Saturday, April 14, 2012

Protest Chaplains to Join Occupy Wall Street and Other Community Groups in Foreclosure Auction Blockades

In support of homeowners facing foreclosure and eviction in NYC, Protest Chaplains NYC will join with members of Occupy Wall Street (OWS) and other community groups to conduct vibrant singing protests and raise the people’s voices at foreclosure auctions in Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx next week, with the aim to: disrupt the sale of people’s homes and the eviction of their occupants; call for a moratorium on all foreclosures; demand justice for all New Yorkers struggling for affordable housing; confront Wall Street’s unchecked power to put profits over people’s right to housing. Watch the October 13th rendition of “Listen Auctioneer” at the Brooklyn foreclosure auction blockade

MONDAY, April 16th, 2pm, Contact: Blair Ellis, 908-334-3825 
Bronx Supreme Court, Rm 600. 851 Grand Concourse, Bronx
Who: Organizing for Occupation (O4O), OWS

THURSDAY, April 19th, 3pm, Contact: Nathaniel Mahlberg, 608-469-1406
Kings County Supreme Court, 360 Adams St, Brooklyn
Who: Occupy Faith, Catholic Worker, Jews for Racial & Economic Justice (JFREJ)

FRIDAY, April 20th, 11am, Contact: Andra Horgan, 646-925-7891
Queens Supreme Court, 8811 Sutphin Boulevard, Queens
Who: Occupy Queens, Columbia Univ students, Occupy the New School
Everyone has the right to live freely, securely, peacefully and with dignity in his or her
home. In the US there are over three times as many “people-less” homes as home-less people. Financial institutions have stripped individuals and communities of their savings and property while receiving $7.7 Trillion in taxpayer bail-outs.
“At the same time that banks are getting bailed out, rental assistance programs are being reduced--even completely eliminated,” says housing rights activist and organizer Blair Ellis. “Empty buildings fill New York City boroughs, while those in need of housing are forgotten by our economic and political system. Those lucky enough to remain in their homes are increasingly burdened with the escalating cost of rent and mortgage loans. This American Dream is becoming a nightmare for millions of the middle class and poor people.”

There are over 100,000 homes in foreclosure in New York State due to subprime and predatory loans; now New Yorkers with “fair” (or “prime”) loans are also missing payments and falling into foreclosure because of unemployment, under-employment and mounting healthcare costs among other issues.
“We can create meaningful, community based solutions to keep people in their homes and return land in our communities back to the people who live in them,” says Heath Madom, a local housing rights advocate. “We look forward to the day when all bank-owned property—occupied and vacant—is returned to community control and made permanently affordable.”

Friday, March 23, 2012

Queens Foreclosure Auction Can’t Face the Music, Cancels

By Nathanial Mahlberg (Protest Chaplain - NYC)

Today I had the honor of working with other members of Occupy Faith and the Protest Chaplains (many from Judson Memorial Church, Union Theological Seminary, and St. Mary in the Upper West Side) along with members of  Organizing4Occupation (O4O), Occupy Wall Street (OWS), and the Raging Grannies to prepare to peacefully stop the seizure of homes by singing during a foreclosure auction in Queens.  Communities have successfully used this beautiful and powerful tactic to defend the human right to housing against the greed of banks in auctions throughout New York and other cities. This time the auction officials could not face the music and cancelled the auction just before it was to begin.  We had all filed into the courtroom prepared to sing the now-famous song, “Listen Auctioneer,” despite the relatively heavy police presence.  Our success was easier than we had expected.  Now we can turn to continuing to build this movement of non-violent defense of those suffering under the ongoing housing crisis.  Unchecked greed and usury precipitated this crisis, and tepid legislative measures have offered little remedy. It is up to communities to step up and boldly help each other. As a Community Minister at Judson Church and a seminarian at Union Theological Seminary, I was pleased to have organized with faith groups for this particular action.  As we conducted our preparations I could be honest that my motivations were rooted in the compassion taught by my religion.  “We are a Jubilee people,” I said. “We live on
behalf of the true purpose of God’s creation, which is to provide for the nourishment, well-being, and shelter of all of God’s creatures. The time to return to this purpose, the time of Jubilee, is long overdue.”

Monday, December 12, 2011

"the gods are already present"

Wiccan Protest Chaplains Courtney Weber and Mary Caliendo recently contributed to this post on The Wild Hunt a blog which offers a modern Pagan perspective.  Courtney and Mary both share their stories of being involved with the occupy movement and what it means for them to work as Pagan chaplains.
As Courtney explains:
Pagan Chaplaincy is a unique animal. Our faiths are widely diverse and do not contain a central belief code. Therefore, what is the role of a spiritual worker whose very beliefs are defined by respecting the personal beliefs of others and not attempting to influence them? As it turns out, this unique quality of Pagan spirituality is an excellent fit for the Occupy movement. There is a prevalent antagonism within the movement toward organized religion. Sympathizing Chaplains of various religions frequently face hostility, many of them often hearing, “Religion is one of the reasons we’re in this mess!” In these sorts of situations, Pagan Chaplains are able to fly under-the-radar. Where one Chaplain might face hostility and rejection in a situation due to their religious affiliations, that situation might be more open to a Pagan Chaplain. Paganism itself mirrors the Occupy movement in its lack of centralization and leadership. Pagan Chaplains are effectively able to get close to the heart of the various matters that come up within the movement as we do not have the same barriers of suspicion and prejudice that face many of our colleagues from mainstream religions.
Check out the whole post here to read more!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

being a "chaplain to the protest"

On the Fellowship of Reconciliation site, Protest Chaplain Matthew Arlyck talks about being a chaplain to the protest on Thursday evening as he worked jail support while others marched across the Brooklyn Bridge.  He writes:
"Throughout the 4+ hours I spent there last night, the care I provided didn’t look much like pastoral care; I didn’t have any particularly spiritual conversations or engage in any prayer.  I did what everyone else did - helped to get weary protestors, many of whom had been held handcuffed in 1 Police Plaza for 10-12 hours, get plugged back into the outside world.  (Now, how can we begin to approach with the same spirit our 2 million incarcerated sisters and brothers when they are released back from correctional facilities into our communities?)  And yet I knew I was exactly where I needed to be."

Read the entire blog post here.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

"my job is to be a presence of calm and peace"

Protest Chaplain Romall Smalls was profiled in the New York Observer's 40 Portraits From Occupy Wall Street: Tent City.  Read his thoughts on chaplaincy at OWS and then scroll through the other fascinating portraits!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Life is a sweet jubilee

Protest chaplain Melissa Hinnen has been writing about faith and Occupy Wall Street on this great blog for awhile.  Read about her thoughts and experiences and take a look at some of the resources she has compiled like OWS specific prayers!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

"Jews must join the fight"

One of our Protest Chaplains, Carolyn Klaasen is doing some badass work with Jewish Voice for Peace that is related to Occupy Wall Street.  Check out this article in "New Voices," a National Jewish student magazine to read more about her stance on "occupying the occupiers."

Protest Chaplains Carolyn Klaasen and Jami Yandle 
down at Zuccotti Park earlier this fall.