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Oakland clergy commit to remaining with Occupy Oakland

Oakland clergy commit to remaining with Occupy Oakland

Following a fatal shooting on Thursday night at the #OccupyOakland encampment, a number of Oakland area clergy have pledged to remain with the crowd and insist that it was an isolated, tragic incident.

“The Occupy Oakland encampment was established on October 10, and residents and supporting protesters were preparing to celebrate its one-month anniversary when the shooting took place.

Several clergy, dressed in collars and stolls[sic], described their own experience in the camp to the media on Friday and reaffirmed their commitment to Occupy. The Reverend Rita Nakashima Brock, a Disciples of Christ pastor from Oakland, also read two statements—one, signed by 30 East Bay clergy, calling on city leaders to keep the encampment in place, and a second espousing a commitment to nonviolence.

One of the first clergy to speak at the conference, the Reverend Brian “BK” Woodson, said the murder underscored the need for the camp to remain.

[…]To a chorus of “Amens” from the clergy and members of the crowd, he said, “This murder was not part of this change—but part of what must be changed.”

[…]Jeremy Nickel, a minister from the Mission Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Fremont, invited the media to look beyond official opinions when considering the camp. “You’ve been told that this encampment attracts violence,” Nickel said. “You’ve been told this is an encampment that is disorganized. Well, I’ve been in there. I’ve been at their general assemblies. I’ve been down here at our tent. I’ve been leading conversations and I can tell you that is not what has been going on in this camp.””

More here.

There’s an article in the NY Times today too about how clergy are providing a Christian witness while being sensitive to the fact that the #Occupy movement is not primarily a religious phenomenon:

[C]ommitted Christians have different answers to the question, “How Christian should we seem?” Marisa Egerstrom, an Episcopalian who studies religion at Harvard, recognized Occupy Wall Street as a sign of the times, “a continuation of the Arab Spring.” On Sept. 17, she brought a group of 10 Boston-area Christians, including Roman Catholics and Lutherans, to Zuccotti Park in New York.

“We wore white albs,” Ms. Egerstrom said, referring to the long clerical cassocks. “We knew that there would be millions and millions of Christians who see that at their churches every Sunday on the acolytes.” They chanted devotionals from Taizé, the ecumenical Christian community in France, and they sang “Ubi Caritas,” the Gregorian hymn whose lyrics mean, in English, “Wherever there is charity and love, there is God.”

“Whenever we started singing, people just stopped and watched,” Ms. Egerstrom said. “There would be this melting. They would understand this wasn’t just confrontation. The music and harmonies are an expression of hope in the midst of chaos.”

Protest Chaplains, the national network that Ms. Egerstrom started after her visit to New York, has attracted members from many religions, but her original group wanted to communicate the Christian aspect of their witness. “We wanted to connect with the idea that we have obligations under Christian baptism,” she said.

Have there been more reports of clergy staying in the camps?

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