Climate Change Vigil

On the 22nd September there was a climate change vigil held outside no. 10, Downing Street, led by SPEAK member, Rev. Daniel Woodhouse.

As a part of the day of action, two Catholic grandparents, Phil Kingston from South Gloucestershire and Reggie Norton from Oxfordshire risked arrest by kneeling and praying at the gates of Downing Street in an effort to draw attention to the need for urgent action on climate change. They prayed for a committed and cooperative outcome to the UN talks in New York which will pave the way to an effective agreement at the Paris talks next year. The police asked them to get up and leave but they continued to pray for the poorest peoples who are already suffering from the results of climate change but who have done the least to cause it. They also prayed for God's creation which is experiencing the biggest depletion and extinction of life-forms since the time of the dinosaurs; and for their grandchildren's generation and those who follow them. Reggie and Phil said that these were all justice issues which they were not prepared to walk away from. They prayed especially for Mr. Cameron to fulfil his pledge to lead the greenest government ever by taking a leadership role in these talks.

During this time, the police diverted the traffic and after half an hour, the two men got up and left without being arrested. They returned a few hours later and thanked the police for their courtesy.

Phil, 78, a parishioner of Holy Family Church in Clifton Diocese, said: “I am concerned that the immensity of what is being done to the Earth is still receiving a limited political response. The destruction of God’s creation and the needs of the world’s poorest people call for a prophetic response from our churches and from each one of us.”

On the previous day, hundreds of thousands of campaigners took to the streets in protests around the world aimed at putting pressure on world leaders gathered at the UN Climate Change Summit in New York. However, the two grandparents decided that the time had come for them to go one step further and, accompanied by other members of Christian Climate Action, they took this action in Downing Street.

Reggie, 80, a parishioner of Blessed Hugh Church in Portsmouth Diocese, said: “I don’t believe the government has realised how serious a threat climate change poses and after 14 years of campaigning on this issue, and with time running out, I am appealing to David Cameron as a Christian to act now for the sake of future generations.”

Daniel Woodhouse and other SPEAK members joined Phil and Reggie afterwards for a prayer and worship vigil outside Downing Street - read the liturgy here.