Bag a breakfast to boost environment

Bishop of Dover joined Christian conservationists to launch Eco Diocese.

15 September 2016

Bishops bag a breakfast to boost the environment

  • Launch of new environmental award scheme
  • Diocese of Canterbury one of the first to sign-up

It was a breakfast of champions for the environment as over 50 Anglican bishops, including Bishop of Dover (the Rt Rev Trevor Willmott), joined Christian conservationists to launch Eco Diocese.

The scheme is a new component within A Rocha UK’s already popular Eco Church initiative; an award scheme aimed at encouraging churches to show their concern for the environment through their worship, care for their buildings and engagement with the community. Eco Diocese acts as an incentive to a diocese to be working both at diocesan level and also encouraging parish-level engagement with Eco Church. Through its bishop, a Diocese can register its commitment to work towards gaining Eco Diocese status by meeting a number of set criteria.

Conservation charity A Rocha UK and Anglican environmental initiative Shrinking The Footprint launched Eco Diocese at a special breakfast at the College of Bishops on 14 September this year.

Key speakers were Bishop of Salisbury Rt Rev Nicholas Holtam – the Church of England’s lead on environmental issues – Bishop of Dover, Rt Rev Trevor Willmott, and Bishop of Dudley, Rt Rev Graham Usher.

A Rocha UK’s Churches and Theology Director Dr Ruth Valerio introduced Eco Diocese. Bishop Trevor talked about environmental work in the diocese of Canterbury, and Bishop Graham explained the role of the environment in mission and evangelism.

Bishop Martin Warner from Chichester and Bishop Trevor from Canterbury committed to work towards Eco Diocese status, signing letters of registration. A ‘significant number’ of other dioceses also expressed interest – with other denominations lining up. A Rocha UK is working with the Methodist Church and United Reformed Church to launch similar schemes.

”Following on from the success of Eco Church, we began receiving requests to develop something that would act as an incentive at diocesan level,” said Dr Ruth Valerio, “and encourage parishes to engage with Eco Church.

”Green shoots of environmental care are springing up across the Church of England. Eco Diocese encourages those shoots to grow strongly and bear fruit, helping churches take action for God’s world.”

Bishop Trevor said: “As a Christian community we are committed to reducing our impact on the environment, and so I am delighted that we are one of the first dioceses to sign-up to the Eco Diocese scheme. Many of our churches have already begun their Eco Church journey, and now as a Diocese, we can do the same. There is much room for improvement but with the support of this simple system, we will be able to make sure that our duty to care for the environment is part of all that we do.”

More than 350 congregations have registered with Eco Church across the UK, since it was launched at St Paul’s Cathedral earlier this year; fifteen of these are within the Diocese of Canterbury, with St. Mary the Virgin Church in Willesborough already scooping a bronze award.

The Diocese will hold its next Environment Forum on Tuesday 4 October at St Martin’s Church in Maidstone at which a working party will be formed to take forward the Diocese’s efforts to achieve an Eco Diocese award.


For more information, please contact Jennifer Ross on or 01227 459 401 / 07702 840 074

Notes to editors

Photos show:

  • Picture from launch: Bishop Trevor (checked shirt, centre) registers the Diocese of Canterbury to Eco Diocese with Dr. Ruth Valerio from A Rocha UK (far right)
  • Revd John Mackenzie receiving a Bronze award from Dr. Ruth Valerio on behalf of St. Mary the Virgin Church in Willesborough earlier this year.