The Eco Diocese award is part of the wider Eco Church scheme, which is a nationally developed award scheme run by A Rocha UK.
The award looks at a Diocese or Parish’s green ‘credentials’ in five areas: Worship and Teaching; Buildings; Land; Community Engagement and Lifestyle. To achieve an Eco Diocese Bronze Award, 10 per cent of the Diocese’s 650 local worshipping communities, which are spread across Norfolk and North Suffolk, needed to be engaged with Eco Church, with 5 percent obtaining their own Eco Church award.
In addition, the whole Diocese met Eco Church Bronze award standards for its management of buildings and land. There was also a requirement for ethical investment of diocesan funds and for the inclusion of care for creation in training for ministry.
The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham Usher, also the Church of England’s lead bishop for the environment, said: “I am delighted and very encouraged that the Diocese of Norwich has achieved this award. As COP28 meets in Dubai, we are ever more conscious of the urgency to care better for our single island planet home. The reality is that we all need to do more and do to it more quickly. I hope this Eco Diocese award will give encouragement to all involved in our life together.”
Tim Sweeting, Diocesan Secretary said: “Our target to become an Eco Diocese was to have 60 churches registered and now we have 167 with 61 Bronze, and17 Silver awards – including this beautiful medieval example we’re standing in front of today: St George’s Tombland, who reached their Silver award earlier this year. Just last month we received notification that our offices in Easton had met the criteria for its own Bronze award, which enabled us to move towards the Eco Diocese bronze. And we have more churches still working towards getting their own award. It shows that as a Diocese we recognise that the care for God’s creation is at the heart of ministry and mission”.
Barbara Bryant, Diocesan Environment Officer said: “The Eco Diocese programme is an integral part of our routemap to net zero carbon by 2030. It has been so encouraging to see our churches embedding the mission to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth within the expression and outworking of their Christian faith in their local communities.”
Canon David Longe, Chair of the Environment Working Group added: “As a vicar of seven parishes in North Norfolk, it’s exciting to see both rural and urban congregations embracing the opportunity to serve God’s mission by seeking to leave a lighter carbon footprint and challenge the injustices of climate change both practically and spiritually.”
Polly Eaton, A Rocha’s Eco Diocese Officer, commented “Our huge congratulations to the Diocese of Norwich on their well-deserved bronze Eco Diocese award. This achievement has been brought about by an appreciation that God’s earth is facing a crisis and we need to act. By prioritising care for creation, the Diocese of Norwich is demonstrating Christian hope for God’s world. It’s so encouraging to hear about their initiatives, for example their resources for schools and younger folk: ‘Our School: Our World’ and ‘The Wild Church Toolkit’ will be greatly appreciated and utilised well beyond the diocese. We are delighted to see their collaboration within the Eastern Region, and we look forward to seeing them build on this going forward. In the meantime, we hope they enjoy celebrating this award and seeing how it inspires others.”