St. John’s UCC is an Economic Justice Covenant Church.
St. John’s UCC is the seventh UCC church in the nation to be recognized by UCC national offices as an economic justice covenant church.
On January 24, 2016, the congregation approved the Economic Justice covenant drafted by the Economic Justice Team.
On the second Wednesday of the month, we meet to study the UCC curriculum White Privilege: Let’s Talk, and on the fourth Wednesday we hold a business meeting. Plan to join us from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on either or both Wednesdays.
Please feel free to review the summaries from our most recent meetings.
Check this page regularly for updates on our implementation efforts or for links to our published brochures. See news below.
PROGRAM ON THE RANDOLPH FREEDMEN SCHEDULED FOR MARCH 20, 2019
The St. John’s UCC Economic Justice Team will host local historian Larry Hamilton as he presents “Doing the RIGHT Thing: Understanding the Randolph Narrative,” from 6:30 to 8 p.m., Wednesday, March 20, at 130 S. Walnut St.
Hamilton will describe the experiences of the Randolph Freedmen as they moved from Virginia to Ohio’s Upper Miami Valley in 1846 following their release from slavery. He will also explain their relationship to our nation’s founders and the importance of their story to local and American history.
Hamilton is an author, a retired Piqua City Schools teacher, founding member of the African American Genealogy Group of the Miami Valley (AAGGMV) and founder of the non-profit organization Promoting Recognition of Diversity (PROD), which recruits minority candidates to teach in Piqua City Schools.
The program is free and open to the public. Loveofferings will be accepted to support the development of the Randolph and McCulloch Freedom’s Struggle Complex, a Piqua learning center that will provide a multicultural, inclusive perspective on American history. Light refreshments will be provided. St. John’s is an accessible building. For more information, call (937) 335-2028.
KROGER’S ZERO HUNGER, ZERO WASTE INITIATIVE
On Nov. 27, 2018, Erin Rolfes gave a presentation on Kroger’s Zero Hunger, Zero Waste initiative. According to a 2017 report by the Natural Resources Defense Council, or NRDC, the United States throws out 400 lbs. of food per person per year. This is not only a waste of food that could be directed to the hungry, but a waste of resources. The Zero Hunger, Zero Waste initiative represents Kroger’s effort to end hunger in local communities and eliminate waste throughout its stores by 2025. Ms. Rolfes, Kroger’s media contact for the Cincinnati/Dayton division, said the plan includes a $10 million innovation fund; accelerated food donations in cooperation with Feeding America; public policy advocacy, which includes changing laws so people receiving SNAP benefits can have food delivered to their homes; commitment to purchasing sustainable seafood in cooperation with the World Wildlife Foundation; and zero tolerance for human-rights violations in the supply chain (although Kroger has yet to sign on to the Fair Food Program). Ms. Rolfes said that, in the Dayton area, Shared Harvest and the Dayton Foodbank pick up unpurchased food and distribute it to smaller, local food pantries in the Feeding America network. The Economic Justice Team thanks Joyce Swank for her work in bringing this program to St. John’s UCC.
There was a good group of us last Wednesday evening that talked about Chapter 5 of White Privilege.
DOCUMENTARY ABOUT MONEY BAIL
St. John’s UCC Economic Justice Team hosted a program on current criminal justice reform initiatives on June 26.
The program began with a screening of “The Bail Trap,” presented by Emily Parsons of Showing Up for Social Justice (SURJ). The 25-minute documentary described the economic injustices associated with the bail-bond industry. Information on Ohio House Bill 439 and the proposed Ohio Neighborhood Safety, Drug Treatment, and Rehabilitation Amendment was shared following the film.
H.B. 439 is bail reform legislation introduced in the 132nd General Assembly. The proposed amendment is a ballot initiative designed to reclassify drug possession felonies as misdemeanors and to use funds—saved from having a subsequently smaller prison population—to support local treatment programs.
Documentary about high drug costs
On Feb. 27, 2018, Bill Davis of Single Payer Action Network (SPAN) Ohio presented the documentary “Big Pharma: Market Failure.” The documentary explained why prescription drug costs are so exorbitantly high and explored ways to reduce these costs. Possible solutions include the establishment of a national formulary board that calculates reasonable prices based on the value and effectiveness of different drugs. Davis, who is also a member of Physicians for a National Health Program and a retired IT professional with experience in healthcare data reporting and billing systems, led a discussion immediately following the screening. Fifteen people attended the presentation, which was held in the church cafe. If you missed the event, you can still view the documentary at fixithealthcare.com/big-pharma-movie/.
On October 24, 2017, Lauren Karch, Miami County solid waste coordinator, spoke to the Economic Justice Team and guests about recycling, a practice we strive to follow at St. John’s to help protect God’s earth. Here are just a few of the many things we learned from the presentation:
- The recycling rate in Miami County is 63%.
- Recycling rates are lower in Ohio counties with higher poverty rates.
- Recyclables are baled in homogenous units (e.g., all aluminum cans or all cardboard) and sold as commodities. Currently, cardboard is a relatively hot commodity.
- The transfer station accepts all #1 and #2 plastic in addition to glass, paper, cardboard, and aluminum and metal cans.
- Plastic take-out containers from grocery stores are not recyclable.
