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Taking It All Back Home

This article was written for Issues, a daily publication of the Consultation, near the end of General Convention. See the later work of Verna Fausey for a broad scan of legislation.

Economic Justice at the 77th General Convention

By Mike Maloney, ENEJ Staff

ENEJ and its allies brought before the convention a set of resolutions on a range of issues including immigrant rights, worker justice, jobs programs, and environmental issues. Working with UNITE Here, we reminded the convention of worker justice issues, including wage theft, right there in Indianapolis. Hundreds of Episcopalians expressed solidarity with oppressed workers by marching or signing a letter to the Indianapolis City Council. Others testified on behalf of resolutions before Program, Budget and Finance and various legislative hearings. The entire convention was reminded by the Secretary of Convention, Gregory Straub, to tip underpaid hotel workers generously.

The Diocese of Arizona provided tip envelopes for the ENEJ booth to distribute. All of this activity attracted interest from ENS, local media, and Episcopal web radio. Clearly ENEJ met its goal of keeping economic justice issues before the Episcopal Church at the 77th General Convention.

What Does It All Mean?

It is too early to fully assess the extent to which the economic justice agenda was advanced at this convention. Now that we are back in our home communities and our everyday activities, how can we follow up on what we experienced in Indianapolis?

Organize - If your parish or diocese does not have an active peace and justice committee, form one. If one already exists, join it and make sure its agenda includes economic justice issues and systemic change.

Use Resources - ENEJ and the other organizations of The Consultation have a variety of resources your congregation, diocese, or provincial group can use to advance peace and justice work. Use their web sites and use these resources in your organizing back home.

Become an Advocate - If you are not already an advocate on peace and justice issues, become one. ENEJ's Issue Papers is a good place to start. It summarizes 30 current economic justice issues and suggests action steps. Please review resolutions adopted at General Convention and help educate fellow parishioners on them. All ENEJ resources are available at www.enej.org.

ENEJ and UNITE HERE Join Forces to Support Indianapolis Hotel Workers

By Phil Graybiel

During the 77th General Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana, last month, the Episcopal Network for Economic Justice and UNITE HERE, an international hospitality workers union, joined together to fight violations of workers' rights. On the first official day of the convention, July 5th, a rally was held at the Indiana State House to protest against the mistreatment of hotel workers in Indianapolis who have been victims of wage theft and blacklisting.

At the rally, speeches were made by Rev. Tim Yeager from St. Andrew's in Chicago, the Bishop of Newark, Mark Beckwith, and Eva Sanchez, former employee of HSS, which is a subcontracting company that operates in several Indianapolis hotels.

Most of the major hotels downtown subcontract jobs to temporary agencies. Many of these subcontracted workers are housekeepers who clean an absurd number of rooms. Some have reported cleaning up to 30 rooms per day and have to stay past their scheduled shift to finish their work unpaid when it exceeds eight hours.

This is an example of wage theft happening in the city where General Convention was held. Companies already pay their employees $7.50 per hour to do back breaking work; then they do not pay them for all the hours they work.

The other issue discussed at the rally was blacklisting. When workers are paid so little, they have no choice but to look for a second job. Yet some of the hotels have contracts that prevent them from getting jobs at other hotels downtown who use the same subcontracting agency. UNITE HERE and community leaders are currently working on getting an ordinance passed that would ban companies from blacklisting their employees to prevent them from finding other work.

The name of the ordinance is called Freedom to Work. The day after the rally took place, Dianne Aid, ENEJ President, along with people from the Indianapolis community delivered a letter to Mayor Greg Ballard signed by many people from General Convention, including several clergy and members of other organizations within the Episcopal Church. Unsurprisingly, the mayor could not meet that day but the security officer guarding his office said he would deliver the letter.

On July 16th, the Indianapolis City Council passed the ordinance by a vote of 16 to 12. Mayor Ballard later vetoed the legislation. The community is currently putting pressure on the mayor to change his mind.

Consultation Groups Help Shape General Convention

By Mike Maloney

The Consultation is a coalition of thirteen progressive groups promoting social and economic concerns within the Episcopal Church and in an American and world context.

