ON Friday 26 January, Christians, including members of the clergy, held a vigil outside the headquarters of BMS World Mission (a leading Baptist organisation) in Didcot, Oxfordshire – praying for the charity to drop Barclays as its bank.

The campaigners were there because since 2016, Barclays has been the biggest funder of fossil fuels in Europe. The bank continues to fund fossil fuel expansion projects, despite the International Energy Agency saying that exploitation and development of new oil and gas fields must stop, if the world is to stay within safe limits of global heating.

Around 14 people attended the vigil, organised by Christian Climate Action. They were joined by BMS World Mission members of staff, who came out of the office to participate. The group prayed for BMS World Mission as it considers its banking arrangements with Barclays. They sang Taizé chants and held periods of silence.

A number of Christian organisations have already pledged to drop Barclays, due to its record on fossil fuels, including Christian Aid, Greenbelt Festival and Sheffield Cathedral.

James Grote has been a Baptist minister for over 40 years, including working overseas with BMS World Mission. James was present at the vigil and explained why he decided to take part: “The climate emergency demands that we all examine and change how we use our resources and live more justly. We all need to do it, including organisations that we love and cherish and that’s why I was outside the offices of BMS World Mission asking them to switch from banking with Barclays. It won’t bust the bank, but they will take notice and it’s another small step towards cutting the influence of fossil fuel companies which are destroying the life of the planet that God has given us to love and to cherish.”

Mark Francis is a member of Trafalgar Road Baptist Church, Horsham, who attended the vigil. He said: “When a charity chooses Barclays, this gives the bank social licence and political influence, as it is presenting itself as a bank associated with positive causes – instead of one which is bankrolling climate collapse.

“Barclays can then use this reputation to secure fossil fuel expansion deals. In this critical time for life on our planet, it is important that BMS World Mission speaks out against Barclays and makes it known that it will not use a bank which is funding such destruction.”

Christian Climate Action is a network of Christians across the UK, who support each other in carrying out prayerful protest in the context of the climate crisis.

* Source: Christian Climate Action