April Stories: A Reverend’s Easter arrest
April 19, 2020 by Zoe Blackler
For Reverend Sue Parfitt, being arrested on Maundy Thursday had a special poignancy. In her own passive surrender to the authorities, she found a unique sense of empowerment.
The first week of the April Rebellion last year coincided with Holy Week, which commemorates the events of Jesus’ betrayal, arrest and death before His Resurrection on Easter day. For members of Christian Climate Action, to which I belong, the week therefore had particular significance. We tried to bring the symbolism of the events from our faith story to bear upon the protest we were making.
And so it had a special poignancy for me to be arrested on Maundy Thursday – soon after a member of Christian Climate Action had conducted the traditional ceremony of foot washing for all who wanted to join in, as they lay on the road in Oxford Circus, waiting for the police to move in.
As the police helped me to my feet, all I could think was “this was the night that Jesus was arrested; this was the night that He handed himself over to the authorities to do whatever they saw fit.” It felt a singular privilege and whatever was going to happen to me didn’t really matter at all. I knew I was doing the thing that needed to be done and that in this passive surrender of my liberty and my will, I was able to exhibit a powerfullness that was beyond anything I had ever done before in my small efforts to influence the Government to respond to the impending climate catastrophe.
At my trial the following February, I was able to bear witness to my fundamental belief that if we are to survive as a race and as a creation, we shall have to take, and continue to take, the most radical, unpopular, counter-intuitive action, including acts of civil disobedience, whatever the cost in terms of our personal well being. Like many before me and alongside me now, I know I can do no other.
Sue, aged 78 from Bristol, was tried in February at City of London Magistrates court, where she was found guilty and given a nine month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £350 in court costs.