Gold Award

On 20th June 2024, St John and St Stephen’s Church was given a Gold Eco Church award – this makes us the first Gold Eco Church in Oxford diocese and the 50th in England and Wales. The award was made by A Rocha UK and is part of a national scheme to which over 7,000 churches have now signed up – about 18% of the churches in England and Wales. Care for and celebrating Creation has long been part of our identity at St John and St Stephen’s because these weave through our wider vision of a Kingdom where all God’s children enjoy life in all its fullness. We joined the EcoCongregation programme in 2007 out of concern for the impact of climate change on developing nations so this has been a long journey. The Gold Award feels like the gateway into a rather new journey, trying to support neighbouring churches and aiming for net zero carbon emissions as soon as possible. You can read more about the award here.

 

Action in our Church and in our homes

Our Church year includes Creation Season as well as at least one specific environment service, and environmental issues regularly feature in our sermons, prayers and songs. At a service on 7 March 2021 we registered the Climate Emergency. For several years now our monthly Forest Church has been especially popular with children.

Our electricity and gas are supplied by Ecotricity. After introducing easy-win energy saving measures like LED lights, we undertook an energy audit promoted by the Oxford Diocese and are now following the plans they provided. We are working on projects to install an air source heat pump and solar panels. Although we do not have a churchyard, we are growing plants to attract pollinators and other wildlife where we can, as well as fruit and veg in pots. We regularly meet with local MPs to ask for more action on climate and have been campaigning for them to support the Climate and Nature Bill.

Our congregation members have taken many actions at home including using green energy suppliers; avoiding or sharing cars; reducing, reusing and recycling (we have some micro recycling stations in church); using gentler cleaning materials (also used in church); and changing our financial investments (as the church has). Church meals have been a good opportunity to discuss the importance of reducing meat consumption, and where to buy local, organic or fairtrade.

Find out more

You can find out much more of what we’ve done on our blog. We are mindful that our own actions can only achieve a limited amount, so campaigning is also central to our identity as an EcoChurch. Read more about that here.