Our dear friend and sister, Rev. Erin Tamayo, will be leaving for Arizona at the end of 2012. Erin started at CLUE-LA two years ago as an intern, and has been a great leader in our work with the CLEAN Carwash Campaign and with clergy and lay leaders in Inglewood and Santa Monica. We will miss her terribly, and wish her the best as she moves on to continue “working for the Kingdom of God” in Arizona. She has left us with a homily on why she does this work, and how she hopes to continue her ministry in Arizona!
“…toda persona que lucha por la justicia, que busca reivindicaciones justas en un ambiente injusto, está trabajando por el Reino de Dios.”
This quote spoken by Monseñor Óscar Romero, also expanded upon in a recent sermon by Ricardo Moreno, has been on my heart and on my mind as I complete my last few days of employment with CLUE-LA. What an incredible experience it has been for me to begin my life as a pastor working alongside some of the bravest individuals I’ve ever met, calling for justice in their workplace.
Many of you know that over a year ago, I had the great privilege of becoming ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA) to my work as a Faith Rooted Organizer at CLUE-LA. In this process, I believe that I not only became a stronger advocate for social and economic justice, but I also became a stronger Presbyterian. I say this because in the ordination process, I learned more about the social justice stance of our church, and in explaining my new ministry in front of our Presbytery, I grew to appreciate how the mission of CLUE is in accord with the mission of my church. I learned not only the theoretical implications of the 6 Great Ends of the Church, for example, as put forth in our Book of Order, but also how strongly they stand in accordance with the mission of community organizing and economic justice. I also realized the importance of the tenant of the Presbyterian Church “Ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda” which refers to the conviction that the church must continually re-examine itself to make sure that it is acting upon its principles. I also began to recognize how this tenant can be applied to society as a whole.
Through my work at CLUE, I continuously was made to not only reflect on my own theological and biblical convictions, but in organizing the community, I repeatedly asked others to do so as well. In doing so, we take the idea of “semper reformanda,” continual re-examination and reformation, to a new level. It was in examining our Biblical knowledge and our understanding of what God hopes for this world that we are able to work not only for a continual reformation in our churches but also call for a need for social and economic reform. In a world where Carwasheros are made to work for tips alone and Hotel House Keepers are made to work until their bodies bear the wounds of their heavy labor, God has something to say.
This was made evident to me most recently while preparing for a Labor in the Pulpit presentation for Brentwood Presbyterian Church. Pastor Roche Vermaak had chosen the scripture from Luke 4:18 for the reading that day. As, I reflected on Jesus’ reading from the scroll of the Prophet Isaiah, I recognized just how much our mission of standing in solidarity with low wage workers and calling for reform economically in their workplaces strongly agrees with the message Jesus proclaimed that day.
“Bring good news to the poor”- In our work at CLUE we share this good news by sharing God’s love and the message that: “you are created in the image of God, thus you deserve dignity and respect like all God’s children.”
“Proclaim release to the captives”- Many low wage workers don’t realize that they deserve fair treatment and dignified working conditions. As faith leaders we lend our voices and solidarity to show that God cares about the way they are made to work and live.
“Recovery of sight to the blind” – We too as faith leaders dialogue with businesses to help them realize that it is not faithful to mistreat workers and deny them rest breaks, wages, and dignity.
“Let the oppressed go free”- We partner with workers to restore their voice, remove the chains of bondage, through both solidarity and partnership.
It is through these reflections that I can say I will deeply miss my work at CLUE. Through my work here will all of you, I have learned more about my faith and the practical application of my convictions that I believe I would have at any other first call. I am proud of the work we have done together. I know that you will continue the movement here in California and look forward to hearing of the reform that will come through your efforts of solidarity. Please remember, as Monseñor Romero so eloquently said: “Every person who fights for justice, who demands justice in an unjust situation, is working for the kingdom of God.”
I close with the benediction that I shared at my ordination service:
“May God bless you with discomfort
At easy answers and half-truths,
So that you may live deep within your heart
May God bless you with anger
At injustice, oppression and exploitation of people,
So that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.
May God bless you with tears
To shed for those who suffer pain, and rejection,
So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them
And may God bless you with enough faith
To believe that you can make a difference in the world,
So that with God’s help, you can do what others claim cannot be done.