Subject: NCC Weekly News: Hidden Injustice in the Poultry Industry

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From Jim: Hidden Injustice in the Poultry Industry
I participated this week in an event intended to raise awareness in the faith community of the plight of poultry workers. This is an issue that’s been around for many years, but with the rising consumption of chicken in this nation poultry workers are being required to worker faster than ever in dangerous conditions.

This matters to people of faith because scripture warns us to beware of trampling on the needy and bringing the poor to ruin (Amos 8:4-5). And, since many poultry workers are immigrants, such as Rosa from Guatemala who addressed us, we should remember to treat the alien as well as God treated the Israelites.

The poultry industry is concentrated in the hands of a small number of firms who market their product through dozens of brands. The typical poultry worker makes about $20,000 a year, about the same amount of money one of the CEOs makes in a single day.

Right now, the biggest request from poultry workers is that they be given bathroom breaks. Many of the workers have to wear adult diapers to work because they are not permitted to go to the toilet. One Minnesota poultry plant permits its workers two bathroom breaks per week.

Additionally, the rapid line speed at poultry plants means workers are making the same repetitive motions thousands of times a day, thereby leading to carpal tunnel syndrome, swelling, and, even, paralysis. Typically, poultry plants refer injured workers to doctors and nurses with which they have arrangements thereby helping to maintain a clean safety record. But, as Juanita, who worked for Tyson in North Carolina said, “There are some people with hands so swollen that their gloves don’t fit.”

The 2008 Social Creed of the National Council of Churches supports a family-sustaining wage with equal pay for comparable work, the rights of workers to organize and share in workplace decisions and productivity growth, and protection from dangerous working conditions with time and benefits to enable full family life.

All of us who are not vegetarians are implicated in the systematic mistreatment of hundreds of thousands of workers in poultry plants. We heard of a 17-year old who lost a leg while cleaning a plant machine and another young worker who lost their fingertips in another incident. In each avoidable instance, the worker was fired because, after all, they could no longer perform their jobs.

One small action you can take right now is to sign a petition,, supporting bathroom breaks at Case Farms in Morganton, NC. Encourage the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, at both the federal and state levels, to carry out inspections of poultry plants.

Among the stated purposes of the National Council of Churches is a desire on the part of the member communions to strive for peace and justice in the social, political and economic order. Here is another example of how we must stand together for the healing of the world.

Yours in Christ,

Jim Winkler
President and General Secretary
Committee on the Uniform Series, a Vital NCC Ministry, Establishes New Guides for Curriculum

Last month, the 144th annual meeting of the Committee on the Uniform Series (CUS) took place in Jacksonville, Florida. This historic meeting of scholars, writers, and church leaders, continued the legacy of the CUS in developing educational curriculum that has formed the backbone of the ecumenical movement.

First created in 1872, the Uniform Series has become arguably the most widely ecumenical project ever created. Millions of Christians have deepened their faith through utilizing lessons based on CUS guides. Indeed arguably no single effort has affected such a broad range and large number of Christians ever.

The committee celebrated the work of Helen Scott-Carter, the outgoing chair, while welcoming Mozella Mitchell of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church as the new chair, with her term beginning in November. Lindsay Black, David C. Cook Publishing, was elected as Vice Chair of the committee.

The committee met for 4 days to establish new curriculum for the upcoming years. Completed work includes adoption of the Guide for Lesson Development and Home Daily Bible Readings for 2019-2020. This serves as a framework for curriculum writers creating devotional and Sunday School materials.

Present at the meeting was a delegation of students from the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology of Virginia Union University, who actively contributed to the committee’s work. A wide variety of participants including the Presbyterian Church (USA), the AME Zion Church, the National Baptist Convention USA, Inc., the Cumberland Presbyterian, the Iglesia Christiana (Discipulos de Christo) de Puerto Rico, the Mennonite
Church USA, the United Methodist Church, and the Nigerian Baptist Convention. All are also users of CUS-produced curriculum.

The Committee on the Uniform Series is one of the vital ministries of the National Council of Churches, committed to producing educational materials that are easy to use, stimulating, and that reflect the very highest scholarly and ecumenical standards for Bible study for all ages. More information about the CUS can be found at

Return to the Holy Land: Former young missionaries reconnect with the Palestinian Lutheran community

Working near Jerusalem in the West Bank community of Beit Sahour, Marta Erling Spangler started to see the world through the eyes of the Palestinian Christians and Muslims around her.

One of the first participants in the ELCA’s Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) service program when it opened sites in the Holy Land in 2008, Erling Spangler had plenty to see.

While she could visit Jerusalem whenever she wanted, her students at the Evangelical Lutheran School in Beit Sahour needed permits to enter. Few could secure them. She took her access to higher education for granted. Checkpoints and conflict stood between her students and university degrees.

Erling Spangler’s growing awareness of her own privilege drew her to focus on social justice after her year of service ended.

