Engaging the issues
As a congregation discerns whether to become an Economic Justice Church, it can be helpful to learn about some of the economic injustices that millions, even billions, of people face every day. Or, once a congregation decides to be an Economic Justice Church, it may want to explore various topics to discern the justice work it is being called to do.
This section of the Economic Justice Covenant Program is intended to give readers small amounts of important information about a number of economic justice topics. Don’t be overwhelmed. Browse through these issues and see what touches your heart, what touches the heart of the congregation. What are you being called to work on at this time?
Each topic area provides links to more resources and suggestions about ways to get involved and begin to change unjust conditions. In addition to the resources and organizations found in these links, there are probably local or state-based organizations working on these issues closer to your church. You may prefer to work close to home through these groups.
Congregational Resource: Restoring Justice and Democracy in America
What faith communities can do. A six session congregation-based educational program prepared by UCC members in the Northern California/Nevada Conference. Download.
Issues to Explore
“Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness, and his upper rooms by injustice; who makes his neighbors work for nothing, and does not give them their wages; who says, ‘I will build myself a spacious house with large upper rooms,’ who cuts out windows for it, paneling it with cedar, and painting it with vermillion. Are you a king because you compete in cedar? Did not your father eat and drink and do justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him. He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well. Is not this to know me?” says the Lord. Jeremiah 22:13-16
Scripture reveals that the struggle to achieve economic justice for all is an imperative of the Christian faith. The Bible contains many passages related to the poor and matters of economic justice. It makes clear God’s deep concern for the last, the lost, and the least. As illustrated in the Gospel stories where Jesus and the disciples feed thousands of people with just a few loaves of bread and fish (Matt 14:13-21; 15:32-38), God’s economy is a gift of grace that is not for sale in the marketplace. God’s economy of life provides abundantly for all God’s people.
We are called to share with our neighbors out of the abundance that God gives to the world. The poor and marginalized are special members of God’s community and we are called to put justice for “the least of these” at the center of the community of life and the mission of the church (Matt 25:40). The Bible tells us that rules devised to benefit some segments of society should not stand if they also disadvantage or harm the poor. “Hear this,” warns Amos (8:4) “you that trample on the needy, and bring to ruin the poor of the land…” indicating that manipulating markets, cheating, and exploiting the poor are violations of the vision of God.
God’s envisions a world where all God’s children have everything they need to thrive, live lives of wholeness, and be the people they were created to be. To make God’s vision a reality, God calls the Church to action, to “loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke” (Isaiah 58:6). Let us answer God’s call to be co-creators with God of a world of justice.
The General Synod has repeatedly spoken about the need for economic justice. Two Synod pronouncements are especially informative:
- Christian Faith: Economic Life and Justice [pdf 11.4 MB], approved by General Synod XVII in 1989, saw the struggle to achieve economic justice for all as an imperative of the Christian faith and made a commitment to a guaranteed national minimum income level, universal health care, full employment, affordable housing, and quality education for all.
- A Faithful Response: Calling for a More Just and Humane Direction for Economic Globalization, approved by General Synod XXIV in 2003, describes the impact of the past 25 years of “neo-liberal” economic globalization and calls for fundamental changes in the rules and institutions that shape the process of globalization.
Important resolutions include:
- Affirming Democratic Principles in an Emerging Global Economy (GS XXI, 1999) calls us to support unions, and advocate for just, democratic, participatory, and inclusive economic policies.
- For the Common Good (GS XXV, 2005) calls for fair taxes, public institutions and services, full employment, living wages, adequate income for each person, affordable housing, public transportation.
A listing of all General Synod resolutions and pronouncements that address economic issues since 1999 and selected ones before that date.