Ongoing Focus of Protest Movement at St. Pauls’s Cathedral

THE Revd Jim Wallis, chief execu­tive of the justice and peace network Sojourners, and an adviser to President Barack Obama, visited the Occupy camp at St Paul’s on Tues­day, writes Ed Thornton. It pres­ented the Church with “an extra­ordinary opportunity for mission, hospitality, and evangelism”, he said.There was something “very powerful and very appropriate” about “the backdrop of a cathedral”: the camp provided a “space for pro­phetic witness” which the Church “should long for.

“Nothing that’s happening in the world is changing the conversation more than the Occupy movement. Here at St Paul’s the Church gets to be in the middle of it. . . The unique thing about the Christian faith is the incarnation: in Jesus Christ, God hits the streets. This is incarnation.”

At lunchtime on Tuesday, Mr Wallis spoke at a discussion in the Bible Society offices in Westminster with Ken Costa, the investment banker invited by the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres, to spearhead an initiative reconnecting the financial with the ethical (News, 4 November).

Mr Wallis spoke of “a major shift” in US Evangelicals’ attitudes. “Fifty-eight per cent of white Evangelicals in America are opposed to cutting federal spending that helps poor people. Sixty per cent of white Evan­gelicals favour increasing taxes of those on more than $1 million a year.”

Economic inequality was “funda­mentally a biblical issue”; and the protesters were “creating space” to address it. “It is our job to enter the space they are creating, and have a conversation about ethics and the market. God doesn’t mind pros­per-ity as long as it is shared, but when gaps become too wide, God gets mad.”


Dialogue: Jim Wallis (left), visiting from the United States, speaks to a protester in front of St Paul’s ED THORNTON


This week’s ‘Church Times‘ (UK) features this interview with Jim Wallis (USA) Advisor to President Obama on the World Protest Movement, with the Protesters still camping around the area of London’s Saint Paul’s Cathedral.

Other articles in C.T., tell of the Camp being used by drug-addicts and drifters, leaving in their wake a litter problem, including used syringes and condoms – a situation likely to prejudice the authorities against the continuing occupation.

However, a spokes-person for the Occupiers has suggested a programme of a planned movement between Cathedrals and public places – in order to draw more attention to the core objective of the round-the-world Protest movement. It is suggested that, to centre the activity around significant Church buildings would help to identify the  need of the Church to be engaged in protest against the culture of monetarism that is exacerbating the problems of the growing gap between rich and poor. On the face of it, this argument by a section of the Protesters would seem to be relevant in this time of economic upheaval around the world.

There will always be those who exploit situations like this. And those who are causing problems of gratuitous littering and nuisance in the St. Paul’s encampment, could prejudice any agreement by Church authorities to comply with the legitimate request by authentic Protesters to co-operate with them in drawing attention to their cause.

In the meantime, the loss of revenue to the Saint Paul’s Institute, which manages the finances of the Cathedral, is likely to cause further problems with the administration of and public access to this iconic City of London Church.

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.
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