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Minute for Mission: A Social Creed for the 21st Century


Labor Day

September 5, 2022

“That all may have life … and have it abundantly.” – John 10:10

Of all the economic indicators this year, it seems that the “labor numbers” are pretty good. Even though prices have been rising, unemployment is at an almost record low. People are working again, but interestingly a labor shortage persists. Jobs are still available everywhere. “Help wanted” signs are hanging in merchant windows. Employers continue to offer better wages and benefits and flexible work hours, all with the hope of attracting workers to fill needed jobs. The labor numbers may be good, but labor is still a problem.

Labor problems aren’t new to the U.S. or to the world.  In the late 1880s, at the height of the Industrial Revolution, the average American worked 12-hour days, seven days a week just to get by. Children as young as 5 or 6 years old worked in mills, factories and mines earning a fraction of adult wages. Many workers faced unsafe working conditions and unfair labor practices. In 1908, in response to these labor challenges, U.S. churches adopted a short, pithy “Social Creed” that called for fair employment practices, safe working conditions, rights to organize and an end to poverty. 

One hundred years later, in 2008, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) joined the National Council of Churches in adopting an updated social creed for the globalized age of the 21st century. The Social Creed for the 21st Century states: “In our era of globalization we offer a vision of a society that shares more and consumes less … seeks compassion over suspicion and equality over domination … and finds security in joined hands rather than in massed arms.”

The creed makes for great reading. It is brief and beautifully written and, in an era of division and discord, it speaks in a non-doctrinal fashion to many matters of social justice upon which we can all agree. It calls us as individuals, congregations and denominations to seek the common good by working for a fairer society and a healthier world, to treat all people equally and to care most deeply for the weakest among us. I encourage you to make the reading of the creed a part of your Labor Day “practice.” You’ll be glad you did.

Carl Horton serves as coordinator of the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program and interim coordinator for the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy in the Compassion, Peace & Justice ministry area of the Presbyterian Mission Agency in Louisville.

Today’s Focus: A Social Creed for the 21st Century

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Simon Doong, Mission Associate II, Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Jhanderys Dotel-Vellenga and Ian Vellenga, Mission co-workers serving in Nicaragua, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Let us pray

O God, on this Labor Day, help us remember the work that Jesus did and the ways that we can be the “help needed” to ensure that your world is a just, fair, inclusive and equitable one for all people. Amen.

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