The parish of St John Waterloo has been awarded Gold Eco Church status from global conservation organisation, A Rocha, ranking them 39th Gold Awarded Eco Church in England and Wales, and 26th Church of England Church to be awarded. The award also makes St John the first church to be awarded gold in Southwark Diocese.
Revd Giles Goddard, Vicar at St John said, “We are thrilled to have been awarded Gold Eco Church status. It is a real credit to everyone at St John’s Waterloo and their support and work for climate justice for many years. This
achievement is a celebration for all of us, including those who worked hard to make the building redevelopment so sustainable. We’re grateful for all the encouragement received by our Eco Church examiners.”
Comments detailed in the report from examiners included, “It is so clear that the principles of Eco Church are integral and woven into all that you do as a church and community, within your neighbourhood and across London.
The team all shared how encouraged they are by all that you are doing and the stories you shared! Your church is already causing ripples across the country and we pray for more impact and influence as a result of this gold Eco Church award.”
The report also described the church as being at the forefront of “national campaigning issues, profiling a more sustainable way of life through the various open events hosted at the church such as Great Big Green Week and
Giles continued saying, “We look forward to celebrating as a community at our Sustainability Sunday service on 15 October and to continue weaving this message into all we do.”
Prior to being awarded Gold eco status, St John completed a building project of the whole church site, creating both warm and cool spaces, which included redesigning the crypt and a wildflower garden – a green oasis complete with hedges, a herb garden, pond and solar panels. After closing for 14 months, the church was rededicated on Sunday 2 October 2022 in a service where the Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury presided.
Jack Edwards, Diocesan Environmental Officer said, “Massive congratulations to the whole community at St John’s! I know how much effort you have all put in to becoming the first Gold Eco Church in Southwark – the judges clearly found visiting St John’s an enjoyable experience and all of the examples of best practice they have highlighted really show your commitment to care for creation.”
This award also comes after data released by A Rocha showed that Southwark Diocese passed over 150 registrations for the Eco Church Awards Scheme, with the Diocese reaching the standard of commitment to ecological care required to become a registered Bronze Level Eco Diocese in July 2022. To celebrate with other parish communities St John hosted an event on Earth Day (22 April 2023) as part of the Diocese continuing on its journey towards greater sustainability and creation care, the 5th mark of Anglican mission.
The Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, Bishop of Southwark said, “This is a tremendous achievement and will give encouragement to other parishes. It is very easy to feel overwhelmed by the scale of the challenge of climate change – but there are simple things that every parish can do to make a difference and to honour our calling to care for God’s wonderful creation.”
Helen Stephens, Head of the Eco Church initiative, explained “Our huge congratulations to St John’s on their well deserved Gold Eco Church award. When we are reminded daily of the accelerating effects of climate change and
biodiversity loss, it is a great encouragement to see this church in central London demonstrating so clearly what it means to love God’s creation and work for its restoration. Whilst they have undertaken an inspiring building project, of no less importance is the care of their land, growing wildflowers and herbs and offering a green sanctuary for people and wildlife alike. As well as putting their own ‘house’ in order, they also work extensively with others in their neighbourhood and across London. How fitting that a catalyst for all of this was an eco chat over coffee between young people and the church leaders. May even more churches follow their lead.”