GREEN-MINDED church-goers have been rewarded for prioritising the natural world with three of them winning national awards.

Tavistock Methodist and United Reformed (URC) and Bere Alston congregations have been awarded Eco Church certificates and plaques to recognise their contribution to the environment.

The awards are run by Christian charity A Rocha and recognise and encourage the church movement’s role in addressing the ‘environmental crisis’. Policies and actions include environmental awareness and impact across all activities such as inland and buildings, worship, teaching, lifestyle and community influence.

Project in the West Devon churches include building a nature garden, ‘greening’ church money, involving and educating children in nurturing wildlife and recycling and producing sustainable energy. There are more than 2,000 individual churches with awards, with less than 50 with the top gold award — including Tavistock URC.

Mike Dennis, URC Elder, said: ‘We are very proud of having one of the rare gold awards. Our minister Rob Weston has been the main driving force in ensuring we have a continuing philosophy of sustainability running through our teaching and worship as well as our actions in running the church physically and as an organisation.

‘This is the culmination of years of building on our achievements from bronze and silver to gold. There are several factors driving Rob’s thinking and it all starts with the God’s teachings — that God created this world and we have a responsibility to care for it in the same way as we look after each other. This has been accelerated with the environmental crisis and on top of that the cost of living crisis.

‘We have solar panels to power the kitchen where we have Tavistock Food Hub. We also have flowers at the front of the church, cycle racks, little food is thrown away, we suggest ethical financial advice and use Fairtrade products.’

Jenny and Trevor Atkinson of Bere Alston United Church, led the creation of a wildlife garden and renovated well, bat, bird and butterfly boxes and plants. The garden was planted by church children in memory of worshipper Georgie Holliday, who died last year. Trevor said: ‘God created this world, so we have a duty to steward it for future generations. The young church has done so well for Georgie’s life of service.’