UU Readings and Hymns for a Living Wage
The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Singing the Living Tradition Hymnal and Singing the Journey Supplement have many hymns and readings on Martin Luther King, Jr. and racial and economic justice. For example, hymn #149, "Lift Every Voice and Sing," is a very appropriate and moving hymn for a Living Wage Worship Service on MLK Weekend. Look in the Topical Indices of Readings and Hymns under Martin Luther King, Jr., beloved community, equity, labor, justice and more. Available online at inSpirit: The UU Book and Gift Shop.
Stone of Hope
Dr. King never lost hope. And we need to sustain our hope as well, to create our own "stone of hope." I recall hearing those words, "stone of hope," from Dr. King as I sat in a crowded room at the UUA's General Assembly in Hollywood, Florida, in June of 1966, listening to him deliver the Ware Lecture. Dr. King decried militarism, economic injustice and the scourge of racism. He invoked the words of Jefferson and Lincoln, a call for Americans to live up to the ideals that this country was based upon. And he called for Unitarian Universalists to be part of this struggle, reminding us that "when the church is true to its nature, it stands as a moral guardian of the community and of society."
Today I call upon Unitarian Universalists to honor Dr. King's memory by renewing our commitment to peace and justice. I believe there will be backlash every time the circle of equality is widened, but I hew my stone of hope with these words: "The arc of the universe is long," said Dr. King, quoting 19th century Unitarian abolitionist Theodore Parker, "but it bends toward justice."
—From "Martin Luther King, Jr.: Remembrance, Reflection and Renewal." Pastoral Message from the Rev. William G. Sinkford, President, Unitarian Universalist Association.
A Just Society
Working for a just society is central to the Unitarian Universalist faith—a faith based in the creation of justice and peace here on earth and among our common world community. The Unitarian Universalist Association seeks an economically just society in which government and private institutions promote the common economic good and are held accountable; all people have equal opportunity to care for themselves and their families; and individuals take responsibility for the effects of their actions on their own and others' lives.
—Summary of UUA Resolutions and Social Justice Statements on Economic Justice, UUA Washington Office for Advocacy
A Religious and Ethical Issue
So is the living wage an important enough issue to engage the congregation in years of educating and dialogue? Is the living wage too specific an issue? What I believe wholeheartedly is that poverty in the United States is a religious and ethical issue, which threatens the very essence of the way we live. Poverty shatters the worth and dignity of our people.
—From the 2000 UUA General Assembly Award Winning Social Justice Sermon: Skinner Sermon Presentation "Why No Living Wage?" (PDF, 7 pages) by Ginger Luke, Director of Religious Education, River Road Unitarian Church.
The Task of the Religious Community
The central task of the religious community is to unveil the bonds that bind each to all. There is a connectedness, a relationship discovered amid the particulars of our own lives and the lives of others. Once felt, it inspires us to act for justice.
It is the church that assures us that we are not struggling for justice on our own, but as members of a larger community. The religious community is essential, for alone our vision is too narrow to see all that must be seen and our strength too limited to do all that must be done. Together, our vision widens and our strength is renewed.
—Mark Morrison-Reed, Singing the Living Tradition #580