Are you sitting comfortably? Then the church service will begin

 In Energy Saving, Heating

A plan to relax the rules to make churches more comfortable at the same time as cutting carbon dioxide emissions has been welcomed by a Midlands green energy expert.

Ron Fox was commenting on a move to allow places of worship to install more carpets and cushions so the draughty buildings will retain more heat which in turn will cut their bills and their carbon footprint

“It is a very welcome move and shows the Church of England is serious about setting an example to be net zero by 2030,” said Ron, of Noreus Ltd. 

Under the scheme, which is being debated by the church’s governing body, the General Synod, meeting in London this week, it will make it easier for priests and parishioners to install more furnishings in their places of worship.

Documents from the Church of England’s Net Zero Carbon Faculty Working Group are proposing that ‘changes to kneelers, hassocks, pew runners or cushions are permitted as long as they do not result in a big difference to the overall appearance’. 

Previously, such alterations would have required a ‘full faculty’, the Church’s version of planning permission, from the consistory court.

Under the new proposals churches will now require permission only when it would result in a “major change”. However, upholstered chairs will remain discouraged.

“Under the old system it was very time consuming and a lot of paperwork,” said Ron, on the University of Keele Science and Innovation Park in North Staffordshire. “Also, heritage groups often put in written submissions calling for the preservation of historical pews and complained that bringing in cushioned seating and carpet was heresy.

“They said it might alter the acoustics and ruin the beauty of historic buildings, so distracting people from worship.”   

The Victorian Society had warned previously that carpets might tend to create a domestic appearance and were at odds with the beauty of the ecclesiastical interior. They were worried some changes might make a church look more like “a bingo hall or doctor’s surgery.” 

They said that it was important that those in charge of listed churches fully understood the significance of their building and its furnishings.

But Ron said: “Putting cushions on seats or underneath pews or placing rugs on benches or between pews would help to stop worshippers feeling cold and would enable them to concentrate more on the service.

“Also cushions and carpets retain heat and reduce the need to crank up the heating in large, old and draughty ecclesiastical buildings.”

He also welcomed the raft of amendments to church laws to reduce bureaucracy for parishes wanting to make eco-friendly alterations, including the addition of electric vehicle charging points, solar panels, green boilers, insulation and draught proofing. It would also make it harder for churches to fit new oil or gas-fuelled boilers.

For those wanting more advice on making their churches more environmentally friendly and cutting their energy bills call Ron on 0845 474 6641. 

Caption: Softly, softly approach – the Church of England is planning to make their buildings more comfortable and more environmentally friendly. 

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