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Eco award winning Diocese makes key environmental appointment

Front row left to right: The Rt Revd Sarah Clark, Acting Bishop of Durham; Diocesan Environmental Officer Bethan Still; and newly-appointed Creation Care Officer (CCO), the Revd Claire Gibbs. Back row second from left: The Archdeacon of Auckland, the Venerable Rick Simpson. Image from a licencing service for Claire at St Cuthbert’s Church, Etherley.


The Diocese of Durham has underlined its commitment to environmental priorities with the appointment of a Creation Care Officer (CCO).

The Revd Claire Gibbs begins her role just weeks after Durham received the Bronze Eco Diocese Award from the charity A Rocha UK, which equips Christians, churches and dioceses to protect and restore God’s creation.

Claire’s appointment is an exciting step forward for the Caring for God’s Creation priority in Durham Diocese, which is committed to cultivating a shared Christian vision for our natural environment, while promoting responsible consumption and behaviour as individuals and churches.

She will combine the role with parish ministry, having also been appointed as Priest-in-Charge of the parishes of Escomb, Etherley, Witton le Wear and Hamsterley.

Already a familiar face in the Diocese, Claire has spent the past six-and-a-half years as Priest-in-Charge of Stockton Country Parish.

As Creation Care Officer, Claire will support churches as they focus on their environmental goals, and will also improve networks so they can work more closely together and share ideas.

This will include assisting with the Eco Church Award scheme, which equips churches to care for God’s creation through their worship, buildings, land, community engagement and individual lifestyles.

In addition, Claire will also work with schools and parishes, producing material and resources with an environmental focus.

“I have always had a passion for God’s creation,” said Claire. “Environmental matters impact us in all walks of life and I’m looking forward to working with churches and communities in our Diocese.

“The Care for Creation agenda is about discipleship and theology. I look forward to working with different groups, going into schools and speaking to pupils about what caring for the environment means as a Christian.”

Claire is also looking forward to joining the Escomb group of churches, an area she originally visited during her student days for an archaeological field trip. In later years, she lived nearby while serving as a curate.

Originally from High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, Claire enjoyed her rural ministry in Stockton and said she is grateful for what has been a “fantastic learning journey.”

Prior to her ordination in 2013,  Claire served as an education officer at Jarrow Hall (formerly Bede’s World), the museum at Jarrow in South Tyneside which celebrates the life of the Venerable Bede.

Having always worked with children and young people, and as a parent, Claire is concerned for the planet her family and future generations will inherit.

"It's an honour and a joy to serve God in our region in this way,” she added.

The Archdeacon of Auckland, the Venerable Rick Simpson, is the member of the Bishop’s  Leadership Team with responsibility for the Caring for God’s Creation priority.

Archdeacon Rick said: “I’m delighted that Claire has been appointed to both serve the churches in the Escomb Group and take on this significant role within our environmental priority. Claire – working closely with Bethan Still, our Diocesan Environmental Officer – will develop our capacity in this vital area of mission.”

Bethan, who has been in post since June 2023 said, “It will be great to have Claire working with me on the Creation Care priority. I will still be directing my focus on the Net Zero Carbon goal and Eco Church work, but having Claire to help with the latter whilst also producing good Christian resources for churches and schools on Creation Care will be hugely beneficial to the Diocese.”

A licencing service for Claire took place on Sunday, 10 March at St Cuthbert’s Church, Etherley.

Claire is keen to hear from churches interested in exploring their environmental options, whether they relate to Eco Church or how to make the most of their church yard in terms of wildlife and nature.

To contact Claire, email or call 07902745280.




First published on: 13th March 2024
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