The outdoor chapel, which was dedicated last Sunday, is open to individuals of all faiths and has its roots in “brush arbors” built by African American slaves as places of worship and in the biblical tradition of building “booths” in the wilderness. photo by Lacy Cooke/Inhabitat
An international order of Catholic women, the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, have staged a unique protest to a natural gas pipeline which would run beneath land they own, a pipeline which the nuns view as a violation of their faith as well as their land ethic. The sisters, working with a grass-roots organization Lancaster Against Pipelines, have built an outdoor chapel in the middle of a cornfield in West Hempfield Township near Lancaster. The structure stands directly in the route of the proposed Atlantic Sunrise pipeline. (This would be an extension of the Transco pipeline system that already runs from Texas to New York.)
“This is not a political act,” said Sr. Janet McCann, ASC. “This is a spiritual act. We are people of faith.”
“Lancaster County, the heart of “Amish country,” is in the path of the proposed Transco-Williams Atlantic Sunrise Project, a 42” transmission greenfield gas line planned to carry fracked gas to the eastern seaboard primarily for export, according to The Roanoke Times. The pipeline would clear-cut a 35-mile-long corridor through Lancaster County’s forests and farmland and pass directly through eight historically significant Native American cultural sites. The pipeline’s right-of-way would dissect more than 50 preserved farms and at least 40 scenic waterways along its 188 miles through the center of Pennsylvania, from the Marcellus Shale region southward and ending in Lancaster County.
If completed, it will go through more than 350 waterways, 220 wetlands and would permanently fragment over 44 interior forests,” said Malinda Harnish Clatterbuck, a local Mennonite pastor and cofounder of Lancaster Against Pipelines. We believe the collective damage to the Susquehanna watershed (and therefore the Chesapeake Bay) is irreparable, and that the state needs to intervene for the future of clean water and clean waterways in Pennsylvania.”
(taken from Developers Are Trying to Build a Pipeline Through a Watershed. These Nuns Built a Chapel in Its Path. by Rose Marie Berger and Heidi Thompson, 7-11-2017)
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has approved construction on the sisters’ land under eminent domain. Three days prior to the chapel’s dedication, Transco-Williams Group sought an injunction in federal court to seize the land immediately by eminent domain, which would have thwarted the chapel dedication.
Last Thursday, the company submitted a 45-page emergency motion to federal district judge Jeffrey Schmehl in an attempt to take immediate possession of the property and get permission to deploy U.S. Marshals on the nuns and “any third parties authorized by the sisters to be on the property.” The next hearing is July 17.
“That’s why they forced these sisters into federal court this past week,” Malinda Harnish Clatterbuck said Sunday, “demanding the right to seize this land before today in a desperate effort to prevent this dedication ceremony from ever taking place. And yet, here we are.”
Although the sisters know the pipeline company might call for the chapel’s removal, they “believe that having this structure on their land, for however long, gives tangible witness to the sacredness of Earth.”
Meanwhile, Christopher Stockton a spokesman for Williams Partners, the company constructing the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline released a statement saying, "While we respect the rights of people to protest, we view this simply as another blatant attempt to impede pipeline construction."
Sounds like the sisters have made their point loud and clear.
"The more we resist the more we will find extreme recalcitrance. And it will wear us down. We need to nurture ourselves. We need to thank our Earth and thank all those powers of light and good that help us endure." -Jeanne Stewart speaking about the chapel at yesterday's Tuesdays with Toomey rally in Harrisburg
More about the Adorers of the Blood...
The chapel is in West Hempfield Township near Columbia, PA.
Threatened habitats within the area
posted by Amy Levengood