Training Day: Intro to Christian Climate Action, Extinction Rebellion and Non-Violent Direct Action

Saturday 23rd February 2019, 10am-6pm
The Upper Vestry Hall, St Georges, Bloomsbury, WC1A 2HR
Free, donations towards room hire welcome
Facebook event

 

Christian Climate Action (CCA) has been busy recently, taking part in actions as part of the Extinction Rebellion (XR). We have lots of new people interested in our work. If you’re one of them, this is your chance to get find out more and get involved.

Followers of Jesus Christ are taught to imitate Christ and so are often given training and encouragement to feed the hungry, heal the sick and forgive our enemies. Seldom are we trained or encouraged to follow Jesus Christ in the activities that won the attention of the authorities, got him arrested, and then saw him crucified. His early followers shared in this aspect of his life but we generally do not. Some of us, who are aware of the contemporary signs of the times, aware of the behaviours of the principalities and powers in the world and aware of our own complicity in these processes, wonder what role Non-Violent Direct Action (NVDA) should have in our following of Jesus Christ.

Come and find out:

  • More about CCA
  • Why we do what we do
  • Why we’re currently involved in the XR
  • What NVDA involves
  • How you can get involved

No prior experience is expected. Interest and participation in this training day commits you to no action but it is hoped that it will be of use to you as you consider the issues around NVDA and how it relates to your own Christian discipleship.

If you are interested in taking part please visit the Facebook event or drop us an email.

 

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Ruth’s Police Cell Journal

When CCA member, Ruth Jarman, was arrested on 12th November as part of her involvement in the Extinction Rebellion, she decided to keep a journal documenting her time in custody.

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Ruth being arrested… again!

Ruth’s Journal

I thought I’d write a diary of my time in my police cell so as to give others an idea of what it is like.

2.30pm. Peace at last. The cell door closes loudly and I am on my own with a Bible, Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship, The Hundred Year Old Man who jumped out of a window and ran away, a pencil, a pen, a notebook, two tri-fold leaflets given to me by the policeman who checked me in, and a cup of tea.

My arresting officer, PC Mason, seems barely out-of-school, cool, sweet, not too sure of himself, smiles easily. We are ‘told’ by the protest legal experts that we shouldn’t allow the police to engage us in conversation as they are trying to find out about us by chatting. At CCA we don’t talk about the action or about anyone else – but we do chat generally and try to talk about climate change.

Sitting in my cell, the temperature is about right, though I will ask for a blanket soon, the blue plastic mattress is comfy enough, the walls like those of a public convenience, but without the smell. Ensuite toilet – literally – and room service of tea, water and beans and wedges just served by another motherly policeman. And hours ahead of me to write, read my Bible, pray, read. No phone, no emails, no washing up, no tidying, no cleaning. What’s there not to like?

Just heard the well-spoken voice of my CCA buddy Reggie talking, the PC calling him ‘sir’.

I guess I should plan what to say in my interview. The legal advice is always to do a ‘no comment’ interview.  But I want to say why I did what I did, so I will read a prepared statement and then answer ‘no comment’ to any questions. You are always offered a solicitor on checking in at the police station – I declined one.

I wrote 4 pages, crossed out 2. That will do.

Prayed the Litany of Creation – another thing they allowed me in my cell. Out loud as the corridor was a bit noisy.

Just had another smiley policeman ask me if I was OK and give me some water.

Done 4 minutes of high impact aerobics. Wonder if they watched it on their CCTV and thought it mad or quite normal.

I just thought of something I needed to do and, of course I can’t do it. In the confines of the police cell I am liberated from that whole infinitely-long ‘to do’ list. That is such a freeing thought.

I have now tidied all my possessions. They are in a neat pile by my side. Tidying is done. I am liberated also from untidiness and the requirement to act on that untidiness. This is the life.

Now for Ephesians 1.