- A good way to test whether a jar lid is recyclable is to see whether it attracts a magnet; if it attracts a magnet, it’s recyclable.
- The transfer station also accepts all sizes of batteries although there is a fee for car batteries.
- Goodwill recycles textiles, so if you have a sock without a mate, take it to Goodwill on your next trip there rather than throwing it in the trash.
- Miami County produces about 12-15 semi-trucks of trash per day, and that trash currently goes to a landfill near Bellefontaine.
- Organizations promoting recycling are the Association of Ohio Recyclers and the Ohio Environmental Council.
- Want to reduce the amount of items that go in the trash? Start talking with the corporations that make those items, and call your elected representatives.
Thirty-two members boycott wendy’s
We surveyed the congregation this summer (2017) and learned that 32 members and their friends and/or family members continue the boycott of Wendy’s, pressuring the fast food giant to sign on to the award-winning Fair Food Program. Our numbers may be small, but we’re mighty. Thank you to everyone supporting this movement, which has the endorsement of UCC’s national board of directors.
New brochure published
In June 2017, we published a brochure listing local emergency resources. The new brochure, which includes a map, helps us meet our goal of providing for brothers and sisters in need while working for systemic change and creating a society where all people have what they need to thrive. Find a copy of the new brochure on our Economic Justice Brochures page.
We’ve created a video
With help from our youth, we produced a simple video for presentation at General Synod, June 30 to July 4, 2017, in Baltimore. The 54-second video offers a creative look at our efforts as an economic justice covenant church.
Presentation on Citizens’ Climate Lobby
On April 26, 2017, the Economic Justice Team welcomed Jeffrey Paul, founder of the Dayton chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL). Jeffrey discussed how a proposed carbon emissions tax could help combat climate change. CCL is a national organization, with local chapters, whose bi-partisan efforts promote a market-based, non-regulatory solution to protecting the environment while helping the economy. The CCL proposes a carbon fee and dividend. The fee would be a tax on carbon emitting energy sources, which would encourage less investment in fossil fuels and more investment in renewable energy options. The dividend would be money distributed to American households, after collecting the tax, which could lead to economic growth. For more information on CCL, go to www.citizensclimatelobby.org.
Human rights parade
On March 26, 2017, hundreds of people turned out in Columbus and marched in the rain to support the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and its boycott of Wendy’s. The United Church of Christ has endorsed the consumer boycott of Wendy’s until the fast-food giant signs on to the Fair Food Program.
PRESENTATION ON MOVE TO AMEND
On February 22, 2017, the Economic Justice Team hosted the showing of “Legalize Democracy” and a discussion led by Mary Sue Gmeiner, affiliate coordinator of Greater Dayton Move to Amend. Fourteen people turned out to view the documentary and to hear Mary Sue discuss how “corporate personhood” and “money as speech” affect economic justice. For more information on Move to Amend, go to movetoamend.org.
Presentation on single payer healthcare
On January 25, 2017, seventeen adults turned out for the showing of “Fix It” and a panel discussion featuring Bill Davis of Single Payer Action Network Ohio; Dr. Matthew Noordsij-Jones, a primary care physician and a regional coordinator for SPAN Ohio; and Dr. Katherine Lambes, a primary care physician and longtime advocate for healthcare for all Ohioans.
The documentary and the discussion that followed explained the value of a single payer healthcare system.
For more information on the single payer healthcare concept and SPAN Ohio, go to www.spanohio.org, where downloadable resources are available.
Minimum Wage News
As of January 1, 2017, the minimum wage increased in 19 states and 22 cities and counties according to David Klepper of the Associated Press.
In Ohio, the minimum wage increased to $8.15/hour. Policy Matters Ohio recommends increasing the minimum wage to $12/hour by 2020. According to Policy Matters Ohio, this amount is just under 60% of Ohio’s median wage and should not lead to job losses.
If you’re concerned minimum-wage increases benefit teenagers only, hurt small businesses, and lead to job losses, read Minimum Wage Mythbusters by the Department of Labor.
Inequality: A Christian Response
On Oct. 12, 2016, the Economic Justice Team hosted an informal conversation on economic inequality. Twelve people participated in a lively and thought-provoking discussion based on “A Fair Balance,” an article by Edith Rasell, Ph.D., an economist and the minister for economic justice with UCC national staff in Cleveland. A downloadable copy of the article is available at www.ucc.org/justice_economic-justice_inequality.
The Economic Justice Team continues to support the consumer boycott of Wendy’s called by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and endorsed by UCC’s national board of directors.
For information on the CIW’s Fair Food Program and the consumer boycott of Wendy’s, go to www.ucc.org/boycott_wendys or www.ciw-online.org. Or view one of the following videos: CBS Sunday Morning’s Fair Food Program, PBS Frontline’s A Voice for Workers, and Eva Longoria and Eric Schlosser’s Food Chains.
If you want to join the letter-writing campaign, we have two models you can download: Sample Boycott Letter 1 (produced by the UCC Economic Justice Movement) and Sample Boycott Letter 2 (tailored for use in Troy).
If you’re a Facebook user, “like” our Facebook page and watch for updates and information regarding economic justice efforts.
For more information on the United Church of Christ’s Economic Justice Covenant Program, visit www.ucc.org/justice/.