‘Silent protest’ by young members against Kirk’s fossil fuel move

A “silent protest” to voice opposition to the Kirk’s decision not to divest its financial investments from oil and gas companies was held by members of the National Youth Assembly (NYA) yesterday.

General Assembly of the Church of Scotland: Youth representatives and their supporters held a silent protest against the rejection of a call for the church Investors Trust to divest from oil and gas companies by the end of 2020

The protest in the General Assembly’s quadrangle – which saw youth delegates hold up placards reading “Divest Now, God’s Planet Can’t Wait” and “Stop Stealing our Future” – came ahead of protests by school pupils and students planned across Scotland today demanding governments take action to tackle climate change.

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Seonaid Knox, 24, from Inchinnan, Renfrewshire, clerk to the NYA, said: “We’re making our feelings felt as young people are not able to vote as youth delegates and can’t formally dissent.

“I felt extremely disappointed and totally gutted at the decision not to divest. We had made our points as clearly as we could. The Church didn’t listen to how urgent it was to call for them to divest.”

Global climate change protests were sparked by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg who initially staged a solo protest last August.

Ms Knox added: “Greta has been an inspiration to young people showing us the right way to take action.”

Rev Peter Johnston from Ferryhill parish church in Aberdeen who was with around half a dozen Kirk ministers who joined the youth protest, said: “I think climate change is one the biggest issues for all generations.

“We are in the midst of the need for great change for the church, nation and the world. If we do not stand together we will be doing a huge disservice to all generations.”

Approximately 80 commissioners have formally lodged their objection to the Kirk’s decision on Wednesday not to divest from fossil fuels but to continue to engage with companies instead.

However, while youth delegates can speak in debates being discussed by the General Assembly, they cannot vote at the General Assembly or note their dissent.

A few hours later protestors disrupted the meeting of the Kirk’s Investors Trust, bringing proceedings to a halt for a short time by singing alternative words to the hymn All Things Bright And Beautiful in the public gallery.