ST John's Methodist Church in Settle is celebrating after being awarded the Gold Eco Church Award - given to churches across the country who can demonstrate environmentally aware practices in areas including their management of church buildings and land, teaching and global involvement.

The church gained its bronze award, organised by the charity, A Rocha UK, in 2019, its silver award in 2022, and following a visit from assessors towards the end of last year, has now gained gold - in doing so, it is the 42nd church in England and Wales, of any denomination, to reach the top level, and the seventh Methodist church.

It joins 18 other churches in Craven with an Eco Church Award and along side St Mary's, Embsay, the only other church to reach gold level. Silver award churches are St John’s Low Bentham; All Saints, Burton in Lonsdale; St Mary the Virgin, Ingleton; the Priory Church at Bolton Abbey; Silsden Methodist, and St Stephen’s Steeton.

To gain an eco award, churches have to show they have carried out environmentally aware activities in five areas - worship and teaching,, management of church buildings, management of church land, community and global engagement, and lifestyle.

In order to achieve gold status, the church is visited by outside assessors - and for Settle Methodist Church, it was Rose Gosling from Summerbridge Methodist Church and Lesley Higson from St Mary’s Church,Embsay - both of which have gold awards.

Philip Taylor, of St John's Eco Group, said: "St. John’s is recognised in the town as a community that has committed itself to making a positive impact on climate change. By showing the outside community that we are making practical changes to the way we live, we are setting an example to others. Hopefully it will encourage other community groups to tread more lightly on the planet and make similar lifestyle changes."

Fellow group member, Bruce Geere added: "I feel that working towards the Eco Church award has raised awareness of caring about nature in our locality and how important it is to be good stewards of all the resources we have been blessed with. I found it very interesting that Tim Broughton, our Methodist minister, talked about a more relaxed approach to speaking to folk about conservation and environmental issues. We can be encouragers and examples in caring about our surroundings.

"It has been very encouraging for us to find so many people interested in taking different kinds of action to reduce our carbon footprint. I would like to think we could continue to grow these interests and I think doing some kind of diary of our activities would be great."

And another member, Jill Tiernan said: "Involving the church members in the initiative was important. People often think what difference they can make as a collective we can do so much more. Through conversation and visual displays everyone had the opportunity to watch how Eco initiatives matter and how they can make an ecological enhancement to our church and associated land. The initiative demonstrated everyone has a part to play in both contributions and improving awareness."

The church welcomes outside groups into the building, including Dementia Forward, which has a weekly cafe, and has a community event each year - including Let's Talk Rubbish, about recycling, and Let's Talk Local - which showcased local producers; and puts up eco-aware displays inside the church.

The church also created a church garden - out of a space that was 80 per cent hard-surfaced car park. The area, formerly a bare yard with a storage shed, was transformed thanks to the efforts of botanist member of the church and its children's eco-explorers group.

Raised beds were introduced to grow flowers and vegetables, and a host of other things involved many people at the church. Tables and chairs can be added for people to sit at, some knitted bunting now decorates the handrail, and water butts were positioned around the shed to collect rainwater for watering plants.

Children at Settle Primary School were asked to come up with a design for the shed in the yard. The church caretaker built raised beds and seats out of recycled wood palettes, and people from various groups planted plants, with the garden formally opened on Let's Talk Rubbish day - since then, it has produced vegetables and has been used for coffee mornings and barbecues.

There are several recycling boxes, including for old jewellery, stamps and batteries, for people to deposit items, and the eco-group organises monthly climate walks for Churches Together, which is supported by Craven Conservation Group - and which includes people taking along bags to pick up any rubbish they find along the routes.

Find out more about eco activities at the church by visiting: