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The complicated situation with Occupy Wall Street and Trinity Wall Street Episcopal Church

December 13, 2011, 10:16 am | Posted by Kristin Ford

Since the eviction of the Occupy Wall Street protesters from Zuccotti Park in New York City, Trinity Wall Street Episcopal Church has been under pressure from people of faith to open their doors and provide sanctuary to the displaced protesters.  With the situation increasingly tense, a retired Episcopal bishop was recruited to engage in what he terms “shuttle diplomacy” between the Occupy movement (and supportive churches) and the staff of Trinity Wall Street.

This weekend, that bishop, Bishop George Packard, posted this to Trinity Wall Street’s Facebook page:

I have this great worry that this venerable parish will be on the wrong side of history in a few weeks. Surely there’s some consummate wisdom in the leadership that can offer Occupiers a chance to express their prophetic destiny in these days. It’s a matter of record that the church is good with the provision of service and succor for the neighborhood; they are unable, it seems, to understand their dynamic needs. Plainly said, this means looking afresh at lease arrangements for a season regarding the Duarte property. Think of it as offering hospitality to travelers from our future who bring the message of “no injustice, no more.” If we really saw OWS for who they are rather than putting up roadblocks in their path we’d truly delight in their coming!

Bishop Packard alleges that the staff at Trinity Wall Street subsequently deleted the comment, prompting his blog post wondering about the church’s involvement and noting that Occupy Wall Street has a “deep bench and a very long attention span.”

The situation appears to have taken a slight turn for the better, with news that protesters worshiped and took communion at Trinity Wall Street on Sunday.

I hope that the Trinity clergy, while serving the Eucharist and worshiping alongside those fighting for economic justice through the Occupy movement, listened and reconsidered their decision to put roadblocks up instead of providing the public gathering space the movement needs.  We’ll keep watching as things unfold.

Photo via Flickr, sfcityscape

UPDATE: Per the comments, a staffer at Trinity disputes Bishop Packard’s assertion that his comment was deleted from the Trinity Facebook page. We’ve updated the post language to reflect that as well.

3 Responses to “The complicated situation with Occupy Wall Street and Trinity Wall Street Episcopal Church”

  1. Nathan Brockman says:

    There is no truth whatsoever to the assertion that Trinity staff deleted Bishop Packard’s comment. Will you correct the record? There is a great conversation going on at Trinity’s Facebook page, and I would hate to deter anyone from joining in for fear that we are pulling down comments such as Bishop Packard’s indiscriminately.

  2. Joe Lopez says:

    The great value of a hunger strike is to reveal interpersonally and intrapersonally the compassion or cruelty of one’s nature. This has been the result from strikes at prisons and cultural institutions in the past year. The way that Trinity clergy is responding with silence is exposing a level of cruelty that will weigh on their souls as well as your reputation. They must at least meet the hunger strikers and those who are seeking an earnest dialogue with the same level of compassion that they are showing. The obligation of OWS and Trinity is to JUSTICE, not to bureaucracy.

  3. stan chaz says:

    Re Occupy, Trinity Church: You don’t need to be religious to understand -and embrace- the idea that “Whatsoever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” But many of the 1%, in blind greed and endless schemes, have forgotten this. They have closed their eyes to what the word “society” should really mean, what it can mean. But due to Occupy Wall Street, we are finally talking less about CUTS and more about BLEEDING. Instead of demanding m-o-r-e budget cuts -to be borne by the middle class and poor- we are FINALLY focusing on the shameful bleeding that the poor and middle class has endured, for all too long. Instead of talking about even m-o-r-e cuts in the taxes of millionaires….we are now talking about fairness and justice – about an economy and a political system that is increasingly run for the rich, and by the rich. Instead of talking about LESS government, we are talking about a government that WORKS FOR ALL OF US, not just a favored few. Thank you OWS, for reminding us that people -ordinary working people- really DO matter, and for helping open our eyes to what’s really going on in this country. The attempt by OWS to occupy Duarte Square (the empty lot owned by Trinity Church) is much more than a plea for sanctuary. For like Zuccotti Park, it’s an attempt to carve out a protected space, a living conscience for the city, amid the repression. A refuge …in a city where control-freaks would sweep us under the rug, and out of the way….in a city where they would pen us in, and permit us to death….in a city that tells us to “move on, move on”….. you don’t belong, you don’t count, you don’t have a right to be here…don’t assemble, don’t block the street, don’t trespass, don’t EXIST! They would deny us, deny our lives, and deny our very futures. IF WE LET THEM. But OWS responds, both in word and in DEED, and says: we’ve had ENOUGH – we BELONG, we STAND our ground, and we DO matter! This IS our land, and we want it BACK! The word OCCUPY…says it all! That’s why OWS has captured our imagination. That’s why a living breathing OCCUPIED public space is important for OWS. Like Lady Liberty’s never extinguished torch that burns in our harbor, OWS needs to have a concrete, continuing, persistent in-your-face presence.. to remind us of what we’ve lost, of what we are, and what we can be ..to affirm, illuminate, defy…and inspire. Trinity Church, with its oft-proclaimed ideals (and its huge land holdings), should look deep into its collective soul, do the right thing, and help OWS secure a sanctuary…a space of of refuge and hope. For if Christ were physically among us today, as He was 2000 years ago, He would be among the FIRST to climb those fences, and occupy Trinity’s Duarte Square. Of this I am certain…