"Old Steeple" Commentary Series
About the Series:
A series of updates on social and economic issues prepared by Hank Boerner for
Old Steeple Community Church, a United Church of Christ congregation in Aquebogue, Long Island, New York.
Pastor: Ledyard Baxter. Old Steeple was founded in 1750, and today, serves a semi-suburban and farming
community in eastern Riverhead Township.
Author: Hank Boerner:
(Click title or cover for PDF of full Article.
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The Wal-Mart Dilemma - Even as Chain's Popularity Rises With Shoppers, Social Justice Critics
Grow More Angry, Including America's Churches
(November 2005, Number 1 in Series Two)
Lead Paragraph:The well-known Wal-Mart Company has grown from humble beginnings as a
network of deep discount stores in southern towns to its position today as America's largest retailer, and "the #1 company for
many investors. Worth noting, for many years, one of the fundamental objectives of Wal-Mart's business was to sell goods manufactured
in the Unites States of America. "Made in America" is the title of the autobiography of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton.
Children at Risk: Child Laborers May Be Weaving The Oriental Carpet You Plan to Buy at a Local Retailer
(Sunday, December 26, 2004, #11 in a series)
Lead Paragraph:Recently, United Church of Christ clergy and lay leaders recieved an
"Action Alert" from the UCC Justice and Peace Action Network calling for an end to the use of child labor in the production
of hand-knotted, hand-woven and hand-loomed "Oriental" carpets sold at retail in the United States. Child labor is most
prevalent in carpet production in India, Nepal and Pakistan, says the UCC's network, which is based in Cleveland with Washington
DC offices. Your attention is directed to Federated Department Stores, the largest retailing company which is being requested
by a coalition of faith-based investors (including UCC) to sell only carpets with the RUGMARK label certifying that the carpet
is made without child labor.
Not Child's Play: Making Violent Video Games Available to Minors at Retail
(Sunday, December 12, 2004, #10 in a series)
Lead Paragraph:Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) is a
powerful coalition of almost 300 organizations representing $110 billion in combined pension and endowment
assets; ICCR and its member organizations focus on important societal issues and exert influence at the
corporate ballot box (and in other creative ways). ICCR notes that it is "passionate about peace and global
harmony," and frequently challenges large companies on issues such as militarization of space, weapon sales
and nuclear proliferation. (United Church of Christ is an active member.) Today, ICCR is focused on a violence
issue that is very close to home - in fact, in our homes - that is affecting America's young in very negative
ways: Gratuitous violence in many of the popular video games that our younger children play on a regular
At Thanksgiving Time: American Philanthropy and Generosity
(Sunday, November 28, 2004, #9 in a series)
Lead Paragraph:As we consider all that we have to be thankful for at this
traditional time of Thanksgiving, it is encouraging to know that as a People, Americans continue to contribute
and share their wealth, no matter if that is counted in the hundreds or millions or billions of dollars, to
help those in need. Americans are the most generous "givers" as a People. They give as individuals and
families, through their volunteer and service organizations, their churches and denominations, businesses and
corporations, trusts, foundations, endowments, and in other various and ingenious ways.
Profile: Island Harvest - Serving Long Islanders in Need
(Sunday, November 14, 2004, #8 in a series)
Lead Paragraph:Demonstrating that through volunteer action, individual contributions, and with
generous corporate support and cooperation, we can help change the face of hunger on Long Island. Fourteen years
ago Island Harvest was founded, responding to the growing need for good, nutritious (and fresh) food by Long
Islanders in need -- and since that time more than 25 tons of food has been distributed to food pantries, soup
kitchens and a wide range of other agencies here in Nassau and Suffolk counties. The organization's work is
never done: In 2002, 2.5 million tons of food was distributed; this grew to 4 million tons in 2003 and
distribution will top 5 million tons this year (2004). Island Harvest's partnerships with local social
agencies, churches and other institutions are at the heart of the success of this region-wide program.
Electronic Industry Adopts Voluntary Code of Conduct For Supply Chain Operations, Social and Environmental Responsibility
(Sunday, October 24, 2004, #7 in a series)
Lead Paragraph:Leading companies in the nation's electronic industry have just created an
Industry Code of Conduct for Supply Chain Operations and Social and Environmental Responsibility. This week, an industry-wide
Code of Conduct was unveiled by the global leaders in electronics manufacture and services - by Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Dell Computers,
Solectron, Sanminia SCI, Jabil, Celestica, and Flextronics. Other companies are being encouraged to sign on to the Code, which covers
a wide range of economic and social justice issues - worldwide. The purpose of the industry code is to ensure that working conditions
in the industry's global supply chain are safe, that all workers are treated with dignity and respect, and that primary and subcontractor's
manufacturing processes are environmentally responsible.
