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Occupy my local parish church

imageYes, that is a bishop scaling the fence.

Trinity Wall Street is my parish church so this story is important to me. From the New York Times this morning:

From his spot at the center of Duarte Square in Lower Manhattan, Matt Sky watched on Saturday as hundreds of protesters streamed into the public areas of the triangle-shaped space at the center of an ideological tug of war between onetime allies turned adversaries: Occupy Wall Street and Trinity Church.

. . . Even before the protesters were displaced on Nov. 15, Trinity gave many of them hot chocolate, blankets and a place to rest at a space owned by the church. But when the Occupy movement expressed an interest in setting up an organizing camp on vacant Trinity property at Canal Street and Avenue of the Americas, the church said no.

More than that. The church provided meeting space, cell phone charging, WiFi and much need bathrooms. They also provided chaplaincy services. But they said no for a reason. The lot has no facilities to sustain an encampment that would be healthy and safe. Neighbors would be upset. Liabilities would be great.

The Occupy Wall Street forces then directed their skills at the church: They took their arguments to the streets. In familiar fashion, police officers converged on the area, standing around the perimeter.

About 3 p.m., several hundred people began to slowly march along the blocks around the park. They went about five blocks north, then circled back. They were carrying homemade wooden ladders, draped with yellow banners. At Grand Street, the protesters made a move: They threw a ladder fashioned into a portable staircase against a chain-link fence separating the sidewalk from the church’s property.

A retired Episcopal bishop and army chaplain, George Packard (pictured above), was the first over the fence. He was arrested along with about 50 other people. He was not representative of the hierarchy of the church.

According to the Wall Street Journal:

In a rare comment on a local issue, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori (SHOHR’-ee) said in a statement Friday it’s "regrettable" Occupy members want to seize fenced-in property owned by Trinity Wall Street Episcopal church in Manhattan. She says it could result in "legal and police action."

Mark Sisk, the bishop of New York and James Cooper, the rector of Trinity asked the protesters to not enter Duarte Square.

According to CNN, Archbishop Desmond Tutu issued a statement from South Africa. It read: “In a country where all people can vote and Trinity’s door to dialogue is open, it is not necessary to forcibly break into property.”

Church should be interesting this morning.

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