Oxford achieves Bronze Eco Diocese award

The Diocese of Oxford has been awarded the A Rocha Bronze Eco Diocese status in recognition of its commitment to good environmental and ethical stewardship.

Joining 16 other dioceses in the Church of England with the Bronze Award, over 150 churches across the three counties of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire have registered with the Eco Church scheme so far including 35 with bronze and 10 with silver awards.

With 808 churches, the diocese has the largest number of churches of any diocese in the Church of England, making the Bronze Award a significant achievement. Churches have been switching to renewable energy, installing energy efficient lighting, hosting climate focused services and working with their local communities and other faith groups to plant trees, litter pick and switch to sustainable lifestyle habits.

The diocese is committed to embedding care for the environment across its mission and ministry and has pledged to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2035. This commitment, as part of the six-point environmental strategy, includes divestment from fossil fuels, equipping and resourcing churches for advocacy and action to reduce their environmental footprint, nurturing everyday faith and discipleship in care for creation, and promoting resilience as churches, schools and communities increasingly grapple with the effects of climate change.

Speaking on receiving the award, the Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft, the Bishop of Oxford, said:

“Churches across the diocese have been working hard to reduce their environmental impact and take action on climate change. This award is a recognition of their ongoing efforts and signifies an important step towards reaching our diocesan target of net zero by 2035.

“Caring for God’s world is a key part of Christian discipleship and loving our neighbour. The world is facing serious climate and ecological crises and we each have a responsibility to help renew the life of the earth, leaving it in a better place than we received it for future generations.”

The diocese is now working towards achieving the Silver Award through growing the number of churches engaged with the Eco Church scheme, developing further training opportunities, and promoting work on biodiversity and land management for carbon reduction.

Helen Stephens, Church Relations Manager at A Rocha UK, said:

“I am absolutely delighted to confirm Oxford Diocese Eco Diocese Bronze award – congratulations to all involved! It is evident from all that you have shared, that the Diocese is clearly committed to and actively working to integrate caring for creation across all aspects of diocesan life, from the provision of the EcoHub resources to support churches, an exemplar for other dioceses and denominations, to Bishop Steven’s recent changes to the Service of Baptism and Confirmation Promises to include a question on the Fifth Mark of Mission.”