At the 77th General Convention, the ENEJ/EpEN display was part of The Consultation area. Our joint display had Integrity on one side, TransEpiscopal on another and the Episcopal Urban Caucus on another side. Beyond EUC were the Episcopal Peace Fellowship and other Consultation groups.

On the fourth side was a shared space that included the Speakers' Corner where Mike Schut spoke on the environment, Dianne Aid on Immigration and Tim Yeager on worker justice issues. The Union of Black Episcopalians was across an aisle from us but part of The Consultation group.

The advocacy efforts of these groups are helping shape the Episcopal Church.

ENEJ'S Convention Resolutions

By Verna Fausey

The following Convention resolutions were submitted by the Advocacy Committee of ENEJ in conjunction with its committees and members. All of them were passed by both houses of the Convention, though we believe that C078 has been referred to the PB&F committee as it prepares the final budget document for the triennium. However, approval by the Convention alone does not guarantee that they will be implemented. We invite you to join ENEJ during the coming months, working with EPPN and other concerned organizations to support these resolutions.

C077 condemns the practice of wage theft and urges Episcopal congregations to learn more about wage theft in their own communities, to partner with workers' centers and wage enforcement agencies to stop and deter wage theft, to ask questions of those who provide contracted services, and to advocate for local, state and national policies to strengthen educational outreach to workers about the enforcement of wage laws.

C078 provides $36,000 in funding during the next triennium so that ENEJ can continue and increase its mission. ENEJ seeks to raise awareness of economic justice at every level of The Episcopal Church

C119 urges the church to support The Clean Air Ports Act of 2012. This legislation requires local and regional port authorities to reduce air pollution, promote green jobs, and enable port drivers to earn a living wage and the right to organize. C119 has both economic and environmental justice implications.

D028 notes and confirms previously GC passed resolutions on labor and worker rights.

It recognizes the role of the labor movement in securing a place for workers at the table in improving wages, benefits and working conditions, as well as in affirming the dignity of work and providing avenues for seeking justice in the workplace;

D042 urges GC to "recommit to protecting victims of human trafficking, particularly women and children, by continuing to support legislation and action oriented to recovery and reintegration of trafficking victims into society. The resolution builds on past resolutions on this issue.

D078 condemns the practice of blacklisting of workers so that they are forced to remain in temporary employment agencies or contracting agencies instead of obtaining direct employment.

D087 urges the President and Congress to approve a serious multi-faceted federal program as a solution to the current intolerable level of unemployment in this country:

1) rebuilding the nation's infrastructure, moving to a greener economy, and putting economically distressed young people to work on projects beneficial for society; 2) increasing funding for job training; 3) offering tax credits for companies creating permanent new jobs.

D059 calls for a halt to unjust immigration enforcement. It asks the GC to re-commit to the principles of humane immigration reform articulated in previous resolutions. It also asks the church to call for a halt to Secure Communities, the practice by local law enforcement agencies of sending arrestees' fingerprints to the Department of Homeland Security to determine their immigration status, with the objective of deportation; and asks that the church oppose state legislation which attempts to enforce federal immigration laws, recognizing that immigration law enforcement is a federal mandate. The resolution urges the church to work against racial profiling in the enforcement of illegal immigration.

Social Justice Resolutions of the 77th General Convention

By Verna Fausey

This section provides a brief summary of each social justice resolution adopted at the 2012 General Convention in Indianapolis. They are grouped by subject area in the following categories:

- Economic Justice

- Health

- Peacemaking, Reconciliation, and International Affairs

- Women's Issues

- Miscellaneous

General Convention and Economic Justice

General Convention (GC) meeting in Indianapolis July 5-12 considered a variety of resolutions on economic justice. Unless noted otherwise, bishops and deputies approved the following:

A012: Advocates for a just global economy for international trade. A012articulates some very basic principles on fairness among nations and people of the world and how they can be applied in current trade policies. The resolution has economic and environmental justice implications.

A080: Income tax reform calls for a fairer tax code. This code should contribute to poverty alleviation by imposing a proportional burden on those with higher incomes.

