Area churches and synagogues to focus on labor themes this weekend

September 01, 2001|By John Rivera | John Rivera,SUN STAFF

The congregations of about three dozen Baltimore-area churches and synagogues will hear sermons or speeches centered on issues affecting workers this Labor Day weekend as part of a nationwide campaign led by an interfaith coalition and the AFL-CIO.

The annual Labor in the Pulpits project is a joint effort by the National Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice and the AFL-CIO to remind worshippers of the gains that workers have made in the past and to advocate fair working conditions.

More than 30 pastors and at least two rabbis in the Baltimore area have pledged to preach on labor issues, to include prayers or scriptural readings with a labor theme or to sponsor a talk by a union leader.

In Washington, AFL-CIO president John J. Sweeney is scheduled to preach tomorrow at the 11 a.m. service at Washington National Cathedral.

Labor in the Pulpit was started in Chicago in 1996. Last year, union speakers spoke at more than 800 services in 130 cities in 36 states.

The campaign addresses "why we have Labor Day, to call attention to the fact that the reason we have holidays is because of labor," said Ann B. Mickens, local field representative of the AFL-CIO.

"We ask the churches to incorporate something in their service so workers and their families don't forget those people who struggled to make life better, especially on the job," she said.

The Rev. John H. Davis-El, a city housing enforcement officer and chairman of the Labor & Religion Outreach Committee for the Metropolitan Baltimore AFL-CIO, said labor issues resonate with many churchgoers.

"A lot of congregations have people who work jobs with no benefits, no health care, no days off," said Davis-El, who will preach on "Jesus, the carpenter-laborer who brought salvation" at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial United Methodist Church, on Windsor Mill Road at the Baltimore City-County line.

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