Johannes zu Rheine: Climate protection with God’s blessing

The Church of St John in Rheine (Johannes zu Rheine) has been participating in the Evangelical Church of Westphalia’s (EkvW) environmental management system “Grüner Hahn” (Green Rooster) since 2008. Since then, it has become one of the most active parishes – with efficient measures for climate protection and strong engagement in the community.

Environmental protection is firmly enshrined in the identity of the church. The “Green rooster” environmental management system, which has been independently validated, provides the organisational framework. Each year, the parish submits updated environmental declarations to the scheme. Its own efforts in support of climate protection are focused on two main priorities: the church along with the parish hall, re-built in 2014, and the nursery, which has expanded substantially in recent years in terms of the number of places offered and its range of child-care services.

Climate protection objective:

  • to reduce the consumption of electricity in the nursery (despite its increased use), in the parish hall and in the church
  • to reduce heat consumption in the nursery and the church by 15%, in the new parish hall by 60%
  • to further develop the rules for sustainable procurement

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Photo: Thyßen

The St John’s Church environmental committee pictured in 2008 with the environmental auditor upon successful certification according to EMAS/ “Grüner Hahn”. 

Saving energy, natural gas and resources

To save power, energy-saving lights have been used since 2010. Church appliances are not left on stand-by and, when new items are purchased, the focus is on energy efficiency. The parish also uses green electricity. Natural gas is used for heating – with a new, efficient heating system since 2014. Despite the nursery’s significant expansion, gas consumption has still been cut by five per cent.

In total, CO2 emissions were reduced by almost 30 per cent between 2006 and 2013. The church community also takes care not to waste resources. For example, the consumption of water and paper is closely monitored, it favours fair trade products when making purchases and tries to avoid waste from the outset. Waste that cannot be avoided is carefully separated for recycling.

Strong commitment to the parish and community

The church provides the members of its congregation with detailed information on the subject of climate protection and the issue of sustainability is also carried over to the nursery. Sustainability plays a significant role in a variety of different committees and this is reflected in the organisation of the parish’s own events and activities. In addition, the project also exerts a powerful influence in the municipality. Alongside its involvement in the integrated scheme for climate protection and climate adaptation, which the town of Rheine has entered into the competition “Aktion Klimaplus – NRW climate community of the future”, the church is also supporting the “Fair trade town Rheine” initiative. All in all, this boils down to one thing: a climate protection role model.

New goals

There’s always something, somewhere that can be done for climate protection – and the church is constantly setting itself new goals. These goals are then announced to the public in the annual environmental reports. Over the next few years, the church community aims to build on previous efforts to reduce the consumption of electricity and heat. But it is also an ongoing task to transform the nursery’s outdoor space with areas to play and observe wildlife that are in harmony with nature. At the same time, it is another goal of the church to make parish land a better habitat for animals once again.

Photo: Thyßen

“Responsibility for our shared world not only means solidarity with people in our local area and in other parts of the world, but also consideration for the whole of God’s creation. At the Church of St John in Rheine, we see the responsibility to preserve His creation as a fundamental mission in the Christian way of life. True faith is shown through action: standing up for justice in the town and in global partnership, acting in an environmentally responsible manner, managing our lifestyles to conserve resources and protect the climate. We achieve our objectives by working together with the municipality, other communities and associations.”

Heinz-Jakob Thyßen, Environmental Management Officer

Partners and sponsors

Counselling centers:
  • Ev. Kirche von Westfalen, Projektbüro Grüner Hahn
  • EnergieAgentur.NRW