All Saints’ church Clifton has won three prestigious awards in quick succession.
The church on Pembroke Road is home a unique set of ‘stained glass windows’ created by English artist John Piper. The ten-metre-high windows use a fibreglass ‘canvas’ for paintings representing the ‘Tree of Life’ and the ‘River of Life’ from the Book of Revelation.
‘We are the only church with a full-set of John Piper windows,” says Father Charles Sutton, vicar of All Saints’. “They are phenomenal and of international significance.”
Over the years the effects of ultraviolet light on the windows has damaged the fibreglass. Since 2015 All Saints’ has been working with the Conservation and Natural Science, Environmental Archaeology and Materials Science Department at the National Museum of Denmark to find a solution to the problem. Putting up a filter, combined with air cooling the windows retards the speed of the damage. The work was recognised by the DAC for an Annual Award.
All Saints is an iconic brutalist styled post war concrete building and was not designed for the climate emergency the world now faces.
“Last year the Deanery Bristol West took a proposal to Diocesan Synod that identified the active practices churches could employ to reduce their carbon footprint. We, at All Saints’, have put, and planned to employ, these practices so as to mitigate our impact on the environment,” says Charles. Those efforts encompass everything - from the use of gas boilers which heat the building to excluding the use of oasis foam (a micro plastic) in the flower arrangements.
For these and other initiatives, All Saints’ has been recognised with a ECO Silver Award.
A significant proportion of the population of Clifton are of mature years, this is somewhat obscured by the large student population for which the area is known. One of the church missional priorities has been to work alongside those of a more mature age. One specific focus has been amongst those living with dementia. “There’s a need to respond to those who live with dementia and their carers,” Charles says. “The church has engaged in dementia awareness activities. Our signage is designed for those with dementia to find their way around and our monthly ‘Friends Together’ cafe is a popular venue for many in this group.’
These efforts were rewarded with the Dementia Aware Organisation’s Gold Award.
“All this hard work bubbles up from within the Church community itself,” says Charles. “These are the areas that people have identified, both individually and collectively, as being important in terms of our missional focus.”