Cathedral protest — the tour

by
24 November 2011

by Ed Thornton

THE Occupy London movement has written to diocesan bishops pro­posing a “touring Occupation” that would take the form of a “Winter Carnival, to roll through all of Britain from cathedral to cathedral”.

In an email sent on Wednesday, Rachel Mariner, a member of the outreach working group and multifaith-and-belief working group of Occupy London and Occupy UK, writes: “The Occupy movement is at the beginning of accomplishing a great moral awakening in our land; a movement that undoubtedly needs your help now to grow in moral authority and certainty.”

The email includes a summary of the carnival idea, which, it says, “has been well received at the camp at St Paul’s”. The carnival would start with a “symbolic candlelit walk” at St Paul’s, going “through London to St Albans, Southwark, Westminster, and beyond”. Occupiers would be greeted in each city by local activists, “then walk, holding candles, to the cathedrals. . .

“Instead of camping in one lo­cation, the camps could go from town to town, following the Putney Debates and opening the carni­vals in each town,” the email sug­gests.

It also suggests walks from each cathedral to “government buildings — town halls — where people [could] hold a General Assembly, airing their grievances in this winter of our discontent”. History teachers could give lessons in cathedrals on “the historical role of the Church in securing greater liberty for the people”.

The “touring occupation” could also provide practical help “at local foodbanks, homeless shelters and elder care centres”; and might attract local suppliers with offers of “food, mittens, mulled wine, and fairy lights”.

 

Job losses feared at St Paul’s as hole in its budget widens

by staff reportersST PAUL’S CATHEDRAL is continuing to count the financial and human cost of the Occupy pro­test.

The “touring occupation” could also provide practical help “at local foodbanks, homeless shelters and elder care centres”; and might attract local suppliers with offers of “food, mittens, mulled wine, and fairy lights”.

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by staff reportersST PAUL’S CATHEDRAL is continuing to count the financial and human cost of the Occupy pro­test.

Visitor numbers are about half what they would be normally. By Christmas, the cathedral estimates that it will have lost £800,000 in income. St Paul’s has relatively few reserves — it operates on a break-even budget — and the admission charge accounts for about 80 per cent of its income. If the shortfall persists, the staff are anxious that it will lead to redundancies, although the Precentor, Canon Michael Hampel, insisted this week that such a move was not being contemplated at present.

Visitor numbers are about half what they would be normally. By Christmas, the cathedral estimates that it will have lost £800,000 in income. St Paul’s has relatively few reserves — it operates on a break-even budget — and the admission charge accounts for about 80 per cent of its income. If the shortfall persists, the staff are anxious that it will lead to redundancies, although the Precentor, Canon Michael Hampel, insisted this week that such a move was not being contemplated at present.

Although the location of the camp allows visitors to reach the cath­edral’s western entrance, health and safety considerations have deterred a number of groups — of school­children especially. The Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts centenary service has been cancelled, as has the diocesan schools service, both with 2500 expected to attend.

Although the location of the camp allows visitors to reach the cath­edral’s western entrance, health and safety considerations have deterred a number of groups — of school­children especially. The Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts centenary service has been cancelled, as has the diocesan schools service, both with 2500 expected to attend.

Of greatest concern to the Chapter is the number of people who have been drawn to the camp who do not necessarily share the organisers’ aims or standards, including drug-users, alcoholics, and those with a mental illness. The City of London Corpora­tion has had to agree to the provision of a used-needles disposal unit. As a result, the cathedral works staff have refused to clean the camp and main­tain fire routes through it.

Of greatest concern to the Chapter is the number of people who have been drawn to the camp who do not necessarily share the organisers’ aims or standards, including drug-users, alcoholics, and those with a mental illness. The City of London Corpora­tion has had to agree to the provision of a used-needles disposal unit. As a result, the cathedral works staff have refused to clean the camp and main­tain fire routes through it.

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A number of the cathedral’s 200 staff and 100 volunteers have been threatened and abused, and many now report feeling intimidated. The problems of graffiti, human waste, and litter persist, and the smell of urine has pervaded offices and work spaces.

