With too many North Carolinians jobless, the North Carolina Council of Churches is releasing a newly revised version of its popular “Job Loss: A Guidebook for Pastors” eight years after the original was published. The revised version is available for free download on the Council’s website.
Since the original was published by the Council’s Economic Justice Committee, some things have changed, but the reason for providing a revised guidebook is the same as with the original: to help ministers and congregations offer advice and guidance to people who are currently seeking employment.
Updating it for the current economic climate was crucial. Continuing in the basic format of the 2003 edition, the new guidebook contains more current information with regard to the economy, the amount a person needs to earn to reach financial sustainability, and updated information on social and economic resources.
The North Carolina Council of Churches has long tried to meet the needs of workers in North Carolina who are struggling through rough economic times. This updated version of “Job Loss: A Guidebook for Pastors” continues to provide faith leaders with the information they need to help workers transition from joblessness to employment.
Seasonally-Adjusted Unemployment Rate in North Carolina
From the Introduction
In March 2007 the seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate in North Carolina was 4.5%. By March 2010 this rate had shot up to 11.3%. At the end of 2011, this rate was hovering around 10%. In addition, the earnings gap between those in stable professions and those who serve in jobs such as health aides and childcare workers, farmworkers and landscapers, is widening every year. Add to this a recession and wars, tobacco’s demise, flood and hurricane destruction, and a state budget crisis, and we’ve ended up with too many individuals and families in stress and pain due to economic hardship.
Scripture brings us the notion of “Jubilee Economics.” This is the Hebrew tradition found in Leviticus, where the natural human tendencies for the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer were systematically and regularly repaired. Remedies like freeing slaves, letting the land lie fallow, and forgiving debt were said to be God’s plan to make sure that the economic habits of the times did not leave people in dire straits for too long.
We hope you will find this guidebook useful as you minister to and care for those in your congregation or neighborhood who find themselves out of work. This guide is designed for pastors but also serves those in community agencies and many service areas as well as individuals who have lost jobs themselves.
The chapters give explanations and contacts so unemployed workers can obtain needed information, emergency services, entitled benefits, and job retraining. There are sources for help in starting a business instead of looking for another place of employment. We describe a model support group ministry. And at the end, you will find some reflection on our biblical mandate to seek justice.
By informing ourselves about opportunities to change unfair trade policies, wage laws, and benefit practices, we can more powerfully live into our biblical prophetic tradition.
Originally published in August 2003 by:
The Economic Justice Committee, NC Council of Churches
Barbara Zelter, former Program Associate, NC Council of Churches
Revised and updated in March 2012 by:
Lee Foster, Duke Divinity School intern, NC Council of Churches
Chris Liu-Beers, Program Associate, NC Council of Churches