Monthly Vigil at Horse Hill Shale Oil Extraction Site
Horse Hill is a site approximately 3 miles away from my house where shale oil extraction by acidification is taking place, yet the majority of people in this part of leafy Surrey either don’t know or don’t care that this is happening on their doorsteps.
Along with our local XR group I have been supporting the camp and opposing the extraction. In September 2019 I was invited to start up a monthly Vigil. We decided to call this ‘Faith at the Gate’ after ‘Cake Not Hate’ which morphed into ‘Cake at the Gate’ at Preston New Road!
We held our first Vigil with 23 attending on the first Sunday of Advent (Dec 2019) and have continued to gather every first Sunday since then.
UKOG responded to social media information about the Vigil by erecting a special, additional fence just to keep us well away from the existing gate and fence and in so doing forced us onto the public highway. They then proceeded to take out an injunction against ‘Persons Unknown’ a challenge to this is currently going through the courts. The Injunction also names at least two groups who had promoted FATG online, this includes CCA. A dedicated and determined group of 5 women from Weald Action Group are pursuing UKOG in the courts and I have supported them with letters on behalf of CCA defending our right to prayer and peaceful protest.
The monthly FATG has become important to the wider community that stands against Horse Hill – providing much needed regular, visible, support as well as providing a sustaining regenerative opportunity for people of all faiths and none to gather at the site.
Our initial 2 minutes silence has grown to 10 minutes dovetailed with a spoken prayer and reflection and closing with a song. Each month participants bring beautifully crafted prayer flags to tie to the fencing and so last Sunday I invited prayer contributions which I transcribed onto red, yellow, orange ribbons and tied to the railings in honour of our Pentecost/Spirit Filled yearnings.
After 4 FATG gatherings, lockdown rules meant that we had to move online, we have met twice via Zoom, both times with a socially distanced presence at the Gate.
On Trinity Sunday we were joined by 4 arrestees from a lock on and action that stopped work for 24 hours the previous Monday. It was very special to know that they could join on Zoom in spite of their bail conditions which give us an opportunity to thank them for their action and to hold them in prayer.
The small camp contingent are enormously grateful for this monthly witness and we can’t wait to be back to the gate itself with our songs and silence and doubtless the fence will go back up in honour of our return!
My Prayer Sunday June 7th adapted from Bruce Sanguin
In these whirlwind days
Sacred and Holy One, help us to believe in beginnings
no matter how often we’ve failed before.
New beginnings for racial justice
New beginnings for climate justice
Help us to make these beginnings:
to begin going out of our weary minds
into fresh dreams,
daring to make our own bold tracks
in the land of now;
to begin questioning the unquestionable
that we may know truth
to begin sacrificing
that we may make peace;
to begin loving
that we may realize joy.
Help us to be a beginning to others,
to be a singer to the songless,
to become the beginnings of hope for the despairing,
to become strong and vocal allies in the beginnings of freedom for the oppressed and for the planet,
As we stand witness here to extractivism that will exacerbate the climate emergency we profess that this emergency disproportionately affects people of colour and we condemn that fact and commit to putting anti-racism at the heart of climate activism.
We condemn policies that commodify people
We condemn policies that commodify the planet
Holy One, Help us to believe in beginnings,
to make a beginning,
to be a beginning,
so that we may not just grow old,
but grow new
each day of this wild, amazing life.
For more information on Horse Hill: