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Occupying Church

Gordon Harper, Coordinator of Social Justice Ministries, Seattle FBC

Seattle First Baptist has had a wonderful opportunity to participate in the global Occupy movement. Shortly after 82-year-old Dorli Rainey's pepper spraying gave it a certain international visibility, Occupy Seattle (OS) moved its tent location from Westlake Plaza to the campus of Seattle Central Community College, just two blocks from Seattle First Baptist.  

It didn't take long for us to be in conversation. Within little more than a week, OS folk were coming to our worship services and Wednesday night dinners. Shortly thereafter, our Diaconate discussed and approved providing an indoor meeting space for their coordination team gatherings (what they call Intergroup meetings) at 5 p.m. every day. The Social Justice Ministries committee provided one or more host for each of these daily gatherings in our Peacemakers Room, giving many of our members an up-front experience of their work and process. We also wrote and subsequently met with the President of the College to express our support for its providing space on the campus for the tent community.

We’ve hosted a sign-making afternoon for Occupy Seattle's launching of the GMOP campaign (Get Money Out of Politics), an effort to mobilize support for undoing the Supreme Court's decision permitting unlimited corporate funds in political campaigns. Members of OS are coming to our worship services, three or four meet monthly for planning with our Social Justice Ministries group, a request for financial support is on its way to our Outreach Commission, and four spaces are now permanently reserved for and filled by OS folk each week at our Wednesday night dinners. 
The movement has demonstrated a strong commitment to nonviolent action in its efforts to effect social change. We have been deeply impressed by the seriousness, the grasp of the issues it is addressing, and the experiment in direct democracy it is conducting. We feel we have learned much from its members and have contributed modestly to it.

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