The Revd Diane Ekins is overseeing an eco-revolution at All Saints’ Church in Mendham, where she is now local minister after being ordained last year.
The church has a vision to achieve Gold Eco Church status from the 'A Rocha' charity scheme, after achieving bronze before the initial coronavirus lockdown. 'A Rocha' is a charity that recognises churches which have gone above and beyond to help the environment, with caring for God's creation a fundamental part of Christian faith.
Diane was first inspired to live an eco-friendly lifestyle after working in Kenya in the 1990s with her husband Granville, where they had to live without the benefits of constant running water and a stable electricity supply. Diane said: “When we came back to England, we felt there was just no way we could return to living life the way we did before. We wanted to live life like the stars of The Good Life – we aimed to become as self-sufficient as we could, we grew our own food, recycled our own water. Nowadays we only spend around £1 a week on water bills.”
In 2020 an exhibition was hosted at the church prior to it being awarded bronze status, as part of Diane’s ministerial training. It taught local people the benefits of recycling and shopping from local or Fairtrade farmers. The churchyard has since become a haven for residents and visitors alike to walk in and watch the birds, with plans in place to install new swift boxes. Local primary school children also helped create a bug and hedgehog hotel on the church grounds, as well as putting up bird feeders. The church has also subseqently switched to eco-friendly electricity tariffs.
But Diane and the local parish now have a plan in place to make the churchyard even more eco-friendly – and go for gold status.
Diane said: “This has become part of our life, how we live and what we are passionate about. We were so pleased to find out other members of the parish shared our love for the environment. I thank God that we were able to achieve bronze status just before the pandemic hit. We are now heading towards silver and planning what else we need to do. I am confident we can do it and go on for gold.”
Diane also worked as a headteacher at Ranelagh Primary School in Ipswich before becoming a member of the clergy, teaching children there to be eco-friendly. Diane thanked the local community in Mendham for coming together in support of the church. She said: “The reaction in the community has been fantastic. Everyone needs to do their little bit to help the environment.”
More information on the Eco Church scheme can be found here.