Christian climate change campaigner among activists arrested during Extinction Rebellion in London

The Rev Sue Parfitt being led away by officers at Oxford Circus during the Exctinction Rebellion

A Christian minister was among the climate change activists arrested at Oxford Circus during the Extinction Rebellion that has brought parts of London to a halt this week.

The Rev Sue Parfitt, 77, was arrested alongside other campaigners staging a protest at the busy intersection in the heart of the capital's shopping district on Thursday. 

She said she was prepared to be arrested if it brought the issue of climate change to the attention of those in power. 

"It has been such a sweltering hot day today. We have all been sharing sun cream and water but I would really rather be at home in the shade. The only reason I'm here is because this is an emergency and we must take action now," she said.

"That's why I'm prepared to be arrested. If it makes people in power pay attention and it ends the suffering of climate breakdown it will be worthwhile."

Rev Parfitt was at Oxford Circus as part of the Christian Climate Action group (CCA) who have joined in the Extinction Rebellion across central London this week. 

Members of CCA also spent Thursday washing the feet of members of the public and fellow protesters as part of the traditional Maundy Thursday ritual commemorating Jesus washing the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper. 

The foot washing was headed up by Rev Helen Burnett, an Anglican curate from London.

Members of Christian Climate Action wash the feet of fellow protesters in London on Maundy Thursday

She said: "Part of what Extinction Rebellion believes is that the climate catastrophe that we face is both spiritual and ecological, and that to reverse the effects of climate change we are called to fundamentally change the structures of the systems under which we live."

Rachie Ross, a mother-of-three from London, was among the CCA members doing the footwashing.

"The foot washing was a sacred space to engage, refresh and serve fellow rebels," she said.

"It really opened up conversations and stories about why we are all here, stories of fear and courage and deep compassion for humanity. It was a very special time, kneeling to serve on Maundy Thursday."

Marble Arch, Parliament Square, Oxford Circus and Waterloo Bridge have been occupied by protesters since Monday.

The Metropolitan Police said over 500 people had been arrested and that officers' Easter bank holidays had been cancelled as it prepared for more protests over the weekend.