Another Resignation from St.Paul’s Cathedral

FRIDAY, 28 OCTOBER 2011

On standing down from the Pastoral Team at St Paul’s Cathedral

Since the summer I’ve been a chaplain at St Paul’s Cathedral, one of many London clergy who give half a day a month to being the priest available to the cathedral’s visitors, and to leading prayers on the hour. It is has been immensely enjoyable and interesting to do. Arising from my relationship with the cathedral I’ve been closely following the events arising from the Occupy London protest which pitched camp in the cathedral precinct a fortnight ago. There seemed to be a great deal that was positive and constructive about the dialogue between the protestors and the cathedral. I was therefore very disappointed to learn of today’s announcement that St Paul’s is taking legal action to have the protestors removed. Consequently I have decided to stand down from the pastoral team, and explained my reasons to Michael Colclough, Canon Pastor of St Paul’s Cathedral, in an email earlier today (below).I can’t stress how tiny a gnat I am in the scheme of things, so my decision is not even a blip on the radar compared to Giles Fraser‘s principled and courageous resignation. But given the negative PR that has been, and will continue to be, generated from the cathedral’s action I wanted to join my voice with other clergy colleagues and church members who are expressing disquiet with the stance being taken by St Paul’s. I don’t for a minute think they have been put in an easy situation, and I wish them well as they continue to work out the best way forward. More than anything I am sorry that the story has become one about the Church and not about the City, which is really where the attention must be focussed.

Dear Bishop Michael,

I appreciate what a difficult couple of weeks the Dean and Chapter have had following the occupation of the cathedral precinct by protestors campaigning against corporate greed. You have been much in my thoughts and prayers as you have navigated the complex issues with which you have been presented, and the negative press which arose from the decision to close the cathedral. I am delighted that a way was found to reopen the building today which satisfied the cathedral’s duty of care towards its worshippers and visitors, and have been impressed by the degree of cooperation that Occupy London offered to enable this to happen.

It has therefore been disappointing to learn of today’s announcement that St Paul’s will instigate legal proceedings seeking the removal of the protestors. It is particularly poignant that this announcement comes on the day that IDS report an increase in top directors’ pay of almost 50% over the last year. I appreciate that St Paul’s has its own means of speaking to the issue of corporate and financial conduct in the City, but am sorry that a way could not be found of – at the very least – continuing to thole the occupation of the precinct by those with a genuine and prophetic complaint that has much in keeping with the values of the gospel.

I only recently joined the cathedral’s pastoral team and it has been a privilege to minister to the building’s many visitors. I was looking forward to more opportunities to do so. Today, however, I am left feeling embarrassed by the position the Dean and Chapter have taken. I do not relish the prospect of having to defend the cathedral’s position in the face of the inevitable questions that visitors to St Paul’s will pose in the coming weeks and months, particularly if we are to see protestors forcibly removed by police at the Dean and Chapter’s behest. It is therefore with regret that I write to inform you of my decision to stand down from the pastoral team with immediate effect.

I continue to wish you well, and a strengthening of discernment, as the situation continues to play out. All of the staff and volunteers at St Paul’s remain much in my prayers at this difficult time.

With warmest good wishes,

Fraser.

____________________________________________________

Another brave voice on the Cathedral Staff roster at St.Paul’s Cathedral! Another ‘Fraser’, too (no relation, I think) – one whose primary ministry is as Vicar of another London church, and who is one of many London clergy who give some time each week to help host the many visitors to St.Paul’s.

It is to such clergy that the Cathedral owes it’s ability to remain open during the week as a centre of Faith in the City. It would be a pity if these voluntary clergy all withdrew their important ministry at St.Paul’s because of what they discern as an unwillingness on behalf of the Dean and Chapter to resonate with the ‘cry of the poor’.

Off now to celebrate 8am Mass at St.Michael and All Angels, Christchurch, New Zealand. Jesus mercy, Mary pray!

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Another Resignation from St.Paul’s Cathedral

  1. Fr Dyer you’re much more than a tiny gnat. Thank you for taking your principled stand.

    Perhaps it’s no bad thing that the church is forced into making a choice. It seems the leadership at St Paul’s came down on the wrong side, but they can yet redeem themselves. Plus, they serve as an example to other churches as to what not to do.

    • kiwianglo says:

      Thank you ‘Grandmere Mimi’. I, too, admire Fraser’s stand. I, too, think that he is someone whose principles will probably be echoed among more of the part-time staff at St.Paul’s. We just have to see what happens after the City Council’s clearance action.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.