People of faith in the fight against MVP

By Rev. Amy Brooks Paradise, GreenFaith Organizer

The Mountain Valley Pipeline has been under protest for 10 years, is 6 years behind schedule and more than 3 billion dollars over budget. And yet, last summer, Joe Manchin helped MVP by-pass all permitting processes allowing work to re-commence and leading to renewed efforts to STOP MVP.

GreenFaith partner and fellow climate activist Jerome Wagner with 350 Charlotte is currently serving a 60 day sentence (reduced from one year) in the central jail of WVA after locking himself to equipment at a construction site on the Elk River in West Virginia. When asked by state police to unclip himself from the lockbox he said, “Strong convictions brought me here, and I’m going to stand by them.” 

Jerome Wagner is a man of faith who is deeply motivated to engage in the struggle for the wellbeing of people and the planet, including his own grandchildren. He has been arrested before and has led numerous actions over the years, most recently in Charlotte, NC.

Recently I had the chance to speak with Jerome by phone (while he is still in jail), and this is what he said.

He began by sharing that as a practicing Catholic and professed secular Franciscan, nature is an integral part of his spirituality. But he went on to describe how his faith has strengthened and sustained him, particularly during this current experience.  

He said, “When I was in the pit (locked to the equipment) I had a sense of confidence and certainty that was profound and stabilizing, which I attributed to God.”  He went on to say, “The support I’ve felt during both the action and jail time has confirmed for me that Love and God are active and present with us in this movement.” 

Jerome, now more than halfway through his sentence, is doing well, and notes that this is due in no small part to the numerous letters of support and care he has received. This outpouring has surprised him and contributes greatly to his sense of connection and well-being. He is also finding ample opportunity to live his faith through fellowship with other inmates, in confronting fears, and learning to live with patience and acceptance—all of which he describes as “active Love”.  

He closed our conversation by expressing his thanks to God. We hope these words will encourage others in their own efforts, particularly people of faith, to stop climate destruction.  

We look forward to Jerome’s release on April 7.

*Banner image credit: AAP

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