A number of the cathedral’s 200 staff and 100 volunteers have been threatened and abused, and many now report feeling intimidated. The problems of graffiti, human waste, and litter persist, and the smell of urine has pervaded offices and work spaces.

The Chapter is used to dealing with homeless and vulnerable people, but not in such numbers. Its concern is that they are being drawn away from areas that are better resourced to care for them.

The Chapter is used to dealing with homeless and vulnerable people, but not in such numbers. Its concern is that they are being drawn away from areas that are better resourced to care for them.

The Chapter continues to be in dialogue with the camp, meeting organisers every few days. Canon Hampel said: “We are having to steer a very narrow path between co-operating with the camp, some of whose occupants have a very valu­able protest to make, and acting as a responsible employer to a large workforce of men and women who form the cathedral family.

The Chapter continues to be in dialogue with the camp, meeting organisers every few days. Canon Hampel said: “We are having to steer a very narrow path between co-operating with the camp, some of whose occupants have a very valu­able protest to make, and acting as a responsible employer to a large workforce of men and women who form the cathedral family.

“Instead of a permanent camp, we are actively seeking to offer the genuine protesters an alternative plat­form for debate and action.”

“Instead of a permanent camp, we are actively seeking to offer the genuine protesters an alternative plat­form for debate and action.”

The City of London Corporation issued High Court proceedings last Friday after a 24-hour eviction order it served on the camp expired at 6 p.m. the day before. At a preliminary case-management con­fer­ence at the High Court on Wednesday, it was decided that an eviction hearing would begin on 19 December. The Chapter of St Paul’s said in a state­ment last week that it “recognised” the City of London Corporation’s right to evict the protesters.

The City of London Corporation issued High Court proceedings last Friday after a 24-hour eviction order it served on the camp expired at 6 p.m. the day before. At a preliminary case-management con­fer­ence at the High Court on Wednesday, it was decided that an eviction hearing would begin on 19 December. The Chapter of St Paul’s said in a state­ment last week that it “recognised” the City of London Corporation’s right to evict the protesters.

One of the camp’s members, David Connors, said on Wednesday: “There are many voices with differ­ent opinions within the Occupy movement, but we all agree that we should give the system a chance. For the past month we have worked hard to dignify our movement, and we will continue to make sure we give everyone watching only the best of ourselves.”

One of the camp’s members, David Connors, said on Wednesday: “There are many voices with differ­ent opinions within the Occupy movement, but we all agree that we should give the system a chance. For the past month we have worked hard to dignify our movement, and we will continue to make sure we give everyone watching only the best of ourselves.”

A bundle of “information and documents relating to the legal proceedings”, which the Corporation submitted to the High Court, includes a letter from the Registrar of St Paul’s, Major-General Nicholas Cottam.

A bundle of “information and documents relating to the legal proceedings”, which the Corporation submitted to the High Court, includes a letter from the Registrar of St Paul’s, Major-General Nicholas Cottam.

The letter, dated 11 November, says that it is responding to a request for information made by City of London officials the same day. It lists “some specific issues with which St Paul’s has had to cope as a direct consequence of the camp”, including: graffiti; interruption to services; cancellation of worship, visists and events; drop in worship and visitor numbers; and the closure of the cathedral for a week.

The letter, dated 11 November, says that it is responding to a request for information made by City of London officials the same day. It lists “some specific issues with which St Paul’s has had to cope as a direct consequence of the camp”, including: graffiti; interruption to services; cancellation of worship, visists and events; drop in worship and visitor numbers; and the closure of the cathedral for a week.

To advise other cathedral deans how to deal with Occupy camps when they spring up, the Acting Dean of Exeter, Canon Carl Turner, circulated to all deans this week a list of requests issued to the Occupy protesters on the Cathedral Green in Exeter.

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.

To advise other cathedral deans how to deal with Occupy camps when they spring up, the Acting Dean of Exeter, Canon Carl Turner, circulated to all deans this week a list of requests issued to the Occupy protesters on the Cathedral Green in Exeter.

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.

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.”

“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).

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.”

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.”

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.”

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Full report next week

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