Church of the Savior, UCC, Knoxville, TN

Church of the Savior, UCC, Knoxville, TN

Church of the Savior Economic Justice Activity:
Ways we begin to live out our Economic Justice Covenant

Ever since a congregational meeting focused on economic justice early last year, the Church of the Savior, UCC, Justice Team and Economic Justice Planning Committee have been working on several COS initiatives, including a partnership with Interfaith Worker Justice, new economic issue study groups, and the development of an Economic Justice Covenant that was finally presented at a congregational meeting on February 27, 2013.

This effort is taking place in response both to interest within the congregation, and to a call from the national leadership of the UCC. The COS Economic Justice Covenant was approved by a unanimous vote at a congregational meeting on April 14, 2013.


Welcome to the expanded economic justice movement at COS. Those who took part in the September/October study groups found there are many ways to contribute to such a movement. The Justice Team decided to begin with three action groups:

Local Banking Group.  

Last fall a discussion group focused on issues of economic justice was formed at COS. An offshoot of that group was a committee charged with addressing banking and financial services. The Local Banking Committee has developed an informational booklet, "Alternatives to Big Corporate Banks" with information about the advantages local banks and credit unions offer over the so-called "too big to fail" mega banks. Copies of the booklet will be available to pick up at COS later this month.  

For the next several months the Local Banking Committee would like to attempt to answer your questions about local banking and credit unions and how they impact issues of economic justice in the COS newsletter. Likely questions may include: How can I tell if my bank is a community bank? What is required to become a member of a credit union? Is the money on deposit in community banks and credit unions federally insured? Do community banks and credit unions make mortgage loans? Do community banks and credit unions offer credit cards? Can my business account be moved to a community bank or credit union.

Goals include:

- Provide information about the advantages of using locally based financial service providers.
- Develop information resources identifying local banks, credit unions and other financial service providers.
- Provide guidance to anyone considering moving their financial services to local providers.
- Promote the move to local service providers by communicating their availability through COS contacts, email, the web and published media

Big Money in Politics Group.   

The Big Money in Politics group joins the movement advocating for the passage of a constitutional amendment overturning the 2010 Supreme Court decision, “Citizens United”.  Our initial focus is on getting resolutions supporting the need for this amendment passed by the Knoxville City Council and the South East Conference of UCC. We are at the exploratory stage in these efforts.

There is already great support for such an amendment. Over 300 communities around the country have passed resolutions calling on Congress to create amendment legislation. Several states have also passed such resolutions and others have pending ones. Besides President Obama there are about 25 Senators and 100 Representatives who support an amendment.  

Goals include:

- Review why overturning the 2010 Supreme Court “Citizens United” decision is so important, why a constitutional amendment is necessary and the status of the national, state and local movements aimed at this.
- Decide on personal ways to join the movement and if COS has a role.
- Select information to share with others.
- Decide if the group should stay involved for a longer period and how this should be done.

Equal Exchange Groups (Fair Trade)

1. Beverages and Crafts Group. Estimated time commitment is 1-3 hours a month. Goals include:
- Expand COS purchases from Equal Exchange beyond coffee to tea, chocolate and other fair trade crafts.
- Explore fundraising for Equal Exchange through sales of fair traded items to COS members and friends.

2. Clothing Group. Estimated time commitment 2 Saturdays a year except when coordinating one of the events. Goals include:
- Arrange for COS folks to bring in gently used clean clothing to exchange with others in the congregation. (This is one way we can be ecologically and economically prudent.) 

For more information about the groups or to register contact the coordinator. You can also register on the signup sheets in the lobby. Each group will decide how it wants to accomplish its work. All groups will be expected to share their learning with the congregation and to recommend personal and COS actions. They are encouraged to explore UCC resources and actions already started.

As we further develop our economic justice program, the Justice Team will be looking for people with interests in other economic justice actions. For ideas see the summary in the lobby of the most popular responses to the October ’12 Economic Justice Actions Interest Survey.