This is another huge benefit of being arrested. Maybe you are more focused than me, but when I read the Bible I have this monkey jumping up and down in my brain shouting about all the things I have to do on my ‘to do’ list, thinking up new things to do, telling me to check my watch, that I need to get through my quiet time as quickly and efficiently as possible so I can get on with making pancakes, hanging up the washing, sending that email. In the glorious freedom of the police cell the monkey is quiet, in fact I do believe it is curled up in a corner and gone to sleep. I read Ephesians 1 slowly, over and over again. Giving it time to be absorbed and remembered and respected and understood. I have soaked in it and phrases and verses have stood out for me and clicked into my understanding of life. In the serenity of this cell, ‘the eyes of my heart’ have been ‘enlightened’ in order that I have an inkling of God’s ‘incomparably great power for us who believe.’

In the police van coming here, handcuffed, driving past the ‘Tell the Truth’ umbrellas of the protest at the main entrance of BEIS, our movement looked very small, very insignificant. But ‘for us who believe’ we have an ‘incomparably great power’, a power mighty enough to raise Christ from the dead. And also we are Christ’s body and our head, Christ himself, is far above all ‘rule and authority, power and dominion.’

I just woke from a lovely sleep. I am so relaxed. I feel I have done something for God and my children and just for the moment I can do nothing more. They took my watch away so there is no time, no schedule – I am free from deadlines! Holidays are meant to help you unwind in this way. This version is free and without any potential for disappointment and family arguments!

The night shift called by – 10-12 people to ask how I was and if I wanted anything, how I liked my tea.

Then an Inspector Marshall letting me know that I will be interviewed and then they will decide what to do with me – charged, bailed or freed. I feel a little anxious that I will not understand what I should do that that stage – hopefully there will be no decision to make.

Something Bonhoeffer wrote while in prison, spoke to me: “It all depends on whether or not the fragment of our life reveals the plan and material of the whole. There are fragments which are only good to be thrown away, and others which are important for centuries to come because their fulfilment can only be a divine work. They are fragments of necessity. If our life, however remotely, reflects such a fragment… we shall not have to bewail our fragmentary life, but, on the contrary, rejoice in it.” If there is an ounce of possibility that our lives could reflect such a fragment, then we must continue and rejoice!

I’ve just been told that I am going to be escorted out of my cell to wash my hands. I’m quite excited.

Vegan Chilli and another cup of tea have come first, from a very smiley WPC.

Ummm, this chilli is the biz. I ate it slowly, savouring all the different soft vegetables. 200 calories, 1.5g fat.  Won’t get fat in here.

Just back from interview, washing hands (finally!) and fingerprinting.  PC something beginning-with-a-W and a bearded, larger chap. I took control a bit and told them up-front that I was going to read a short statement and then do a no-comment interview, though they were welcome to try to catch me out.

This was my statement:

‘I visited the Dept for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy today as a Christian and as a mother because God’s creation and the human race faces an existential crisis beyond anything in our history.

Our government has been offered a life-line, only available now, by international bodies of experts on climate and species loss, in the form of specific advice on what it must do to maintain abundant life on earth and avert catastrophe. It has refused to look at this life-line and instead is cutting support for renewables, increasing subsidies for oil and gas and expanding airports and roads. They know the truth about where we are. They know what they need to do to avert climate and biodiversity breakdown, yet they are refusing to act.

I hold our government criminally negligent for the coming extinction of most of God’s creation including possibly humanity itself.

I wanted to expose this truth and help them to repent and do what it takes to protect the future.’

Nearly cried at the end and then we both laughed when W asked the first question to my first-of-many ‘no-comment’. A fun game and I won! They showed a video of me spray painting the XR symbol on the glass wall of the lobby.

‘Is that you?’

‘no comment’

‘Who owns that glass?’

‘No comment’

‘Did you have permission to spray paint that glass?’

‘No comment’

Green and Black Cross advise you to continue with the ‘no comment’ after the official interview, but I did respond to some questions.  To ‘protest is a right but criminal damage is not’, I said ‘I have tried everything else’. They said that however much they agree with me, and they ‘live in the same world’, when their uniform is on they have to uphold the law. They said that PC W was policing the protest on Wednesday and Friday as well and was I planning to be here all week (‘no comment’) because if so I could superglue my hands to PC W and get his photo in The Sun. Later, when PC W left me, I said ‘see you soon!’ I hope that the protest legal support group, Green and Black Cross, didn’t have any spies listening!

