Is Saving Creation A Justice Issue?

By Jim Ruyle, Hillsdale United Church of Christ, Portland, OR

wilson forestIf the United Church of Christ is nothing else, it is a justice church. Consider the many justice issues appearing recently in our national and conference level websites: domestic violence, Native Americans, poverty, disabilities, hunger, violence against women, gun violence, racism, climate change, child labor, literacy, low income housing, refugees, Palestine/Israel, and LGBTQ youth. We are so energized by justice issues that we take joy in shouting them out when we name our local churches: “Multi-cultural, multi-racial, open and affirming, just peace, accessible, new sanctuary movement” and justifiably so. All these issues represent callings from God to the churches and people who embrace them.

But how does an issue qualify as a justice issue?  Many seem obvious just to cite them.  But what about issues which have received less recognition and are just emerging as matters of importance?  How do they rise to a level such that they deserve cries of alarm and the investment of resources?  Say for example that scientists predict that by the end of this century, one-half of our plant and animal species may be extinct – one-quarter by mid-century – at the rate we are destroying their habitat. 

THE HUNGER AND STARVATION MOONS

By Don Johnson, Zion United Church of Christ, Gresham, Oregon

I once read Native Americans call this time of the year the Hunger and Starvation Moons. I don’t know if this is true or if it’s Hollywood. It is true, however, that this time of year is a time of hunger if you are homeless, jobless, broke, physically disabled, mentally disabled, or all of the above.

During the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, we are very generous and give food and funds to help feed people who cannot feed themselves. After the holiday season, we tend to relax and give less than we did before. Because of this pattern of giving, food pantries and kitchens are often short of food during the months after the holidays.

We at Zion United Church of Christ in Gresham learned about this problem when a woman from St. Henry’s Catholic Church in Gresham told us about their food kitchen during a “Mission Moment” in our Sunday service. Our Social Action Team decided to help. We asked our congregation to cut and freeze their Thanksgiving turkey carcasses, along with left over turkey from their family dinner. We also welcomed whole turkeys. During the week after Thanksgiving, we boiled turkey carcasses, skimmed the broth, and added onions, celery, carrots and herbs. We poured the soup into one-gallon bags for the freezer. Now the soup must simply be thawed, and noodles, rice, barley or dumplings can be added to make a delicious, hot meal in this cold hungry time.

Stop the Poor and Hungry From Going Over the Cliff

Submitted by John St. Laurent, Bethel Congregational UCC, Beaverton, OR


Budget negotiations to avoid the “fiscal cliff” are now underway. Pressure to cut federal spending, particularly programs for hungry and poor people, has never been higher. For the next six weeks, every Washington interest group will be pounding the halls of Congress to weigh in on a multi-trillion dollar deal that will affect every federal program and every person in this country for decades to come. Unfortunately, the media and politicians are not talking about the tremendous impact the deal will have on hungry and poor constituents. If we don’t speak up, vulnerable people could easily be forgotten.

Bread for the World, the United Church of Christ (UCC) and many interfaith partners are calling on people of faith to contact Congress. Congress needs to hear your voice—to be reminded the deficit must be taken seriously, but balancing the budget on the backs of the hungry and poor is wrong. The budget decisions of Congress are moral choices that could have devastating consequences.

Call your U.S. Senators and your U.S. Representative today! Use the Bread for the World toll-free number (1-800-826-3688) and tell Congress to pass a budget deal that includes a circle of protection around programs for hungry and poor people in the United States and around the world. A faithful federal budget would protect the most vulnerable through strong safety-net programs, maintain core government services to promote the common good, and provide adequate resources for shared priorities through a just tax system. It would also fairly balance funding for the military against other vital needs at home. Visit Bread for the World at: http://www.bread.org/ and scroll down the left toolbar to “Fiscal Cliff  Negotiations.”