Glossop parish church of All Saints has become the first church in the Diocese of Derby to achieve a gold Eco Church award.
The award is the highest accolade given by A Rocha UK, a Christian conservation charity, and reflects the church’s commitment to put creation care at the heart of their activities, and highlights how Eco Churches benefit biodiversity and reduce their carbon footprint.
To achieve the award, Glossop parish church developed its churchyard to be a living sanctuary at the heart of the community.
The planting scheme encourages bees, butterflies and birds, there are bird boxes, bug and hedgehog hotels, and the hedges aren’t cut when birds might be nesting.
The land is used for outdoor services and learning about creation, and events such as The Great British Birdwatch, the Bellringers BBQ and the end-of-season party for Dark Peak Children’s orchestra.
Joining with churches and community groups across Glossopdale, they took part in the ‘Great British Spring Clean’ in April and October and collected a total of over 40 bags of litter from a local ‘grot spot’.
The church also had a green Christmas, renting a Christmas tree which the Reverend David said is returned after Christmas so it can continue growing.
They also sent candle stubs and used tea lights to a company in the southwest of England who recycle them into candles.
During January month they are being part of ‘Buy Nothing New Month’, trying out alternatives like renting, repairing and buying pre-loved items to save both money as well as the planet.
The Vicar at All Saints, the Reverend David Mundy, said All Saints had put the concept of caring for creation at the heart of all their thinking: "The Eco Church award scheme has been instrumental in helping us understand practical ways to engage with the Anglican Communion’s ‘Fifth Mark of Mission’: 'To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth'.
"Working to achieve the different levels of award has challenged us about our faith.
"We have increasingly come to recognise that the lifestyle choices we make – what we eat, what we wear, how we travel, how we dispose of our waste, and so on – have implications not only for the planet but also for our sisters and brothers in the global South.
"The gold award is not the end of our journey; it is a staging post. I am very proud of the Eco Church team at All Saints.
"Our next steps include investigating how we might work towards the net zero targets and supporting other parishes on their Eco Church journeys."
On hearing of the award, the Rt Revd Libby Lane, Bishop of Derby, said: "My congratulations go to everyone at All Saints, Glossop, and especially Barbara Fearnley and Eric Igo for the amazing work they have done as they have travelled towards and been awarded with Gold Eco Church status.
"Projects undertaken have included tending the churchyard and developing it as a sanctuary for humans, plants and animals, litter picking, toilet twinning, recycling candle stubs, partnering with USPG Green Schools programme in South India and 'renting' a Christmas tree which will be replanted so it can continue growing.
"I look forward to more of our churches following this example and being more environmentally sustainable and ecologically friendly.
"This is great news for the parish, for the diocese and, above all, for the environkment and the wildlife that will benefit from this remarkable effort in caring for God's creation."
And the Reverend Lucy Foster, A Rocha UK’s Eco Church Officer for Northern England said, “All Saints’ creation care is deeply rooted in their worship and prayer life and flows through all they do - from the beautiful accessible sacred space of their churchyard, and Toilet Twinning to initiatives with community partners to combat air pollution in areas of deprivation.
"They are an inspiring example of how church environmental action benefits both global and local neighbours."
Learn more about the Eco Church award scheme