THE Dean of St Paul's, the Very Revd
Dr David Ison, accused Occupy protesters of abusing the cathedral's
hospitality, after four protesters chained themselves to the pulpit
during evensong on Sunday (pictured).
The evensong incorporated prayers from
members of Occupy Faith, to mark the anniversary of the camp's
arriving at St Paul's (
Features, 12 October). But just before Dr Ison got up to
preach, a group of four women chained themselves to the pulpit and,
a statement from St Paul's said, "shouted out a list of grievances
against St Paul's as well as reading part of the Bible". Dr Ison
"allowed them to speak, following which the rest of the service
continued without interruption".
Outside the cathedral, protesters had
unfurled a banner on the steps up to the west door with the slogan:
"Throw the moneychangers out of the Temple."
The four women - Siobhan Grimes,
Alison Playford, Josie Reed, and Tammy Samede - remained chained to
the pulpit during the organ recital and the communion service that
followed evensong. Ms Grimes, who worships at St John's, Waterloo,
is a member of Christianity Uncut, a network of anti-capitalist
Christians. Ms Samede, also an Anglican, and Ms Reed, a Quaker, are
part of the Occupy movement, along with Ms Playford.
The statement from St Paul's
continued: "Although invited to do so, the protesters refused to
give permission for their chains to be removed. The normal
procedure for when people refuse to leave places of worship was
then followed: the police were called to assist in moving those
people on, and after half an hour of further discussion the
protesters cut themselves free and left peacefully of their own
In the statement, Dr Ison said: "After
working constructively together with Occupy Faith [a branch of
Occupy] on this act of worship, we regret the abuse of the
cathedral's hospitality and its daily worship.
"We also disagree with the way in
which some protesters are continuing to pursue the agenda of
conflict with St Paul's rather than consulting with us about how
together we might better achieve the reforms which many people
including Occupy are looking for."
Speaking on Monday, Dr Ison said that
he had agreed to meet the protesters, and had asked them to email
him to arrange a date. He said that, since his installation in
May, he had publicly offered to meet the Christians who
had been removed from the steps, but had "received no request [to
meet]" (News, 8
Ms Grimes was one of the five
Christians removed from the steps of St Paul's while praying during
the eviction of the Occupy protest earlier this year (
News, 2 March). She said that she had decided to take direct
action after "lots of prayer" and as a "last resort". She
continued: "We were very careful not to interrupt any acts of
worship as much as we possibly could, beyond reading our
She said that several worshippers had
approached the women during the Peace to thank them for being
there. "There was no conflict between us and other people in the
church," she said.
She described the cathedral's
invitation for Occupy members to read prayers at the service as
On Saturday, about 400 people gathered
outside St Paul's for "GlobalNoise", which Occupy London described
as "a global day of protest to highlight the fact that people are
still here, one year on, united and more determined than ever".