The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Seminarians fight for worker justice

Three ELCA seminarians did something other than learn Greek during the summer. They, along with 27 others, fought for workplace justice.

Seminary Summer is a 2-year-old project co-sponsored by the National Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice and the AFL-CIO. The 10-week program gives seminarians and other leaders the opportunity to witness workers' struggles and discover how unions can achieve social justice.

Joy Heine, a student at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, worked with a Chicago labor union, organizing clergy and workers and talking to customers. "It's difficult when people ... say they really don't care about the workers' conditions and they need to think about their business or company," she said. "It's a bit frightening to be face-to-face with a business owner who's hostile and doesn't care about the human lives affected by the low pay and no benefits."

Students also explore how their faith connects with worker justice. "The theology of grace challenges us to be the ones to lift out our hands and help people up," said Sara Quigley, a student at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn.

Jonathan Hopkins, a student at The Lutheran Seminary at Philadelphia, said, "If we don't stand up and say people in their vocations need to be paid enough to live, we're not doing what we, as Lutherans, say we should be doing."


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February issue


Embracing diversity