“We are told to love our neighbour” said Archbishop Rowan. “The earth is our neighbour, and we must love it.” He was speaking at an Extinction Rebellion faith event, outside St Paul’s Cathedral, on Sunday 14th April. Four hundred people gathered, from a wide range of faith traditions, to pray for the actions which are taking place this week in London and around the world.
I am glad that St John’s, Waterloo, is able to support Extinction Rebellion (XR) by offering a space in the crypt for rest and recuperation, and storing trees and plants for the action on Waterloo Bridge.
I have been engaged with climate change for many years. I co-founded the Faith for the Climate network in 2014. It draws members from a wide range of faith traditions including Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Jews and Buddhists. I am also a member of the Church of England's Environment Working Group, chaired by the Bishop of Salisbury, which works within the C of E on climate change and related issues.
It is clear to me that all people of faith are called to care for creation, so that all of humanity may flourish. The challenge we face now, as David Attenborough made clear this week, is hard to overstate.
Some of the actions of XR are illegal and there have been many arrests. In this Holy Week I remember that Jesus went to Jerusalem knowing that it was very likely he would be arrested, and that, in the Garden of Gethsemane, he confronted his own fear and vulnerability before he was taken into custody. His actions changed the world for ever.
Jesus tells us that the Sabbath is made for humans, not humans for the Sabbath - and so I listen to the words of the Archbishop, calling us back to care for the earth and for our descendants. XR's witness and action - and their thoughtful and careful approach - is vital for our time.
“We have forgotten who we are,” said Archbishop Rowan, and the earth is suffering. We have, urgently, to do what we can to bring about change. In a tiny way St John’s is trying to be part of the change.