A Rocha UK is pleased to announce that Hereford Cathedral is the recipient of its Eco Church scheme’s 1,000th award for creation care.

The news comes at the start of a critical year for the climate, ahead of the UN COP26 climate negotiations scheduled to take place in Glasgow in November later this year.

The scheme, which was launched in 2016, presented its first award – a Bronze level award to St Paul’s Cathedral in January 2016. Since then and even throughout the Covid pandemic, Eco Church has continued to receive award applications for Bronze, Silver and Gold award levels and offer practical guidance to an increasing number of churches opting to care for God’s earth. Sixteen churches have achieved a Gold level Eco Church award including Quaker, Methodist, Baptist, United Reformed and Anglican churches. To become a Gold-awarded church, churches must prove high environmental standards in each of the areas covered by the Eco Church Survey. These areas are: Worship and teaching, management of church buildings, management of church land, community and global engagement and lifestyle.

“We’re delighted that Hereford Cathedral is the recipient of our 1,000th Eco Church award, not least because it demonstrates that even historical buildings can make great 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. Eco Church is for all church communities regardless of where or how it meets and whether or not it owns land.”.

Helen Stephens, Church Relations Manager for A Rocha UK

Hereford Cathedral, one of over 3000 churches to register for Eco Church, shares eco-lifestyle tips during school visits and in its weekly church notices, including suggestions on personal consumption and carbon footprint reduction. They have made alterations to the heating and lighting across the church buildings to improve efficiency and are actively researching how best to install water harvesting systems in the future.

Hereford Cathedral holds Open Gardens events which celebrate the value of the outdoors and invites the public to explore the cathedral grounds. Image by: Gordon Taylor

“We are overjoyed to receive the silver Eco Church 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.”

The Very Revd Michael Tavinor, Dean of Hereford

A Rocha UK believes that Eco Church can help bring about a step change in Christian action on the environment.

“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. In Eco Church’s sixth year, we’d love to see even more churches making a difference and having a bigger impact together in response to the environmental and biodiversity crises.”

Andy Atkins, CEO of A Rocha UK

Eco Church is a free online award scheme and is an A Rocha UK project, in partnership with Christian Aid, The Church of England, The Methodist Church, Allchurches Trust, The United Reformed Church and Tearfund. In the scheme’s sixth year, we are encouraging more churches to join the Eco church community. Churches can do so by registering at https://ecochurch.arocha.org.uk/ and completing a simple survey.

To find out more about the Eco Church committee at Hereford Cathedral please contact William Talbot-Ponsonby by email: [email protected]