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Friday, May 29, 2015

Action Alert: Tell Congress to Advocate for Palestinian Children

Prayers to End Hunger: May 29 - June 12

Bread for the World

Prayers to End Hunger: May 29 — June 12


Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World
In Luke 15, Jesus tells the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Can we treat people leaving prison (often called "returning citizens") the way the father treats his returned son in that parable? When men and women pay their debt to society and acknowledge their crime, Christians should be the first ones to accept them back into society. Yet many returning citizens encounter barriers to a second chance, which often push them into hunger and poverty.

We, the people of God, believe in a resurrected Christ who offers us second chances (and third, and fourth ...). Let's be the loudest voice calling for a second chance for returning citizens.

Join us as we pray for:

1. People facing long sentences for nonviolent crimes due to mandatory minimum sentences and other unjust sentencing policies. Also pray that they would be re-united with their families soon.

2. Children whose parents are incarcerated, that they would receive the love and care they need to develop fully.

3. Congressional leaders, particularly Sen. Chuck Grassley, that they would revise mandatory minimum sentencing laws that hurt families and foster hunger.

If you appreciated this prayer digest, please take a minute and share it with your friends using the button below.

"Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing." (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

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Team Sweaty Sheep Newsletter

Say a quick prayer-
Look around... be present, be peaceful, be thankful...
& Enjoy a 3 minute break  
Thank you April Showers...
Because we love spring Flowers!
Tuesdays: runPossible @ St. Vincent (6:15pm)
THURS: runPossible Yoga at 11am  1029 S Preston st
May 31st- 6pm Cherokee Park Church & Playday! 6pm @ Hogan's Fountain (Thats THIS SUNDAY you all!!)
Sundays 10am: Worship @ "The Avenue" in Cardinal towne [between 3-4th streets on Cardinal Blvd
June 20th: Chocolate run with runPossible
July 1: Cookout with "Bike and build" x-country cycling mission
July 2nd: Habitat project with Bike and Build
July 10-13th: Lake Michigan camping trip

Fall Trip!!! Sept 20-26th we will be pedaling 430 miles of coastal cliffs, Napa Valley Vineyards and towering Redwoods as we raise funds and awareness around the lack of holistic nutritional offerings for partnering pantries and shelters. Click me for details! us ( if any of that sounds fun!!

      The transition from one season to the next is always energizing... and even more so when summer is next on the list! Summer is a season of sandlot baseball and swimming pool splashing, scented by the smoke of bbq's and accompanied by a soundtrack of laughter. Yes, our springing into summer is indeed life-giving. 
Life-giving huh...
     "Living" is pretty rooted in "breathing." And whether approached from a Christian, Hindu, or Muslim perspective, breathing life into our existence means a bit more than filling our lungs with air.
The sanskrit word, "Prana," speaks of breath, but Yogi's know "prana" not simply to be air, but the key nutrient or "life force" of our spiritual bodies. Chinese culture uses the word "chi" (a word for air that actually translates to "spiritual energy") and in Christianity the word for wind, "Ruah," is directly translated as, "breath of God."
     What it comes down to is this: Fulfillment in this life is not simply found in our breathing air, but in embracing and making the most of our every breath. The Latin word for breath, "spirare," may help out here. "Spirare" is the root of the english word, "aspiration." Now summertime can be a beautiful time (as a child it symbolized a long hours of cartoons on the couch with no homework or responsibilities;) however, no matter how much you like cartoons, living a life void any purpose deeper than play depletes our energy instead of energizes our spirit.
     If we truly seek to "breath life" into our existence, we need to "aspire" to use that "vital nutrient," the "breath of God," to fuel our pursuit of greater things. Our "aspirations" in this life are what give us purpose and passion. Our consistent quest to grow in spirit and mind, paired with a persistent striving to make an impact the world which we live, is what transforms mere breath into life.
     We all need times of R&R... times of which to recharge, kickback, and embrace the full summertime spirit, but we also need to recognize that, while momentary joy may be found in mindless inhalation, fulfillment is found in our deliberate aspiration... those times of which we use our breath to pursue our deeper passions and embrace our God-given callings.
     So take a moment to stop what you are doing. Breath in the summertime and fill your lungs with air and your thoughts with the playful and joyful anticipation of a season of recreation and relaxation.
Then take a second breath. This time breath in something deeper than simple air into your lungs, inhale the breath of God into your soul. Be grateful for the life-giving nutrient; the "prana," the "Chi," and the "Ruah" that fuel the pursuit of your deepest aspirations. We are going to face some hard seasons and some sweet seasons because life isn't always defined by summertime bliss and the air is not always going to be sweetened with the scents of spring flowers. Maybe thats why it was Job who, after a season of tragedy and trial, spoke the words, "the Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life." Let this summer be a life-giving season and one which your aspirations overshadow your inspirations, because God gave YOU breath for a reason.

