Lewes church wins second award

Southover Church Lewes. From left  Martin Pett, Ruth O'Keeffe, David Melville, Shirley Darlington
Southover Church Lewes. From left Martin Pett, Ruth O'Keeffe, David Melville, Shirley Darlington

Southover’s St John the Baptist Church in Lewes celebrated winning an award for its stewardship of the environment on Sunday.

The Eco Congregation award plaque was presented by chair of Lewes Little Gardens Ruth O’Keeffe at the Chapter House next to the church, followed by a bring and share picnic in the church grounds.

“I was delighted to be asked to present this Eco-Congregation award, the second that St John the Baptist in Southover has gained,” Ruth said.

“When the scheme was first set up over ten years ago I was very interested in the opportunity it gave to focus peoples’ minds on practical and environmental activities and initiatives.

“In 2005 I went on a tour of all the congregations in Lewes with copies of the original version of the scheme.

“I know that other congregations have done some work towards this and am planning to visit them all again with the new details.”

The award is a scheme managed by Arocha UK.

This is a Christian charity working for the protection and restoration of the natural world.

Independently assessed, the awards encourages churches to demonstrate environmental stewardship, caring for creation in all aspects of their work.

This includes their spiritual values, practical action and community involvement.

Southover was particularly commended for “working for wildlife in the churchyard while keeping the area a beautiful place for the human congregation”.

The award also recognised its “involvement of children in educational activities based in the churchyard”.

During the church congreation’s work for the award, which lasts for three years, they were greatly helped by linking up with Sussex Wildlife Trust’s Downtown Lewes project.

This advised churches on the best conservation practices for their churchyards.

Church grounds are deemed to be valuable green spaces in the townscape for encouraging wildlife, as well as places for quiet contemplation and spiritual refreshment.