Rowan Williams and bishops join Extinction Rebellion action as Christians arrested

By agency reporter
September 3, 2020

Tuesday 1 September 2020  was the first day of the Extinction Rebellion September Uprising. The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, joined the Christians of Extinction Rebellion, called Christian Climate Action, in a march which started at Buckingham Palace and ended in Parliament Square.

He said “People of faith should be here because they are people of faith. That is, they believe they can make a difference of some kind and that that difference is worth making. At the moment we’re at a remarkable moment of opportunity. People are talking about building back better. We have to take the opportunity. It’s not just recovering what’s been lost but building again something that is genuinely more sustainable. Because in the last few months we have seen the possibility of some alternatives that might work and I think people of faith ought to be on board with making those alternatives work, taking that moment of opportunity.”

On the march, the Archbishop joined vicars, priests and other Christians, in holding a banner reading ‘Creation Cries Out’. Once arrived at Parliament Square, members of Christian Climate Action became involved with blocking the roads around it. They also held a vigil for the earth, with prayer services throughout the day, creating a space where people can share and process their experiences of climate grief.

Five Christians were amongst those arrested at the protests.

Prior his arrest, Fr Martin Newell, a Catholic priest from Birmingham, explained why he took part: "The Christian faith is not an easy one – we are constantly called to step outside of our comfort zone. I believe that being faithful means taking a stand on the biggest issue of our time. When Jesus said to James and John, 'Follow me', they stood up, dropped their fishing nets and did just that. As disciples of Christ, we are called to take action. Are we willing to stand up and do what we are called to or will we remain in the boat?’

Ben Buse, a research associate and Anglican from Bristol was also arrested. This was his first time of being arrested in an action with Christian Climate Action. He said: "I’m aware that I am deeply complicit, but now that I’m aware I cannot stand back and watch the beautiful Earth be destroyed – nor allow the impact on vulnerable people and the loss of ancestral lands as has already started. I believe in a God who in self-giving love created everything, who hears the cry of the oppressed and calls us to serve creation and one another. I must join in demanding change."

Paul Kunert, a father of three from Kent said: “I've never been arrested before, but I see no other way to get the government to take this seriously. We're sleep-walking into a global-heating catastrophe. We need to change now, before it's too late.”

Two bishops have been part of the rebellions so far. Olivia Graham, the Bishop of Reading, attended the opening ceremony on the evening of  31 August and Paul Hendricks, Auxiliary Bishop of Southwark, attended an ecumenical prayer service which was held during the protest.

Bishop Olivia said: “Its increasingly clear to an increasing number of people that our planet and human race are facing and existential crisis. It’s a pleasure and a privilege to be here with other people of faith to stand in solidarity, hope and love and to surround the extinction rebellion witness with our prayers.”

*  Christian Climate Action:


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