Recent News - Corporate Citizenship in Action
(Sunday, October 17, 2004, #6 in a series)
Lead Paragraph:Corporate Responsibility and Hurricanes: As the recent
hurricanes - Charley, Francis, Ivan, Jeanne -- cut their deadly paths through Florida and southern
coastal states, large companies rushed in to provide relief for local residents and small businesses.
Lowe's Companies, for example, stocked up on vital building materials and safety supplies in key storm-
threatened areas before the storm - boosting immediately available supplies of plywood, batteries,
electric generators, cleaning supplies, etc. Lowe's operates a national disaster "command center,"
providing telephone advice and information to consumers in both English and Spanish. All Gulf and
Atlantic coast stores also serve as official cash donation centers for the American Red Cross Disaster
Relief Fund; Lowe's matches $1-for-$1 donations up to $1 million.
Advancing Social and Economic Justice - Universities and Colleges Do Their Part
(Sunday, August 1, 2004, #5 in a series)
Lead Paragraph:"Stitched Up: The Human Cost of Cheap Clothing" is a
report issued July 27 by the Workers Rights Consortium (WRC), a non-profit membership organization that
monitors the manufacturing of apparel and other branded merchandise (sold in member university shops).
WRC is focused on foreign "sweatshops," and working conditions that violate its Model Codes of Conduct.
WRC investigates allegations of abuse, and rates manufacturers and retailers on their practices.
(Copy of WRC report is available on line.) The Consortium is comprised of college and university
administrators, students and labor rights experts who enforce WRC's Model Codes of Conduct
(as adopted by the schools) among licensees, especially companies in less developed nations.
"Sustainability" - "Sustainable Development" - "The Triple Bottom Line"
-- New watchwords for corporations and their investors...and us as "stakeholders"
(Sunday, July 18, 2004, #4 in a Series)
Lead Paragraph:All US corporations whose shares ("stock") are owned
by the public are required to issue Annual Reports, reporting in detail on company finances and
containing management's "discussion and analysis" of the business. These reports are distributed
shortly after the close of the company's fiscal year. (The formal term is Form 10-K; most companies
go beyond the dry financial and legal language and charts required to provide glossy, brochure-type
reports for their shareholders, which could include their customers, pension funds, faith-based
investors, public officials, etc.)
Wal-Mart and its Female Employees Now Face-off in a Court of Law
(Sunday, July 4, 2004, #3 in a Series)
Lead Paragraph:This week a class action lawsuit brought against the
retailer Wal-Mart by six current and former employees was certified as a class action. Under a ruling
by a federal judge in California, as many as 1.6 million current and former employees - all hired after
December 1998 - may eventually be included in the case. Plaintiffs charge that the nation's largest
retailer systematically discriminated against female employees. Wal-Mart has annual sales of $250
billion+, earned $8 billion in profits last year, operates 3,566 stores and has 1.2 million (current)
employees - two-thirds of them women.
Coffee...Everyday Beverage... Becoming Symbol of Economic Justice...or Injustice
(Sunday, June 27, 2004, #2 in a Series)
Lead Paragraph:We are a nation of coffee drinkers; often, the most
relaxing or enjoyable of our get-togethers are "over a cup of coffee" - think of our church coffee hour
following morning worship service, or coffee served at home when we entertain family and friends. Do we
take for granted the production of that little package of coffee that we break open to brew? (For most
of us, the answer is "yes." We give little thought to the growing of coffee beans, for example.) And
yet, coffee could soon become the litmus test for many of us in terms of "exercising" our personal sense
of social responsibility, and economic and social justice.
On Social Responsibility - Economic and Social Justice
(Sunday, June 27, 2004, #1 in a Series)
Lead Paragraph:These terms are becoming more familiar to us as the
general news media focus on such topics as the growing disparity in wages and income in our country
(for example, contrasting the generous pay packages of CEOs vs. the declining real wages and purchasing
power of rank and file workers), or, examining conditions under which the consumer products that we
purchase here in Riverhead are being manufactured in distant lands (employing child labor, paying worker
pitifully low wages, terrible factory conditions, piece work vs. livable hourly wages, forced labor in
factories, and other abuses).
||Join us where all are
OLD STEEPLE COMMUNITY CHURCH
United Church of Christ
Route 25, Aquebogue, NY
(631) 722-3070 - e-mail
The Rev. Dr. Ledyard "Led" S. Baxter, Pastor
10 a.m. Worship
& Church School
Chlidcare for Pre-School Children during Worship
In Worship: where'... God is Still Speaking
In Discipleship: where adults and children are learning and growing
In Fellowship: that is warm and caring
In Mission: to and with those beyond our walls whose needs are great
In Evangelism and outreach to bring the good news of God's love to