Faith Leaders March and Pray for Occupy Wall Street San Francisco

First off, if you have been involved in faith-based social justice work, you will recognize that the person with the guitar in front of this Wells Fargo Office is none other than singer and songwriter, Betsy Rose.

*Pause for social justice celebrity moment*

Okay . . . on to my reflections about this week’s Interfaith March and Blessing for the Occupy Wall Street folks in San Francisco. Simply put, it was powerful. I posted the invitation last week, but to catch people up, this whole thing began with a few folks wondering if there was going to be any response by the faith community to Bay Area Occupy encampments. Conversations happened and it steamrolled into well over 200 people, from a myriad of faith traditions, gatherings to march, sing, pray and bless . . . all in support of the Occupy San Francisco movement.

A few reflections on the day . . .

  • The tone we set . . . Compared to other actions that I have attended, the tone of this gathering was profoundly calm. There was singing and some chanting, but it did not have the edge of other actions that often push the bounds of physical and verbal confrontation. The power that was communicated came in the sheer number of people who were there as we walked through the streets carrying the golden calf and stood in clear solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street folks in San Francisco and around the world.
  • The language we use . . . One of the most challenging parts for me was when one of the speakers pushed the Occupy movement on language, specifically on using the term, “occupy.” Not a positive word for those whose land has been “occupied” by others, I thought this was a poignant and compassionate moment in the service when we were reminded to always be self-reflective in our actions and words no matter how noble the cause.
  • The presence we make known . . . As our group of robed, stoled and collared marchers weaved through the financial district, on more than one occasion I saw an expression of bewilderment in the eyes of observers. I suspect that there was a feeling of “Oh, great, another protest . . . *yawn*” but when they saw the signs, symbols and dress there was a, “Huh, church people?” moment. Throughout our journey we were greeted with thank you’s from Occupy SF folks, waves of encouragement from security guards and doormen and the best moment was watching a group of well-dressed business folks start singing along as we beted out, “This little light of mine.” I almost shed a little tear . . . almost.
  • The challenge we lay down . . . While grateful for the organizers of this event who came from all over the Bay Area, it seems as if the San Francisco religious community has absent from the discussion. I am not sure that anyone from the Occupy SF encampment really notices or cares, but I would think that there would be more commentary and action by those of us who hold fighting against systematic poverty and injustice at such a high value. I am not saying that everyone can or should be at every action, but the lack of San Francisco folks does push the question about our own comfort and how much much we stand with/for the poor and powerless in our own city.

Overall I had a great experience, saw some long-time social justice workers as well as many new faces. Not sure what is next for the group, but it is my hope that there will be more opportunities for the religious community to step out of our traditions and contexts and get out on the streets in support of this call for fundamental and dramatic change.

If you are interested, here are a few more links, resources, etc.

Occupy San Francisco: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Interfaith Clergy in Support of Occupy Wall Street, SF: Facebook | Twitter

There was a good deal of new coverage of the gathering:

Talia Cooper, Director of Jewish Youth for Community Action shared her song, “Mic Check: Occupy Everywhere” during the prayer service. This is not the video from our march, but Talia singing it at another event. Good stuff. Follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

And finally, here are a few more images that I captured during the day. For the entire album, please click on over to my facebook page.

 

 

 

 

20 comments

  • Pingback: Bruce Reyes-Chow: The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street Movements: Similarities and Differences | De-Occupy Wall Street

  • Pingback: The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street Movements: Similarities and Differences at Senator Tea Party – Jim DeMint

  • Pingback: Tea Party & Occupy Wall Street Movements: Similarities and Differences « OCCUPY

  • Pingback: Bruce Reyes-Chow: The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street Movements: Similarities and Differences | Eagle News

  • Pingback: Bruce Reyes-Chow: The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street Movements: Similarities and Differences | NewsCentor

  • Pingback: Bruce Reyes-Chow: The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street Movements: Similarities and Differences

  • Pingback: The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street Movements: Similarities and Differences | My Blog

  • Pingback: Bruce Reyes-Chow: The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street Movements: Similarities and Differences | X-ZOOM Info

  • Pingback: Bruce Reyes-Chow: The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street Movements: Similarities and Differences | News Bottle

  • Pingback: Bruce Reyes-Chow: The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street Movements: Similarities and Differences | InfoMpire

  • Pingback: Bruce Reyes-Chow: The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street Movements: Similarities and Differences | NewsMpire

  • Pingback: Bruce Reyes-Chow: The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street Movements: Similarities and Differences | DigiMpire

  • Pingback: Bruce Reyes-Chow: The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street Movements: Similarities and Differences | InforZoom

  • Pingback: The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street Movements: Similarities and Differences | Tea Party Patriots Online

  • Pingback: Attack the System » Blog Archive » The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street Movements: Similarities and Differences

  • Pingback: The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street Movements: Similarities and Differences at Senator Tea Party – Jim DeMint

  • RitaNakashimaBrock  

    Thanks for this description. I was there, and one thing I noticed was how little interaction there was between the faith contingent and the folks camping. We were clumped waiting to march, then we rallied way from the encampment. I went over after to visit it and ran into Vicki from CLUE and a couple of PSR seminarians, but most of the crowd seemed to show up, march, and leave. The folks I talked to at the encampment seemed to express a “whatever” response to our being there. I really hope we don’t just show up for street theater, but become members of the de-colonizing protest communities, attend their General Assemblies, speak at them, and be identified as one among them, not just outside supporters.

    • Bruce Reyes-Chow  

      Rita . . . yeah, I think that is a good point and caution. There is a seminary grad living in the encampment and they are thinking about forming a spirituality committee, and have chaplains, but are still trying to figure our their main purpose. As you know the church has a long way to get to earn and earn back a legitimate place at the table. Hope you are well!

  • Pingback: The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street Movements: Similarities and Differences | Bruce Reyes-Chow

  • Pingback: Faith Leaders March and Pray for Occupy Wall Street San Francisco « Bruce Reyes-Chow

Comments are closed.

Sign up for my electronic communiqué ➜ SUBSCRIBE
Get your eCopy of ORDER NOW