Church and Society Work Team
Church & Society
on the United Methodist
Jan. 29, 2005
Mar. 19, 2005
May 7, 2005
July 16, 2005
Sept. 24, 2005
Nov. 19, 2005
2005 Seminar Series:
Program Areas and Resources
Peace with Justice Program
Legislative Resources:The United Methodist General Board of Church and Society has a Legislative Hotline with weekly updates on national issues (1-800-455-2645). Action Alerts provide details on opportunities to communicate with Congressional members on specific issues. A United Methodist Witness in Pennsylvania offers information on Legislative Issues of concern to Pennsylvania Methodists. Also see legislative link which includes tips on effective political advocacy, essays on Christian Faith and Political Action, and web links to a variety of social justice resources.
Economic Justice and Workplace IssuesFor many Americans the current economic recession means learning to cope with the insecurity of downsizing, unemployment, frequent job changes, and multiple family wage earners. Minimum wage is no longer a living wage for family providers; corporate downsizing and plant closings are commonplace in spite of economic prosperity. Economic development at the structural level is a critical area of ministry.
We are interested in working with local churches seeking to be in ministry on matters of economic justice.
Sweatshops are still common around the world, especially in the clothing industry. For example, Wal-Mart pays no taxes to Nicaragua, where some of its products are manufactured, even though its worldwide annual sales are 200 times greater than Nicaragua's entire national budget. Young women there are locked in the factory compound from 6:45 a.m. to 7:15 p.m. and paid 23 cents-an-hour. Other major companies which contract with sweatshops include Guess, Walt Disney Company, Nike, Kmart, JC Penny, Esprit, Victoria's Secret, and the May Company. United Methodist Women and the National Labor Committee provide extensive on-line information. Other agencies, such as the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility and the United Methodist General Board of Pensions have monitored sweatshop activities, but the reports are not available on-line.
Introductory workshops on basic economic issues explore topics such as the growing disparity between America's multi-millionaires and everyone else, the economic roots of many social problems facing our communities, and effective ways to restore equality. These seminars, which begin with an examination of Biblical economics, are very interactive and include a variety of simulation exercises.
Other WWW resources on Economic Development and Workplace Issues:
For more information on Economic Justice programs, contact Robert Walden.
For resources on mental illness or further information about current legislative issues, contact: Dorothy Field, DotF1@aol.com.
Resources on Health Care issues associated with Terminal Illness are available program which focuses on moral, legal, political, and faith issues associated with terminal illness Some of these materials on terminal illness are on-line.
Other WWW resources on Health Care:
We are monitoring the activities of commercial gambling interests and Pennsylvania public officials. We also participate in public hearings on gambling, support community organizing efforts, and monitor legislative activities in Harrisburg.
For more information about current legislative issues, contact Dianne Berlin, P.O. Box 162, Penryn, PA 17564. (717)-665-7382.
Other WWW resources on Gambling:
Restorative Justice program
Restorative Justice (RJ), in contrast to the American judicial system, seeks to work with victims and offenders to mediate repentance, forgiveness, and restoration -- and thereby allow healing of both victim and offender.
Restorative justice uses traditional forms of negotiation and community support to resolve serious offenses that the state identifies as criminal. In the court room, victim and offender rarely meet; the judicial process requires that they remain adversaries. Judge and jury must make yes or no, guilty or not guilty decisions which do not necessarily reflect the intricacies of the situation or the best interests of victim or offender or even the community at large. Young offenders are sent to prison where they are educated to become hardened criminals. Victims are ignored by the criminal justice process, and often receive no form of restitution. The offender is discouraged from admitting guilt by the legal process, which further hinders repentance and reconciliation.
Restorative Justice also recognizes that American "justice" has been substantially corrupted by racism and economic and political power. Major systemic changes are required to restore any semblance of biblical justice.
A Restorative Justice Work Team for Eastern Pennsylvania Conference was formed in January, 2000. This team is working to build a training and support network for restorative justice ministries in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference, including prison visitation and family support services, victim support, victim-offender reconciliation, ex-offender rehabilitation, and political advocacy on criminal justice issues, including capital punishment. The Restorative Justice Work Team is lead by Rev. Varlyna D. Wright, chairperson; Charlene Segal, secretary; and Rev. Mark Young, treasurer.
A Restorative Justice training session was held April 1, 2000 at Trinity-Chelten UMC in Philadelphia, and other training events can be scheduled for groups who would introductory or specialized training. (See the description of the April 1st event for further details).
Please let us know if you would like to work with other United Methodists on any aspects of
restorative justice. Contact Robert Walden.
Other WWW resources on Restorative Justice:
Environmental Justice: Climate Change
Climate change occurs naturally due to periodic changes in the intensity of the sun, the position of the earth in relation to the sun, and the shape and location of continents. In times past, as climates gradually change, plant and animal species have evolved to adapt to new conditions.
During the past century, however, there has begun a rapid climate change because of human activities which are adding more carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases to the atmosphere. The concentration of carbon dioxide in earth's atmosphere has increased by about 30% since 1900. Significant climate change in recent years due to these "greenhouse gases" has now been well-documented.
