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50th Gold Eco Church awarded in Reading

St John's and St Stephen's church has been named as the 50th Gold Eco Church by A Rocha.

The award was given by the Christian conservation charity A Rocha UK, and reflects St John and St Stephen’s commitment to walk in step with nature and put creation care at the heart of what they do. With over 3,500 Eco Churches awarded, the gold award is a prestigious and impressive achievement.

St John and St Stephen’s Eco Group chair, Joanna Laynesmith said: “I still can't quite believe we've made it to gold, but obviously we're all thrilled! It has been a big team effort with so many people bringing very different gifts together, not just within our congregation but those who've supported us from outside too (thank you everyone!).

"What I've really appreciated is the way the EcoChurch survey structure provides opportunities for people with very varied passions to see how Creation Care impacts on their concerns: from wildlife lovers like me to those who have found our children's work blossoming through Forest Church and those trying so support local people in fuel poverty. Now a new journey starts as we aim for net zero carbon emissions and building up our wildlife oasis."

St John and St Stephen’s church has welcomed nature into their urban environment through changing their paved areas into a welcoming space to support wildlife and biodiversity, including ducks nesting in their wildlife planter in their courtyard, two years in a row!

They encourage native wildlife by providing bee hotels and a log pile for bugs and beetles. Planting has been established to attract birds, bees, and butterflies. Their monthly Forest Church for families has reinvigorated their children’s work and an opportunity to connect with their local community to raise curiosity around creation care. The assessors particularly noted their future plans for their church building to reach Net Zero, thus demonstrating their commitment to care for the environment and Christian responsibility to nurture and protect God’s earth.

A Rocha UK aims to equip churches and individuals to create a movement to help restore biodiversity at a local level in this critical decade for the climate. Now, in its eighth year, the ‘Eco Church’ award scheme brings together a national community of churches addressing the environmental crisis, using a common framework and an online toolkit to learn and speak up together.  The first Eco Church award was given to Hilfield Friary, Dorchester back in June 2016. There are now over 7,000 churches registered with Eco Church - nearly 18% of churches in England and Wales. By 2025, A Rocha UK aims to engage at least 25%, or 10,000 churches, in ongoing efforts to protect nature and address climate change through the free program.

Helen Stephens, Church Relations Manager, explained “Our huge congratulations to St John and St Stephen's Church on their well-deserved Gold Eco Church award. Everything about their approach sets them out as an exemplar of what it means to be a gold awarded church, from starting simply with chatting through the Eco Church survey in small groups after a sunday service to escorting a family of ducklings through their small courtyard garden to the local river.

"It's so encouraging to hear that they have been blessed as a church community through developing a deeper understanding of what it means to love God's creation and for this to become truly integrated into who they are as a church. There is still so much for us all to do, as they recognise but in the meantime, we hope they enjoy celebrating this award and seeing others inspired to join them in taking action to care for this amazing world.”

Read about the Eco Church scheme and how your church can get involved.

Page last updated: Thursday 20th June 2024 2:48 PM
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