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Volume VII  Issue 19                    

20 November 2012




The groceries have been purchased. The turkey is thawing (I learned the hard way last year). And the Thanksgiving music mix has been selected. Simply said: I love Thanksgiving.  Not because of parades and football games and overeating, but because Thanksgiving is an opportunity to be with friends and family and to share our hopes and dreams together.


Hoping and dreaming are core to the human experience. Yet, there are factors in this world that often stand in the way of hoping and dreaming: war, poverty, racism, environmental degradation.  


As those of us in the United States gather around tables and give thanks this week, let our prayers be not only for the food on our plates and the friends around the table, but also that we might be instruments of peace and justice. This Thanksgiving may we seek the grace to work for those things which we hold in prayer. 


Grace and peace,     

Interim Executive Director,
Methodist Federation for Social Action

National CalltoActionAlternativeViolence in Gaza

A Palestinian family rests on the rubble of their home in Gaza. Photo from Time.
As many of us have watched the news of the violence between Hamas and Israeli military forces in the Gaza Strip, many have asked the question - what can I, personally, do?

Step 1: Educate yourself and others. Jewish Voice for Peace provides an easy to understand FAQ about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. The Huffington Post provides more specific insight into the situation in Gaza. Militarism, poverty, hunger, human rights violations - they're all connected. It is important to share this information with others, as mainstream media seems to have forgotten to report a Palestinian perspective.

Step Two: Put your money where your values are. This holiday season, think twice before making your purchases. SodaStream is an in-home soda making device that has gained popularity in recent years. It is labelled "Made in Israel," but in reality it is made on Palestinian lands occupied by Israeli settlers in violation of international law. Check out these resources for how you can make a difference.

While you're at it, consider your investments in corporations who profit from the occupation of Palestine and violence in Gaza, specifically Motorola and Caterpillar. In December, MFSA staff will be present at the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits' meeting to encourage The United Methodist Church to provide clergy and lay professionals an option of a retirement fund that is divested from corporations who profit from violence and occupation.

Step Three: Call the White House. Phone calls make a bigger impression than anything, so call The White House at 202-456-1111 and say "I want President Obama to exert diplomatic pressure on Israel to bring about an immediate cease-fire and end the oppression of Palestinian people." It's much easier than it sounds.

Step Four: Pray for Peace. Actually, this should be step one, but you can do it over and over again. If you need some words to help you in your praying, here's a prayer with which to start:


God of our Ancestors,


We are stuck lobbing harsh words from our safety to the land that cries out for peace.   


Even the words of our prayers are carefully measured and coated with the residue of war.


We respond quicker to the sound of the bomb warning than to the bells and voices calling us to prayer.  We confess peace appears impossible. We do not believe our prayers can change nations. Forgive our warring ways.


Create in us a clean heart. Rescue us from this cruel sword.

Reform our speech. Refine our minds. Repeat in us the possibility of peace.


Convict us of the value of each life, every life. Instead of defenders of our side, make us defenders of your peace. Change us and change this dreadful situation. Bow your heavens, O Lord and come down quickly.


Our rock and our fortress. Our shield and our stronghold. Our Lord and Our God.



Climate Change is a Moral Issue

As clean-up continues in New York and New Jersey from the damages of Hurricane Sandy, scientists and activists alike are reminding us that the storm's intensity (and other storms) are due in part to the environmental factors which affect climate change. 

Father Paul Mayer, a member of the Interfaith Moral Action on Climate (of which MFSA is a participant), highlights why climate change is a moral issue: "Sandy is dramatic reminder of the words of Jesus, 'Whatever you did not do for the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did not do it to me'" (Matthew 25). 
Low Prices, High Costs
The day after Thanksgiving has been called "Black Friday," because it drives retail purchases for holiday gift-giving. This year, many big box retailers, are opening their doors on Thanksgiving day to offer door-buster deals to customers. On the surface it seems like a win-win situation for both customers and retailers.

But there are losers in this scenario: Workers. 

Not only are employees not given the ability to spend time with their families on a holiday, they are thanked through low wages, poor working conditions, and lack of benefits.

At Walmart workers have been speaking out for good jobs with decent pay, regular hours, affordable healthcare and respect, but instead of working with them to make changes, Walmart has attempted to silence and retaliate against them for speaking out. Their jobs have been threatened, their hours cut, their schedules changed.  Some of them have even been fired. They will not be silenced.  Throughout the holiday season, including Black Friday, they will be standing up for an end to the retaliation against workers who speak out for what's right for their families, their communities and their country, and they hope that you will stand with them. Learn how you can stand in solidarity with Walmart workers with Making Change at Walmart, a project of the United Food & Commercial Workers. 


Walmart Workers prepare to strike on Black Friday. Photo from OurWalmart
Walmart is not alone in their Black Friday sales approach. They are, however, America's largest retailer and violator of worker's rights. Stand with workers! Refuse to shop for Black Friday specials! Boycott Walmart until the company agrees to follow their own policies and pay fair wages and benefits!
ProgressivePonderingsMark Your Calendars!

Tuesday, January 15 - Interfaith Moral Action on Climate Change - Pray-In at The White House


Saturday, January 20 - An MFSA Open House During Inauguration Weekend


More information to come!! 

ProgressivePonderingsProgressive Ponderings
FacebookSocial Media Corner

You've heard of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Let us introduce you to Giving Tuesday.

Here's how it works:
1) Donate to MFSA online. We're suggesting something simple: $19.07 to honor the year of our founding (or more if you'd like).

2) Tweet the following: I just gave $19.07 to @MFSAVoices on #GivingTuesday. Support #peace & #justice!

3) Post the following on Facebook: I just gave $19.07 to the Methodist Federation for Social Action on Giving Tuesday! Support peace and justice and help out this great organization!

4) Make a quick poster that says "I give for peace, justice, and equality in the Church and world. #Giving Tuesday" and email to us (and feel free to post on Twitter and Facebook, too). We'll collect the photos and post them on our blog following this great day of giving!
Methodist Federation for Social Action
212 East Capitol Street, NE
Washington, DC 20003