Battles against fossil fuel pipelines aren’t limited to North Dakota. In Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, a group of Catholic nuns is fighting against a natural gas pipeline that would run beneath land they own. They’re protesting the pipeline in a unique way by building an open-air chapel for people to visit and reflect on “just and holy uses of land.”
The nuns, part of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ order, own land in West Hempfield Township that stands in the path of the Atlantic Sunrise Project, a pipeline for natural gas being pursued by Williams Partners to extend the Transco pipeline system that already runs from Texas to New York. Even though the nuns have not wanted their land used for the pipeline, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved the pipeline, pointing to eminent domain.
The nuns are working against the pipeline, which they say goes against their land ethic, with the group Lancaster Against Pipelines. Protester Ann Neumann told CNN, “They see the pipeline as a violation of their faith,” saying 20 members of the order reside on the land.
In a visible symbol of protest, the nuns allowed Lancaster Against Pipelines to construct this outdoor chapel, intended for people of all faith backgrounds. The nuns hope the chapel will draw people to come and pray at the location. They said in a statement they know the pipeline company might call for the chapel’s removal, but “believe that having this structure on their land, for however long, gives tangible witness to the sacredness of Earth.”
The chapel was dedicated over the weekend, and according to Lancaster Online, around 300 people showed up for the ceremony. A Williams Partners spokesperson referred to the chapel as a “blatant attempt to impede pipeline construction.”