Monday, May 21, 2012

Economic Justice Covenant Coordination Meeting -- 05/22/12 at 5:30 PM

Dear Faith Members and Friends,

I'm excited! Last Thursday, our Faith Council voted as one to support enthusiastically a proposal to study economic justice. (See below).

Last spring, the Membership and Faith in Action committees began talking about our existing programs, areas of concern to committee members, and programs supported by our denomination. We all converged on the broad subject of economic justice.

A coordinating committee is being formed this Tuesday evening, May 22, following a 5:30 PM soup supper. We urge everyone to attend and consider joining this group. If you cannot make it at 5:30, come when you are able. We especially ask that each church committee have a representative on the coordinating committee.

At last Saturday's Evangelism Workshop, Charlene J. Smith, UCC Minister of Evangelism and Church Vitality, used the phrase "fearlessly take action" regarding church ministry. Your Council believes that the proposed study of and movement toward considering an Economic Justice Covenant is the right thing to do. We believe that this is the right time to challenge and enrich ourselves through such a process.

I look forward to seeing you on Tuesday evening and sharing our progress with you over the coming weeks.

God's blessings,

Marilyn Calkins, President
Faith U.C.C. Council

    “The UCC Statement of Mission reads: ‘Empowered by the Holy Spirit, we are called and commit ourselves…to praise God, confess our sin, and joyfully accept God’s forgiveness…’ In that spirit, the members of the United Church of Christ, its Instrumentalities, local churches, Associations, Conferences, and all national bodies confess that we live in a privileged society which has committed economic injustices in this nation and the world. We are called to confess that from places of privilege it is difficult to stand in solidarity with the poor and the oppressed.”
    General Synod 17: “Christian Faith and Life: Economic Life and Justice;
    VI. Statement of Christian Conviction, A Pronouncement from the Seventeenth General Synod of the United      Church of Christ, 1989, p 9.

   As a part of the United Church of Christ, we believe we can remain unique, but we also accept our responsibility to the larger body of the Church. When we receive sacraments, when we worship and pray, and when we interpret the teaching of Jesus and the Bible, we are participating in a community where we uphold one another and we feel a unity with Christians from all times and in all places.
In this affirmation we acknowledge God’s presence in the human affairs of today, as God has been involved throughout history. We believe that God also calls us to reach out beyond ourselves in love for neighbor. We see our stewardship at Faith United Church of Christ as an expression of our beliefs. We are the flesh and blood of its body, the strength and weakness of its spirit, the life and death of its soul. We, as Christians, accept this calling to carry out the vision of Jesus Christ for our age.
    Faith United Church of Christ By-Laws, Article III, Statement of Purpose.

   Noting the economic injustice of world, national and local conditions and policies, and recognizing that we at Faith United Church of Christ are often participants in the false profits of those inequitable conditions at the expense of those at the mercy of their economic reality, the Council of Faith United Church of Christ hereby recommends that the congregation of Faith pursue a study of said economic injustice to determine whether, as according to our Statement of Purpose, as members of the United Church of Christ, and according to our many previous commitments to condemn injustice and work to alleviate suffering and improve human and environmental conditions, we deem it right and just to bind ourselves in an Economic-Justice Covenant that, as a congregation, condemns current economic conditions and resolves to work for greater economic justice in a manner befitting our principles as members of this Faith United Church of Christ.

To pursue that study with the widest possible congregational participation, the Council establishes the following procedures utilizing the techniques of Faith’s uniquely organized Shared Ministry to accomplish the most desirable results:

1. Establish an Economic Justice Coordinating Committee to assimilate and disseminate all relevant information, to plan and publicize all formal and informal programs.1 This Economic Justice Coordinating Committee will report to Council at all regular and special Council meetings on the current status of such plans. That committee to be composed of the current members of the Membership Committee and Faith in Action. It is further recommended that further members be aggressively recruited and encouraged to join their ranks. 

2. In order to establish a uniform understanding of the current areas in which Faith is working for economic justice, all Council Liaisons are requested to contact the committees and relevant individuals signed up within their areas to solicit ideas and information that would establish the current activities and future plans that fall under the area of Economic Justice. Those findings to be reported to Council at the June Council meeting. Council will publish those findings to the entire congregation and put them at the disposal of the Coordinating Committee. 

3. That a weekly or bi-weekly news bulletin be established reporting to the congregation on the current status and proposed programs and developments relevant to Faith’s interest in economic justice. That this communication be fashioned so that members of the congregation can both contribute and/or respond to relevant issues. 

4. That the Economic Justice Coordinating Committee, with such help as they shall request, plan monthly public programs utilizing speakers or other forms of external expertise that address topics relevant to economic justice. That these programs begin in September and be designed to inform the congregation and attract like-minded individuals from the community at large. That the initial planning for these programs be loosely based around topics from the 2007 Chapel Hill Economic Justice Covenant, the meaningful programs now in operation at Faith, and the available external sources of expertise.  Verifying our current programs in this manner should in no way be construed as inhibiting being open to new areas of endeavor which may be discovered through the discernment of the congregation as they go through the process of learning, exploring what's needed in the community, and through prayer about what they're called to do.

5. That this proposal be considered tentative: a starting place for a larger and more substantive program that will aid the congregation in making decisions regarding economic justice with wisdom and discretion.

1 It was noted and generally agreed that the practice of meeting in small groups in private homes for informal discussions on the general and specific topics involved had been very effective during the creation of the Open and Affirming covenant and might be used equally well in working toward an Economic Justice Covenant.

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