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Diocese of Sheffield gains 20th Eco Church Award

A Rocha Eco Church Award

St Mary’s Church in Tickhill has become the Diocese’s 20th awarded Eco Church, with the dedication of volunteers and staff being praised for their hard work in making this happen.

Lockdown in 2020 gave the eco group time to reflect and look ahead to what they might like to work on once restrictions enabled them to prepare.

The journey from lockdown led to St Mary’s gaining confirmation of a Bronze Eco Church award back in December of last year.

Licensed Lay Minister (Reader) at St Mary’s John Hosker, who is also a member of the local eco group, says a Diocesan ebulletin helped draw attention to a more environmentally friendly approach:

“That lockdown, as we all know, made us think about what’s important in life and what’s happening to the planet in a wider sense. We initially had informal conversations with friends in the local church and formed a small eco group just to discuss things and what we wanted to do.

“We looked at what needed to be done and put that together in parallel with the award application. We’re involved with the wider community, who are very sympathetic to eco issues. The pathway tool for Eco Church helped as it meant you could check progress as you go and receive prompts.”

There are five different domains that churches need to achieve a Bronze award in before becoming an Eco Church: worship; use of land; use of building; community and global engagement and personal lifestyle.

John says these domains helped to challenge and inform members of the congregation in a non-confrontational way, whilst also looking at what actions may help with each individual:

“It’s not just about how the church corporately does things; it’s also about how we individually run our lives. Can you recycle at home? Can you carshare? Can you walk to church? Can you cycle? And so the focus is also on individual people’s lifestyles.

“Our starting point was just recording what we were doing and we were actually managing a lot more than we thought already as a baseline. We wanted to communicate so that we could find out what people were actually doing and we wanted obviously to have broad support within the church. People felt they were included.

“Christian mission was a crucial message to get out in terms of the support we’ve had. Firstly, the support A Rocha with that pathway and the resources. Our new incumbent (Revd Canon Paul Richardson) has been unbelievably supportive, and we’ve had help from the Diocesan Environment Officer Dr Cathy Rhodes. The general support of the Diocese has also been useful.”

The Bronze Eco Church award means St Mary’s will get a plaque as well as a certificate, which is to be located in pride of place in the entrance to the building.

Becoming the 20th Eco Church awarded in the Diocese is a great source of pride for John and the team, with John hoping the award can encourage others to take steps towards getting their Bronze certification:

“We didn’t know that we were number 20 at that stage, but we’re very happy to be number 20 and we’d love to be followed by some other people. It’s been a nice unifying thing within the parish and I hope people who might have been wavering about their interest in eco issues will see this and take the journey themselves.”

For help and support with environmental issues including registering as an Eco Church and working towards awards contact Cathy at

or Sally at

And find more information at