The Diocese of Salisbury has been declared the first Eco Diocese

by Michael Ford last modified 02 Nov, 2018 03:52 PM

In a first for the Church of England, the Diocese of Salisbury has been granted Eco Diocese Status.

The Diocese of Salisbury has been declared the first Eco Diocese

Photo by Gerry Lynch

Salisbury Cathedral Spire will be lit in green tonight to celebrate the award.

Its success in achieving this national green award is being announced at Diocesan Synod today (Saturday 3 November) at St Francis' Church in Salisbury.

Andy Atkins, CEO of A Rocha UK the Christian based environmental charity which runs the green award scheme said:
“Salisbury is the first diocese to be awarded Eco Diocese status and it's our very great pleasure to do so.
“When we launched Eco Church in 2016 we had high hopes and expectations. To have got this far so quickly is humbling, exciting and such a huge encouragement that so many churches in a diocese are working together to care for God's earth should be an encouragement to us all.”

The Bishop of Salisbury, Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam said:
“I am delighted and very encouraged that the Diocese of Salisbury is the first to win this award. As the lead bishop on the environment for the Church of England I am delighted my own diocese is first and I also hope that others will be close behind us.
“Our target to become an Eco Diocese was to have 50 churches registered and now have 70 with Bronze, Silver and Gold awards. And we have more churches still working towards getting their own award.
“It shows that as a Diocese we recognise that the care for God’s creation is at the heart of ministry and mission. The recent IPCC report on climate change and the WWF report on the destruction of biodiversity means the care of God’s earth is urgent. I hope that becoming an Eco Diocese will encourage us to do more and better.”

The Eco Diocese award is part of the wider Eco Church scheme, which is a nationally developed web-based survey and award scheme run by A Rocha UK.

The Award looks at a Diocese or Parish’s green ‘credentials’ in five areas: Worship and Teaching; Buildings; Land; Community Engagement and Lifestyle.

To achieve an Eco Diocese Bronze Award, 10% of the Diocese’s 500 local worshipping communities engaged with Eco Church, and 5% obtained an Eco Church Bronze Award.
In addition, the whole Diocese met Eco Church Bronze Award standards for its management of buildings and land. There was also a requirement for ethical investment of diocesan funds and for the inclusion of care for creation in training for ministry.

David Morgan, Chair of the Diocesan Environmental Group said:
“It is exciting and encouraging to see caring for creation come up the agenda of many parishes in the diocese. Some of our churches have been on this journey for many years; for others, it is a new understanding of our responsibilities which they have embraced and acted upon.
“Eco Church is a scheme which looks at the whole of church life – from worship and teaching to community involvement, from personal lifestyle to buildings and land – to encourage parishes to ensure that all aspects of church life are impacted by the need to care for creation. So it is exciting to see such a good number of our parishes fully embracing the Eco Church scheme and both caring for the earth and creating community.”

He also thanked all those who had helped the Diocese achieve this first:
“I would like to thank all the churches who have engaged with Eco Church and to congratulate those who have already achieved awards. All have engaged with the biblical mandate to be stewards of God’s creation and with practical issues that our common home faces (such as climate change, plastic pollution, loss of wildlife), as well as recognising that this an often neglected Anglican Mark of Mission.
“Many thanks also go to the members of the Diocesan Environmental Group (Mike Perry, Robert Titley, Graham Southgate, Miriam Longfoot, Colin Brady, Martin Webster and Lydia Reese) who have worked together on a strategy for the diocese and followed it up with practical action and support. We greatly value the support of Bishop Nicholas and applaud the excellent example set by the Cathedral and Hilfield Friary (Silver and Gold Award recipients respectively).”

But he also said that there was still a lot of work to be done:
“As the Church of England speaks out on caring for creation matters, it is vitally important that our own house is in order. We need to be doing the right things corporately and individually or we will be accused of hypocrisy. So the pressure is on all of us as members of the Anglican family to respond to this challenge.
“It’s right to celebrate 70 registered Eco Churches and 25 awards, but we are keen to see the remainder of the 500 worshipping communities engage with Eco Church as a priority. We still have some deaneries without a single registration and only one deanery (Wimborne) where this has become the ‘norm’ we would aspire to throughout the diocese.
“Even with a listed church building, it is very possible to achieve an award. Bronze Eco Diocese achieved but now onto Silver!”

As well as 25 churches gaining awards, (19 Bronze, 5 Silver, and 1 Gold), the Diocesan offices in Salisbury also picked up a Bronze award.

Announcing the award, Colin Brady, Social Justice Programme Manager for the Diocese of Salisbury said:
“Last week we received news of two more churches gaining their Bronze Eco Church award, and notification that our offices in Salisbury had met the criteria for its own Bronze award, and suddenly we were there. We are confident that more local awards will follow.
“The bug and insect life of Dorset and Wiltshire has never had it so good. Many of our congregations have had lots of fun building bug hotels in their churchyards, adding a few more points towards their Eco Church awards with a clear message that Christians care for Creation.”

He also congratulated other church groups:
“We are delighted that ecumenical partners in our area have also achieved awards; a clear sign of our shared concern for the environment.”

Helen Stephens, Church Relations Manager for A Rocha UK said:
“This is a huge 'win' - for churches, for the individuals who work so hard within them, for their communities and for God's earth. Whilst the honour of first Eco Diocese goes to Salisbury, others are very close to becoming Eco Dioceses."

Parishes that had been involved in Living Churchyard and other ecological projects were encouraged to look at the new scheme, and many held special events working on ways of being more environmentally friendly.

The quest for Eco Diocese status was helped by some good news early in the process, with Hilfield Friary near Dorchester gaining the first Gold award in the country.

Gold Award winner:
Hilfield Friary, Dorchester

Silver Award winners:

Dorset
St Mary’s, Beaminster
Canford Magna Parish Church,
Canford Magna

Wiltshire
Holy Trinity, Bradford Upon Avon
Salisbury Cathedral
St James, Trowbridge 

 
Bronze Award winners:

Dorset
St Michael’s, Colehill
St Nicholas, Corfe Mullen
St Thomas, Ensbury Park
St Mary the Virgin, Gillingham
St Mary’s, Longfleet
St Andrew’s, Leigh
St Mary’s, Netherbury
St Luke’s, Parkstone
St Michael’s, Verwood
St Mary’s, West Moors
St John’s, Wimborne
The Minister, Wimborne

Wiltshire
St Michael’s, Atworth
St John the Baptist, Pewsey
St George’s, Preshute
St Paul’s, Salisbury
St John”s, Sutton Veny
St James, Southbroom
All Saints, Woodford Valley with
Archers Gate
Church House, Salisbury
 
 
 

 

A Rocha UK is a Christian charity undertaking practical nature conservation and education with local communities and motivating others to care for the environment. Nature is in trouble but there are solutions if enough people get behind them. Their main aim is to mobilise UK Christians and Churches to care for the environment as an everyday expression of faith – for God, nature and people everywhere.
www.arocha.org.uk

Eco Church celebrates the good work already happening around the country and guides churches in selecting their next steps. The scheme is run in partnership with Christian Aid, the Methodist Church, the Church of England, the United Reformed Church and Tearfund. It is a free online award scheme. Churches can register here and complete a simple survey to see where they are doing well and which areas need further work. The scheme includes a number of free resources to help churches in caring for God's earth.

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