[Saint Mark’s Cathedral] The Vestry of Saint Mark’s Cathedral voted in a majority vote against a motion allowing Occupy Seattle to place tents in its parking lot. In a second motion, the Rev. E. Michael Jackson, an assisting priest at the Cathedral, was voted by majority vote to act as liaison to Occupy Seattle on behalf of the Cathedral.
The Vestry, an elected governing body of the church, met in its regular monthly meeting. Following lengthy discussion, the Vestry held the vote publically by show of hands.
“The heart of the Cathedral community is in social justice,” said the Rev. Canon Rebecca L. McClain, “but legal and financial constraints made it unrealistic for us to approve this request. We are not done with the conversation about how the Cathedral community will be involved, however. The dialogue must continue.”
In early December, our Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Greg Rickel, was approached by a representative of the Occupy Seattle (OS) movement requesting permission to place two tents in the Cathedral parking lot to be used as offices. The request was clear from the outset that this was not to be a residential tent city and the proposal included safeguards against this happening.
The Bishop opened the question to the cathedral community to determine what level of support there might be. Two open forums were held on Sunday mornings attended by members of both Occupy Seattle and Saint Mark’s Cathedral. Andrew Himes (http://andrewhimes.net/blog) served as an independent moderator. The Rev. Stephen Crippen, deacon at Saint Mark’s, served as a facilitator. A meeting was also held with staff. Letters were sent to other groups resident on our campus. People were invited to submit their thoughts in writing.
The conversation was civil and showed great openness among the community to consider the question set before them. Opinions represented the full spectrum, from allowing it to proceed to serious concerns if OS were allowed.
After a lengthy private discussion, members of the Vestry gave 2 minutes statements in open session explaining their positions. Although opinions of Vestry members reflected the breadth of opinion in the community, the practicalities of hosting the offices at this time largely drove the consensus against the motion.
The desire is strong to continue the conversation and a motion passed to appoint a liaison to Occupy Seattle to further encourage learning and communication between the two groups. The Rev. Michael Jackson had expressed interest in taking on this role.
Saint Mark’s is a community of faith–people of God, who seek to proclaim boldly by word and action the reconciling Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our community is known for its extensive outreach to the homeless and powerless and we provide a Commons where issues of justice and faith are explored.