Low-wage workers across the country are courageously
Hard Work, Hard Lives by Oxfam America describes the difficult reality faced by millions of workers in the U.S.
A Day's Strike Seeks to Raise Fast-Food Pay by Steven Greenhouse, New York Times, July 31, 2013. Fast-food employees across the country engage in brief strikes in an effort to boost their pay.
Fighting Back Against Wretched Wages by Steven Greenhouse, New York Times, July 27, 2013. Workers are organizing for better pay and working conditions; employers push back.
Alt Labor by Josh Eidelson, The American Prospect, January 29, 2013.
The earth is the LORD'S and all that is in it -- Ps 24:1a
You shall love your neighbor as yourself -- Matthew 22:39b
A job should lift everyone out of poverty, not keep them there. But in the U.S. today, fully one-quarter of all jobs pay poverty-level wages. All workers are made in God's image and deserve living wages. Poverty jobs can be changed into life-enhancing jobs if we work to make this happen.
Jesus was a Low-Wage Worker is a resource describing low-wage work, the workers in these jobs, and how we can make low-wage jobs into living-wage ones. Buttons with this statement (in English or Spanish) are also available, see below.
In addition to low pay, these jobs often have other disadvantages:
• few benefits such as health insurance, a pension or retirement plan, or paid sick leave;
• inconvenient hours such as nights, weekends, rotating shifts, or part-time hours;
• these jobs are seldom ladders to better opportunities, they typically have few avenues for advancement;
• the work may be exceptionally dirty or hazardous.
Women and people of color are more likely to hold these jobs than white males.
There are many types of low-wage jobs. They can be found in any industry or occupation. Some of the more common ones are listed just below. Of course, there can also be high paying jobs in these industries and occupations also.
health care: nursing homes, cleaning hospitals
hospitality: cleaning hotel rooms
restaurants and fast food
child care including early childhood education
meatpacking and poultry processing
Many of these industries are growing rapidly which means the number of low-wage jobs will grow in the future.
Note that much of this work cannot be moved overseas. The jobs performed by these workers -- cleaning, caring for children and elders, selling items to customers -- need to be done in our local communities. If people of faith stand with low-wage workers who are seeking to improve their wages and working conditions, then poverty-wage jobs can be changed into living-wage jobs. Learn more.
Request these buttons, in English or Spanish,
Educate your Congregation: Perform the one-act drama, Secrets of the Big Box: Workers Tell All! and reveal what life is like behind the racks and checkout lines of a big-box store. Learn what workers are experiencing and really thinking. Ideal for youth, young adults,or any group to perform for the entire congregation. Fun and educational.
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The United Church of Christ Archives welcomes researchers of all types. Due to limited staffing, the Archives is only able to spend ½ an hour on research requests.
If your requests require more in-depth research and you are unable to come to the Archives in person, we recommend you contract with a professional researcher in the area. Arrangements for research must be made directly with the researcher. The UCC Archives is not involved in, nor does the Archives have any responsibility for the work performed by the researcher. A listing of professional researchers can be located at the Ohio Historical Society Researcher List web site.
We strongly recommend scheduling an appointment for research at the Archives at least three weeks in advance so we can provide you the best assistance during your visit. If you are visiting from out of town, you can stay at the Radisson at Gateway at a discounted rate.
Stewardship is a way of life for Christians, a spiritual discipline and approach to daily living that enriches our lives at any age. For children, simple concepts can be discussed and built upon as they grow older. Stewardship education begins with the understanding that God is the source of all that exists, and then we can explore how we are part of what God has brought into being.
An introductory educational packet for children is God's Gifts, My Gifts for use in church and at home. This resource packet teaches that God is the source of who we are and what we have, and is our model for being generous and faithful. Elementary-age children will have fun in class or at home using these five colorful and snappy foldout sheets with individual and group activities, including scriptural texts and prayers to reinforce the church; personal decisions, loving God, self, and others. Use for confirmation and new member classes. Set includes five active lessons: Share Love With Your Offering (available as a single sheet for $.75 each); Seek God with Your Whole Heart; Rooted in Love; Love is the Greatest; Dare 2BU. Set of all five activity sheets plus stickers: 1-10 set, $5.00 each; 11-25 sets, $4.50 each; 26 or more sets, $4.00 each. Item #SCCRS Call United Church of Christ Resources at 800.537.3394 .
Younger children will especially like the interactive nature of Church World Service's global educational site, Build a Village. Children and teens can see how life is different for children in other parts of the world, using a site of the United Nations.
Responsible citizenship is also an important part of stewardship. Young people can learn about our democratic process at a site designed by Congress.
