A Curate who worked for 14 years in nature conservation has become Eco Church Officer for the North of England with Christian conservation charity, A Rocha UK.

Eco Church is a grassroots programme helping to grow and inspire local churches and their communities; the key milestone of 5,000 church registrations across England and Wales has just been reached.

The Revd Lucy Foster’s newly-created regional role is supported by a three-year grant from the Benefact Trust (formerly AllChurches Trust). Lucy is a self-supporting minister in the Church of England and curate to the ecumenical Helm Mission Community in Cumbria.

Lucy will be helping churches use the Eco Church award programme as a tool to tackle climate change. The damage from the Cumbrian floods in 2009 and 2015 is just one example of the vulnerability of the communities in northern England.

As Eco Church officer for Northern England - home to churches in post industrial towns and small, rural parishes - Lucy will be encouraging many more churches to become Eco Churches.

"Individual churches - especially those with small congregations, limited resources and old buildings to care for need additional support to meet them – Eco Church programme and my role can help. There is the hope that more churches will take up the cause of Eco Church," she says.

Over the next five years, A Rocha UK expects to transform local churches and denominations in the UK into a significant force in environmental care and restoration. Lucy's post will play a key role in delivering A Rocha's strategic goal of seeing 15% of churches in the UK committed to caring for creation by 2025.

Lucy continues, "There has never been a more important time to find, stretch and support those very special people who have the will to build a better world through Eco Church. I know that I will be able to support, advise and learn from my team and I’m excited about being part of the next phase of the Eco Church journey. I'm especially looking forward to learning about the creative ways churches across the north are nurturing God's creation and worshipping with diverse Christian communities.

"I see my job as part of my ordained ministry – the sentinel part of priesthood that Church of England ordination service speaks of – keeping watch and warning the community.”

Helen Stephens, Church Relations Manager at A Rocha UK, said: “ As Eco Church continues to grow we are keen to promote and embed Eco Church regionally as well as nationally, recognising that there are unique challenges in different parts of the country. Lucy brings insight and wisdom from her years of conservation work and lay ministry experience as well as a lovely mix of enthusiasm and passion for the natural world and care of people. She is joining a very busy Eco Church team and I look forward to working with her.”