Sustainable Church Flowers began in August 2019 with a demonstration-talk by Shane Connolly in St Peter’s Church, Martley in the Worcester West Rural Team Deanery. He showed how branches, grasses, flowers from the hedgerow and the woods could decorate the church in vases or buckets of water and using chicken wire to hold them stable. From this, the Worcester Cathedral committed to reducing their use of foam with the aspiration to eliminate it and to this end they created a structure that would hold buckets of water safely and discretely. St Peter’s Church itself went on to win Bronze Eco Church status.
Shane Connolly is on the RHS Advisory Board for Cut Flowers and promotes a more thoughtful approach to the tools that florists use to display God’s floral creations, Ideally, everything will be compostable and go back to the earth without damaging it.
This fits with the Church of England’s fifth Mark of Mission: to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew life on the earth.
St Bartholomew’s Church (Eco silver Award 2019) in Lower Sapey parish is the origin of this movement and has avoided using foam since 2016. It was the desire to share this practise that led to the creation of the SCF movement. Before Covid we held workshops and have an Instagram page. @sustainablechurchflowers and a sustainable church flower Facebook page where you can ask questions. With our new website we plan to collate advice, videos and examples of good practice. We desire to build this network beginning with our team of the Worcester Eco Champions and www.cofe-worcester.org.uk/climate-crisis.
The recorded conversation (see links) between Bishop Martin and Shane Connolly was held in August 2021. Bishop Martin had just become the new Environmental Bishop for our area and was seeking information on the details of floral foam and the issue of flowers. This came with the desire of SCF to encourage and celebrate the good practise in our diocese as well as to audit how much foam is currently stored in our churches. This would allow the Anglican church to use SCF data to demonstrate our hosen path in time for COP26.
The RHS has banned the use of foam at Chelsea flower show from 2020 (though that year the show was cancelled so it applies for the first time this year 2021) and this lead was picked up on by Bishop Martin who felt that it is appropriate for the Church of England do likewise. This, in 2021, is currently an aspiration, we hope it will become a reality.