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  • Hawai‘i Conference

People of Faith Sign Wave for a Living Wage

Members from several Hawai‘i Conference United Church of Christ churches and the wider community waved signs for a living wage in front of Nu‘uanu Congregational Church along Pali Highway with Raise Up Hawai‘i (a local campaign organized by Christy MacPherson who is a member of Church of the Crossroads in Honolulu). In 2019, the ‘Aha Pae‘āina passed a resolution to support a living wage.

This living wage resolution is based on the belief that every person or family should be able to be financially self-sufficient and to modestly participate in the fullness of life that God envisions for all people.

Rev. Jeannie Thompson of Nu‘uanu Congregational Church shared in her sermon the Sunday prior:

"We can also do this by advocating for laws and regulations within our community that have helped others care better for themselves and their families.

In fact, there is one such activity that will be happening in our neighborhood this coming week. The community advocacy group known as the Appleseed Foundation will be out waving signs on Pali Highway this Thursday in support of a mandate for a living wage here in Hawaii—a living wage. I intend on joining them, and I hope some of you will too.

Many of us, when we hear of such things, we groan inwardly and think, “Oh, higher costs for everybody!”

To those of us who think this way and have this reaction, what I would like you to really hear is the term, “living wage,” “living.” This should make us all stop and think about what is being said and being asked. What is being proposed is that people who work get paid according to how much it costs to live in this community.

It has always been difficult to live here in Hawai‘i financially. However, once upon a time, when most of us in this Sanctuary were a lot younger, it was not as hard as it is now. Rents and necessities like food and health care were not as expensive. Times were often hard, but not impossible. Young people left for the mainland in order to secure better paying jobs and lower cost housing, and they still do, but now even they are finding it much more difficult.

Here is why I will be sign-waving with the Appleseed Foundation. To me, a living wage means that fewer people will constantly change jobs in search of better working conditions and compensation. More money in their pockets means that more children will receive the nutrition and parental support they need because their parents will have more money to spend on food and shelter, and are no longer as stressed, or absent because they have to work. Here in Hawaii, it could mean that mom and dad only work two jobs each instead of three.

Finally, a living wage treats people with fairness and dignity. And if more people get to know what it is like to be treated with respect for the work they do, this makes for a whole community of people who are less anxious, who are more confident and at peace, more hopeful because they have lives that are more secure. And if more people in our communities are secure this means all of us are more secure.

In short, a living wage has the potential of making our communities much more secure because many more people will live with the well-being—the joy—the joy of being treated fairly and honestly, they will have more peace of mind because they will be better able to take care of themselves and their families.

Friends, on this Third Sunday of the Advent of our Savior, Jesus Christ, we are offered the gift of having more joy in our own lives by trusting in the God who is drawing near. And we are called upon by this same God, through John the Baptist’s proclamation, to bring more joy into the lives of our neighbors, our families, our neighborhoods, and our communities through acts of justice and compassion.

My prayer for us is that we will accept the invitation and the challenge to draw deeply from the wells of God’s love and faithfulness, that we may all know the joy our Creator means for us to have.

May this be so. Amen." —An excerpt of "How Much is Enough?", a sermon by the Rev. Jeannie Thompson on December 12, 2021.


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