As children move into adolescence and the teen years, more complex questions arise about one’s place in family life and in the world. The responsibilities and joys of receiving God’s gifts are expanded to include more areas of life. Teens will benefit from the spiritual practices outlined at Way to Live, a web companion to the book by the same name, produced by the Valparaiso Project on the Education and Formation of People in Faith. You can order this book.
Adults working with teens can find interesting information about youth trends and studies at the website of the National Study of Youth and Religion. The National Study of Youth and Religion is funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. The project researches the shape and influence of religion and spirituality in the lives of U.S. adolescents; identifies effective practices in the religious, moral and social formation of the lives of youth; describes the extent to which youth participate in and benefit from the programs and opportunities that religious communities are offering to their youth; and fosters an informed national discussion about the influence of religion in youth's lives to encourage sustained reflection about and rethinking of our cultural and institutional practices with regard to youth and religion.
Churches are beginning to see their ministry role in teaching financial literacy to young people. Straightforward financial knowledge and practices can be found at the Kiplinger Financial News site. To help teens start saving money, check out the website of Youth Saves.
Financial habits are stewardship practices, and these sites will help families to consider their choices about spending, shopping, television use, and other decisions influenced by the media and advertisers:
Parents and church leaders will find all sorts of information and ideas for programs and activities at the website of the Youth and Family Institute.
Information relating to the practice of Christian Education in the United Church of Christ
Professional Development for UCC Educators
2016 Labor Sunday Reflection
All Labor Sunday Reflections
- Beatitudes for Workers
- Liturgy for a Labor Sunday service
- Prayers of Thanksgiving
- A Prayer for Workers
- A Responsive Prayer for Justice
- Calls to Worship
- Prayers of Confession
- Hymns for Labor Sunday
- Intercessory Prayer for Economic Justice
- Reflections and Sermon Seeds
(a responsive reading or prayer)
Voice I Blessed are you poor who have no work or too little income.
Voice II God has promised: yours is the kingdom of heaven.
Voice I Blessed are you who are hungry now.
Voice II God has promised: you shall be filled.
Voice I Blessed are you who weep over unpaid bills, the loss of a job, or your children’s lack of opportunities.
Voice II God has promised: you shall be comforted, you shall laugh.
Voice I Blessed are you who are merciful.
Voice II God has promised: you shall receive mercy.
Voice I Blessed are you who hunger and thirst for justice.
Voice II God has promised: you shall be filled.
All The time is surely coming when God's justice and peace shall reign throughout the land. Thanks be to God.
(Based on Matthew 5:3-6 and Luke 6: 20-21)
by Rev. Ed Middleton, First Community Church of Dallas, UCC
Prayer #1: Thanks for Abundance
by Mari Castellanos, Policy Advocate, Justice and Witness Ministries, UCC.
God of Grace, you have gifted us with a world of abundance; a land of plenty; a country where all can have enough. We come before you this day to thank you for this prosperity and to repent from our apparent inability to share this wealth. God, we declare our own complicity in systems that sustain some of us, while forsaking many others. And we come before you to seek your forgiveness, even as we pray for your justice.
Righteous God, you hear the cry of the poor. You listen to those who do without, while so many spend recklessly and our leaders invest the wealth of the nation in instruments of destruction.
Be with us this day Lord. Hear our prayers. Touch our hearts that we may be faithful witnesses and effective voices for justice. God of mercy, hear our prayer. Amen.
Prayer #2: Thanks, and Forgive Us
Loving and generous God, you are the font of every blessing, the source of all we have. Your breath gives us life, your love gives us courage and strength, healing and compassion. You care for us like a loving parent and feed our spirits, our minds, and our bodies. We thank you for your abundance given freely to all.
But God, forgive us for wanting more, even when we have more than we need. Create in us new hearts to love our neighbors as much as we love ourselves. Help us to know that our abundance is for others’ needs. Great Teacher, write your law on our hearts: God’s abundance is enough for all if we share.
Loving, Working God,
On this Sunday we ask your special blessing on all people who labor, either for pay or as volunteers, in jobs or at school, in the workplace or at home, in the U.S. and around the world.
We especially pray for your blessings on workers who do not have jobs and for those whose inadequate pay does not allow them to live the full life you intend for each of us.
Creator God, help us to build a new world in the midst of the old.
A world where all workers are valued.
A world where those who clean houses are also able to buy houses to live in.
A world where those who grow food can also afford to eat their fill.
A world where those who serve and care for others are, themselves, also served and cared for.
We pray for the coming of a world where all workers everywhere share in the abundance that you have given us.
