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St John’s, Moulsham becomes first parish church in Chelmsford Diocese to win Gold A Rocha UK Eco Church Award

5th Apr 2022

St John the Evangelist Church, Moulsham has been granted a Gold Eco Church award. 

It is the 25th church in England and Wales (17th Anglican church) to receive a Gold award and the first parish church in Essex and the Diocese of Chelmsford.
The award, given by the Christian conservation charity A Rocha UK, reflects the commitment made by St John’s to walk in step with nature and put creation care at the heart of its ministry and mission. The award comes at a time of increasing awareness of the threats facing the natural world and the need to take action for a better future.

Priest in Charge of St John’s, Revd Gemma Fraser said

I am so proud of our community and the progress we have made together. The Eco Church journey has been transformational for St John’s; it’s enabled us to reconnect with our vision to love God and His world. Over the past couple of years, we have built a much deeper theological understanding of our relationship with the natural world and through that we have rediscovered God’s call to mission and service. When you work in harmony with God, blessings flow, and St John’s has grown and flourished, despite the challenges of the last two years.

"We started so simply with recycling, using eco-friendly materials and the removal of single use products. Now creation care permeates every aspect of our life together; regular services with teaching on environmental and ethical issues, care of the building and financial decisions, our children’s work, community outreach, management of the churchyard and plans for the future. An integrated approach has been key to our success”

St John’s Eco Group chair, Linda Percival, added:

It has been an exciting journey.  We have particularly enjoyed seeing more of our local community using the churchyard for Wild Worship, learning about creation, as well as opening our eco café, JubiLatte, and running events such as our autumn fayre where our local allotment society and craft workers really add a buzz to the day.   

It could be tempting to think that we can relax now we’ve got to gold but there’s so much more to do. We are entering into an exciting 4 phase project to develop the churchyard and building; to expand the use of St John’s as a community hub where all are welcome. We’ve started the design process for the churchyard which we hope will include a wild flower area, heritage and prayer trail, quiet garden with community mosaic and a welcoming, open space on Moulsham Street with seating.  We are particularly grateful to our partners in Chelmsford City Council who not only maintain the churchyard in an eco-friendly way, but have worked with us on our plans to develop the churchyard and share our commitment to create green spaces in our communities.

Gemma will be leaving St John’s next month after 8 years working with us; she and the family are making a move to the Suffolk countryside, so we are heading into vacancy and looking for a priest with a heart for God’s world and the skills to lead us on the next stage of the journey.”

Helen Stephens at A Rocha UK writes:

Our huge congratulations to St John's Moulsham on their well deserved Gold Eco Church award. 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 including the City Council. It's so encouraging to hear that they have been blessed as a church community through developing a deeper understanding of what it means to love God's creation and for this to become truly integrated into who they are as a church. 

There is still so much for us all to do, as they recognise, but in the meantime, we hope they enjoy celebrating this award and seeing others inspired to join them in taking action to care for this amazing world”. 

Congratulating St John's on their achievement, the Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Revd Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani said: 

My warm congratulations to St John the Evangelist Church, Moulsham, on being the first parish church in Chelmsford Diocese to be awarded the A Rocha UK Gold Eco Church award. It’s wonderful to be able to celebrate this significant achievement. Many churches across our diocese are working towards or have achieved Eco Church awards, having taken practical steps towards becoming more environmentally friendly, and this award will be an encouragement for them too. Caring for God’s creation is integral to our mission and ministry. As Christians we believe God has entrusted the earth to humanity and it is our role to steward it with care.”


Other Chelmsford Diocese Eco Church Awards

Three other churches in Chelmsford Diocese were given Eco Church awards last week. St Marys, Theydon Bois and St Andrews, Chelmsford received bronze awards while St Mary Magdalen, Wartling Hill were awarded silver.

29 churches in our diocese have now achieved bronze awards, six silver and one gold.

Last year Chelmsford Cathedral became only the second Cathedral in the country to win the A Rocha UK Gold Award.