The Diocese of Oxford has been awarded the A Rocha Bronze Eco Diocese status in recognition of its commitment to good environmental and ethical stewardship.
Joining 16 other dioceses in the Church of England with the Bronze Award, over 150 churches across the three counties of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire have registered with the Eco Church scheme, so far including 35 with bronze and 10 with silver awards.
With 808 churches, the diocese has the largest number of churches of any diocese in the Church of England, making the Bronze Award a significant achievement. Churches have been switching to renewable energy, installing energy efficient lighting, hosting climate-focused services and working with their local communities and other faith groups to plant trees, litter pick and switch to sustainable lifestyle habits.
The diocese is committed to embedding care for the environment across its mission and ministry and has pledged to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2035. This commitment, as part of the six-point environmental strategy, includes divestment from fossil fuels, equipping and resourcing churches for advocacy and action to reduce their environmental footprint, nurturing everyday faith and discipleship in care for creation, and promoting resilience as churches, schools and communities increasingly grapple with the effects of climate change.¯¯
Leaving the earth in a better place
Speaking on receiving the award, the Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft, the Bishop of Oxford, said:
“Churches across the diocese have been working hard to reduce their environmental impact and take action on climate change. This award is a recognition of their ongoing efforts and signifies an important step towards reaching our diocesan target of net zero by 2035.
“Caring for God’s world is a key part of Christian discipleship and loving our neighbour. The world is facing serious climate and ecological crises, and we each have a responsibility to help renew the life of the earth, leaving it in a better place than we received it for future generations.”
The diocese is now working towards achieving the Silver Award through growing the number of churches engaged with the Eco Church scheme, developing further training opportunities, and promoting work on biodiversity and land management for carbon reduction.
Helen Stephens, Church Relations Manager at A Rocha UK, said:
“I am absolutely delighted to confirm Oxford Diocese Eco Diocese Bronze award - congratulations to all involved! It is evident from all that you have shared, that the Diocese is clearly committed to and actively working to integrate caring for creation across all aspects of diocesan life, from the provision of the EcoHub resources to support churches, an exemplar for other dioceses and denominations, to Bishop Steven's recent changes to the Service of Baptism and Confirmation Promises to include a question on the Fifth Mark of Mission."
Notes to editors¯
For media enquiries and interview requests, please contact Madeleine Hayden or ring 07880 716 761.
About the Diocese of Oxford¯¯
The Diocese of Oxford is the Church of England in the Thames Valley region of Oxfordshire, Berkshire and¯Buckinghamshire.¯There are 808 churches in¯626 parishes,¯the largest number of churches of any diocese in the Church of England. The diocese is also home to almost schools and academies educating some 60,000 pupils.¯
What has the Diocese of Oxford done so far?¯
- The Diocesan Synod declared a Climate Emergency in March 2020 and is committed reaching net zero target carbon emission by 2035 or as soon as possible thereafter.¯¯
- In 2021, the diocese completed its divestment from fossil fuels.
- A leading advocate of fossil fuel divestment within the national Church, in April 2021 Bishop Steven was among 13 peers appointed to the Lords Select Committee for the environment and climate change. Bishop Steven has previously called for "nothing less than an ecological conversion of every person and every part of society".¯
- The Bishop of Reading, the Rt Revd Olivia Graham, is a member of the Church of England Environmental Task Group. Bishop Olivia was present at COP26 in Glasgow last year, where she said; “Leaders from all faiths are on the same page about climate chaos and environmental crises.”¯
- Church House Oxford is powered by renewable electricity. All four bishops in the diocese drive electric vehicles.¯¯
- The newly completed Berkshire Area Office, built next to a Grade 1 listed church, is constructed to the best possible energy efficiency standards.¯
- 127 churches have undertaken energy audits subsidised by the diocese, and currently 153 churches in the diocese have registered with the Eco Church scheme.¯
- Added a new question to the commissioning in baptism and confirmation services, based on the Anglican Fifth Mark of Mission committing to safeguarding the integrity of creation.
Our six-point strategy for the environment:
- Increasing holistic care for creation through Eco Church and Eco Diocese
- Ensuring that everyone has access to resources for prayer, advocacy, and action.¯¯
- Nurturing everyday faith and discipleship and creating clear leadership pathways.¯¯
- Promoting resilience as churches, schools and communities increasingly grapple with the effects of climate change.¯¯
- Achieving our net zero targets – which is happening across a range of different activities¯
- Ensuring alignment with the call for justice and working in partnership wherever we can.¯