The Episcopal Diocese of Missouri has made a press release about a resolution passed during their Diocesan Convention on November 18. The resolution urges parishes to pay all staff $15/hour or more. Press release is below, with the resolution following:
At its annual Diocesan convention, The Episcopal Diocese of Missouri has approved a resolution that strongly urges all diocesan congregations and institutions to pay a minimum wage of $15 an hour to their employees. Although not binding, the resolution puts significant pressure on parishes to pay janitors, childcare workers, administrators, and other support staff a wage substantially higher than the current Missouri minimum wage of $7.65 an hour. The resolution also supports the efforts of low-wage workers to form unions and encourages all Christians to join the struggle for “a more just and fair economy.”
The Rev. Jon Stratton, Rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in the Central West End and member of the Leadership Team for Missouri Jobs with Justice, said, “I’m pleased to see the church I love taking a step in the right direction. Jesus said that he came to preach good news to the poor, and if we’re going to follow our savior with integrity, we can’t pay our people poverty wages. $ 7.65 an hour isn’t good news to anybody.” The Rev. Rebecca Ragland, director of The Episcopal Service Corps in St. Louis, enthusiastically voted for the resolution. “Low-wage workers are organizing all around this country and demanding a living wage. I believe that God stand with them, and I’m excited to see that the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri does as well,” said Ragland. The Rev. Mike Angell, rector of Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion in University City, said, “This resolution asks our churches to ensure that our actions back up our advocacy. We will pay our own workers a just wage.”
The resolution linked fair wages to human dignity and called profiting off of low-wage work a sin.
Text of Resolution
BE IT RESOLVED that this 177th convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri strongly urges congregations, parishes, missions, and all other institutions and ministries of the Diocese of Missouri to pay their employees a minimum wage of $15 dollars an hour;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this convention lauds, supports, and encourages the efforts of low-wage workers to form unions, advocate for safe workplaces, and demand fair pay and adequate benefits;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this convention, in accordance with the teachings of Jesus Christ, the worker from Nazareth, stands in solidarity with those without work, looking for work, and working in jobs that do not provide a living wage, and encourages all Christians, to join the struggle for a more just and fair economy; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this convention encourages all parishes and missions to highlight the dignity of labor and the holiness of work during the liturgy, in the pulpit, or in special forums each year on the Sunday before Labor Day.
The current minimum wage in the state of Missouri is $7.65 per hour, which equals approximately $15,912 per year. Although people living on minimum wage generate billions of dollars in corporate profit, they often do not make enough to clothe their children, put food on the table, keep the lights on, and pay the rent. In order to survive, low
-wage workers rely on billions of dollars of government benefits, effectively creating tax-payer subsidies for multi-billion dollar corporations.
As Christians, we believe in the dignity of every human being, especially the least of these, and profiting off of a low-wage worker who cannot afford the basic necessities of life is not only an insult to her human dignity, it is a sin. The church has a checkered history in supporting workers, fair pay, and the right to organize, but there have always been prophetic voices in the church who have recognized the image of Christ in the face of the exploited and who have stood in solidarity with those deserving a fair wage, but denied honest pay for honest work. There is a movement for a $15 per hour minimum wage and greater respect, safety, and dignity in the workplace. It is time we join the movement with our words, our wages, and our works.