Were you at The Big One last month? This was an incredible gathering from 21 to 24 April of Christians of all denominations participating with over 200 organisations to create one of the UK’s biggest-ever climate protests.
The first day of this four-day protest saw a #NoFaithinFossilFuels service at St John’s Waterloo with too many people to fit inside the church or its garden! The church engagement in this crucial protest was spearheaded and coordinated by Christian Climate Action with an array of other Christian organisations in partnership: Tearfund, Christian Aid, CAFOD, Green Christian, Operation Noah, Laudato Si, A Rocha, Iona Community, BMS Mission, Ekklesia, Student Christian Movement, Amos Trust, Just Love, and more. After the service, we then walked together in ecumenical pilgrimage, with a marching band thanks to the Salvation Army, to the Houses of Parliament. En route, we stopped outside the Shell HQ, with former Archbishop John Sentamu, who delivered a letter. Shell has both the ability and responsibility to become an energy company, not a fossil fuel company. Tens of thousands of people joined the protest at the Houses of Parliament over the next four days, praying and asking that the Government take action on the climate crisis.
The Saturday, day 2, was the 30th anniversary of the murder of Stephen Lawrence. There was a worship service outside Parliament focused on racial and climate justice, led by Black Majority Churches. This was followed by a Catholic Mass. The Sunday, day 3, was timed to combine with the crowds of supporters for the London Marathon, whose runners depend on clean air and many of whom were running for environmental causes. Tagged #RunningOutofTime, the day included a plethora of workshops and participatory activities for all ages, free food and fellowship and an Anglican eucharist. Some churches cancelled their Sunday services to meet there. The final day’s worship service near Parliament was focused on the future and led us on to the March to End Fossil Fuels with music and art dancing down Whitehall from the Supreme Court to Jubilee Gardens via Trafalgar Square.
The Senior Church Leaders in South London released a Joint Statement on Justice following this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Injustice, such as that caused by climate change, impacts the poorest of our neighbours first and worst. This is a key area for ecumenical activity, witness and advocacy. The magnitude and urgency of the work that needs to be done means that we must pull together and ensure churches are at the forefront of this call for justice. Churches Together was born from an unprecedented refugee crisis that led to the British Council of Churches formation in 1942, and now this crisis also demands our united work on an unmatched scale. We must act together to care for our neighbours and protect God’s creation.
One of the key asks of The Big One was for the Government to end all new fossil fuel licences. As yet, there has been no responding official announcement from the Government. To help take this forward as a Churches Together group, you can find out more and contact https://christianclimateaction.org/.