We ask these things knowing that you give us the courage and strength to live out our faith in the workplace and the marketplace, as well as in the sanctuary.
by Rebecca Sutton, Program Coordinator of Global Women’s Exchange. This prayer was developed for the NY State Labor-Religion Coalition’s seventh annual 40-hour fast. It was also part of Prayers for a Just Economy, a prayer service calling for an increase in the federal minimum wage held in Washington, DC, July 24, 2013.
Pray for those who are hungry.
Pray harder for those who will not feed them.
Pray for those who struggle each week to pay their bills.
Pray harder for the wealthy who do not care.
Pray for those who are homeless.
Pray harder for those who deny them shelter.
Pray for the sick and lonely.
Pray harder for those who will not give them comfort.
Pray for those who cry out for dignity.
Pray harder for those who will not listen.
Pray for those oppressed by unjust wages.
Pray harder for those who exploit them.
Pray for those who bear the yoke of prejudice.
Pray harder for those who discriminate against them.
Pray for those whose basic needs are denied.
Pray harder for public officials who cater to the greedy and ignore those bound unjustly. Amen.
Call to Worship #1
For one voice or unison voices:
Worker God, whose hands built the earth, molded our bodies, and sowed the stars across the sky, we gather in your presence this morning with praise and thanksgiving for your mighty deeds. Meet us here, Worker God; strengthen our hearts and our hands to work with you in the building of a world filled with justice and peace.
Call to Worship #2
For reading responsively:
One Voice: Our God is an awesome God who breathed into emptiness and created all that is.
Many Voices:With love and care, God shaped the world in all its diversity with mountains and valleys, rivers and deserts, and people of all colors and sizes.
One Voice: And threading through it all are beautiful dreams of justice, compassion, liberation, and peace.
Many Voices:O God, creator of our past, our present, and our future, we thank you for the many blessings you bestow on us each moment.
One Voice: Be with us now. Draw near to us as we draw near to you.
Many Voices: Lead us in paths of righteousness. Fill our hearts with compassion and a thirst for justice. Teach us to be co-creators, with You, of a world where all belong and share in the abundance you have given us.
All: Praise be to God.
Call to Worship #3
One: God of Life,
All:you are as near to us as our breath.
One: Touch our eyes,
All:that we may see you in one another.
One:Open our ears,
All:that we may hear your voice in the cries of the oppressed.
One: Enter our hearts,
All: that we may be filled with your love toward all people.
One: Come, O God of life and breath and wholeness.
All: Be with us now. Show us the way to new life and grant us the courage to be people of your Way.
Prayer of Confession #1 (note: some of this language parallels that of the Prayer for Workers, above)
Call to Confession: On this Labor Day Sunday let us, in a special way, lift up all people who labor, either for pay or as volunteers, in jobs or at school, at home or in the workplace, in the U.S. and around the world.
Unison Prayer of Confession: We are workers, God, just like you. But we confess that our actions do not always affirm and honor each other. Our work is not always done in a spirit that is pleasing to you. We confess that, on some occasions, we have blindly bought goods made by people who are paid too little or work in unsafe conditions. We admit that we have failed to end an unjust system in which some workers have jobs that provide good wages and benefits while others may have no job, or one that pays little and provides few benefits.
Creator God, help us to be your people, working for a world where all workers are valued. A world where those who clean houses are also able to buy houses to live in. A world where those who grow food can also afford to eat their fill. And one where those who serve and care for others -- in stores, schools, hotels, restaurants, nursing homes, and many other places -- are, themselves, also served and cared for. It will be a world where all workers everywhere share in the abundance that you have given us.
Words of Assurance : Our God is a God of grace and transformation. When we ask, God gives us the courage and strength to live out our faith in the workplace and the marketplace, as well as in the sanctuary.
Prayer of Confession #2
Creator God, you made us to be neighbors, members of one family blessed with great diversity. You created us to be helpers and friends to one another, entrusting to us your justice and your joy. Yet we have denied justice and joy to many, creating worlds of poverty, pain, lost opportunities, and absence of hope. In so many ways, we break each other’s hearts. Still, you do not reject us. We ask your forgiveness and pray to be transformed.
Brief period of silence
Loving God, you restore us to each other and to you, mending our hearts and repairing the world. Through the power of your Spirit, you shape us to be for others what Christ is for us: pardon and peace, new life and blessing. We give you thanks for your love, forgiveness, and constant presence. Amen.
Page numbers refer to the New Century Hymnal
O Grant Us, God, a Little Space #516
Come Labor On # 532
Take My Gifts #562
When Israel Was in Egypt Land #572
In Egypt Under Pharaoh #574
O for a World #575
Let Justice Flow Like Streams #588
Spirit of Jesus, If I Love My Neighbor #590
We Would be Building # 607
This is one part of Prayers for a Just Economy, a Prayer Service calling for an increase in the federal minimum wage held in Washington, DC, July 24, 2013.
