Church community wins Gold eco-church award

A Suffolk church community is celebrating after achieving a coveted Gold Eco-Church award.

St Gile’s Church in Risby, near Bury St Edmunds, which is part of the Barrow Benefice, is now one of just 49 churches across England and Wales to ever receive the accolade.

The Revd Lynda Sebbage, Rector of the Barrow Benefice, said: “The whole community has come together to work on this project. From the church council and those in the congregation to pupils from the local primary schools and residents who live in the village, I’d like to thank everyone involved for their hard work over the years. The environment is God’s gift to everyone, and we have a responsibility to each other to protect it.”

To receive the gold award, the church community had to demonstrate projects promoting biodiversity and wildlife conservation, but more importantly, to engage the church community, village residents and beyond to adopt the ethos of Eco Church.

Over the length of the project, the church has become a thriving home for wildlife, with various habitats set up for insects, birds and animals. These include places for hedgehogs to hibernate, swift boxes and an insect corridor to link up the churchyard with other leafy areas in the village.

The church has also encouraged residents to adopt bee-friendly planting in their gardens, so bees and insects have plenty of pollinating flowers to visit.

Community projects included hosting a nature trail through the churchyard, of which 150 pupils from Risby and Barrow primary schools took part, a bespoke nature trail for pre-school children and a scavenger hunt for local Brownies. 

Jackie Orbell, the church’s environmental officer, who led on the project, said: “The entire community has been involved in the project, right from the start. The idea is to consistently promote the Eco Church ethos so that it is totally integrated into the benefice and local community. The PCC, the congregation, the local community, our primary schools, villagers – they have all been amazing and have really immersed themselves in the project.”

Helen Stephens, Church Relations Manager for the Eco Church project, said the gold award was ‘well deserved’. “Everything about their approach sets them out as an exemplar of what it means to be a gold awarded church, from starting simply with smaller actions to working with their whole community,” she said.

Eco Church is a free online award scheme for churches of all denominations in England and Wales, launched by A Rocha UK in 2016.

For more on Risby Church and the Barrow Benefice, see here.

For more on Eco Church please visit here.

Page last updated: Thursday 13th June 2024 10:41 AM
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