On May 25, 2016, Sixteen local religious leaders were arrested for blocking the construction of the West Roxbury Lateral pipeline with an interfaith worship service, out of concern over global climate change and public safety. The prayerful protest was organized and led by Rabbi Shoshana Meira Friedman of Temple Sinai in Brookline. The clergy gathered in West Roxbury at 8am and began to pray standing in front of the gate to the metering & regulating station adjacent to 10 Grove Street. They then marched to the contentious site of pipeline construction, and entered the site to lead prayer and song while stopping construction. Passersby were invited to join in the worship and the number of participants amounted to 100. The clergy prayed and sang until the police placed them under arrest. Participating religious denominations include American Baptist, Buddhist, Episcopal, Hindu, Jewish, Presbyterian, United Church of Christ, and Unitarian Universalist.

Fully half of those arrested were Unitarian Universalist ministers from the greater Boston area:

  • Rev. Anne Bancroft, Minister of West Roxbury’s Theodore Parker Church
  • Rev. Heather Concannon, Assistant Minister of Youth and Families at the Unitarian Universalist Area Church at First Parish in Sherborn, MA, member of the UU Young Adults for Climate Justice (UUYACJ)
  • Rev. Rebecca Froom, Minister of United First Parish Church, Quincy, Massachussetts
  • Rev. John Gibbons, Senior Minister of the First Parish in Bedford
  • Rev. Elizabeth Nguyen, Leadership Development Associate for Youth and Young Adults of Color for the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), community minister with First Parish in Cambridge, Steering Committee member of Diverse Revolutionary UU Multicultural Ministries (DRUUMM), member of the UUYACJ
  • Rev. Martha Niebanck, Minister Emerita of First Parish in Brookline
  • Rev. Fred Small, Minister for Climate Justice at Arlington Street Church and Director of Faith Outreach for Climate XChange
  • Rev. Rali Weaver, Minister of the First Church and Parish Dedham

A March 14, 2016, UU World article, “UUs fight to stop Boston-area gas pipeline”, explains:

The West Roxbury Lateral (WRL) is part of a 1,100-mile pipeline being built by Spectra Energy of Houston, Texas, and its subsidiary, Algonquin Gas Transmission in Waltham, Massachusetts, to carry natural gas from Pennsylvania. Slightly over five miles long, the WRL will begin in the town of Westwood, run through Dedham, where it will pass near a soccer field, and continue into West Roxbury, where it will pass near an active blasting quarry. A related metering and regulating station is also being built near the quarry, according to Resist the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline, an organization fighting the WRL.

When asked why she took action and risked arrest on Wednesday, Rev. Heather Concannon responded, “I chose to participate because my faith calls me to align my actions with my beliefs– and I believe that it is immoral to be building new fossil fuel infrastructure when we know how devastating and deadly fossil fuels are for our planet and for the most vulnerable people on it. I chose to participate because there is moral power in faith-based resistance to oppressive structures, and because there is power in choosing to be a part of something greater than myself”.

Here are three things that you can do in solidarity with the brave faith activists resisting the Spectra West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline:

  1. Donate to support UU Mass Action grow a climate justice network among area congregations
  2. Sign or Share this pledge for clergy and faith leaders to take spirited, joyful direct action for climate justice and the halt of new fossil fuel infrastructure: http://www.clergyclimateaction.org/rg/
  3. Stay up to speed by following these social media accounts: Resist the West Roxbury Pipeline on Facebook and Twitter, UUs Resisting the West Roxbury Pipeline (Facebook), UU Mass Action on Facebook and Twitter.