How To Use This Issue (May 2018)

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Volunteers sort and bag produce at Willow Community Food Pantry, located in the Willow United Methodist Church in Willow, Alaska. Photo: Paul Jeffrey

One of our mission study focuses this year is money. Exploring how we relate to money personally, communally and in the context of our faith is beneficial for the work that we do. We’ve excerpted passages from our study book What About Our Money? A Faith Response by Susan Taylor to set the tone for several feature articles on the economic inequality crisis we’re experiencing in our country. Share these articles with your church to start a conversation about income inequality and how the church can respond.

The widening wealth gap in our country has so many people feeling like they can’t get ahead not matter how hard they work. Our Bible study “Overworked and Undervalued” on pages 8 to 11 looks at the forces that have led to the gross income inequality we currently face, and describes the ways in which women, especially low-income and minority women, are affected. Experts say income inequality has not been this high since the Great Depression, and its consequences can hamper long-term economic growth, drive up personal debt, increase crime, diminish our sense of democracy and literally make us sick. Have a group discussion about how today’s economic crisis is different from past ones our nation has experienced. What practices or resources do you think helped people get through previous lean times?

Our country’s minimum wage designates the lowest wage that an employer can legally pay workers. A living wage, however, means that workers are paid adequately to cover basic living costs like rent, child care and transportation in the areas where they live. Writer Crys Zinkiewicz makes the case for a living wage in “Enough to Thrive” on pages 14-15. Income inequality doesn’t just secure a privileged and secure lifestyle for the wealthy, she says, it also allows them to call the shots when it comes policies and “manipulate the system to their advantage, which further exacerbates inequality.” Want to learn what the living wage versus the minimum wage is where you live? Check out the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Living Wage Calculator (livingwage.mit.edu), a virtual spreadsheet that lists the amount of money individuals and families would need to make ends meet in every U.S. community.

Damage caused by natural disasters can pose a major setback for people who are financially secure, but for those who struggle to make ends meet it can be absolutely devastating. “Helping Survivors of Hurricane Harvey” by Jim West, on pages 19
to 22, tells how United Methodist Women-supported centers in the region were places where locals could turn for help during the storm and after.

Our contributions to the aforementioned centers and others go a long way in helping individuals and families thrive. But Joerg Rieger and Rosemarie Henkel-Rieger, authors of “This Changes Everything” on pages 38 to 40, say that we must also engage in “deep solidarity” by recognizing that we have a lot in common with those we help. Learn more about deep solidarity in the work of economic justice by reading Unified We Are a Force by Joerg Reiger and Rosemarie Henkel-Reiger and No Rising Tide: Theology, Economics, and the Future by Joerg Reiger. And continue your deep solidarity into the future by donating to the Legacy Fund.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of our members. Let’s use the day to honor all the women who have mothered us during our lives.

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