They said they may need to take my CCA T-shirt as evidence and would give me another one. They then discussed it and decided they wouldn’t need to take it. Bless ‘em.

Um, this is a proper cup of tea that PC W got me as I was let back into my cell after my fingerprinting and mug-shot.

It was 9pm when we started the interview, so I’ve been here for 6.5 hours.  Time flies.

Read more of The Cost of Discipleship.  Costly Grace. Hard stuff.

Then a bit of low-impact aerobics – kicking, stepping, just moving around.

Now for some light relief – I finished The One Hundred-year-old man.

Just realised I have a window sill! The ‘window’ is frosted and is not an outside wall but the sill works as such. I have arranged the 2 leaflets that the ‘receptionist’ gave me on it for decoration.

I was ‘released under investigation’ (as were Reggie and Martin) at 2 am, and were welcomed with cheers, hugs and food by Martin and some arrestee support in the lobby. Free to keep on with doing our duty.

Ruth was arrested a total of five times during November as part of efforts to get the UK government to declare a state of emergency in relation to climate change. She has since been charged and is due to appear in court in January 2019.

Five Christians Arrested at Downing Street During Climate Change Rebellion

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Five Christians have been arrested today in London during a protest designed to make the government take more urgent action on climate change. Ruth Jarman, 55; Richard Barnard, 45; Phil Kingston, 82; Margareet Boss; and one other person, all members of Christian Climate Action, were arrested for criminal damage after they allegedly used spray paint outside Downing Street.

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CCA members habe been taking part in the Extinction Rebellion, which saw more than 1000 people gathered in Parliament Square this morning, before marching to Downing Street. 14 people were arrested in total. CCA member, Fr Martin Newell led the crowds in a liturgy.

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Ruth has been arrested several times over the last fortnight and is due to appear in court in January. Speaking this morning she commented on why Christians have got involved in a number of protests which have taken place over the last fortnight as part of the Extinction Rebellion:

“We feel called by God to protect creation… God told Adam to care and preserve the garden so we think it’s a particularly Christian activity to protect God’s creation. Christian’s are the ones who believe it’s God’s creation, we’re the ones who believe it’s there for God and not for humans to use and abuse, so I think Christians should be leading this movement.”

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Phil Kingston, 82, made a statement earlier on in the fortnight, when he was in custody a following an earlier arrest:

‘If I am remanded in prison it will be a privilege to witness to how essential it is to work our socks off for all life on earth and the generations who follow us. I will have great support from friends here, so let’s look our fears in the eye and put them aside.’

Those involved in the Extinction Rebellion are prepared to risk arrest in order to ensure the world avoids climate breakdown. They are making the following key demands of the government:

  • That the UK declares a state of emergency around climate change;
  • That the government takes action to create a zero carbon economy by 2025;
  • That we create a national assembly of ordinary people to decide what our zero carbon future will look like.

Earlier in the fortnight members of CCA blockaded entrances to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, attempted to blockade the entrance to Downing Street, and tried to plant a tree outside the Brazilian Embassy.

More about the Extinction Rebellion: https://risingup.org.uk/XR/

 

Amid mass arrests, Christian is first individual to face court for Climate Rebellion

While thousands gathered across London bridges yesterday (Saturday 17th November) for a mass day of action urging the government to act on climate change, Ruth Jarman, 55 was at Westminster Magistrates Court, as the first individual to attend court as part of the Extinction Rebellion protest.

Ruth, from Hampshire, was arrested on Thursday evening as she decorated the Brazilian Embassy red, to represent the blood of individuals around the world suffering the effects of climate change. This was the third time Ruth had been arrested since the Extinction Rebellion began last Monday. Previous arrests were for actions targeting UK government locations of Downing Street and DEFRA. Ruth was released on unconditional bail, with her trial taking place on the 2nd January 2019.

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Following her attendance at court, Ruth joined crowds at Blackfriars Bridge and reunited with members of Christian Climate Action – a group of church goers from different denominational backgrounds around the UK who have been moved by recent scientific reports on climate change. On the bridge she talked to the crowds about her experience in court. “They say it was criminal damage” she explained, “but I have lawful excuse, because they are causing criminal damage to what us at Christian Climate Action call Gods creation. They are destroying it and we have to stand up against that. So we were improving the building because we were making it tell the truth – that this government is taking part in the extinction of Gods’ creation and possibly humanity as well. That’s why we did it and I pleaded not guilty because I am not guilty.”

