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Labor Day: Dedicated to fairness and justice for workers

Archival photo of factory worker, courtesy the Rethink Church campaign for workers' rights, 2014.
Archival photo of factory worker, courtesy the Rethink Church campaign for workers' rights, 2014.

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To help guide our thinking and acting about how we live in, and are in engaged in, ministry in the world, The United Methodist Church has created statements to guide the church in its efforts to create a world of justice.

Did you know The United Methodist Church has been a part of the labor movement throughout history and is committed to fairness and justice in the workplace?

In the early 20th century the church was working to end child labor. And in the '50s, during our country's civil rights movement, we were fighting for fair wages and better working conditions. We were dedicated to fairness and justice in the workplace then, and we still are today.

When John Wesley founded the Methodist movement during the 18th century, there was no "labor movement" the way we'd understand it today. But Wesley preached to and cared for coal miners and other oppressed workers. He also opposed slavery. After Wesley died, his followers continued to work against workplace injustices in rapidly industrializing England, adopting the first Social Creed, in 1908, that dealt exclusively with labor practices.

Take Action

  • Celebrate The United Methodist Church’s history with your congregation by using one of the videos below in your worship service on the Sunday before Labor Day.
  • Educate people on our Social Principles dedicated to social and economic issues.
  • Share this page or the videos on social media to raise awareness about our church’s connection to the labor movement.

View on YouTube | Download Video

Methodist History: 1908 Social Creed for Workers

The United Methodist Church is clear in its convictions that work is a means of stewardship and God-given creativity and that all human beings deserve dignity and justice in the workplace. In early twentieth century America, poor labor conditions prompted the Methodist Church of the time to pen a social creed, spelling out the rights of workers.

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The Rev. James Lawson: Reflections on workers’ rights and dignity

The Rev. James Lawson is a retired United Methodist pastor and civil rights icon who worked to organize low-wage workers and help the marginalized in society find their voice. “We have to work as human beings because it feeds our dignity. It feeds our sense of making a contribution,” says Lawson.