Watch the National Geographic Series, "The Story of God with Morgan Freeman"

The Story of God with Morgan Freeman seeks to understand how religion has evolved throughout the course of civilization, and in turn how religion has shaped the evolution of society. Although in our current geopolitical landscape, religion is often seen as something that divides, the series illuminates the remarkable similarities among different faiths, even those that seem to be in staunch contrast. This is a quest for God: to shed light on the questions that have puzzled, terrified and inspired humanity. 

Apocalypse: Premieres Sunday, April 10 at 9/8c  Host Morgan Freeman examines both the past and the future to determine what various faith traditions predict about the End of Days. His journey takes him to the desert, where he pores over the Dead Sea Scrolls, and to Rome to decode the enigmatic Mark of the Beast: 666. A meditative session with one of Buddhism’s holiest men begins to realign Morgan’s perspective—what if the apocalypse is not a planetary bloodbath, but rather a mental paradigm shift?

(Editor's note: While not perfect, we feel this beautifully filmed series can help bring peace through understanding and appreciation of other faith traditions.)
Earth Day weekend: "Keep it in the Ground"

The message –– referring to fossil fuel reserves –– is "the most important act of caring for God's creation that our society can undertake today," said the Rev. Brooks Berndt, the UCC's minister for environmental justice. Berndt and the Rev. Jim Antal, conference minister and president of the UCC's Massachusetts Conference, are organizing the Earth Day preach-in as April's "Our Stillspeaking Voice," the UCC's monthly multimedia event initiative.

"Embracing renewable energy sources while insisting that we keep 80 percent of the known fossil fuel reserves in the ground is an act of faithfulness to a loving, life-affirming God," said Antal. "Allowing our current fossil fuel dependent economy to continue is a death sentence for life as we have always known it, and an abomination to any understanding of God."

The preach-in will feature 25 preachers, a scholar and a local church, all of whom are highlighted on the UCC's 'Keep it in the Ground' website. Local UCC pastors are encouraged to "join the April 24 preach-in and devote their worship services and sermon to 'Keep in in the Ground,'" said Berndt. Pastors and congregations can find sermon seeds, liturgical helps, and other resources on the website.

Resources to Celebrate Earth Day Sunday, April 17 or 24

Each year, Creation Justice Ministries offers materials to help churches recognize Earth Day. Earth Day Sunday can be recognized April 17 or 24.

The resource is written to be useful year-round. Additional opportune moments to use this resource include September 1, recognized by Orthodox and Catholic communions as the World Day of Prayer for Care of Creation, or in October, during the Season of Creation and close to the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi.

This Week's Podcast: Subscribe TODAY!

The NCC is bringing the best, most interesting and relevant voices from the faith community to your mobile device. Every week NCC communications director Rev. Steven D. Martin interviews faith leaders, activists, and people from across the NCC's 38 member communions and affiliated organizations.

This week: Gurwin Ahuja, creator of the "Know Your Neighbor" initiative speaks about this powerful social media and policy campaign and its launch at the White House in December.  Each new episode goes online each Friday afternoon.

As we launch this podcast, you can help us by subscribing in the iTunes Store and Stitcher Radio. If you like what you're hearing, please write a review. By doing this you will help us reach the widest possible audience!

Pakistan: Multifaith vigil for Lahore Easter bomb victims

About 200 Christians, Muslims and Hindus gathered April 4 at the site of last weekend’s horrific Easter Day bomb attack for a united act of solidarity and sympathy for the victims of the attack.

The death toll from the attack rose to 76 on Friday as Pakistan officials said that some of those who had been injured in the attack did not survive. More than 300 people were hurt and several dozen are still understood to be undergoing treatment in hospital. Some of these are in a serious condition.

This weekend’s gathering at the Gulshan-e Iqbal Park began with a peaceful demonstration at 5:40 p.m. – the exact moment that last week’s blast occurred.

Candles were lit and Christian, Muslim and Hindu religious leaders – including the Moderator of the Church of Pakistan, Bishop Samuel Azariah – joined hands as they prayed for the victims and their families.

Session to Explore Theology Behind Fight Against Racism at Ecumenical Advocacy Days

Christians gathering at the 2016 Ecumenical Advocacy Days will be lifting their voices in support of those who are oppressed and marginalized because of racism and classism. We only have to be familiar with the headlines of the past two years to know that these two ills are realities in our society, and on the hearts and minds of candidates and voters alike as we head toward the November election. But what is the theological basis for our message when it comes to fairness and justice? This workshop will analyze the Christian foundations of faith when it comes to affirming the political and economic rights of all, so that when we speak truth to power, we can know why our voice can be more than a whisper in the cacophony of voices seeking to influence policy.

This session will take place on Friday April 15 beginning at 1pm in the Wilson-Harrison Room. The panel will include:
  • Dr. Doug Foster – Professor of Church History, Abilene Christian University
  • Rev. Joyce Shin – Associate Pastor for Congregational Life, 4th Presbyterian Church Chicago, IL
  • Rev. Dr. Kenneth James – Pastor, Memorial AME Zion Church Rochester, NY
  • Moderator – Dr. Greg Carey – Professor of New Testament, Lancaster Theological Seminary

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