Let our prayers surround those who are struggling on the economic margins:
The ones who have not shared in the great abundance that God has entrusted to our care;
The ones who have been left behind by the so-called economic recovery;
The ones who are unemployed or underemployed; and
The ones who are unjustly employed, working hard and yet living in poverty.
And let us pray for all those caught up in the workings of our unjust economic system -- the workers, the managers, the owners, the policy-makers and the consumers - all of us have a responsibility to help create a faithful economy that values work and honors the dignity of all workers.
Hear now our prayers O God:
We pray today for all those who are seeking employment, those facing a very difficult and uncertain future whether they are experiencing joblessness for the first time today or are among the millions of the long-term unemployed. God of justice, hear our prayer
We pray today for those who are working in low-wage jobs yet remain trapped in poverty -- workers who need fair wages, respect and dignity in their workplace. God of justice, hear our prayer
We pray for children whose parents must work long hours in hard jobs just to afford shelter, food and clothing. And we pray for the moms, dads and family members who struggle with the difficult choice of working long hours and making long commutes, or spending more time with their children, to be able to tuck them into bed each night and see them off to school in the morning. God of justice, hear our prayer
We pray for those who labor in the fields to provide us food each day. For the farm workers who too often work beneath the hot sun without shade and in the deadly heat without water and who do not even make sufficient wages to buy the food they are harvesting. God of justice, hear our prayer
We pray today for our brothers and sisters who work in the shadow of a broken and unjust immigration system – workers who face discrimination and exploitation and whose rights are too often denied through intimidation and threaten deportation. God of justice, hear our prayer
We pray for all those who labor in restaurants and earn as little as $2.13 per hour – the ‘tipped wage’ which has not been raised in twenty-two years. God of justice, hear our prayer
We pray for ethical employers who share fairly the earnings of their businesses with all their workers; we pray for those who pay living wages and provide benefits sufficient for workers to support themselves and their families. God of justice, hear our prayer
We pray for those employers who have not yet learned to value their workers or recognize their inherent dignity. We pray for CEOs and managers who have hoarded riches and yet denied fair wages to their employees. We pray, God, that you might turn their hearts of stone into hearts of compassion. God of justice, hear our prayer
We pray for our President that he might use the power of his office to guarantee that all workers on federal property are paid a living wage. God of justice, hear our prayer
We pray for all our elected leaders that they might place our brothers and sisters struggling on the margins at the very center of their deliberations. We pray that they will support policies that create good jobs with living wages. We pray that Congress will increase the minimum wage so that no one again would be forced to work full-time and still live in poverty. God of justice, hear our prayer
And finally, we pray that we, members of your faithful community, might use our voices and our resources to build a just economy: an economy of shared prosperity where workers earn living wages and all people live lives of dignity. God of justice, hear our prayer.
God of Justice – we lift up all these prayers to you in the knowledge that you are already at work amid the brokenness of our economic system and that you invite each of us to be a part of your holy work of justice. God we offer to you these prayers today – both spoken aloud and those in our hearts – in the hope that together we might be the people you have called us to be, reflecting your compassion, mercy and justice in all that we do. In your many holy names we pray – Amen.
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Instructions for customizing Posters
Personalizing the posters is easy! You’ll need to have Adobe Acrobat Reader, free on the web.
Open the poster you want to use and click anywhere in the text box in the lower left hand corner. Delete any information already there and replace it with your Church’s name, address, city, state, zip code, phone number and website address. These files can't be saved after you make your changes but they CAN be printed! So, if you take it to your favorite printer, the customizations are simple and easy! But you'll have to add the changes everytime you print a new batch.
It’s that easy!
1. Honor thy Mother | Customizeable version
2. Here's to Mom | Customizeable version
3. WOW | Customizeable version
4. We only accept sinners | Customizeable version
5. Shelter for the spiritually homeless | Customizeable version
6. Do you know every word, but none of the meaning? | Customizeable version
7. Do you know every word, but none of the meaning? v2 | Customizeable version
8. Please return. No questions asked. | Customizeable version
9. Jesus wandered alone for 40 days. How long have you? | Customizeable version
10. Religious freedom doesn't have to be an oxymoron | Customizeable version
11. Turn your other cheek, not your back | Customizeable version
12. Red state, blue state or joyous state? | Customizeable version
13. If you think getting up Sunday mornings is hard, try rising from the dead.
14. Our faith is 2,000 years old. Our thinking is not.
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