Week-Long Quaker Climate Pilgrimage Between New Hampshire Coal Plants Ends With Worship & Civil Disobedience

July 15, 2017

Bow, NH – After a week of walking, a group of New England Quakers and fellow travelers concluded a sixty mile pilgrimage between New Hampshire’s two coal-burning power plants Saturday, carrying their concern about potentially catastrophic climate change. The plant in Bow is the last such all-coal facility in New England that doesn’t yet have a shutdown date.

After an hour-long worship gathering of 50 people near the gates of the plant, a smaller group walked the tracks and set up an encampment on Eversource property blockading rail deliveries of coal to the station. The group has erected tents and a scaffolding structure and is planning to stay.

Honor Woodrow, a Quaker and preschool teacher from Arlington, Massachusetts, joined the walk on July 9th in Dover. Speaking after the hour long worship service today she said, “This is a journey of pilgrimage, which means it is a journey of introspection and deep listening for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. All of us struggle with the question of what to do in the face of climate change”

The group sent a letter to plant officials last week inviting them to join them for worship.

While participants came from across New England, the worship at the plant was sponsored by Concord Friends Meeting. “We built our new Meetinghouse to be green, we have worked for alternative power and reducing environmental damage from fossil fuels,” said J.J. Smith, a member of the Concord Meeting and resident of Pembroke. “But there is a limit to what we as individuals can do. We need to change human hearts and minds in the face of climate change, and it is far past time we shut this plant down,” she said.

Eversource is in the state mandated process of selling the Merrimack station, along with several other facilities in New Hampshire. Final bid submissions are due in August.

That sentiment was echoed by John Humphries of Hartford Connecticut. He joined 20 others occupying the rail spur leading to the power plant’s towering coal pile. “This is the perfect time for Eversource officials to retire this facility and dismantle it, rather than sell it. And it’s the responsibility of the company and the government to protect the workers and the Town of Bow so that this necessary change is borne by all of us, not just a few,” said Humphries. “In the absence of government preserving our life, liberty and happiness – it is up to citizens ourselves to put our bodies where are mouths are and to act as if the truth about climate change is actually true.”

Katherine Fisher co-owns Great Sky Solar in Cambridge, MA and joined the pilgrims for worship Saturday morning. “Climate change is the defining issue of our time. Just this past week an iceberg the size of Delaware broke off of Antarctica. How can it be legal to keep burning coal, and illegal to get in the way of it being burned, when poor people and communities of color around the world are suffering from climate catastrophe now, when our planet is headed for unlivable conditions, and the President won’t even abide by the insufficient measures of the Paris climate accord? And how am I supposed to live and repent in this economic system that keeps us complicit?” she said.

While blockaders are painting a large banner to be hung from the 12 foot scaffolding erected on the tracks, another banner waves in the wind that reads, “our witness is rooted in reverence.”

Woodrow said, “What’s happening today is witness – witnessing to the power of God to transform ourselves and transform the world. The Quaker tradition tells us that when things feel baffling, when we feel weak, vulnerable, unworthy, and confused – that that is the moment when we might receive wisdom – and if our actions spring from this place, wonderful things might be revealed.”

Interviews with blockaders and photos available on request. Follow @QuakerClimate on Twitter and https://www.facebook.com/quakerpipelinepilgrimage

For more information, contact:

Katherine Fisher
John Humphries