that are more modern with more efficient heating systems.
For those anxious about the legality of this permissive thinking, download this guidance on Canon B40 (Appendix 3)
Temporary Closure of Church Buildings due to Cold Weather
Parishes faced with significantly higher energy bills may wish to explore alternative venues for worship during the coldest months ahead.
Moving worship away from the church building may be a wise, economically expedient, even missional step, but requires careful consideration by PCCs.
Legal, pastoral, missional and reputational issues affect the moving of worship away from church buildings either wholly or in part.
The Archdeacons, Bishops Office, and, Registrar have produced a guidance note and application form to be completed when parishes are considering moving worship to a non-church building.
For a pre-application conversation or to apply for the necessary permissions, please contact your Archdeacon.
We recognise that rising energy prices have been a concern for everyone.
Many individuals are struggling to meet the increased cost of living, care for their families and keep fed and warm.
Churches are also faced with higher costs, the complexity of finding new energy contracts for some, and the need to support our congregations through incredibly difficult times.
The Archbishops’ Council and Church Commissioners have considered what additional support can be made available to help support parish ministry in the light of the very significant increase in energy costs.
In the face of this challenge, the national Church has made £15m available to dioceses as a contribution towards this challenge.
The allocation for Diocese the Diocese of Derby is £343k. We recognise that this won’t be enough as parish energy bills were in excess of £600k last year, before the price rises.
Each diocese is free to choose how it allocates the funds, with decisions on allocation to be managed through our governance processes.
Best endeavours will be made to distribute the grants before the end of 2022, however this may not be possible, so we aim to distribute grants no later than the end of March 2023 in line with Archbishops’ Council deadlines.
Additionally, the government package of support to help with rising energy bills this winter includes churches.
According to the latest guidance, under the Energy Bill Relief Scheme wholesale prices are expected to be fixed for all non-domestic energy customers, including churches.
It is understood the scheme will be reviewed after three months with an option to extend support for "vulnerable businesses" beyond March 2023 - but it is not known what organisations will be included as part of this extended support.
Churches do not need to contact their suppliers or apply to the government scheme; the support will automatically be applied to bills. Savings will be seen from October bills, which are typically received in November.
The scheme will apply to fixed contracts agreed on or after 1 December 2021 as well as variable and flexible tariffs and contracts.
The diocese is in contact with the Church Buildings Council regarding advocating for churches when the government reviews grant support after the initial six-month price cap.
If your parish is operating a Warm Hub in response to the energy crisis, you can register your hub at www.warmwelcome.uk to enable visitors to their website to locate local warm hubs.
Warm Welcome have also produced some helpful resources for churches planning to offer a warm hub.
↓ Warm welcome step-by-sep guide [PDF]