The Episcopal Diocese of Missouri stands in solidarity with low-wage workers

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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.

RATIONALE

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.

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10 Responses to "The Episcopal Diocese of Missouri stands in solidarity with low-wage workers"
  1. The Diocese of Missouri whose staff has never run a business and who exists on other people's money deciding that they are not theologians but businessmen and economists.....NOT....
    (a life long Episcopalian, but being challenged)

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    • The Diocese of Missouri whose staff has never run a business

      A very big assumption on your part. Unless you personally know each person involved, their background, their education, training and experience, then you don't know jack.

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    • As a priest serving in the Diocese of Missouri, having spent fifteen years of my life managing various accounting and marketing departments for a large multi-national health care corporation, I can assure you that I--and many of my colleagues who also spent years in business prior to ordination--strongly supported this resolution. Economics and theology are not mutually exclusive. Please read Luke's Gospel for more...

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  2. Is theology necessarily separate from business and economics? One might argue that business and economics have gone awry in our society precisely because they are divorced from theology -- and thus conscience. There's no evidence that Saint James was a businessman nor an economist, yet in James 5:1-6 he wrote:

    "You rich people should cry and weep! Terrible things are going to happen to you. Your treasures have already rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your money has rusted, and the rust will be evidence against you, as it burns your body like fire. Yet you keep on storing up wealth in these last days. You refused to pay the people who worked in your fields, and now their unpaid wages are shouting out against you. The Lord of power and might has surely heard the cries of the workers who harvested your crops. While here on earth, you have thought only of filling your own stomachs and having a good time. But now you are like fat cattle on their way to be butchered. You have condemned and murdered innocent people, who couldn’t even fight back."

    The nerve of him! (Sarcasm alert)

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  3. Proud to know John, Rebecca, Mark and others, and for the witness of Trinity CWE and so many others, in this campaign. Step by step, the journey is long, but, step by step, the journey matters. Keep the faith, and share it too.

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  4. the church makes me sick, why don't they follow Christ's commands and give all their money to the poor! that would be a change!

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    • why don’t they follow Christ’s commands and give all their money to the poor! (sic)

      Christ never said that to the Church.

      Christ said that to one person (Mk 10) as a test of his sincerity about seeking eternal life & following Jesus. A test that he failed by the way.

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      • how about this David, perhaps the Episcopal church (which has a history of moneyed elitism) can start by giving more money to the poor. You'll find economic justice throughout the Bible, e.g. rich man goes to hell, camel and the eye of a needle thing. The town that I live in has many church's which I attend, they could easily stop homeless in this areas, if they were to give just a little sincerity to the book they "hold on high".

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      • You just come across as someone with a chip on his shoulder who wants to blame someone for something.

        Set aside the sarcasm and insults and look in the mirror to take out that large thing in your own eye so that you can see better to help others yourself.

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