28 April 2023

Salvationists join ecumenical stand for climate justice

Major Nick Coke

A group photo on Westminster Bridge with Big Ben in the background. People are holding a banner that reads 'No more fossil fuels. Amen.' In the group is Commissioner Anthony Cotterill, Cadet Lizzy Kitchenside and a child holding a placard with a Salvation Army red shield on it.
Photo: Louise Norton, Cafod

Major Nick Coke reports on the Army’s involvement in the No Faith in Fossil Fuels event that took place last week.

On Friday 21 April, 1,400 Christians from across denominations united for a prayer service and pilgrimage to parliament to highlight the need for climate justice.

Approximately 50 Salvationists attended the service at St John’s Church, Waterloo, including a brass band, which accompanied the singing.

A variety of speakers addressed the congregation, including Patricia Pagulayan from the Philippines, who gave a moving account of how her homeland is on the front line of the disastrous impact of climate change, former Archbishop of York Lord Sentamu, who gave a rallying call for justice, and Cadet Lizzy Kitchenside, who spoke about why she was taking part in the march.

A photo of a congregation standing in the body of a church listening to Cadet Lizzy Kitchenside speak from the front into a microphone
Cadet Lizzy Kitchenside addresses the congregation

Lizzy said: ‘We cannot claim to love God and love others and ignore this crisis. Our inaction speaks loudly. Climate change affects the very people that God tells us we are to serve. With prophetic voices, we must speak truth to power and bring about God’s upside-down Kingdom. I walk for my future, for the planet, for justice but, most importantly, I walk for and with God.’

The event featured voices of all ages, including two children who led prayers. One of them was Rosa, the daughter of Territorial Youth Specialist Jo Taylor.

The congregation processed with banners and placards to parliament, led by the Army band. The route passed the headquarters of Shell before crossing Westminster Bridge, with participants singing ‘Amazing Grace’.

A photo of Commissioner Anthony Cotterill praying into a megaphone in front of a crowd hold placards in Parliament Sqaure.
Territorial Commander Commissioner Anthony Cotterill prays in Parliament Square

At Parliament Square, Territorial Commander Commissioner Anthony Cotterill prayed through a megaphone: ‘Loving Creator God, we pray for you to continue to raise up a generation of leaders in this and other nations with the courage to take responsibility for our rapidly changing climate and the part we have played in it. We intercede for all our politicians and leaders, especially here in Westminster. Cause them to act in the best interests of all nations today and all peoples in the future, in order to avoid further catastrophic changes.’

As the TC prayed, thousands of protestors, gathered nearby for an Extinction Rebellion rally, listened on.

A photo of a Salvation Army brass band playing in Parliament Square, surrounded by a crowd hold placards. Big Ben is visible in the background.

One bystander reflected: ‘This is your moment, Salvation Army. You are made for this. You’re organised, you’re mobile, you have the band, the songs, and the message for our times. Thank you for leading us.’

As a participant in this action, it was a great reminder to me that we have a radical history of taking our message to the streets. The very right to gather in the open air in public was a cause early Salvationists battled for and brought about changes to the law. Standing alongside so many Christian brothers and sisters, peacefully praying, singing and raising our collective prophetic voice, was a statement of enacted hope in a fragmented world. It also challenged all those present to do more to care for God’s creation.

Written by

A photo of Nick Coke

Major Nick Coke

Territorial Co-ordinator for Justice and Reconciliation, THQ

Discover more

Cadet Lizzy Kitchenside reflects on taking part in the No Faith in Fossil Fuels pilgrimage to parliament.

As the Army steps up its response to climate change, Major Heather Poxon outlines her role as territorial environmental officer.

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The Salvation Army's International Positional Statement on Caring for the Environment.