Religious leaders and affiliates holding a prayer vigil at mine construction site

In an unprecedented show of support from the faith sector, today religious leaders and affiliates from the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC) are holding a prayer vigil near one of the entry points to Whitehaven Coal’s mine construction site in support of the blockade.

Following the vigil some of the religious leaders joined local community members and their supporters to block the entrance to the mine site, turning away a number of trucks and heavy equipment.

The gathering includes four Uniting Church Ministers, two Priests, one Catholic and one Buddhist, a number of lay people as well as representatives from the Gomeroi community.

The religious leaders are aligning themselves with those calling for an end to the expansion of the new open-cut coal mine into the Leard State Forest. This is an inclusive event, with special honouring of the Gomeroi people, the area’s traditional land owners.

The group is responding to the fact that every legal and legislative avenue to stop the open cut coal mine near Maules Creek has failed. Even though not one of the 212 submissions from the community supported the mine, the mine has been approved.

UPDATE, 2:15PM: Thea Ormerod – chair of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change – has been arrested blocking one of the gates at the Whitehaven coal mine site, adjacent to Leard State Forest near Maules Creek.

2:36PM: Anglican Minister Byron Smith is being arrested.

3PM: Gill Burrows, Catholic parishioner from North Sydney and grandmother of ten, has also been arrested bringing the arrests to a total of three today. The trio successfully blocked access at the entrance of the coal mine construction site near Maules Creek for two and a half hours.

Photos by Tom Jefferson, event organised by and ARRCC.