Welcome to Explorations in Just Living--the blog of the Enough for Everyone program of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). By "just living" we mean two things: embodying God's call to justice in our daily lives and "living simply so that others may simply live." We look forward to exploring with you.
The U.S. Congress is currently considering Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with Korea, Colombia and Panama. PC(USA) mission partners in Colombia are calling for the PC(USA) to raise its voice. The Presbyterian Hunger Program will host a webinar about the Colombia FTA this Friday, May 27. Register for the webinar to discuss:
• Ways for you to take action on behalf of our sisters and brothers in Colombia; • How Colombia’s human rights record requires delaying this agreement; • Why the Presbyterian Church of Colombia opposes the agreement in its present form; • Why the cost of this agreement is too high for small farmers and others; • How we as people of faith evaluate trade agreements.
Panelists include Lisa Haugaard, executive director of the Latin America Working Group; the Rev. Shannan Vance-Ocampo, director of Colombia Programs for the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, which coordinates the Presbyterian Accompaniment Program on behalf of PC(USA) World Mission; and the Rev. Dr. Alexa Smith, Presbyterian Hunger Program.
This year over 800 PC(USA) congregations ordered Eco-Palms for Palm Sunday worship services. This 10% increase in orders over last year means that together Presbyterians purchased over 150,000 Eco-Palm fronds. Eco-Palms are harvested sustainably and provide economic development opportunities for harvesting communities in Guatemala and Mexico.
If your congregation ordered, check the PC(USA) Eco-Palms website for info on when to expect your shipment, how to care for palms when they arrive, download a bulletin insert and 3-minute educational video, and more.
If your congregation didn't order, consider Eco-Palms for next year. Orders for 2012 will be open after the first of the year, so make a note to return to the website in January to place your order for Palm Sunday 2012 in advance.
Keep a sense of simplicity, wonder and reverence all season long. Join special guest Rev. Michael Mortvedt and staff of the Presbyterian Hunger Program in exploring ways to stay spiritually grounded through Advent and keep the focus on the reason for the season.
Rev. Mortvedt publishes the popular booklet Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway? and co-directs Alternatives for Simple Living. He is a Lutheran pastor serving an Episcopal church in Colorado.
The Presbyterian Hunger Program is leading a delegation to Nicaragua, and you are invited!
Participants will experience the benefits of Fair Trade first-hand when they visit coffee and sewing cooperatives. The delegation is perfect for anyone involved in a congregation, college or camp that uses Fair Trade coffee, tea, chocolate or t-shirts. It’s also great for anyone who has hosted a holiday bazaar with Fair Trade products, or simply wants to learn more.
Delegates will: • Meet Fair Trade farmers and artisans • Pick coffee and stay in homes of farming families • Meet the women who sew Sweat-Free Ts • Build community with fellow Presbyterians • Learn about Nicaragua, Fair Trade and more!
Jacobo Cisneros, a Fair Trade farmer and leader in the Tierra Nueva cooperative, and Margaret LeMaster, a participant in the 2008 delegation, become friends while picking coffee together.
The delegation is sponsored by the Presbyterian Hunger Program, Equal Exchange and CEPAD (the Council of Protestant Churches in Nicaragua).
Cost: $575 plus airfare. $575 is all-inclusive of meals, lodging, translation, in-country transportation, etc. The only extra needed is a small amount of spending money for snacks or souvenirs. Some need-based scholarship assistance is available.
Please consider joining us, and pass the word to others who may be interested.
Do you and your family participate in Halloween? Do you do traditional activities like dressing up in costume, trick-or-treating or giving out candy? Or do you do other creative things?
When my brother and I were kids, there was a big candy scare about whether our Halloween loot contained razor blades or poison. I remember my parents going through our stash with us at the end of the night to make sure nothing had been tampered with and throwing out suspicious-looking items.
These days there are other reasons to be suspicious. In addition to rising rates of obesity, diabetes and other health problems related to over-eating and high sugar consumption, on the production end, child labor has been well documented on cocoa farms.
How do we know whether our chocolate purchases support labor abuses in the cocoa industry? One way is to use Fair Trade chocolate such as Divine, Equal Exchange and others. In addition, this handy guide from Green America rates various chocolate companies according to child labor issues and explains the labels we see on products in the United States.
I've always preferred treats over tricks. Chocolate made with child labor is not a treat to me - it's a trick. Using Fair Trade ensures that treats really are treats - not only for God's children in the US but for God's children in cocoa-producing countries around the world.
The Presbyterian Hunger Program recommends the following November 10-19 delegation for Presbyterians interested in Haiti and in recovering its agricultural sector. Two of the host organizations, Agricultural Missions and FONDAMA (Haitian Hand to Hand Foundation), are partners of PHP, and the outcomes of this trip will help shape a new and growing US network of Presbyterians advocating for and helping Haiti.
They’re funding it in an innovative way – though pledges from ordinary folks like you and me, on a website called Pledge Music. It's the beauty of joining our voices and working together: $10, $15, $20 or whatever you can afford goes an even longer way when combined with hundreds of others.
For a minimum $10 pledge you'll not only be part of this special project, you'll recieve the album download once it's recorded. The music can be used in congregations, retreats, youth group and other gatherings. In fact, the flow of the album will follow the order of Presbyterian worship - gathering, proclaiming, responding and sending.
For more than $10, there are many pledge levels available:
- get a signed CD or promo Sweat-Free T-shirt (or both)
- support the project's use of greener packaging
- get Skyped into a recording session (or go to the studio!)
- and more.
Bryan and friends practice what they preach - they pledge too! They're tithing 10% of pledges and 20% of the album's proceeds to support the work of the Presbyterian Hunger Program.
This year's theme for World Fair Trade Day, May 8, is Fair Trade Your Home. The celebration lasts longer than just one day; it goes on several weeks!
A number of congregations will be lifting up the benefits of Fair Trade through prayer, worship, Sunday school classes, product sales and more. If your congregation has not already planned a way to celebrate, prayer is a perfect way to lift up the lives of millions of farmers and artisans all over the world. Consider using or adapting this prayer at church and at home:
Holy God, you create the world and call it good. On this World Fair Trade Day we turn our hearts to the millions of people around the world who make their living as creators - weavers and wood carvers, painters and potters, farmers and factory workers, harvesters and handcrafters. Inspire us to create a Fair Trade world, so that none go hungry or lack opportunity to develop their full potential. Forgive us the ways we consume thoughtlessly and forget you as Creator of All.
Grant us the will each day to choose wisely the products we consume, keeping your precious people and planet in mind with each decision we make. In the name of Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.
This year during Lent, I am not consuming any meat, except for fish. My reasons are simple - power and money. Power - my purchasing power is huge, and I do not want to support the current U.S. meat industry because many of its practices are unjust and contribute to the unequal distribution of wealth (and health) in the country. Money - although I believe that there are ways to support good, sustainable, healthful meat producers, I cannot afford to buy organic, humanly raised meat while serving as a PC(USA) Young Adult Volunteer.