Over the next century, it is estimated that global temperatures will rise by about 2-6 degrees F, about the same as the 3-degree F temperature rise since the last ice age 10,000 years ago. Sea levels will rise about 10-30 inches, permanently flooding wetlands and bringing storm floods to low-lying areas. Weather patterns will be come more erratic; there will be more frequent and severe heat waves and droughts, and heavier storms and floods. While many plant and animal species will be unable to adapt to the rapid climate changes, insects, rodents, disease organisms, and other species that reproduce rapidly will increase.
The Church and Society Work Team has extensive resources on global climate change, including printed materials, videos, and biblical/theological studies, and action suggestions. We can also provide leaders for group discussion of this issue. For further information you may contact Robert Walden.
Other WWW resources on Climate Change:
Labor Day Sunday (September 5, 2004)Labor Day 2004 marks a time of increasing difficulties for many Pennsylvanian workers-- in fact, for workers everywhere. There have been frequent layoffs of factory and high-tech workers in many communities. Those who remain are often working longer hours and receiving fewer benefits. New jobs are primarily in lower-paying service occupations, as many jobs--from factory workers to computer engineers--are moving to other parts of the world, such as India and China. And for many workers, retired or near retirement, anticipated pension benefits have been reduced--especially health care coverage.
Although "the economy" appears to be recovering from recession, the majority of workers are not benefitting from the recovery, and major layoff announcements are still more common than new factory openings; this is what the economists call a "jobless recovery." Among those hardest hit by recent changes in the economy are the immigrant workers, and this issue of "Peace with Justice News" includes stories about the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride which begins in late September.
A Church and Society gathering in November 2003 looked at how local issues, such as jobs and health care, are connected to broader issues of globalization and US public policy. See the globalization web page for details and resources.
A Labor Day Sunday liturgy, is printed in the July-August issue of "Christian Social Action" magazine; it is also available from the GBCS website).
The National Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice www.nicwj.org
has many resources for Labor Day -- liturgy, sermon suggestions, and action ideas.
Peace with Justice program
Background: Peace with Justice Sunday, observed annually on the Sunday after Pentecost, is intended to be a time to "witness to God's demand for a faithful, just, disarmed, and secure world." As provided by the Discipline, the Peace with Justice offering is evenly divided between the Peace and Justice (PwJ) fund administered by the General Board of Church and Society, and the Annual Conference Peace and Justice fund.
General Guidelines for Program Grants: Expenditures from the EPC Peace with Justice fund will be approved by the Church and Society Work Team at the recommendation of the Peace with Justice coordinator. Ordinarily, allocations for any one program or project will not exceed $2000. Application forms and complete requirements are available from the CSWT, or on-line: Each application must include a description of the program or project and expected allocation of funds, and an accounting of actual expenses and outcome of the program must be provided afterwards. Recent grants are also listed here. For further information, contact Barbara Drake or Robert Walden.
Type of Activities: Funded activities should usually involve training, resourcing, or support of Peace with Justice programs or projects within a local United Methodist congregation or group of churches within Eastern Pennsylvania Conference. This may include Local church, District, or Conference workshops or training sessions, follow-up consultation, or purchase of resource materials. In the local church, the Church and Society work area or equivalent committee would usually be expected to be involved in such programs or projects. Programs may be initiated by the Church and Society Work Team or other Conference agencies, or by local church or District groups.
Peace with Justice funding may be appropriate for programs which involve education, advocacy, political action and Biblical witness. Preference will be given to programs which:
Inquiries about the Peace with Justice program may be addressed to the Church and Society Work Team, c/o Barbara Drake.
Although our work as a team is primarily directed to the issues highlighted above, we also have
team members with expertise in a number of other issues including those listed below. We will
do our best to provide phone or E-mail consultation on these issues. Speakers or workshop
leaders may also be available for some of these issues.
Alternative Christmas Resources
Criminal Justice System [links]
Children and Youth Issues [links]
Environmental Issues [links]
Hunger [legislation] [other links]
Political Process and Faith
Socially Responsible Investments
Substance Abuse [legislation]
Theological Diversity [links]
Worker Justice [links] (organized labor, sweatshops, farmworkers, unemployment...)
the Commission on the Status and Role of Women
the Methodist Federation for Social Action
the Coordinator of Human Relations
and the Office of Metro Ministries
United Methodist Seminars on National and International Affairs
Pennsylvania IMPACT, and the
Pennsylvania Council of Churches
The General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church with offices in Washington, D.C.
Pennsylvania Peace and Justice Resources--with links to many organizations.
Church and Society links
Our Mission and Team Members:The Church and Society Work Team has several major program areas for which we have developed formal training programs and a variety of resource materials. We can also provide some resources and consultation on a variety of other current social justice issues. Our primary focus this year is on supporting local action--providing the training, resources, financial assistance, or continuing consultation to enable church groups to take charge of community problems.
The Church and Society Work Team was established in 1996 by the Eastern Pennsylvania
Conference Council on Ministries. We have Vision and Mission
statements which guide the focus of our work. The following people have been active
participants in defining our program focus; we also value the support of others (not listed here)
in various ways.
Eastern Pennsylvania Conference, United Methodist Church: www.epaumc.org.
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