Now available: Covenanting for Life workshop materials for study and action. Provide feedback on "A Covenant for Life in Creation," which will be considered for adoption by GC41, by building, renewing, or affirming a local or global mission relationship.
"Globalization" means economic, political, cultural, and social systems becoming interconnected and supporting each other. Many processes of globalization are at work, both positive and negative.
The United Church is particularly concerned with ways in which the world's interconnected political and economic systems (including trade agreements) work to benefit the few at the expense of the many. This impoverishes the vast majority of humanity and the Earth itself. Often, these systems are kept in place by violence or by the threat of violence, including military force.
We can understand this global web of economic, political, and economic systems as a modern form of empire—a word with rich biblical and theological connotations. The current United Church mission theme, "Living for the Earth: Choosing Creation over Empire," provides resources for people of all ages to better understand empire.
Information and Action
- Living Faithfully in the Midst of Empire
- Stories from partners around the world show how globalization is increasing suffering for much of God's people and creation, and how people are responding. This report was affirmed by the 2006 General Council.
- Reflections on Empire: Whom Will We Serve?
- Gary Kenny's reflection is a helpful introduction to the content and relevance of the Living Faithfully in the Midst of Empire report and the complexity of contemporary empire.
- Trade: Ethics, History, and Background
- The United Church is not against trade, but it has often opposed free trade agreements if they could increase inequality, threaten human rights, or undermine the integrity of creation.
Related Partners and Programs
The United Church works in partnership with organizations in Canada and around the world to address issues related to globalization, trade, and empire, including the following.
- Alternative Information and Development Centre (South Africa)
- AIDC works for economic and social justice by supporting the communication resources of progressive civil society organizations, giving a voice to the poor and marginalized locally and internationally.
- Common Frontiers (Canada)
- Churches and social movements in Canada participate in Common Frontiers, a working group that proposes alternatives to current economic models. Common Frontiers networks with partners in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States through the Hemispheric Social Alliance.
- Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea
- The PROK works for justice through education, theological reflection, networking, and advocacy to address the impacts of globalization and trade agreements on communities.
United Church communities work on issues related to globalization, trade, and empire in various ways at the local and regional level. Here are a few examples.
- Maritime Conference
- Working groups and committees are involved with responses to empire, such as corporate social responsibility and ethical investment, particularly related to Colombia, Guatemala, and Sierra Leone.
- Mining the Connections: A Maritime Conference Story [PDF: 3 pp/27 KB]
- How a network of Maritime Conference members is working for the United Church to use socially responsible criteria in its decisions to invest in multinational mining companies.
- Montreal and Ottawa Conference
- The Empire Challenge Project, through funding support from the national church, is training facilitators to involve presbyteries more by employing a workshop called "The Empire Has No Clothes!"
- Saskatchewan Conference
- The Global Concerns committee promotes fair trade products and facilitates education and awareness of globalization issues, including using the Challenging Empire resource.
For more information on initiatives in your area, please contact your local Conference office.
Background, Resources, and Links
Study and Worship Resources
- Challenging Empire: Spirit Connection DVD
- This four-part DVD accompanied by a study guide, available from UCRDstore and AVEL outlets, looks at ways of challenging empire today, both on a theological and practical level.
- Challenging Empire: Justice Seeking in Your Faith Community
- This five-piece kit, available from UCRDstore, reflects on the impact of empire on Jesus' ministry and on our response today, with programs for children's, intergenerational, and adult groups. Includes online-only workshops.
- Covenanting for Justice Online Curriculum
- This resource focuses on globalization (mining, farming, sweatshops, climate change, the Accra Confession) and includes videos and five downloadable study group outlines with background material, Biblical passages, questions, and faith reflections.
- Covenanting for Life in Creation NEW
- Ready-to-go, adaptable presentations and workshops to provide feedback on "A Covenant for Life in Creation" to GC41. This is part of the church's commitment to living faithfully in the midst of empire.
- Workshops with the Empire Animator [PDF: 2 pp/141 KB]
- Book the "empire animator" for Conferences, presbyteries, and groups of congregations to learn through creative and relevant workshops how to live faithfully in the midst of empire.
- A Healing Journey for Us All: Uncovering the Wounds of Empire
- This United Church booklet features three study sessions for the period from May 26 (National Day of Healing and Reconciliation) to June 20 (Aboriginal Day of Prayer).
- Living for Earth: Choosing Creation over Empire
- The 2009–2011 United Church mission theme continues to explore questions related to empire: How can we live in ways that respect the Earth and counter the culture of empire that surrounds us?
- Worshipping Faithfully in the Midst of Empire
- Worshipping Faithfully in the Midst of Empire is a lectionary-based worship resource for Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany. It uses an empire perspective with background, sermon ideas, and liturgies.
- Mandate Mission Theme Special Editions
- For Bible study and adult and children’s workshop materials, consult Mandate mission theme special editions: Empire and Racial Power (May 2008); Living for the Earth: Choosing Creation over Empire (May 2009); Living for the Earth Year Two (May 2009) (focus on food security). Included are worship services that introduce empire [PDF: 3 pp/107 KB] and explore racial power [PDF: 3 pp/110 KB], or provide an intergenerational ecotheological worship service [PDF: 3 pp/161 KB].
Statements and Policies
- A Time for Inspired Leadership and Action
- This statement was issued to the G8 by the Sixth Annual World Religions Summit that was held in Winnipeg in June 2010. It calls on G8/G20 leaders to address poverty, care for the Earth, and invest in peace. Read the statement and responses and learn more about the summit.
- G20 Surrenders to the Money Traders
- This KAIROS policy briefing paper provides an in-depth analysis of the 2010 G20 meeting and statement. With the G20's emphasis on deficit reduction, KAIROS says the organization pressures the poor and vulnerable to pay for the financial bailout of speculators. The paper concludes with a consideration of the future of both the G8 and G20 Summits and the prospects for a Financial Transfers Tax.
- The Accra Confession
- The United Church has made a commitment to this powerful statement of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, which rejects any form of empire. Download a pamphlet with the Accra Confession and additional context from the WARC website.
- To Seek Justice and Resist Evil: Towards a Global Economy for all God's People
- This 2000 report received by the 37th General Council uses stories from global partners to invite us to see global economic injustice and to act in common mission for justice.
- What Does God Require of Us? A Declaration for Just Trade in the Service of the Economy of Life
- A declaration from a consultation with churches from Canada, the United States, and Mexico held January 11–14, 2004, in Stony Point, New York.
Books Available from UCRD