The Diocese of Southwark has been awarded the Bronze Eco Diocese Award. The award is the result of several years of dedicated work by nearly 150 churches and diocesan staff who have engaged with the scheme which is run by Eco Church, an A Rocha project. Highlights have been the Kingston Youth forum, where the children and young people of the Diocese shared their hopes and fears for the future of our world, and the Pilgrimage for COP26 where churches from across South London and beyond walked to Southwark Cathedral to pray for the success of the UN negotiations.
The Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, welcomed the news and expressed gratitude to Southwark parishes for this achievement, “Churches across the Diocese are, in their churchyards, building greener spaces for all the community to share in the biodiversity of the natural world. They are running awareness groups, bring and share events, installing solar panels, and praying for the created world. These efforts have been recognised by this A Rocha award, without which the Diocese would not have won the Bronze Award, the sixteenth Diocese to do so out of forty-two,” he said.
The Bishop of Kingston, the Rt Revd Dr. Richard Cheetham, who has chaired the Diocesan Environment Working Groups, said,
This award and being on the Eco Diocese journey is a clear sign that environment issues are now firmly centre stage in our understanding and practice of the Church’s mission and ministry. Our actions in this vital area are firmly grounded in our Christian understanding of God’s love and care for all creation. I’m deeply grateful to the many people in the Diocese who have worked to get us to this point. As we all know there’s a lot still to be done, but we are firmly committed to the journey.
In a letter to Bishop Christopher and Bishop Richard, the CEO of A Rocha UK, Andy Atkins, said,
The Eco Diocese award is, we know, the culmination of months or sometimes years of hard work encouraging local churches to become Eco Churches as well as underpinning more of the Diocesan machinery (structure, policies, practices) with the missional remit of creation care. So, well done to you and your team.
It’s very encouraging to hear that you have been engaging with young people on climate justice as this is such a key issue for them and one on which we know they want to see more leadership from the church.
Diocesan Secretary, Ruth Martin, said,
The Eco Diocese framework is about far more than church and Diocesan buildings. It encompasses the way that we live out our mission as stewards of God’s creation, in the training we offer to our clergy and licensed Lay Ministers, promoting and celebrating Climate Sunday and Creationtide, and celebrating the environmental achievements of churches and groups in the Diocese. I am very pleased that Southwark has achieved this milestone in our environmental journey.
The journey so far:
- July 2019 Diocesan Synod approves Eco Diocese ambition with a target of 2025
- Diocese adopts hashtag #EcoSouthwark
- The Diocese of Southwark is 16th out of 42 Dioceses in the Church of England to win this award
- No Diocese has yet won a Silver award
- In the Diocese of Southwark, 147 churches are currently taking part in the scheme (40% of all churches in the Diocese)
- As of 25 May, 51 churches in the Diocese of Southwark have received an award:
- 36 churches are at Bronze
- 15 churches are at Silver
- Only 4 churches have received BOTH a bronze and silver award
- 11 jumped straight to silver award status
- We have no Gold awards yet
- Southwark Cathedral is soon to receive its Bronze award.
Find out more about the Diocese of Southwark’s work at all levels to support a wide range of environmental activities here
Written by: Sophia Jones