St John the Baptist – also known as Southover Church – have earned their second Eco-congregation award, the well-known scheme run by A Rocha UK.
The plaque was presented by former mayor and now chair of Lewes Little Gardens Ruth O’Keeffe. Lewes Little Gardens is a group of volunteers who undertake litter picks, tidy-ups and plantings around the town.
Ruth has been a champion for Eco-congregations since the scheme started. ‘I was very interested in the opportunity it gave to focus people’s minds on practical and environmental activities,’ she told the local paper, Sussex Express.
‘In 2005 I went on a tour of all the congregations in Lewes with copies of the original version of the scheme. I know other congregations have done some work towards this, and I’m planning to visit them all again.’
A Rocha UK’s Environmental Education Officer David Melville is a member at Southover. He played a key role in working for the awards, along with fellow ‘eco-team’ leaders Martin Pett and Shirley Darlington. ‘It was a real blessing that Ruth O’Keefe was our VIP for the presentation, as she is a real green dynamo,’ David pointed out.
The Eco-congregation award encourages churches to demonstrate environmental stewardship. Southover was commended for ‘working for wildlife in the churchyard’ and for its ‘involvement of children in educational activities’. Said David, ‘However, they’re still looking for people to head up energy efficiency programmes and reduce their carbon footprint – as one of the challenges for the next award’.
Lewes is ‘steeped in green designations’, David explained. ‘It’s now known as “Downtown” as it’s in the South Downs National Park, and is a transition town. The churches are stepping up to the mark, too. There are exciting times ahead.’ (Ruth O’Keefe presents the award to David Melville at Southover Church. Photo: Nick Robinson)