Oct. 2: Benediction at the Service of Solidarity in Brentwood

Pictured: Rev. Gail Kinney, Worker Justice minister of Meriden Congregational Church UCC, and Rev. Tara Olsen Allen of Pilgrim United Church of Christ in Brentwood, open a Service of Solidarity with prayer at Rockingham County Nursing Home on Wednesday, October 3.

On Wednesday, October 3, faith and labor leaders held a Service of Solidarity before the next day’s unionizing vote for the workers at Rockingham County Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. The service included prayer, singing, testimony from the workers and words from labor leaders. The NH Council of Churches executive director, Rev. Jason Wells, gave a concluding prayer. Here is a copy of his words:

I recently heard Dr. Joerg Rieger of Vanderbilt Divinity School say that we is studying churches and unions. The person he said this to quipped, “Oh, so you study dying institutions.”

Friends, there is some kind of revival going on in New Hampshire. I am excited to see the opening of a new church in Franklin and this organization of a new chapter of the SEIU. When everyone else said we were dying, we proved them wrong by doing what they said was not possible. That’s a revival, showing signs of life when others said that we were passed.

As a person of faith, I’m moved to prayer when I see impossible things happen. So, I’ll turn us to the writings of our diverse faiths and ask you all to respond, “Revive us with this word.”

In the Torah, we read, “Do not take advantage of a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether that worker is a fellow Israelite or a foreigner residing in one of your towns. Pay them their wages each day before sunset, because they are poor and are counting on it. Otherwise they may cry to the Lord against you, and you will be guilty of sin” (Deuteronomy 24:15-16).

Revive us with this word. (from Psalm 119:25)

In the New Testament we read, ““When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’” (Matthew 20:8).

Revive us with this word.

In the Hadith, the Prophet Muhammad said, “Pay the laborer before the sweat on his brow dries.”

Revive us with this word.

In the Bhagavad Gita, we read, “Strive constantly to serve the welfare of the world; by devotion to selfless work one attains the supreme goal of life. Do your work with the welfare of others always in mind. It was by such work that Janaka attained perfection; others too have followed this path. What the outstanding person does, others will try to do. The standards such people create will be followed by the whole world.”

Revive us with this word.

Good and gracious God, you revive us when we see happen what others said could not happen. Some said that unions were dying, but our presence here is testimony: this is not so. Some said that we should just accept the way things are, but our presence here is testimony: we will change the things we cannot accept. Bless the solidarity we feel right now, bless the work already done, bless the work and the results yet to come as you make us confident of those who will follow us in the path we walk this day. God, revive us again! Amen, amen.