‘No Faith in Fossil Fuels’: a Christian pilgrimage of witness

By Bokani Tshidzu, Operation Noah’s Bright Now Campaign Officer

On the eve of Earth Day, over a thousand Christians from diverse denominations came together in London for a climate protest against new fossil fuel exploration, particularly in the North Sea, and to call for a transition to a sustainable, just and fossil-free world. The event was a part of ‘The Big One’, a four-day protest organised by Extinction Rebellion and attended by Operation Noah, Christian Aid, Tearfund, Christian Climate Action, CAFOD, A Rocha UK and Green Christian. 

The event kicked off with a powerful ‘No Faith in Fossil Fuels’ service in St John’s Waterloo, which was attended by so many people that the church was full and hundreds had to gather in the garden to pray. The service featured inspirational talks from faith leaders, including a speech from former Archbishop of York, Lord Sentamu, and hymns that highlighted the need to take action on climate change and environmental injustice. Rt Revd Olivia Graham, Bishop of Reading, called for a united stand against fossil fuel expansion and for just, wise and swift decisions from the government.

Following the service, the demonstrators formed a procession, led by several bishops and faith leaders, that included the Salvation Army band, students from St George’s Catholic School, and many carrying banners and signs. The group made a stop at Shell’s headquarters, where they said a prayer for the company’s workers and executives. Lord Sentamu, who chairs Christian Aid, was prevented by the oil giant’s security from delivering a letter from several charities, including Tearfund, CAFOD, Christian Aid, A Rocha, Operation Noah and Green Christian, calling for an end to fossil fuel extraction.

The group then marched to the Houses of Parliament, where they joined other campaigners already gathered in Parliament Square. The atmosphere was electric, with passionate speeches, songs and chants demanding radical systemic change to address the social and ecological crisis of our time.

One of the most powerful aspects of the pilgrimage and walk of witness for me was the sense of community and solidarity that it fostered. It was inspiring to see so many Christians come together to express their shared values and visions and to support each other in the struggle for justice and dignity. It was wonderful to join together with many Christians who have worked with us and supported Operation Noah’s Bright Now campaign.

Joining a pilgrimage and walk of witness can be challenging, but it can also be a transformative experience that helps us reconnect with the Earth and with each other. The ‘No Faith in Fossil Fuels’ service and the subsequent pilgrimage was a remarkable demonstration of the power of collective action and prayer.

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