Background Shape

St James’s joins The Big One Climate Protests

An estimated 60 000 people from all over the country joined Christian Climate Action and 200 other environmental organisations in Parliament Square over the four-day weekend of 21-24 April. The protests issued a strong challenge to Government policy on fossil fuel extraction and called for greater public engagement through citizens assemblies. Over 40 people from St James’s took part across the four days. This was a moment when the climate protest movement got much broader, with many more people willing to witness publicly to the need for urgent action on the climate emergency.

On Friday, Christians of many denominations joined the ‘No Faith in Fossil Fuels’ service at St John’s Waterloo, where the church and entrance were filled to capacity, with many others in the garden. We then walked in pilgrimage along the South Bank and over Westminster Bridge to Parliament Square, stopping at the Shell building on route to sing Amazing Grace and hand in a letter. On Saturday, Earth Day, many thousands participated in a Biodiversity march and die-in, and leaders of Black majority churches led worship for the Christian community. Sunday’s theme, ‘Running out of Time’ coincided with the London marathon, with Race Director Hugh Brasher expressing his support for the protest – and many protestors getting a great view of the race as it passed through Parliament Square. On Monday in the pouring rain, with parliament in session, the core messages were restated: no more fossil fuels, and greater democratic participation through citizens assemblies.

Why participate in public witness and direct action?

  • Because ‘we envision a just society’. In this case by advocating prayerfully for a just transition to a new world order – an ecozoic society! Oscar Romero, who is an inspiration to Catholics involved in public witness for the climate once said: ‘A church that doesn’t stir up a crisis, a gospel that doesn’t make us uncomfortable, a word of God that doesn’t touch on the specific sins of the society in which it is spoken… what kind of gospel is that?’
  • Because we are out of time. The actions of our government and corporations fly in the face of overwhelming evidence – we cannot open up new North Sea oil fields and stay under 1.5 degrees of warming.
  • Because our voices were joined with those of a very broad range of both secular and faith-based organisations committed to a just future in which the earth and all living things can flourish. There are moving testimonies of Christians bearing witness on the CCA website here .

What did we learn?

Some key things arising from our debrief session:

  • The majority of people taking part in The Big One were white and middle class. We must continue to address this.
  • There was no immediate response from the Government, and the BBC failed to cover the protests on the national news, leading to many complaints. Channel Four and some newspapers did provide coverage.
  • Many people felt safe, welcome, trusted, hopeful, and that the overall culture was respectful – like building the kingdom of God
  • Organising across groups and partners was compared to the way nature works – corridors are essential in linking up both habitats and groups/actions
  • Faith groups may be in a minority but the contribution of prayerful reflection is very valuable to the whole movement
  • Putting your body where it counts is still powerful
  • Comments on the WhatsApp group showed the everyday-ness of being there, normalising protest as part of the democratic process, and gave a ‘lived’ sense to being there as a group
  • Taking part in the die-in had powerful Christian resonance with death and resurrection
  • There is a need for education and a desire to live relationally. If we know what we do harms the earth, we won’t want to do it if we love the earth.

If you would like to join us as we continue our action for the Earth, please get in touch via

Part of the SJP group on the way to Westminster on 23 April

Many hundreds of people gather for worship at St John’s Waterloo before walking to Parliament Square, via the Shell Building where former Archbishop of York John Sentamu tried to hand in a letter

Thousands of people participate in a ‘die-in’ – lying down in the street during a march for biodiversity on Earth Day, 22nd April

Christian Climate Action were at the Faith hub throughout the four days

SJP members with prayer cards, as encouraged by Christian Climate Action