Quakers’ Occupy LSX epistle

At Meeting for Worship for Business today we agreed to continue to meet on the steps of St.Pauls but from now on will be meeting on SATURDAYS at 1pm before the Occupy General Assembly. An Epistle was agreed as follows

Epistle from the Quaker Meeting for Worship at Occupy the London Stock Exchange.
4th March 2012

To Friends & seekers everywhere,

For the past nineteen weeks Quakers have met on Sunday at 3pm on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral by the Occupy London camp for a Meeting for Worship. Friends of all ages from London have been welcomed as equals, as well as friends visiting from across the country and the globe. We have discovered a remarkable stillness and depth of worship amidst the clanging of the bells and the din of the city.

For a long time many of us have felt unease about existing financial systems and the consequences of the capitalist system we live in. The Occupy movement resonates with our Quaker testimonies, and above all shouts that there is a problem.

The quick and supportive response by so many in our Yearly Meeting, from the Recording Clerk to local Friends, has been amazing. We rejoice in the way our sometimes lengthy Quaker process managed to produce a Quaker statement about Occupy in a timely fashion. Joining with other denominations and faiths has been inspiring, and the “Sermon on the Steps” was a powerful example of this.

Members of the public who see us in worship have joined with us, and also we have been photographed, videoed and interviewed many times. We see similarities between the Occupy movement and early Friends, in that both speak their truth to power, and both are not afraid to engage in positive conflict, something Quakers today find more challenging. We were delighted to learn that the Quaker involvement in the Occupy movement has resulted in an increased number of enquirers.

We observe that Occupy has struggled to deal with many of the problems caused by the social and economic system which they seek to change; alcohol & drug abuse, male domination of meetings, homelessness, those suffering from mental illnesses and other broken people living in a broken world. We uphold their efforts to deal with these problems in good faith and with compassion. Their use of consensus decision making is close to our Quaker methods, and has empowered many in the community. Occupy is an important forum, and we are grateful for its existence, with all its flaws and imperfections.

During the eviction of the St.Paul’s site occupiers conducted themselves in a dignified and peaceful way, testimony to the progressive nature of the movement. In contrast, we believe the authorities of St.Paul’s Cathedral were absent and complicit in the police operation to clear the camp, including the steps to their building, which were not covered by the eviction order. We are saddened by their choice to stand closer to the City of London authorities, those who in Jesus’ time were the moneychangers, and the wealthy 1%. We believe Jesus would have chosen differently.

Now that Occupy has been evicted from outside the stock exchange and St Paul’s, we will continue to meet on the step’s of St Paul’s at 1.00pm for Meeting for Worship every Saturday, to be followed by Meeting for Worship for Business at 1.30pm prior to the Occupy General Assembly. We hope in this way to begin to broaden our witness and will continue to seek new ways to speak our truth to power.

As Quakers we have found it important to gather like this on the front lines of change for a more just and equitable world. Friends take so much action as individuals, but our worship can and should be brought out of our meeting houses and into the world where it is relevant. As our fellow seekers at Occupy would say: Occupy the Light! And let the light occupy you.

Signed on behalf of Occupy the London Stock Exchange Quaker Meeting for Worship,

Quakers in occupy are at http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=231009060327707&id=159824480779499

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