With trees taking on their succession of autumnal tones, Bishop Andrew led a tree-planting ceremony at a church in Thursley, marking its victory in a recent competition to find the diocese’s most environmentally friendly churchyard.
St Michael & All Angels, Thursley, was chosen as the winner for its “sure thoroughness both in mapping and encouraging an extraordinary range of flora and fauna” – recognition of the consistent efforts of the churchyard working party, who have looked after the church grounds for more than 30 years.
The Revd Peter Muir, associate vicar of St Michael’s, said: “Winning this award is a tribute to a lot of ongoing hard work by a group of people who have a love and appreciation of a rather special place in the middle of Thursley. Some have given faithful service for over 30 years and we are very pleased to see new people also turning out to help.”
To mark their achievement, Bishop Andrew preached on the theme of ecology at the 10am service before planting a commemorative tree chosen by the churchyard team – a small-leaved lime tree, which grow well locally and are significant to the area, in that they were instrumental in ensuring the A3 was diverted through the Hindhead tunnel, rather than over land.
After the ceremony, attendees were offered refreshments and the bishop stayed to meet with and talk to the parishioners.
The diocesan Eco-friendly Churchyard Competition ran in June, to tie in with National Cherishing Churchyards Week and reaffirms the diocese’s commitment to the care of God's creation. St Michaels’ beat off stiff competition from St Mark’s, Hale, in second place, whose community engagement drew praise, and St Mary's, Guildford, who came third for being a splash of colour in an urban environment.
Bishop Andrew said: “As Christians we are called to care for God's good creation, a challenge that has never been more important than it is now. One small way to respond to that call is to manage our churchyards in a way that will combine peacefulness with a proper biodiversity.”
More information on the work of the diocese on the environment.