We hope to see you soon... LIKE THIS SUNDAY AT 6pm, Hogan's Fountain in Cherokee Park, for a fun and festive worship!  Keep up to date with the Flock on Facebook (simply "like" "Sweaty Sheep,") and Happy Summertime Sheep!!!

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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Action Alert: Raise the Wage!

Action Alert: Raise the Wage!

“Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness, and his upper rooms by injustice; who makes his neighbors work for nothing, and does not give them their wages …” (Jer. 22:13)
While the value of the minimum wage in 1968 is equivalent to $10.79 in 2015 dollars[1], the current federal minimum wage remains at $7.25, last increased by Congress in 2007 with the final increase taking effect in 2009. Contrary to popular rhetoric that this wage primarily impacts teenagers, eighty-eight percent of minimum-wage workers are over twenty years old; fifty-six percent of them are women.[2]
Two weeks ago, Senator Patty Murray (WA) and Congressman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA) introduced the Raise the Wage Act (S.1150/H.R. 2150) to address this issue.
This legislation, if enacted, would
• Raise the federal minimum wage to $12 by 2020, starting with an increase to $8.00 an hour in 2016
• Gradually eliminate the tipped-industry loophole, which has allowed employers of tipped workers to pay a subminimum wage of only $2.13 per hour to tipped staff since 1991; and
• Index the minimum wage to median income, so as to maintain its value to low-wage workers and provide stability and predictability for employers.
Why the Minimum Wage is Important
One of the most notable parts of this legislation is its elimination of the tipped wage, which has created a sub-class of minimum wage workers. Tipped workers are more than two times as likely as other workers to experience poverty.[3] In no other industry are wages determined by customer satisfaction or mood.[4] Furthermore, there is no enforcement mechanism to ensure employers close the gap for employees whose tips do not reach the $7.25/hour threshold (the Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers to make up the difference between their workers’ after-tip income and $7.25 per hour). [5] Seven states have already leveled the playing field for tipped workers. [6]
This Raise the Wage Act would impact 38 million workers, particularly benefiting women and people of color who disproportionately live in poverty. Thirty-two percent of women in the workforce would see their paychecks increase; thirty-seven percent of African American workers and forty percent of Hispanic workers would see a rise in their paychecks. Twenty-four percent of all U.S. children (18.7 million) have a parent who would get a raise.[7]
Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have already raised their minimum wage higher than the federal minimum wage, recognizing the inadequacy of the federal minimum wage. Moreover, twenty cities have also risen to the challenge to raise the wage.[8]
The time is now. Call on your Congressional members to act to #RaisetheWage.
Higher Minimum wage is Key to Ending Poverty
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) supports social safety net programs and tax credits that help to lift people out of poverty, but it has spoken out about the necessity of a living wage as a foundation for a healthy economy and society.
The 183rd General Assembly (1977) “….Reaffirm[ed] the actions of previous General Assemblies supporting the right of every employable person to a job, decent and safe working conditions, and a salary adequate to meet at least his or her basic needs.” 
In 2006, the 217th General Assembly called for an increase in the federal minimum wage, saying that our society should have the “the goal of a wage level sufficient to lift full-time workers out of poverty.”[9]
Even though $12 per hour is not a living wage for many workers, this legislation is a step in the right direction. Congress will no longer have to act to raise the wage. Instead, the minimum wage will increase yearly according to the “annual percentage increase in the median hourly wage of all employees as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”[10]
Supporting Striking Federal Contract Workers
Currently, federal contract workers in Washington, D.C., earn the federal minimum wage, despite the city’s recent wage increase to $10 per hour, rising to $11.50 per hour in 2016.[11] The Office of Public Witness Director J. Herbert Nelson, has joined with local workers to call on the federal government to set an example for businesses in its respect for workers’ rights and a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work.
In recent years, Nelson has participated in several strikes with federal contract workers who have been organizing for a living wage of $15 an hour, protections against wage theft, reliable work schedules, and the protection of collective bargaining. President Obama has responded with Executive orders raising the wage on new contracts to $10.10 per hour and protecting workers against wage theft. The President still has the opportunity to issue executive orders giving contract preferences to employers to create good jobs and collectively bargain with their workforce.
Nelson spoke at a ‘Good Jobs Nation’ event on April 22, declaring, “But now I say – I want my tax dollars to create good jobs – with livable wages, benefits, paid sick days, safe workplaces, reliable schedules, and the right to bargain collectively for the good of the whole.”
Read his full remarks here


