August 15, 2017
Social Justice Ministry Network
Churches and society are confronted by many issues such as poverty, the environment, immigration, education, health, and criminal justice. By working together, individuals, churches, and communities can share information, organize efforts, and share resources. The OCC Social Justice Ministry Network gives us a vitally important tool enabling us to do this.

How does it work? Each individual is kept informed by OCC of important issues, including the work of the OCC IMPACT Committee as it tracks Oklahoma legislation. Where appropriate, we will produce relevant statements and recommend responsible action. We then encourage our participants to disseminate this information to members of their congregation, their communities, and to become engaged in advocacy throughout our state. To join the Social Justice Ministry Network, send an e-mail to sfleck@okchurches.org.

The latest in Social Justice Ministry and Advocacy from OCC


Interim Studies


The Oklahoma Senate has released their proposed Interim studies for this year's interim session. You can find a list of the Interim Studies HERE.


The House of Representatives has also requested several Interim studies for the current interim session. A listing of all proposed studies can be found HERE. There are several Interim Studies that relate specifically to the OCC Impact Team’s theological statements. 


Some of these studies may not come to fruition. Check the calendar on the Legislature's website HERE for hearing dates, or contact your state Senator or Representative to ask for information about upcoming hearings. We will keep you up to date throughout the Interim period on what is happening as we head into the 2018 Legislative Session.


What's Missing from the Interim Studies
 

More disturbing is what is missing from the Interim Studies. Oklahoma’s unemployment rate in April 2017 was 4.3%. The national unemployment rate was 4.4%. Oklahoma takes great pride in having a lower unemployment rate, even during a downturn in our primary economic driver, the oil and gas industry. The overall poverty rate in 2016 in Oklahoma was 16.1%. We rank 38th among states regarding poverty.  

 

There appears to be limited interest in dealing with a serious underemployment problem. House Study 17-006 and 17-017 are now combined to explore rural economic development. House Study 17-37 looks at the economic impact of solar energy development. Bringing our own tax dollars back to Oklahoma by participating in Medicaid expansion would be a boom to rural hospitals and give the economy well-paying jobs. (See House Study 17-77 Medicaid)


Fully funding transportation to implement its long-range road and bridge improvement plan would cause statewide economic improvement and be an incentive to new businesses and tourism. (House Study 17-08 Funding Transportation) The availability of quality education for all children and young adults is a great incentive for businesses to consider locating in a state and the presence of appropriately compensated teachers have a direct positive impact on the economy particularly in rural areas.


OCC Committee on the Environment 
The OCC Environment Committee will host an Evening of Viewing on Thursday, October 5, 2017 at St. Paul's Cathedral in OKC. We will be showing the film "Tomorrow". Please make plans to join us from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

The OCC Environment Committee is eager to identify local churches and participants with a heart for environmental concerns. If this sounds like you, please email Rev. Shannon Fleck,  by clicking HEREwith your name and contact information to get involved.

Immigration and Refugee Evening of Listening Scheduled in Tulsa, OK
OCC's Immigration and Refugee Committee will host an Evening of Listening at Southminster Presbyterian Church (3500 South Peoria) in Tulsa, OK on Thursday, October 26, 2017 at 6:30 p.m. If you are in the Tulsa are, please make plans to join us for this event.

Poverty
As we look towards a lack of interim studies addressing the portions of our population living in poverty we remember that underpaid employees survive through the receipt of food stamps, Medicaid for their children, and subsidized child care. Increased salaries would immediately reduce the numbers receiving such assistance. 

 

The overwhelming majority of SNAP (food stamp) recipients who can work, do so. Among SNAP households with at least one working-age, non-disabled adult, more than half work while receiving SNAP--and more than 80 percent work in the year prior to or the year after receiving SNAP. The rates are even higher for families with children--more than 60 percent work while receiving SNAP, and almost 90 percent work in the prior or subsequent year. More info HERE.

 

Chinua Achebe a Nigerian novelist, poet, professor, and critic stated that "while we do our good works let us not forget that the real solution lies in a world in which charity will have become unnecessary." Underemployment might be a subject you would like to address with your legislators in several areas during this interim period.

Oklahoma Conference of Churches | 405-525-2928 | okchurches.org