Protesters celebrate the anniversary of the Occupy movement outside St Paul's Cathedral in London. Photo: Reuters
Occupy protesters chain themselves to the pulpit as Dean David Ison ascends to give his sermon. Photo: Teri Pengilley for the Guardian
The traditional solemnity of St Paul's Sunday evensong was disrupted when four members of the Occupy London movement, which camped outside the cathedral for four months, chained themselves to the base of the pulpit.
While the choir sang, four women dressed in white shouted their own sermon to mark the anniversary of the start of the Occupy camp outside St Paul's, accusing the cathedral authorities of colluding with banks and failing to help the poor.
Occupy had been invited to read a prayer at the service, but if the gesture was an attempt at reconciliation, it was firmly rejected.
After Tanya Paton, of Occupy Faith, had read her prayer, the four women rose from their seats and chained themselves to the pulpit. "In the fight for economic justice Jesus threw the money changers out of the temple, but you invited them in and instead evicted us," shouted activist Alison Playford.
"Your collusion with the City of London Corporation led to our violent eviction on your doorstep. You testified against us which acted to uphold injustice and inequality that is growing by the day. St Paul's Cathedral you must stand up and be counted at this great trial of history."
Activists from Christianity Uncut held a simultaneous protest outside, unfurling a large banner which called for St Paul's to "Throw the money changers out of the temple".
The female protesters said they did not plan to leave. City of London police arrived at the cathedral, but staff told them they were happy for the protesters to remain.
However, the women cut themselves free and left about 10pm (local time) after police officers told them they faced arrest.
The Very Rev David Ison, Dean of St Paul's, preached immediately after the women, mildly joking that he now had a "captive audience".
He told the protesters that they were welcome in the church and he would be happy to speak to them after the service. "I hope you will listen to what I have to say," he said, before arguing that "tribalism" was not the way to defeat poverty and inequality.
"We need partners, allies whether they are bankers or campers, conservative or liberal, religious or not. God's invitation to us is to follow Jesus Christ and to change ourselves and the world to one which is inclusive and generous and calls all of our self interests into question whether it's the interests of the Church of England or Occupy or the City of London."