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UU church hosts Senator Kennedy for living wage rally

Martin Luther King Jr. Day event promotes economic justice for low-wage earners.
By Jane Greer

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Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA)

Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) promoted a raise in the federal minimum wage during an interfaith program at a Unitarian Universalist church in Quincy, Massachusetts, on January 16. (Photo by Deborah Weiner/UUA) (Deborah Weiner/UUA)

U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy spoke to a full house at United First Parish Church (Unitarian) in Quincy, Massachusetts, during a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event advocating for an increase in the federal minimum wage.

Kennedy’s January 16 appearance was part of the national interfaith Let Justice Roll living wage campaign, a coalition of 50 religious and community-based groups--including the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee--working together to promote economic justice for low-wage earners.

Unitarian Universalist congregations in at least ten states devoted their Martin Luther King Jr. Day services to the need for a living wage, according to Susan Leslie, the UUA’s director of congregational advocacy and witness. Several UU congregations across the country have long been engaged with the issue, including taking part in campaigns that resulted in municipal living wage ordinances in Berkeley, Calif.; Lawrence, Kans.; and Minneapolis.

In Quincy, Kennedy spoke for 25 minutes to the crowd of 400. Other speakers included the Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of Churches, and Charlie Clements, president of the UUSC.

United First Parish is known as the “Church of the Presidents” because John Adams and John Quincy Adams, the second and sixth presidents of the United States, were lifelong members and are buried in the church crypt. The church is an active member of the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, a coalition of 65 churches, religious groups, and organizations that has launched campaigns for affordable housing, affordable health care, and a just wage for nursing home employees.

The Rev. Dr. Sheldon Bennett, the congregation’s minister and emcee of the Monday event, said that the program had a clear impact on many in the audience. “One Quincy city counselor even wants to organize a campaign to pass a living wage ordinance in Quincy,” he said.

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