At Blackfriars Bridge members of Christian Climate Action “locked-on”, using chains and circular tubing, forming a human blockade across the road. Four members of the group, Phil Kingston, 82, Fr Martin Newell, 51, Richard Barnard, 45 and Nick Cooper, 36, took part in blocking the road, despite attendance in the area being a breach of bail conditions they received from previous Extinction Rebellion arrests.

The Christians prayed as police sawed their tubing and removed them from the road. While this was happening, other attendees of the protest gathered around the group singing hymns. The police arrested the 8 Christians forming the blockade, including Ruth herself, some of whom for which this was the second or third time they had been arrested for the climate protest. Many more individuals were arrested for the cause across the capital – the estimated total being over 85 arrestees.

Phil Kingston, the 82-year-old retired Bristol University lecturer explained his motivation for being in the blockade “I love my grandchildren” he said “They mean the world to me and the thought of leaving them a broken world breaks my heart. I have to do my bit before it’s too late. Us more elderly folk have a lot less to lose than younger people by getting arrested”.

Fr Martin Newell, a Catholic Priest from Birmingham explained that his faith compels him to take action “I follow a Christ who cares passionately about the poor, and it is the poorest people of the world who are suffering the effects of climate change. I am called to love my neighbour and today that means pushing the government to take action on climate change. All other avenues of achieving this have failed and so I’m getting involved in non-violent direct action, just as Jesus did when he turned over the tables in the temple”

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Today marked the sixth day of a fortnight of actions planned in the capital. Those involved in the rebellion are making the following key demands of the government concerning climate change:

  • That the UK declares a state of emergency around climate change;
  • That the government takes action to create a zero carbon economy by 2025;
  • That we create a national assembly of ordinary people to decide what our zero carbon future will look like.

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, has pledged his support to the Extinction Rebellion protest by singing a joint letter with 93 other experts and influencers. An exert of the letter reads:

“When a government wilfully abrogates its responsibility to protect its citizens from harm and to secure the future for generations to come, it has failed in its most essential duty of stewardship. The ‘social contract’ has been broken, and it is therefore not only our right, but our moral duty to bypass the government’s inaction and flagrant dereliction of duty, and to rebel to defend life itself.”

Christian in Court Over Climate Change Rebellion

Ruth Jarman planting a tree with other CCA members before being arrested

A member of Christian Climate Action is due in court tomorrow, having been arrested at a climate change protest outside the Brazilian Embassy in London yesterday (Thursday 15th November). Ruth Jarman, 55, was one of several members of Christian Climate Action (CCA) who took part in the protest as part of the Extinction Rebellion, a fortnight’s worth of direct action in the capital to push the government to take urgent action to tackle climate change.

Ruth went to the Brazilian Embassy with a crowbar and tree, intending to use the crowbar to remove a paving slab and to plant the tree as a symbol of the creation that is at stake if we don’t tackle climate change. This is the third time Ruth has been arrested since Monday and has resulted in her being remanded in custody until Saturday when her case will be heard at Westminster Magistrates Court.

Just before the Rebellion began Ruth made the following statement:

‘I still have hope – but my hope is no longer in governments doing the right thing because they are asked politely. We need a step change. If God has a plan to prevent breakdown of what makes life on earth possible, I think it might include His spirit in all of us being moved to civil disobedience. Look at civil rights in America, the Suffragettes here. People went to prison. People died. Stopping the extinction of all the best bits of creation, including possibly us, has got to be worth more than the human equality that direct action has fought for in the past.’

After she was arrested for the first time on Monday, Ruth read a statement to the police which included the following:

‘I visited the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy today as a Christian and as a mother because God’s creation and the human race faces an existential crisis beyond anything in our history.

‘Our government has been offered a life-line, only available now, by international bodies of experts on climate and species loss, in the form of specific advice on what it must do to maintain abundant life on earth and avert catastrophe. It has refused to look at this life-line and instead is cutting support for renewables, increasing subsidies for oil and gas and expanding airports and roads. I hold our government criminally negligent for the coming extinction of most of God’s creation including possibly humanity itself.’

