[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] The UK-based Christian environmental charity A Rocha is expanded its already-successful Eco Church award scheme and is now looking to recognise Eco Dioceses. Dr Ruth Valerio, A Rocha’s director of churches and theology, outlined the scheme last week at a breakfast seminar attended by Christian conservationists and more than 50 Anglican bishops. Three of them – from Chichester, Birmingham and Canterbury – signed on the dotted line to begin the process for of registering their sees as Eco Dioceses.
A Rocha said that an Eco Diocese would act as an incentive for change at a diocesan level; while encouraging parishes to take the challenge. A diocese can achieve Eco Diocese status by meeting set criteria.
“I’m delighted we’re one of the first to sign up,” the Bishop of Dover, Trevor Willmott, Bishop in Canterbury, said. “Many of our churches have already begun their Eco Church journey. Now as a diocese, we can do the same.
“With the support of this simple system, we’ll be able to make sure our duty to care for the environment is part of all we do.”
Last week’s event was organised with the support of Shrinking the Footprint, the Church of England’s environment initiative. More than 350 congregations have registered with Eco Church, since its launch earlier this year. “Green shoots of environmental care are springing up across the Church of England,” Dr Valerio said. “Eco Diocese encourages those shoots to grow strongly and bear fruit.”
While the Bishops of Chichester, Birmingham and Dover were ready to sign up, many other bishops expressed interest in taking their dioceses on the journey. Similar schemes are set to be rolled out to other UK denominations, including the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church.