Church of England Diocese of Manchester St. Edmund, Whalley Range

A 'green' weekend

5 Sep 2019, 2:30 p.m.

It probably didn’t escape most of you that, last weekend was quite a weekend as far as news about the environment goes in Manchester.

The ‘Northern Rebellion’, an event organised by Extinction Rebellion ‘took over’ Deansgate with the message that we all need to act on the Climate Crisis. For the whole weekend, the road became a car free zone, with a pot plant garden being installed in the centre and various workshops and talks happening each day.

The atmosphere was incredibly peaceful and encouraging – Extinction Rebellion are clear on their principles of non-violent direct action (NVDA) and their approach is one of friendship and relationship, whilst raising the critical issues that we face. here were signs making it clear that the road was a designated drug and alcohol free, food and wellbeing was provided onsite to all and, as a result, the police and local businesses responded very favourably.

It was wonderful to see how many local businesses actively supported the cause, commenting on how pleasant the road had become without cars, and during the weekend, I was told that off duty police officers brought their children down to the site to see what was happening. As I walked down on Monday, I was struck by the real sense of community, the shared message of love and desire for good. It felt a lot like church.

On Saturday, at St Edmunds, Christian Climate Action, which started before Extinction Rebellion but is now considered to be the Christian arm of Extinction Rebellion, held an inspiring training day. Over 70 people gathered to hear why NVDA is so crucial from a Christian perspective. Catholic priest, Martin, reminded us of the words of Jesus in Matt 5: 43, where he calls us to love both our neighbours and our enemies.

NVDA is not about attacking people who disagree with us, but instead is about highlighting a message in a way that projects love. Numerous biblical examples were given of times when people had defied authorities in order to uphold the words of God. Daniel, for example, defied the law by continuing to pray to God (Daniel 6:10). Jesus, in Matt 21:12-13, took direct action in the temple by turning over the tables. I was reminded of a talk given by Bishop Stephen Cottrell at Greenbelt, where he stated that the rule of law must be respected, so if we challenge it, we must accept the consequences however, we are called by Christ to challenge unjust structures and laws. I have been strongly challenged in my own personal response to this call for NVDA and have been thinking and praying deeply about what I am called to do.

Maybe you are feeling challenged, too? If you have any thoughts or questions, let’s talk!