I love to tell the story…
We all have hymns that we love to sing: “Blessed Assurance,” “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” “We’ve Come This Far by Faith,” “All Hail the Power of Jesus Name,” “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” and so many more. I can remember singing them when I was little holding the big red hymnal. Now the songs are etched in my mind such that I can sing them without looking at books or screens. At first, it was because of regular Sunday worship attendance and memorization through repetition. However, having lived and been through some trials, joys, and pains, the words are now etched in my spirit. They remind me that I am not alone. The community of Christ holds these hymns dear and our collective spirits are encouraged by them as we walk the journey of life.
Therefore, the hymn “I Love to Tell the Story” is also a favorite of mine. It is a hymn that honors how essential repeating and passing on the Christian story is to the community. The joy that singing the hymn brings is gives testament to many proverbs about storytelling as a way to educate, involve, and humanize those in our communities. Storytelling is not entertainment. It makes the invisible visible, be it person, place, or thing, system of oppression or system of privilege. It ensures cultures will continue and values be passed on or cut off if need be. “I Love to Tell the Story” engages and helps people know our Christian story. Our United Church of Christ (UCC) Labor in the Pulpit Program engages and helps our members know the stories of workers from right in their communities.
We are working with the AFL-CIO, United Mineworkers of America, and other unions to connect churches with local labor union members from their area for our Labor in the Pulpit program. The labor union members come and speak during worship or a Christian education time about their experiences on the job and worker justice issues affecting them. They tell their stories. The stories of workers. The stories of families in your local communities. This program humanizes workers and helps our church members understand the joys and concerns they face in the workplace. It builds and/or deepens relationships with churches and local labor union councils. This effort is targeted for Sunday, September 4 through Sunday, October 30, 2022.
Stories like those of the Warrior Met coalminers who have been on strike since April 1, 2021, the longest strike in Alabama history. You can hear their stories in worship or even on video, then support them by adding your ministry’s name or your name to a statement of support. You can hear the stories of Immokalee Workers and get updates on the Wendy’s Boycott by hearing from them directly or attending our October webinar to hear workers and members of the Florida conference talk about what support looks like in their area. There are multiple ways to make space to hear workers tell their own stories. Make the space to hear and learn. After learning, act faithfully to create a better world for workers. Tell us your prayers for workers. We will pray them together and use them in our advocacy. Support the PRO Act so that workers have better protections for collective bargaining.
Reverend Sekinah Hamlin is the Minister for Economic Justice for the United Church of Christ.