A081: Calls for reform of certain interest rates This is a plea to reform current usury laws as they affect everyone but especially as they affect the poor in programs that are exempt from usury laws: payday loans, check-cashing fees, rapid refund income tax return polices, etc.

A082: Calls for reform of mortgage lending policies. a major cause of the current recession. A082 has recommendations for legislative relief for those facing eviction and foreclosures: that the banks enter serious negotiations with homeowners on loan modifications and other measures allowing people to stay in their houses during this difficult economic period. Even where there is some good legislation response by the banks is purely voluntary and non-existent in most cases. Hence the proliferation of evictions in all neighborhoods, particularly the poor.

A083 Advocate for reforming credit reporting. The resolution explanation notes: "...We must ensure that this industry does not continue to progress without regulation. It is currently under regulated and, in some matters not regulated at all. It has for too long been allowed to operate without standards or policies. To ask this industry to be accountable for its errors, omissions and information is but a small step in requiring this much utilized industry to reform.

A084 asks the Executive Council to study the ability to establish an Episcopal Credit Union. A084 suggests using existing models like Thrivent Financial Bank, the Federal Credit Union in Los Angeles. Also funds of the Economic Justice Loan Fund would be incorporated into this credit union.

A087 Resolution on Wealth proposed three or more regional hearings during the next triennium to explore the significance of this disparity of wealth, its influence on the Church's ability to worship and serve in local communities, to shape and form the mission of the Church. This was referred to a standing committee.

A135 focus mission funding on alleviating poverty and injustice. A135 commits the church over the next three years in various ways (teaching, preaching, action) to work to reduce poverty and in promote economic and racial justice.

D050 Clergy Call to Action on Economic and Racial Justice . D050 asks the GC to request all diocesan bishops to distribute to their clergy "A Prophetic Clergy Call to Action" encouraging them to sign the Call to Action and to commit to teaching, preaching and organizing to unify people of faith around reducing poverty and increasing economic and racial justice.

Episcopal Network for Economic Justice (ENEJ) and its resolutions

What is ENEJ? More than two decades ago, the 1988 GC adopted a resolution "taking Action for Economic Justice." Episcopal Network for Economic Justice (ENEJ) arose out of the work that followed the church's implementation of the 1988 resolution, nicknamed "the Michigan Plan. This year ENEJ was on hand to back resolutions promoting economic justice work. ENEJ supported most of the above resolutions and proposed the ones below. ENEJ's website is www.enej.org

C077 condemns the practice of wage theft and urge Episcopal congregations to learn more about wage theft in their own communities, partner with workers centers and wage enforcement agencies to stop and deter wage theft, ask questions of those who provide contracted services, and advocate local, state and national policies to strengthen educational outreach to workers about and enforcement of wage laws.

C078 provides $30,000 funding during the next triennium so ENEJ can continue and increase its mission. ENEJ seeks to raise awareness of economic justice at every level of The Episcopal Church

C119 Clean Air Ports Act 2012 urges the church to support The Clean Air Ports Act of 2012. The act is directed at the nation's ports. Such legislation requires local and regional port authorities to reduce air pollution, promote green jobs, and enable port drivers in the ports to earn a living wage and the right to organize. C119 has economic and environmental justice implications.

D028 notes previous and confirms previously GC passed resolutions on labor and worker rights. D028 recognizes the role of the labor movement in securing a place for workers at the table, and providing them with an opportunity for their voices to be heard, in improving wages, benefits and working conditions, and in affirming the dignity of work and providing avenues of seeking justice at the workplace;

D042 urges GC to "re-commit to protecting victims of human trafficking, particularly women and children, by continuing to support legislation and action oriented to recovery and reintegration of trafficking victims into society." Women and children are most affected." The resolution builds on past resolutions on this issue.

D078 condemns the practice of blacklisting of workers so that they are forced to remain in temporary employment agencies or contracting agencies instead of obtaining direct employment.

