A response to ‘Churches too silent on corporate greed’

Yesterday I received the following letter from pastor Shawn Birss, who is the pastor of a church called, Look to the Cross.

I read your recent article in the Edmonton Journal regarding the Church and Occupy Edmonton.EdmJournal - 5 Nov 2011 Churches_silent_on_corporate_greed(sm) (Novemeber 5, 2011)

I’m very, very pleased to tell you that the church is indeed at Occupy Edmonton. In fact, our church has been given the open door (by consensus) to be a Jesus-following presence at Occupy Edmonton, and to encourage other Christians to do so as well

You can read the proposal I made at two General Assemblies here: weprayforoccupy.blogspot.com.

Four from our church have stayed at the camp, and we intend to begin having a rotation of people who will stay there overnight in prayer and in solidarity.

Besides this, we have been welcomed as we have come and helped at the camp in lots of other practical ways.

I am hoping to begin taking further steps toward engaging the evangelical churches of Edmonton in the next week. My intention is to begin by asking them to pray. This we can do, no matter how much we do or do not agree with or even understand Occupy. I’m also cautious about asking churches to "support" Occupy. Though I am very much for Occupy, and support them far more than most other evangelical Christians I know, I am wary of any attempts to use the influence of the church toward political ends.

Anyway, if you are at all interested in putting some more action to your words regarding the church at Occupy, I’d very much like to help you do so. Would you help me get the word out to churches regarding praying for Occupy Edmonton?”

Thank you Shawn, the word is going out.


  1. Thanks Steve!It is a great article in Edmonton Journal…It is true;churches are to silent on greed of big corporations…My two Churches too.Churches don’t see Ocuppy Edmonton.That make me sad as well,because for many people the Church can be the least likely place to find God….Jesus was a master at finding God in unexpected places…Definitive God was and God is on Ocuppy Edmonton…By the way this is not unexpected place…We just need to make God visible!
    So Pastor Shawn,the word is going out…
    What about Churches?

  2. Jesus calls on the rich to give to the poor, He never says just the riches 1%. He identifies both envy and greed as sin. In contradiction to the modern Social Gospel, which claims it can eradicate poverty, He also says you will always have poor people around.

  3. Reading your article, thinking about the world of ever increasing mega churches, christian media, and christian consumerism (i.e. stores like blessings) I couldn’t help substituting ‘churches’ in place of ‘corporations’

    Churches “are principalities or power structures in and of themselves, neither good nor evil” (well…)

    “What would a” Church “look like if it was organized not around maximizing profits at all costs, but realizing reasonable profits while maximizing the well-being of all people?”

    “The answer is not the removal of all” churches “, just the reintroduction of proper boundaries and in some cases restraint”

    Maybe the look to the cross church should, instead of approaching churches to pray for the occupy movement start their own “occupy church” movement.

    Matthew 7: 1-5

    “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

    Perhaps this is why the church isn’t doing anything.

  4. Oh Ian, you say ‘modern Social Gospel’ like it’s a bad thing (smile). Anyway, not many will argue your first two points. I certainly won’t. I endorse them, heartedly. But your last point Ian…well, if I had a nickel… You may imagine–having worked in the inner city for as long as I have, and as part of that, having asked for support for our inner-city poor as long as I have, specifically from churches and from Christians–how many times I have heard this quote. As it is, I have taken to asking the one who quotes this to me to think of the context, and then explain what they think Jesus had in mind. So let me ask you; and here are some possibilities: Was Jesus being a hard headed realist? Was the comment an indictment, a charge? Was this an indifferent off-hand observation? Does it matter that it was directed at the fraudulent and fastidious Judas? Just a few notions to get you started.

    Nevertheless, and with much respect, and your understanding I’m not directing this simply at you, or at all,…but perhaps you can understand that I far prefer naïve social gospel types who still have the imagination that we can do something about poverty, than Christians who ‘know’ what Jesus said.

  5. Kyle, yes indeed! The church can be as much a ‘power and principality’ as any big corporation. But of course, the answer is not the removal of all churches…:) Thanks for your contribution!

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