Anger at Church Divestment

Anglicans have placed the 'ash of repentance' on the HQ of the Church of England today, in protest against the way low income families have been treated.

The symbolic action, religiously associated with Holy Week, took place at Church House, Great Smith Street, SW1 in a Service of Repentance at 3pm on 19 April 2011.

Ashes are a traditional symbol of penitence associated with the season of Lent - on the journey towards remembrance of the death of Jesus on Good Friday, and the celebration of new life at Easter.

Those involved were Kate Hoey MP, four clergy from the Diocese of Southwark and tenants and residents.

Church House is the office of the Church Commissioners. The Commissioners sold the Octavia Hill Estates in South London in 2005 to a partnership between Genesis Housing Association and Grainger plc.

The housing has now been transferred entirely to Grainger plc and is therefore completely privately owned. The Estates were until 2005 managed for those on low income. All new lets are now at market rents and many properties have been sold.

This week the Commissioners announced that their assets increased last year from £4.8 billion to £5.3 billion.

Fr Andrew Moughtin-Mumbym Anglican priest of the parish of St Peter, Walworth, explained: “The wounds felt by residents on the Octavia Hill estate in Walworth are deep, and anger, betrayal and hurt are laid squarely at the door of the Church Commissioners.

"Residents simply cannot understand why a distribution of fair rents, key worker housing, and market rents could not be established by the Church Commissioners. The terms of the sale and the manner in which it was conducted, have clearly brought the Church Commissioners, the Church of England, and the parish churches in which these estates fall into disrepute,” said Fr Moughtin-Mumbym.