Workers’ Memorial Day Ceremony, April 27

The annual ceremony to honor Tennessee workers who lost their lives on the job is set for Saturday, April 27, at 1 PM in front of the City-County Building. Interfaith Worker Justice is one of the major sponsors, along with the Knoxville-Oak Ridge Central Labor Council, Jobs with Justice, and the local Laborers’ and Ironworkers’ international unions. This ceremony is an excellent way to recognize those workers who were killed on the job in 2011-2012, as well as their families. Several family members of East Tennessee workers will attend the ceremony. Mayor Madeline Rogero and Mayor Tim Burchett will speak. A special report on the factors contributing to these deaths will be released, as well as recommendations for both the public and private sectors to reduce on-the-job fatalities. Although we cannot compensate the families for the impact of these losses, we can make clear that their loved ones are honored and respected for their sacrifice. Public attendance is strongly encouraged.


Bridges for Justice

The Bridges for Justice Campaign in Knoxville has taken a new turn. Two Britton Bridge Company employees have decided to go on strike in response to on-going safety concerns with the Henley Street Bridge project where two workers have already died on the job. JWJ and Interfaith Worker Justice of East TN are organizing a public event at Volunteer Landing at 5:30 PM on Monday, December 10th, to support these workers, hear their stories, and promote the need for an open process, involving Britton Bridge and TDOT who awarded the contract, to bring resolution to these workers’ concerns. Everyone is invited to come! 

Demonstration  This Monday, 2/4, 11 AM at the update on the Henley St. Bridge project to be provided by TDOT Commissioner John Schroer, a demonstration will be held.  The event will take place at Tennova Riverside, Blount Avenue, at the southern terminus of the Henley Bridge. 3 key messages will be delivered to Commissioner Schroer: “Britton Bridge: Make Worker Safety Real;” “TDOT: Listen to Britton Bridge Strikers,” and “We Need A Responsible Contractor.” Interfaith Worker Justice is a founding participant of “Bridges to Justice.” COS members are invited to join in this presence of concerned community members.

2012 Labor Day Sunday Events at COS

Economic Justice and Faith Reflection: For the next 4 Sundays, you are invited to join Rev. John Gill, justice leaders, and others for a special time of study, reflection and discussion about “Economic Justice and Faith” and some of the ways people of faith and Church of the Savior might promote economic justice in our community and world. Gather at 9:30 AM. Begin at 9:45 AM. Snacks, coffee and child care provided.

Interfaith Worker Justice of East Tennessee - Special Celebratory Reception on Sunday, 9/2   Please join us in Shalom House (the old Stone Fortress across the parking lot) immediately after worship for an informal celebration of our new partnership with IWJ of East TN. We will dedicate a new resource desk (and new doors!), share snacks and drinks, and join in song! We will also get to welcome Toma Lynn Smith from the national staff of Interfaith Worker Justice.

We will celebrate the start of this new partnership with the dedication of the IWJ resource corner and a reception in Shalom House after worship on Sunday, 9/2 (at 12:30 PM). Please plan to join us! The Justice Team is also planning to highlight the relationship between faith, economic justice and our society in a series of special events in September, starting with our annual Labor in the Pulpit worship service on September 2. IWJET is a network of religious leaders and faith communities which seeks to advance the rights of workers in our region - promoting fair wages, benefits and working conditions, a safe working environment and equal protection under the law, regardless of immigration status. For more info about this collaboration, go to the new website.

New IWJ-COS Collaboration for Economic Justice Highlighted in national UCC News!  COS is getting some national attention in our denomination thanks to an initiative of the COS Justice Team! See the article that describes Church of the Savior becoming the host support site for Interfaith Worker Justice of East TN (which is already one of our 2nd Mile Gift recipients). This means COS will serve as an institutional address for IWJET and provide space for occasional meetings, a resource desk in Shalom House, and the support of several volunteers related to the Justice Team. We hope this new partnership will provide fresh ways for members of COS to learn about economic justice issues in our region and participate in efforts to support workers rights.


Contact Info

Edith Rasell, Ph.D.
Minister for Economic Justice
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44115