Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Fairtrade?

A story on sydneyanglicans.net puzzled me. It is about churches holding fairtrade events for the community. Seems fair enough in fairtrade fortnight ! But one theme through the article is the question "does getting involved in fairtrade help the church connect with the community?" In fact that seemed to be a more important question than "is fairtrade a good thing to support and could churches bless the world and their community by promoting it?" Grant Murray, who promotes fairtrade, is quoted as saying it helps in the church to show its integrity. However if the main premiss of any involvement is "Will this help us build contacts to grow?" then the integrity seems to be put in doubt. I think there is a danger of assuming that promoting the mission of God is equivalent to promoting our church. It seems to me that we have to make sure that our churches participate in God's work in the world, rather than equating the two. That will mean that sometimes we'll do things which have no apparent benefit for our church simply because they fit with God's mission. Mind you I haven't done anything about fairtrade at our church or at college - but I am about to look into it.

1 comment:

Phill & Sarah said...

Hey John,

Yeah I we got the latest copy of the sotherncross and it convicted me deeply that I need to insist on fairtrade much more than I currently do. If it costs more and i can't afford I will do without. However I was confused by the "lets just do this to connect to people" vibe that was clearly expressed in the articles. I'm bang up for connect 09 (and I think the pressies should consider jumping aboard the wagon) but if that means getting involved in the fairtrade movement with the sole purpose of being attractive to possible converts we miss the point and are in danger of rightfully being labeled deceitful.

In the environmental game this sort of thing is called "green washing" when organisations try to improve their green credentials by token environmental funding/policies.

Cheers