D087 job creation legislation. urges the President and Congress to approve a serious multi-faceted program as a solution to the current intolerable level of unemployment in this country;

ENEJ. proposed D059 halt unjust immigration enforcement . D059 asks the GC to re-commit to the principals of humane immigration reform articulated in previous resolutions. D059 asks the church to call for a halt to Secure Communities, the practice of sending arrestee's fingerprints to Department of Homeland Security to determine their immigration status with an objective to deportation; that the church oppose state legislation which attempts to enforce federal immigration laws, recognizing that immigration law enforcement is a federal mandate; The resolution urges the church to work against racial profiling or using race as a reason for law enforcement to question one's immigration status.

D011Reform Unequal Immigration Law calls on the United States to extend immigration rights to same gender legal partners.

General Convention and Health

Bishops and deputies gathered in Indianapolis, for General Convention (GC) considered resolutions related to health.

A040urges The Episcopalians to work for full implementation and funding of the federal health care reform law. The resolution explanation includes this statement: "Christians have made the commitment to stand with the poor and the marginalized, and Episcopalians pledge in the Baptismal Covenant "to strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being."

A140 advocate for maternal and infant health. The resolution urges the church to partner with international and domestic efforts to encourage and advocate for legislation, programs, services and advocacy related to improving maternal health and infant development.

B026 delays implementation of the denominational health plan for three years The original deadline was January 1, 2013. In 2009 General Convention passed A177 to establish a denomination health plan for employees who work at least 1,500 hours per year.. The goal was to provide parity in health insurance cost-sharing between lay and clergy employees. In 2012, numerous resolutions were introduced to either delay the implementation of the plan or repeal it all together. In the end, B025 was passed with an implementation deadline of December 31, 2015.

Several health standing committee resolutions relate to HIV/AIDS

A163 Monitoring HIV Guide The resolution directed the National Episcopal AIDS Coalition to establish baseline data for current practices throughout the Church related to this Guide; and that this matter be further studied by way of a measurement survey of the Church during the 2013-2015 triennium with a summary provided to the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church for reporting to the 78th General Convention."

A165 HIV/AIDS health ministry education urges parish health ministry programs to include HIV and AIDS education as a component of their ongoing programming. This has health and education implications.

A166 Week of Prayer for Healing of AIDS. The resolution urges all parishes and dioceses of The Episcopal Church to participate in the National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS, observed annually beginning the first Sunday in March.

A167 HIV Welcoming parish initiative states: "That the HIV Welcoming Parish initiative being launched in October, 2012 by the National Episcopal AIDS Coalition be utilized as a tool to reduce the stigma associated with HIV and show the love of Christ through active engagement with persons in need of support...That parishes be urged to participate in the process to become certified as an HIV Welcoming Parish and NEAC be encouraged to achieve commitments from 50 parishes biannually through 2015";

General Convention and peace making, reconciliation, and International Affairs

Bishops and deputies at General Convention (GC) passed a number of resolutions related to peacemaking, reconciliation and international affairs.

A011 reaffirms commitment to the Millennium Development Goals as a mission priority. It asks the budget committee to include a line item no less than 0.7% of the non-government revenue of the Episcopal Church to support the Millennium Development Goals; and that this 0.7% commitment will be a visible and prophetic act of leadership in fighting global poverty. The funds would be administered by Episcopal Relief & Development in support of its programs that are working to achieve the Millennium Development Goals..

A016 commends the responsibility to protect from mass atrocities. The resolution explanation says "The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) is a moral response to the tragic persistence of mass atrocities such as genocide in the world today. The development of this international norm over the past decade bears witness to the historic genocides committed against Native Americans during the period of European colonization, against the Jewish people and other persecuted minorities during the Holocaust, and against innocent victims in Rwanda, Bosnia, Congo and Darfur, among other regions in conflict."

A017 calls for monitoring the use and ethics of drone warfare

A079 on American civil liberties urges each congregation to become a model for peacemaking in our society. This is accomplished by encouraging its members to commit themselves to nonviolent and peaceable behavior in their relationships with others and to express concern about attacks on human rights, including attacks on the right to dissent from U.S. government policy

D003 urges General Convention to call for every parish and every diocesan place of work to declare their establishments as Gun Free Zones.