Action Alert: Support Debt Relief for Nepal!

Action Alert: Support Debt Relief for Nepal!

Over the course of three weeks, two major earthquakes struck Nepal, taking over 8,000 lives and injuring countless others. Nepal is one of the most impoverished countries in the world today. Over 30 percent of Nepalese live on less than 14 US dollars per person, per month[1], and recent events have left many more vulnerable to the devastating effects of poverty.
Nepal is desperately in need of a recovery plan that will provide adequate shelter, food, water and healthcare for its citizens. Each day, however, the Nepalese government is responsible for paying nearly $600,000 in debt payments. More than ever, Nepal needs the ability to free up  funds for the rebuilding and restoration of communities across the country. Sign a petition and tell the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to cancel Nepal's debt.

In partnership with Jubilee (USA) and other faith-based organizations, the Office of Public Witness is calling on the IMF to use resources from Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust to cancel debt Nepal owes over the next two years. Additionally,  we are calling on the World Bank to cancel Nepal's debt. Together, we can be advocates our neighbors around the world who need a assistance.  

The 208th Presbyterian General Assembly adopted the following principle around debt relief:

The repayment of debts and interest at the expense of the basics of life raises serious questions of justice. The burden of debts must be shared equitably in ways that reduce poverty, protect the environment, and avoid perverse incentives in the future (Minutes, 1996, p. 539). 
The Assembly went on to specify policy options:
  • The terms of debt relief need to be examined through an ethical lens to determine legitimate and illegitimate conditions, and to provide international protection against political and economic exploitations of indebtedness by creditor nations and financial institutions.
  •  ...Debt service should be limited to a reasonable percentage of national budgets or national production...In some cases, payments should be reduced and rescheduled over a longer time span, depending on the consequences for the poor and the economic potential of the nation...
  • In other cases, lenders should give debt relief in whole or in part – particularly for the poorest countries...Debt cancellation can be accompanied by conditions that clearly promote human development: reduction of military expenditures, enhanced expenditures for basic human needs, reduction of income disparities, respect for human rights, an equitable system of taxation, and sustainable environmental practices (Minutes, 1996, p. 540).
Our faith calls us to care for those in need - and our Nepalese brothers and sisters are worthy of this charge. Act today, and urge the World Bank and IMF to cancel Nepal's debt.

For more information on how you can further support Nepal, visit the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance webpage here


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ACTION ALERT: "We need Milk with Dignity!"

Helping in a disaster - Presbyterian Peace and Justice Close Up