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Passionate, Peaceful Protest- and Prayer

by Michael Ford last modified 09 Oct, 2019 03:14 PM

Bishop Nicholas has spoken out on behalf of the Church of England at the start of the two weeks of protest by Extinction Rebellion.

"We are facing an unprecedented global climate crisis. Christians have a duty to care for God’s creation. This runs through everything we believe. Climate change is upon us and most affects the world’s poorest. Peaceful, passionate protest is a democratic response at a time when business as usual will not do."

As the Church of England’s lead Bishop for the Environment, Bishop Nicholas said:

"There is a climate emergency and we are all called to exercise leadership in this area, prioritising the fifth mark of mission ‘to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth’. Without this being done wholeheartedly the other four marks lack meaning and credibility in today’s context. It is now clear that almost everything we do needs to be seen through the lens of the environment."

Through actions such as switching to green energy, carrying out energy audits on our buildings, installing renewables, encouraging biodiversity with the Bats in Churches project and plastic reduction schemes, and shareholder resolutions aimed at reducing carbon impacts, the Church of England is actively reviewing its activities across the board to combat the threat which Climate Change poses.

Across the country, schools have partnered with churches and cathedrals to find ways for children to be involved in climate observances and action without putting themselves in danger.

The Church of England’s Education Department has partnered with Christian Aid and the Global Neighbours school accreditation scheme which recognises the excellent work that many schools are doing to engage in courageous advocacy and challenge injustice.

We can do more, individually, as churches, dioceses and as a national church and will continue to develop ways to measure and reduce our carbon impacts, while promoting biodiversity.

The recent Season of Creation has been a time of year when we have a special focus on God’s creation.

The Church strongly supports the cause, and the right for peaceful protest, but stresses that it does not advocate activity which breaks the law.

The Bishop of Oxford issued this prayer for use over the next two weeks:

Loving God, creator of our common home,
You fill the earth and sea and sky with life
Forgive us our neglect of your creation
The choking waste of our pollution
The damage done by careless habits
And our indifference to future generations.
Help us to amend our lives
To refuse more plastic if we can’t reuse it
To lift our voice for lasting change
And to live well and gently on the earth
To the glory of your Son, the Living Word
Through whom you made this fragile world.

Extinction Rebellion was established in the United Kingdom in May 2018 with about one hundred academics signing a call to action in support in October 2018, and launched at the end of October by Roger Hallam, Gail Bradbrook, Simon Bramwell, and other activists from the campaign group 'Rising Up!'.
In November 2018 various acts of civil disobedience were carried out in London. In an ongoing action, in April 2019 XR occupied four prominent sites in central London: Oxford Circus, Marble Arch, Waterloo Bridge and the area around Parliament Square.
Citing inspiration from grassroots movements such as Occupy, Gandhi's independence movement, the suffragettes, Martin Luther King Jr and others in the civil rights movement, Extinction Rebellion seeks to rally support worldwide around a common sense of urgency to tackle climate breakdown. A large number of activists in the movement have pledged to be arrested, and even to go to prison, similar to the mass arrest tactics of the Committee of 100 in 1961.

Extinction Rebellion issued its own statement:

Let's take a moment, this moment, to consider why we are here.
Let's remember our love for this beautiful planet that feeds, nourishes and sustains us.
Let's remember our love for the whole of humanity in all corners of the world.
Let's recollect our sincere desire to protect all this, for ourselves,
for all living beings, and for generations to come.
As we act today, may we find the courage to bring a sense of peace, love and appreciation
to everyone we encounter, to every word we speak and to every action we make.
We are here for all of us.

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