D005 rule of law for terrorists asks the GC to call on the government to begin to use law the word "criminal" for those who commit acts of terror rather than acts of war.

D020: Ecumenical Gathering for Reconciliation recognizes and encourages the elders of Christ Episcopal Church, Red Shirt Table and the Tribal Council in the Oglala Lakota District of the Sioux Tribe in the Episcopal Diocese of South Dakota in their preparation and planning of a reconciliation event to be held on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in partnership with the Taize' Community and others in 2014. Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori noted, "It is phenomenal that a number of the Taize brothers are going to come from France to the Oglala band for a reconciliation event on a reservation. It is a very profound event."

Middle East

Deputies and bishops approved B019 Israeli-Palestinian peace and support for the Diocese of Jerusalem. The resolution affirms positive investment "as a necessary means to create a sound economy and a sustainable infrastructure" in the Palestinian Territories. It also calls on the church to support "the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian study on peace with justice in the Middle East," and produce an annotated bibliography of resources. B019 reaffirms the church's official policy, based on resolutions passed at its previous General Conventions, committing to a two-state solution in which a secure and universally recognized state of Israel lives alongside a free, viable, and secure state for the Palestinian people, with a shared Jerusalem as the capital of both.

Although the deputies approved C060, the bishops tabled it. C060 would have called "on the church to engage "in corporate social responsibility by more vigorous and public corporate engagement with companies in the church's investment portfolio that contribute to the infrastructure of the Occupation," The tabling motion deferred the conversation indefinitely even though several amendments had weakened the resolution.

B017 urges support for the Diocese of Jerusalem's Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza. B017calls upon bishops and dioceses to join in fundraising efforts to help meet the shortfall created by the sudden and unexpected reduction in funding from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). B017 urges the church to advocate for restoration of humanitarian fiscal aid to the hospital. Note: In late July 2012 UNRWA extended the funding for six months, giving the diocese and the hospital more time to prepare for the reduced funding..

A015 commends the "Arab Spring" or democratic movements in the Middle East and North Africa

Immigration and related issues,

D011reform unequal immigration law calls on the United States to extend immigration rights to same gender legal partners.

D059 asks the GC to re-commit to the principals of humane immigration reform articulated in previous resolutions. D059 asks the church to call for a halt to Secure Communities, the practice of sending arrestee's fingerprints to Department of Homeland Security to determine their immigration status with an objective to deportation; that the church oppose state legislation which attempts to enforce federal immigration laws, recognizing that immigration law enforcement is a federal mandate; The resolution urges the church to work against racial profiling or using race as a reason for law enforcement to question one's immigration status.

D067 urges the GC to support passage of the DREAM Act, also known as Development, Relief, Education for Alien Minors. The resolution's explanation notes: "When the DREAM Act passes, students need to be either in the military or attending a four-year college for at least two years, have graduated high school, have no record or arrests to be decided to have a good moral character, arrived at least five years before the passing of the DREAM Act, and arrived to the United States as minors to obtain eventual permanent residency."

B028 calls on Congress to modernize the current refugee policy law.

D042 urges GC to "re-commit to protecting victims of human trafficking, particularly women and children, by continuing to support legislation and action oriented to recovery and reintegration of trafficking victims into society." Women and children are most affected." The resolution builds on past resolutions on this issue.

Specific countries or regions.

A020 calls for an end the embargo against Cuba.

A021 advocates humane treatment for Cuban (political) prisoners--both those held in Cuba and in the United States

A018 supports aid for the drought in the Horn of Africa

A014 commends the Anglican Church of Korea for its role in conflict resolution on the Korean Peninsula

A019 continues advocacy for peace in Sudan

General Convention and women's issues

It should be noted that women led both houses at General Convention (GC). Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori the bishops and Bonnie Anderson the deputies. Women will lead both houses in the next GC when it meets in Salt Lake City in 2015 The Rev. Gay Jennings from Ohio will preside over the deputies..

