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“Moses said, ‘Show me your glory, I pray.’” Exod. 33:18

Statement in Support of the Fast for Fair Food at Publix Headquarters

The Rev. Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

March 9, 2012

I write on behalf of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to support you and encourage you in your six-day fast.  During the season of Lent, Christians around the world pause to reflect upon the ways that sin has broken our human relationships.  We direct our thoughts inward, to consider our personal responsibility and outward to consider our social responsibility.  Through prayer, fasting and repentance, the Season of Lent is an opportunity for us to learn anew how to love God and our neighbor.

We remember that following Jesus’ fast of forty days in the wilderness, he went to his home town in the rural province of Galilee and reading from the scroll of Isaiah proclaimed to the whole community, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of the sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4: 18-19).  And that “good news” echoes across the millennia. 

For generations, farmworkers have toiled to bring tomatoes to the grocery aisles and to the tables of families across America.  It is profoundly immoral that you who have put food on my table have not been able to feed your own families.  You have endured poverty wages, lack of rights and in extreme instances, modern slavery in the fields.

Yet in the face of what seemed to be impossible and crushing circumstances, you have deployed your knowledge, your courage, your integrity and your belief in the fundamental ability of people to work together for good, into the creation of the Campaign for Fair Food and Fair Food Program.  And we in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) have been privileged to walk beside you, to struggle with you on this “more excellent way” for ten years.  Through this program farmworkers, corporate buyers, and Florida growers are working together, and now this vision of human rights and social responsibility is becoming a reality.

Yet, despite the participation of ten major companies, despite the participation of ninety percent of Florida tomato growers, and despite the successful and ongoing implementation of the Fair Food Program, Publix has, thus far, refused to lend its massive strength to this transformative effort in the food industry.

And so farmworkers and consumers together are making a grave moral appeal – this time with your own bodies; and you do it not only for you, but for us all. 

The leaders of Publix have a decision to make.  Will they sit face to face, and resolve whatever concerns they have together with the CIW or will they turn aside?  Will they be able to see the great transformation that they can help bring about by working together with you?  I pray that they will without delay.

I close with the encouragement of God’s words through the prophet Isaiah.  These words were spoken to the Hebrew people as they returned from exile.  They are a vision of human society, whole and well.  

“For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind….They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit…they shall not labor in vain or bear children for calamity; for they shall be offspring blessed by the Lord and their descendants as well.  Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear.  The wolf and the lamb shall feed together…They shall not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain, says the Lord” (Isaiah 65:17, 21-22a, 23-25).

Be encouraged!  That day is coming!  Your sacrifice is hastening it.  God bless this holy work. 

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