On the Road to Being an Eco Diocese

by Gerry Lynch last modified 16 Mar, 2017 05:09 PM

Diocesan Synod commits Diocese to preaching and practising care for God’s creation

Diocesan Synod agreed a new environmental policy at its March meeting, committing it to working towards an Eco Diocese award.

“This is a significant step on our journey towards giving due regard to the 5th Mark of Mission for Anglicans”, said David Morgan, Chair of the Diocesan Environmental Group. “This states that it is a hallmark of Anglican Churches engaged in mission to ‘strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth’.

Eco Diocese is a national award that has been welcomed by the Church of England’s national Working Group on the Environment, which encourages Dioceses to put care for God’s creation at the heart of what they preach – and what they practise. 

Salisbury is the sixth diocese to register intent to take part in the awards scheme, after Canterbury, Chichester, Exeter, Winchester and Birmingham. 

Bishop Nicholas said, “As the lead spokesman on environmental matters for the Church of England, I am very encouraged that my own Diocese has set out for this award with a unanimous vote at Synod. Perhaps we can be the first to achieve an award?” 

To achieve an Eco Diocese Bronze Award, 10% of its parishes must engage with Eco Church, and 5% must actually obtain an Eco Church Bronze Award. In addition, the diocese will need to meet Eco Church Bronze Award standards for its management of buildings and land. There is also a requirement for ethical investment of diocesan funds and for the inclusion of care for creation in ministry training.  

David Morgan commented, “We currently have 19 parishes in the Diocese engaging with Eco Church and 3 which have already obtained a Bronze Award. For the Diocese as a whole to receive a Bronze Award, we will need to increase those numbers to 44 and 22 respectively.” 

Eco Church is a nationally developed web-based survey and award scheme which looks at a parish’s green ‘credentials’ in five areas:

·         Worship and Teaching

·         Buildings

·         Land

·         Community Engagement

·         Lifestyle.

There is a simple online survey which can be completed at www.ecochurch.arocha.org which will show how any church currently matches the criteria for an award, and what it would need to do to reach a higher level. Awards come in three levels – Gold, Silver and Bronze. Hilfield Friary in Dorset gained the first Eco Church Gold Award anywhere in the country. 

At the Diocesan Synod meeting, members engaged with sample questions from the Eco Church survey, and watched videos of the teams at Vale of Pewsey and Wimborne Minster share their experiences of caring for creation. These videos are available on the Diocesan YouTube channel here.

David Morgan concluded, “We are excited by the commitment to Eco Diocese and the Synod’s support of our aims to see care for creation become much more a part of normal Christian life in our parishes. We really hope to see many churches engaging with Eco Church in the coming year. Each time I log onto the Eco Church website, there are more parishes registered from the diocese and sometimes a new award. It’s great to see that!”

Read the presentation made at Diocesan Synod in support of the new Diocesan environmental policy here.

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