Phil Kingston, 82 , is led away from the Brazilian Embassy by police

A second member of CCA, Phil Kingston, 82, was arrested after pouring red paint on the embassy as a symbol of the loss of life that will result from climate change and the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. He was held in custody overnight and has since been released, pending further investigation. Before he knew whether or not he would be released, he made the following statement over the phone to his family:

‘If I am remanded in prison it will be a privilege to witness to how essential it is to work our socks off for all life on earth and the generations who follow us. I will have great support from friends here, so let’s look our fears in the eye and put them aside.’

Those involved in the Extinction Rebellion are prepared to risk arrest in order to ensure the world avoids climate breakdown. Those involved are making the following key demands of the government:

  • That the UK declares a state of emergency around climate change;
  • That the government takes action to create a zero carbon economy by 2025;
  • That we create a national assembly of ordinary people to decide what our zero carbon future will look like.

The main day of action will be on Saturday 17th November and all are invited to join in: www.facebook.com/events/1758991460816073/

Earlier in the week members of CCA blockaded entrances to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and attempted to blockade the entrance to Downing Street.

Five Christians Arrested Outside Downing Street During Climate Rebellion

Five Christians were among 14 people arrested yesterday (14th Nov) during a protest in at Downing Street, pushing the government to take urgent action to tackle climate change.

Ruth Jarman, 55, Phil Kingston, 82, Fr Martin Newell, 51, Richard Barnard, 45, and Nick Cooper, 36, used spray paint cans to decorate Downing Street with messages calling for an end to climate suffering. The group also made attempts to blockade the entrance to Downing Street, Ruth using adhesive glue to stick herself to railings, before they were tackled to the ground by police.

The action was one of a series that happened across the capital yesterday. A 68-meter banner was dropped over Westminster bridge, sending a clear message to the Houses of Parliament. People of all ages also went to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs where they used spray cans to urge the department to provide the political will needed to address climate change.

 

Yesterday was the third day of a fortnight of planned actions, in what has been dubbed the Extinction Rebellion. Members of the movement are prepared to risk arrest in order to ensure the world avoids climate breakdown. Currently the government isn’t doing enough to tackle it. Those involved are making the following key demands of the government concerning climate change:

  • That the UK declares a state of emergency around climate change;
  • That the government takes action to create a zero carbon economy by 2025;
  • That we create a national assembly of ordinary people to decide what our zero carbon future will look like.

The main day of action will be on Saturday 17th November and all are invited to join in.

Shortly before being the first of the 14 people to be arrested, Richard Barnard said:

I decided to take part on behalf of all the people around the world who are already suffering the effects of climate change. Of course I’d rather not be here today; I would rather be at home. However, I have the privilege of being able to speak out for justice and I will do that for those around the world who don’t have that luxury.’

Fr Martin Newell reflected on why his faith motivated him to attend:

We are crucifying God’s earth, creating a climate that will cause disasters that would completely undermine any human progress. As a Christian I have a duty to act when I see injustice and be an outworking of God’s sacrificial love for His people and His creation.’

Phil Kingston, 82, a retired university tutor from Bristol, said:

‘I am motivated to take part because of my grandchildren. When I think of leaving them a broken world it breaks my heart. I can’t just sit at home watching the world fall down around me.’

Nick Cooper, 36, from Northampton, said:

‘The science is in. If we carry on along our current trajectory then we have just 12 years until climate breakdown. Despite knowing this, the UK government refuses to provide the political will needed to tackle climate change – virtually banning onshore wind power, scrapping solar subsidies and promoting fracking to name but a few damaging policies. No other methods of pushing for change have worked and so we have been forced to take up non-violent direct action.’

The Extinction Rebellion has the support of 94 experts and influencers, including Dr Rowan Williams, who have signed a petition stating:

“When a government wilfully abrogates its responsibility to protect its citizens from harm and to secure the future for generations to come, it has failed in its most essential duty of stewardship. The ‘social contract’ has been broken, and it is therefore not only our right, but our moral duty to bypass the government’s inaction and flagrant dereliction of duty, and to rebel to defend life itself.”