“Occupy Church Street, Not Wall Street”?   3 comments


Back in November, Richard Beattie from the Denver Evangelical Examiner wrote this critique of Occupy Wall Street and ended with some advice to them.  He said,

“The waste of time, talent and resources of occupying Wall Street is getting tiresome. The movement is not united and watching the threads on blogs and websites is only serving to be buying into a system of “haves and have nots.” … I was thinking about how “Occupy Wall Street” is playing on Wall Street and how it is playing on Main Street and from what I can see the only hurt that the movement is leaving a mark on is the continuing sluggish Jobs Index. I have a solution for the occupiers – Leave Wall Street and head on down to Church Street. Occupy Church Street, your prayers will be answered.  …

“On Church Street you are not slaves to Wall Street or Main Street, you are considered friends who will be compelled to live in a community where people will give, will work with you and beside you. Your gifts and talents, your education and your qualifications are noticed. …. There will always be greed and there will always be injustice, but when you rely on God only for your sustenance then you will find your needs are met, that justice is given and you will be treated with respect and dignity. So take your tents and move to the nearest church you can find and occupy Church Street 24/7. Be prepared to pray, be prepared to worship and be prepared to listen to the message God wants you to hear.”

I can’t resist a few brief comments on this exhortation. 1) In fairness, this was back in November, so the impact that OWS is having was less evident. 2) The picture portrayed here of the church is very generous. The church of Jesus Christ is indeed to be a receptive, inclusive place where you will be welcomed and your talents will be appreciated and utilized – and where you will be treated with respect and dignity. In practice it might take some real looking to find such a church – and if you have real problems you might want to keep them to yourself – just so you don’t ruin everything! The church is made up of very imperfect people, and it shows. I mention this not to pick on the church, but because the author writes glowingly about it and condescendingly about OWS. In my experience, I’ve seen people (not necessarily Christians) attempting to live out Christian principles more impressively in OWS gatherings than in most churches. 3) The question remains, even should justice and respect for others be found in the church – what about those outside of the church who also want and need these things? In most cases they’re not going to come to the Evangelical church (about which they often have many negative impressions) for help. If the church is to help, it has to reach out or go to them. This “going” is at the heart of the Great Commission and the sending out of the Apostles after the resurrection of Jesus. And given that, perhaps involvement with the Occupy Movement isn’t so far-fetched. When I’ve gone to Zuccotti Park, my presence as clergy was appreciated by many, and I had unprecedented opportunities to share my values and perspective – just like everyone else there. Showing up and talking to others and praying for them is doing something, and it may lead to other good things too. You don’t have to camp out, be a “dirty hippie”, or become a socialist to join in with these others in an attempt to “do good to all people.” 4) The God of the Bible won’t do for us what we can do for ourselves. He expects us to leave the comfortable, familiar enviroment of our churches, and actually work for justice and respect in our world. It’s not enough to say, “We have the answer here, and if they want it, they can come to us.” Perhaps this is the message that God wants the Church to hear.


Posted December 22, 2011 by occupyevangelicals in Uncategorized

3 responses to ““Occupy Church Street, Not Wall Street”?

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  1. Thanks for the critique of my article. It seems to me that you were thinking my pen was in my cheek (which would be very painful). I am curious about “who is occupying Wall Street” from a demographic standpoint. Please understand that I understand that people who are paying off college loans in fields of corporate dreams, are fed up and have large loans to pay. I myself went back to school and I have started a few businesses here and there and ministries. So I offered the evangelical church to really seek out calling and convergence of work, home and business. That was my attitude (in the midst of traveling NY, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with my ministry and witnessing the Occupy movement.) I do want to make sure that people understand where y’all are coming from and what people who are wanting to know how to reach out to OWS. I hope you understand that what I think and see is an end to unions and a need for cottage industry mad in the USA. So why protest Wall Street, invent something! I also want to know how many people in the Occupy movement are actually collecting unemployment checks?

    • Thanks for interacting. The Occupy Movement is partnering with the unions, and vice versa. I myself marched across the Brooklyn Bridge with Occupy Wall Street, and the teachers union and others were out in full force that night. It’s easily documented. I’m not sure what you mean about the need for “cottage industry mad in the USA”, but Occupy is definitely attempted to invent something – a new fair society where people are more valued, respected and protected than corporate profits. As for unemployment checks, it’s hard to say, but again, from visiting Zuccotti Park and talking to people there, I saw the whole spectrum – homeless people taking advantage of the free food, but also skilled volunteers manning the media center, people’s library, and medical tent – people who were taking time off from work to help. I also talked to a few people who had left jobs to join the movement. Of course, there are many others like me who work (I have two jobs.), and take vacation days, days off, etc. to join in/help/contribute. Every time I went down to Occupy it cost me money in travel (bus or train, subway, food) – but mostly in missed work. I’m self-employed and if I don’t work, I don’t make anything. Lots of others like we were going before or after work, on their lunch hour, or just whenever they could manage it. Others couldn’t go to the Park, but they write, march, contribute, etc. There are many ways to be involved. (I also have sympathy for people in this economy that have to turn to the government for help. I’m sure you’ve noticed, it’s nasty out there when it comes to job prospects. What we want to see is a fair economy, so that such high numbers of people won’t be in such desperate straits.) Anyway, it’s about the ideas, not the things you’re mentioning. As someone has said, “The movement is the message.”, and that message has been made known and has already made a difference. That’s only the beginning. – Pastor Bill

  2. Thanks for this Pastor Bill. Glad you are clarifying! My typo on “mad in America” should be a title! I meant “Made in America.” I agree about the message of greed being snuffed out. I just think government has made it hard for anyone to prosper and we have all lost our balance. When minimum wage heads up to over 9 bucks in some states, small biz is wither going to get creamed and bankrupt or they will not hire.

    In the meantime- I’m praying for you!


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