Good Taste In Justice

by Cindi Andrews, Beavercreek United Church of Christ

Mmmm. Rich, dark coffee, heavenly cocoa and chocolate, flavorful teas, crunchy almonds, nourishing snacks, and healthy olive oil!  Your church can have tasty treats and serve up a heaping portion of justice at the same time! How?  By participating in the UCC national Coffee Project, a partnership between UCC Justice and Witness Ministries and a fair trade organization known as Equal Exchange.

The UCC Coffee Project links congregations with small farmers and their families through Equal Exchange, a democratically organized, worker-owned and controlled co-operative founded in 1986, to implement a new model of trade built upon fairness and stronger relationships between farmers and consumers.  Equal Exchange purchases coffee and other crops directly from farmer co-ops around the world. Through the project, small farmers gain more control over their lives, earn a greater share of income, have access to affordable credit and technical support, develop ecologically sustainable farming practices, and gain a mutually beneficial trading network they can trust.  Farmers have been able to dig wells for clean drinking water and invest in equipment and their land.  The added income from Fair Trade also allows farmers to contribute to local education projects and social services in their communities. Projects benefit farmers in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.

In addition, for every pound of fairly traded products that UCC members order through the project, Equal Exchange makes a donation to the UCC Small Farmer Fund, which assists family farmers in the global south.

Deep Travel

Will Fuller, Kairos-Milwaukie UC

Every summer for the past four years, my wife and I have traveled by car to a small city in Quebec, Canada to visit our son’s family.  This year, as we traveled I was reading a book by Tony Hiss, In Motion.  This book explores

making use of an ancient, innate, ground-shifting variant of ordinary waking consciousness that we can … call Deep Travel. … It can, among many effects, give…the sense that even a long-familiar route…exists within such a fullness of brand-new or at least new-to-me information and questions that I wonder how I ever had the capacity to exclude them from consideration (p. 9)

In short, the very act of travel can bring a deep appreciation of the transcendent splendor that surrounds us.  We see our old world with fresh, new eyes.  In that transcendence, we may gain a glimpse of the One in whose Name we call for peace and justice

in the rimrock land of eastern Oregon

 

in the prairie preserves of Illinois

 

in the rushing rivers of Quebec’s Laurentian Shield

 

in a friendly Canadian public pool

 

in the Nevada desert, where Latino workers walk from a shantytown across the tracks to work in the luxury casino resorts on the other side

 

in Montana’s mountains, where tough Harley bikers kneel before chipmunks

 

in Yellowstone National Park, where pilgrims from all over the world, speaking a Babel of languages, stand in awe before the old, faithful grandeur of Creation

 

and in all the places we travel on life’s journey.

 

Conversation During a Time of Under- and Unemployment

by Jeanine Elliott, Bethel Congregational UCC, Beaverton, OR

“After the first morning hour, the Christian’s day until evening belongs to work.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“No work is too small to play a part in the world of creation.” Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World.

“The pitcher cries for water to carry and a person for work that is real. “ Marge Piercy, To Be of Use

Our Christian traditions have always given value to work as a part of life. The early religious orders incorporated work into their disciplines. While choosing a “vocation” in early times often meant a calling to work within the church, the Protestant Reformation reinforced the understanding that every Christian is called to live a purposeful life in the world. In our more secular world, our identity and even our social value are closely tied to work life. Humans need work that is real. God’s work needs human hands and hearts.

Yet in our current economic crisis, there are not enough jobs to go around. We see the consequences of under- and unemployment in the lives of people we know in our neighborhoods and in our congregations. The downturn is affecting most of us, employed and unemployed alike. The financial consequences of no work threaten our physical well-being and even survival; the spiritual and psychological consequences can destroy the soul.