HEREFORD CATHEDRAL has become the 1000th recipient of A Rocha UK’s Eco Church award for creation care.
The Eco Church scheme, created in 2016 by A Rocha UK, a Christian conservation charity, rewards churches that strive for high environmental standards in areas of worship and teaching, management of church buildings, management of church land, community and global engagement, and lifestyle. The awards are graded Bronze, Silver, and Gold.
The charity’s Church Relations Manager, Helen Stephens, said that the Silver award to Hereford demonstrated that even historical buildings could make progress towards being more sustainable. “The cathedral land includes both gardens within the cathedral complex and some farms in the local area which are managed in a sustainable way,” she said. “Eco Church is for all church communities, regardless of where or how it meets and whether or not it owns land.”
The cathedral also offers eco-lifestyle tips during school visits and in its weekly church notices, including suggestions on personal consumption and carbon-footprint reduction. It has improved efficiency in the heating and lighting of its buildings, and is researching how to install water-harvesting systems.
The Dean of Hereford, the Very Revd Michael Tavinor, said that he was “overjoyed” to receive the award. “In Herefordshire, we are blessed to be surrounded by abundant countryside, wildlife, and the beautiful River Wye. More than ever in 2020, the natural world has been a great comfort to many, and I am pleased that, as a community, we are working together to do what we can to help protect our environment.”
A Rocha UK says that its main mission is to encourage Christians and churches in the UK to care for the environment as an everyday expression of faith. Its first award — a Bronze — was presented to St Paul’s Cathedral in January 2016 (News, 22 April 2016). Sixteen churches have won Gold. The scheme is backed by Christian Aid, the Church of England, the Methodist Church, Allchurches Trust, the United Reformed Church, and Tearfund. Three thousand churches have registered for consideration.
The chief executive of A Rocha UK, Andy Atkins, said: “In a year of major opportunity for positive change, the need for churches to stand up for the environment right now cannot be understated. From small rural parishes to cathedrals, many churches across the UK are now certified as Bronze, Silver, or Gold Eco Churches.
“The work that they carry out to receive their certificate — and their actions well beyond achieving their award — not only have a positive environmental impact, but often involve and benefit the community around them.”