JPANet: October Newsletter
October 2016 – Justice and Peace Action Newsletter
Getting to the Root of It
We’ve asked our staff to help us unpack the complex justice issues that we’re working on. Using our General Synod pronouncements as the basis for these reflections, we hope to provide insights into the issues you care about that are rooted in our shared faith, and can inform your advocacy efforts. This month Rev. Noel Andersen, a pastor and Immigration organizer with the United Church of Christ and Church World Service, explores the upcoming Border Convergence where advocates will work to address the root causes of migration, extreme violence in Central America, the militarization of border, and the problem of and unjust U.S. immigration system that continues to separate families.
Called to Build Bridges Not Walls: UCC Joins School of Americas Watch Border Convergence
Many UCC congregations have been involved over the years in the Sanctuary Movement to help stop deportations and keep families together. This movement gained recognition in the 1980s, for saving thousands of Central Americans who were fleeing civil war that the U.S. government helped create. The School of Americas is a U.S. military training facility historically dubbed the “School of Assassins” for its role in creating death squads that killed thousands of innocent people in Latin America. This was the root cause that spurred a network of five hundred congregations around the country to create an underground railroad to help thousands of undocumented immigrants, who should have been recognized as political asylees. (Read more.)
Each year, the second Sunday of October is designated on the UCC church calendar as Access Sunday. It is an occasion when all the UCC will join together in celebrating the gifts of persons with disabilities and the strides that the church has made in being more whole through being more accessible. It is also a day that we, the church, acknowledge the journey yet to be taken with our sisters and brothers with disabilities. Learn more and access resources from UCC Disability Ministries.
34rd Annual Everett C. Parker Lecture
The Rev. Traci Blackmon, acting executive minister of the United Church of Christ’s Justice and Witness Ministries, will deliver the 34rd annual Everett C. Parker Ethics in Telecommunications Lecture. The event, organized by the UCC’s media justice ministry, the Office of Communication, Inc., will be held at 8 a.m. EST on Thursday October 13 at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Washington, DC. The event will also honor FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn and rural champion Dee Davis. Sponsorships and tickets available now!
Jubilee Weekend is October 14-16
The United Church of Christ is a founding member of the Jubilee USA Network, a key partner in the work to end global poverty. This month, join people of faith around the country for a “Jubilee Weekend” focused on student debt and Payday Lending. Find ways you can “Love Your Neighbor” by addressing the debt crisis in the U.S. and build a more just economic system that benefits the most vulnerable. Sign up your congregation to join or click here for more information and materials.
The Churches’ Week of Action on Food is October 9-17
The Churches’ Week of Action on Food is an opportunity for Christians and others around the world to act together for food justice and food sovereignty. The week of education and action marks several related events, including World Food Day (10/16), the International Day for Disaster Reduction (10/13), International Day of Rural Women (10/15), and the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (10/17). National Food Day is also on October 24th. Learn more about these events and the UCC’s “Just Eating” curriculum.
Environmental Justice Workshops in Washington State
How can people of faith work for environmental justice for all? Come to a workshop October 19-21 at Pilgrim Firs Camp outside Seattle, Washington. A thorough curriculum, including scientific and spiritual resources, discussion questions, film, and a field trip, help participants explore multiple aspects of environmental justice. Cost is $130. Click here to register.
Speak Out Sunday
We’re calling all congregations across faiths and denominations to dedicate Speak Out Sunday to dialogue, teaching, prayer and action around sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) and its prevention. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and while our official date is the second Sunday of the month, we are encouraging congregations to view the entire month as an opportunity to speak out and take action. Find resources and materials for use in your congregation from the We Will Speak Out campaign!
Vote Faithfully Sunday – November 6, 2016
We invite you to join with our Ecumenical partners in observing the Sunday before Election Day as “Vote Faithfully Sunday.” This is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate and uplift every voice in our community, reflect on our commitment to the common good and prepare to cast our ballots. Check out our worship resources, download voter pledge cards, and more.
Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath
In December 2016 we will mark the 4th anniversary of the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. This past year has offered no respite from the continuing toll of gun violence, including the June Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, yet more shootings in schools and workplaces, and the thousands upon thousands of lives lost every day to gun violence in our homes and city streets. Despite a courageous witness in the House of Representatives this summer led by Rep. John Lewis calling Congress to action for meaningful gun violence prevention, Congress recessed for the fall campaign having taken no action to end gun violence. More than ever, your witness is needed as part of the Faiths United Against Gun Violence December Sabbath.
Justice in Action
Our Faith Our Vote in Action!
UCC congregations are doing incredible work in this Election Season. Throughout the country people of faith are fanning out to register voters in their pews and in their community; holding education sessions and candidate forums to inform voters; and drafting plans to make sure every member of their congregation can get to the polls and cast their ballot on November 8th. Check out the Our Faith Our Vote blog for ideas and get your congregation involved in this vital work!
Submit Comments for Payday Lending Regulations by Tomorrow at 11:59 PM ET
Payday lending can trap borrowers in a desperate cycle of debt and poverty. Scripture repeatedly warns against taking advantage of the vulnerable through unjust lending practices, yet we know that these practices disproportionately impact low-income populations and minority communities. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is accepting comments on new regulations for payday lenders. Tell them to #StopTheDebtTrap.
Boycott Wendy’s Truth Tours
The Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a group of farm workers in Immokalee, FL, has sought improved wages and working conditions for nearly 20 years. To advance this struggle the CIW recently called a consumer boycott of fast-food chain Wendy’s to continue until the firm joins the Fair Food Program. For decades the UCC has supported farm workers’ struggles and the UCC Board of Directors endorsed the Wendy’s boycott. This Fall the CIW farm workers are engaged in Behind the Braids: Boycott Wendy’s Truth Tours. Check out their itinerary and turn out to support their efforts when they are in your area. Let us answer the call to support this struggle for justice.
UPDATE: Colombia Peace Process
This week the Colombian people narrowly voted down a peace agreement between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). This agreement had taken years to negotiate and would have formally ended the over 50 year conflict. Although a setback for peace, both sides have indicated a willingness to honor the ceasefire, and return to talks. Read this analysis from our Global Ministries Missionary based in Bogota.
Apply for a Neighbors in Need Grant
Friends, the wait is finally over! The annual NIN 2016 grant cycle is now open! Dollar amounts have been increased. Plus, a new category has been added for “Grass Tops!” Application deadline is October, 31, 2016. Do you have justice ministry in need of funding? Learn more and apply via www.ucc.org/nin.
On Halloween Give Treats of Fair-Trade Chocolate
Kids love to get chocolate for Halloween. But for children in cocoa-growing countries in Africa, chocolate often means child labor and family poverty. Equal Exchange, our partner in the UCC Fair Trade Project, participates in a fair-trade program to help end the problems of child labor, poverty, and environmental destruction in the African cocoa industry. Buy fair-trade chocolate mini-bars to give on Halloween. You can also order wholesale to sell to members of your congregation; a youth or women’s group could sell the mini-bars as a fundraiser.) Order now. Help end child labor.
Calling All UCC Youth (Grades 9-12)! Help Refugees – Win Scholarships – Share your Creativity!
Show your awareness of the response to the Syrian refugee crisis and highlight your local community’s plan of action for awareness-raising and welcoming. Submit videos between October 1 and November 11, 2016 and you could receive one of three scholarships. Your work will be shared on ucc.org during the month of December as part of the Our Stillspeaking Voice multimedia initiative. More information and the submission form are on the video contest webpage: ucc.org/SyrianRefugeesVideoContest
Witness for Justice
Looking for up-to-date social justice commentary? Check out Witness for Justice, a weekly editorial opinion column written by the staff of Justice and Witness Ministries.