B018 notes the 35th anniversary of first official ordination of women. The text says "we honor and celebrate the Thirty Fifth Anniversary of the Ordination of the Reverend Jacqueline A. Means to the Priesthood of The Episcopal Church, the first official ordination of women, on January 1, 1977, in Indianapolis. ...we honor and celebrate all of her sister priests and bishops, in Thanksgiving to Our Lord who has chosen to empower them, and his Holy Church, to bring us into the Kingdom of his Father now and forever. Alleluia!"

D042 fighting human trafficking urges the GC to "re-commit to protecting victims of human trafficking, particularly women and children, by continuing to support legislation and action oriented to recovery and reintegration of trafficking victims into society." Women and children are most affected. The resolution builds on past resolutions on this issue. The Episcopal network for economic justice proposed the resolution.

The Executive Council Committee on the Status of Women proposed a number of resolutions.

A137 urges church insurance providers to provide coverage for infertility treatment.

A138ending statelessness discrimination against women. The resolution urges the GC to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1961 UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness

A139 gender violence commends the Anglican Primates for their willingness to speak about issues of gender violence.

A140 advocates for maternal and infant health A140 urges the church to partner with international and domestic efforts to encourage and advocate for legislation, programs, services and advocacy related to improving maternal health and infant development;

A141 urges the GC to consider funding for meetings of the Council of Episcopal Women's Organizations CEWO. When the Office of Women's Ministries was de-funded in 2009 all program monies ceased to exist. ... critical meetings such as that of the CEWO (that bring volunteer women's organizations together for collaboration and networking) are in danger of ceasing altogether."

Several resolutions relate to opportunities for women clergy.

A142 study expansion of canonical residency in response to new, creative models of ministry. The resolution explanation says "Policies for accepting Letters Dimissory for clergy who are not heading a parish vary widely across dioceses. This lack of protection has led to unequal, discriminatory standing for associate and assisting clergy, clergy who minister as hospital, school and prison chaplains, ordained seminary professors, clergy who work in social service agencies or advocacy organizations, interim and non-stipendiary clergy, and other clergy in non-parochial vocations who live and work in dioceses far away from where they were ordained."

A143 asks direct s the Office for Transition Ministries, the Office of Pastoral Development and the Executive Council Committee on the Status of Women to develop and distribute a Search Toolkit for church leadership discernment committees and female clergy applicants.

A144 monitor women and other racial and ethnic minorities and underrepresented groups in ordained ministry. A144 urges dioceses to strive for greater diversity in candidates. A144 includes some interesting facts about the number of women bishops. "While The Episcopal Church has experienced impressive milestones in the ministry of women, including the election of women to the highest offices in the Church, the percentage of women in the House of Bishops has not increased correspondingly in relation to either the percentage of priests who are female or the percentage of women overall in the Church. As of September 2011, only five of the Church's 110 dioceses and the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe had a woman serving or elected to serve as diocesan or provisional bishop. Including the Presiding Bishop, only 12 women were active in Episcopal ministry, and two of these were soon to retire.".

General Convention and miscellaneous issues

Some topics had only one or two resolutions -- therefore this miscellaneous list.

C033 proposed by the Diocese of Washington: endorses statehood for the District of Columbia

D003 urges General Convention to call for every parish and every diocesan place of work to declare their establishments as gun free zones.

A080 urges continuation of the work on liturgies related to the adoption of children.

A077 urges the church to develop a social statement on prison reform In addition A079 urges the church to commit funds to develop and implement a model prisoner ministry program in partnership with the Office of Black Ministries and the program officer of Social and Economic Justice;

B004 Camps for Children of the Incarcerated General Convention reaffirm its commitment to establish and support summer camps for children who have parents in prison or in the criminal justice system. B004 asks the GC to consider a budget allocation of $150,000 over the next triennium for the implementation of this resolution.

D022 calls for church wide partnerships to end bullying (including cyber bullying), especially of those regarded as "different." in some way.

D016 states "That it is the will of this Convention to move the Church Center headquarters away from the Church Center building at 815 2nd Avenue, New York City."

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Note: Letters preceding the numbers indicates the sources of the resolutions: A: Executive Council, standing commissions and committees B Bishops C Dioceses and provinces D Deputies Persons can track legislation by going to www.generalconvention.org.

 

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