We Went to Tim Buckley’s Home and We Prayed for Him

By Betsy Torg

In hope, in prayer, we find ourselves here
In hope, in prayer, we’re right here

Tim Buckley is the CEO of Vanguard, one of the world’s largest investment management firms. Vanguard holds about $300 billion invested in fossil fuels, with about $101 billion invested in coal. As such, he has incredible power and sway in the world of fossil fuel investment. We’re walking to his house today to hold Quaker-style Meeting for Worship. It is simultaneously a spiritual gathering for worship and a campaign action organized by Earth Quaker Action Team. Our collective intention is to pray for Tim Buckley to come under the weight of the climate crisis and use the power of his position to enact significant change in Vanguard’s investments in fossil fuels. We’ve come on this day, October 7th, in the tradition of Quaker activist John Woolman, who also visited people in their homes; it is the 250th anniversary of his death.

Vanguard is a multinational corporation, and their headquarters just happen to be just outside Philadelphia – essentially in many of our group’s backyards. For me, his home is literally in my childhood backyard. From the age of ten to seventeen, I lived a mere five-minute walk away. The route we’re walking today is the way I used to walk home from the SEPTA bus stop when I was in 5th grade.

In hope, in prayer, we find ourselves here
In hope, in prayer, we’re right here

Dozens of people walk down the sidewalk and one rides a motorized scooter, under the shade of a tall tree.

Photo by Eve Gutman

Participating in this EQAT action was never really a question for me. In Quaker-speak, I was feeling “called” or “led.” It wasn’t the first time I’d felt spirit leading me towards action in the fight against the climate crisis and the fossil fuel industry. I felt it last Spring when EQAT organized a 40-mile climate walk from the points of climate destruction in Chester, PA to Vanguard’s headquarters in Malvern, PA. And I felt it in the summer of 2021 when EQAT’s Director of Strategy and Partnerships Eileen Flanagan invited me to join her in Minnesota to protest the Enbridge Line 3 oil pipeline. 

Once in Minnesota I found myself drawn to a Treaty People Walk for the Water, an action to protest Enbridge’s Line 3/93 oil pipeline with a walk from the headwaters of the Mississippi to the Minnesota State Capitol.  It was there that I met Indigenous elder Carrie Chesnick, Oneida Nation WI, and water protector Sherry Couture, Anishinaabe band member. Listening to their stories and wisdom, I learned about the damage and destruction the Enbridge Line 3/93 pipeline was doing to their land and the water. It was there that I learned about the ongoing violation of Anishinaabe treaty rights to hunt, fish and farm the land the pipeline crosses.  

Returning home, I learned that a major investor in Enbridge is, you guessed it, Vanguard. While I could not stay and engage in the frontline fight against Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline in Minnesota, I can engage in the campaign here at home to get Vanguard to change their investment ways. 

So that is how I came to be with EQAT walking in prayer to Vanguard CEO Tim Buckley’s house and sitting for 30 minutes in silent worship. I listen to Eileen’s opening words to ground us and we settle into worship.

In hope, in prayer, we find ourselves here
In hope, in prayer, we’re right here

A few dozen people sit in chairs on the sidewalk, facing a white, grey, and black house across the street from them.

Photo by Barbara Benton

I begin my own personal worship by holding in the light the Anishinaabe people living along the Enbridge line 3/93 pipeline who have witnessed the destruction of their land, the multiple breaches of their aquifers, and the resulting decline in wild rice – manoomin – the sacred food which they have treaty rights to harvest. Vanguard is one of the largest shareholders in Enbridge and so Vanguard is complicit when Enbridge comes bulldozing through Anishinaabe treaty territory, tearing down trees and drilling under 22 bodies of water. For the Anishinaabe, for Carrie and Sherry, and for the next seven generations, the reality of Vanguard investments and climate change are playing out right in their backyard. I pray for strength for the Anishinaabe, and for executives from Enbridge and Vanguard to see the error of their ways.

I pray for those in Somalia struggling against extreme drought conditions to the extent they are walking across the entire country to find food and water. 

I pray for our nearby neighbors of Chester, Pennsylvania – for Zulene Mayfield and Kearni Warren – living with an oil refinery and a trash incinerator right up the street, the air so dirty and unhealthy they can’t open their windows. 

I pray for Tim Buckley and Vanguard investors that they may see and understand the ripple effects of Vanguard’s fossil fuel investment strategy and the damage it is doing to the lives of other human beings, to our Mother Earth, and to the water. They have the power to be, for lack of a better term, “changemakers.” They have the power to change the way business is done.

Sitting in silent worship with those around me, my mind then takes a birds-eye view of all of us sitting in two rows of folding chairs across from Tim Buckley’s home in Wayne, PA, and it zooms up and over Philadelphia, then New Jersey, then the Atlantic Ocean to England where British Quakers are simultaneously holding a Meeting for Worship at a Vanguard office. I envision those from Quaker Earthcare Witness worshiping with us online. All told there are 150 of us sitting in prayer. It is this view, this vision of the growing global awareness about Vanguard’s errant ways, that gives me hope.

I am left with a glimmer of the power of what’s possible. The power of 50 people singing and marching and rolling together in prayerful walk and worship. The power of 100 more souls in England and online. And the power of our pocketbooks and the change that can bring. The change that it will bring.

In hope, in prayer, we find ourselves here
In hope, in prayer, we’re right here

Lyrics by Batya Levine

Photo at top by Rachael Warriner

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