JoMC 711 – Writing for Digital Media

October 29, 2006

Module 10 Assignment

Filed under: Uncategorized — by cinranker @ 11:03 pm

Congregation Asked to Participate in Fair Trade Program

In the past the members of Grateful for Grace Lutheran Church have contributed to many worthy causes.  The congregation is now being asked to participate in Lutheran World Relief’s (LWR) Fair Trade programs.  These programs give the members an opportunity to help individuals, families and the congregation in numerous ways.

What is Lutheran World Relief?

Lutheran World Relief is a non-profit agency supported by both the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS).  The agency was formed during WWII to help European countries recover from the devastation of war.  It has since developed into an organization that helps those in need all over the world.

LWR often responds to emergencies like the tsunami in December of 2004.  It also tries to provide long-term solutions to poverty.  The agency developed the fair trade programs to help address those poverty issues.

Fair trade is an international movement

The fair trade movement has been in existence for decades.  It not only ensures that a fair price is paid for products, especially those from developing countries, but also addresses the following:

  • *Reasonable credit programs for farmers and craftspeople
  • *Environmentally sound guidelines for production
  • *Equal rights for women in the workforce

Several different organizations oversee compliance to fair trade standards.  Two are associated with the LWR products:

  • *The Fairtrade Labelling Organization (FLO), on an international level, sets standards and certifies that producers follow those standards.
  • *TransFair USA, a non-profit organization in the United States, certifies the fair trade product for the consumer.

Kattie Somerfeld, LWR’s Fair Trade Products Coordinator, explained that the Fair Trade Labelling Organization deals with the producers of the product, while TransFair USA deals with the companies and organizations where the products are sold.

On a very basic level, consuming fair trade products helps those in other countries achieve a better life by cutting out the middlemen and providing fair wages for their work.

LWR has three fair trade opportunities

Fair Trade Coffee was the first fair trade program advocated by LWR.  The program began as a result of a discussion concerning what LWR could do to make a bigger impact in the world.  In 1996 LWR partnered with Equal Exchange to provide an easy way for congregations to obtain the fair trade coffee.

LWR receives 20 cents for each pound of coffee sold and uses that money to help improve coffee farming conditions.  In 2003 LWR challenged Lutheran congregations and organizations to purchase 90-tons of coffee that year.  That challenge was met.  In 2005 there were over 3,000 participants in the Fair Trade Coffee program and all 50 states were represented.

In 1999 the Fair Trade Handcraft program was introduced in partnership with SERVV International.  Items can be ordered through a catalog or at a Fair Trade Fair at the congregation.  LWR receives between 7.5 percent and 10 percent of all sales.  Last year sales in The Handcraft program doubled, even though there was very little promotion.

Fair Trade Chocolate was introduced in 2003.  LWR once again partnered with SERVV International to sell Divine Chocolate from the Day Chocolate Company, a company owned by the farmers themselves.  As with the Handcraft program, LWR receives 7.5 percent to 10 percent of chocolate sales.  This fair trade product provides an additional opportunity for churches because the congregation can sell the candy bars as a local fundraiser.

Why should we consider Fair Trade?

Participating in LWR’s Fair Trade programs provides Grateful for Grace three ways to help others by providing:

  • *a fair wage to those in third-world countries
  • *a percentage of sales that LWR reinvests in communities of developing countries
  • *an opportunity for Grateful for Grace to raise funds for the congregation

In addition to these financial advantages, the members will also be able to make a significant difference in the lives of those around the world.  As Kattie Somerfeld commented, the Fair Trade programs are “a concrete way for people – especially people of faith – to take an active role in making a difference in the world.”

What can we do now?

Encouraging the leaders of the church to participate in LWR’s Fair Trade programs is the most important thing for you to do now.  When the programs are established we ask that you would support them financially by buying the fair trade coffee, chocolate and handcrafts.  These are the first important steps to improving the lives of others living in poverty all over the world.

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