St.Catherine of Alexandria Parish Church, Luna, La Union | Photo by Ricky Artigas via Flickr/Commons CC BY 2.0
Part XIII of an “EDEN America” series
Copper Sturgeon shared last Wednesday’s column (Part XII) in his Facebook Timeline and commented: “That sounds like Liberation Theology.” Mr. Sturgeon is a retired American executive of Filipino descent who now lives with his wife in the Philippines.
Addi Batica of Minnesota replied: “@ Copper Sturgeon I prefer more liberation and less theology.”
This columnist agrees with Adelbert Batica and Copper Sturgeon, who replied to Mr. Batica that he shared, too, the latter’s comment. Yes, the main focus of this series of “reinventing” the Christian churches is changing the churches’ socioeconomic policies. And church members — once they become more affluent and economically empowered — can move to address themselves the theological aspects of their religion. Because to paraphrase Filipino statesman Raul Manglapus (now deceased), no political empowerment (or even religious freedom, as this columnist adds) is possible in any country if the people do not have economic empowerment first.
Here are some 12 simple steps that Christian churches (especially those located in rural areas) may consider adopting as their socioeconomic policies to provide their members’ doable socioeconomic empowerment first:
- Medical training to enable the students in seminaries — or convent-community of either priests, religious brothers, religious sisters, monks or nuns particularly in the Catholic Church, Lutheran churches, and the Anglican Communion — to be skilled medical workers and/or “First Responders” as volunteer paramedics and/or fire-station personnel. Or skilled-and-licensed caregivers.
- A parish should have a medical clinic that can provide “preventive medicine” and vaccinations, among other steps for healthy living. All the church members and the public in general (especially in towns that do not have any non-religious medical personnel such as a physician or a nurse) really need is back-to-basics medical care that is also affordable.
- A Parochial school (up to high school), especially in rural towns that have few learning institutions. This will lead also to helping in the development of athletically-gifted, or musically-adept local students to national prominence.
- A food-storage facility that will house also emergency supplies that may be needed in any emergency or calamity. This suggested facility will be a welcome addition to the state’s or the federal government’s emergency management of supplies and relief goods. And facilitate state-and-federal funding contributions.
- Community and/or family-operated vegetable gardens complete with green houses and enclosed sheds (for growing mushrooms bean sprouts and even herbs). In California and adjacent states, the co-op gardens can plant guava trees or even olives that can lead to the local production of guava jelly and/or olive oil. These community farms can grow also herbs and other plants can be turned into natural medicine. And the U.S. herbal and natural-medicine industry is now worth billions of dollars per year.
- Operation of cooperative-owned stores along the rural town’s Main Street and/or the operation of Farmers’ Market on specified day(s) of the week. This can turn nearly-dying Main-Street stores into vibrant “rest stops” along highways where there would be fast-charging facilities for electronic vehicles and other amenities for their drivers and passengers.
- The parish or even a group of parishes can do reforestation (even on public lands leased from the appropriate public agency). It can engage in goat raising (as goats are Mother Nature’s weed killers and which can lead to the production of goat’s milk and cheese, and eventually leather manufacturing and finished products like handbags, belts, etc.). An efficient reforestation system can prevent forest fires that present some U.S. states and the federal government spend billions of greenbacks in fire-fighting expenditures.
- Turning the parish and the entire town or community (or even the neighboring parishes and towns in the county) into a “Smart Community” with broadband (WiFi) services and a cooperative-owned telephone system (or a franchise from the bigger national telecommunications firms). A “Smart Community” can also operate a “Call Center” that can cater to big corporations or entities — instead of outsourcing them to foreign country-contractors.
- In cooperation with other parishes in the diocese, the local churches can build and operate nursing homes and affordable housing to the homeless and/or the other displaced tenants of apartments and/or farms. The parishes can also offer to take over American farms that are on the verge of bankruptcy after their owner committed suicide. There are hundreds of such farms in the Southern United States.
- In joint venture with foreign and/or out-of-state stakeholders, the diocese and its parishes can operate a solar-manufacturing facility and then engage in providing solar panels for the roofs of churches, other buildings and houses in the participating towns, smaller cities and counties.
- On a longer time frame (as a medium-term goal), the parishes in a diocese can look at taking over closed shopping centers and/or malls and turning them into cultural-and-sporting centers. All of these can be done, aside from reviving the closed stores (and replacing them with co-op stores). And even doing a distributing center in partnership with the USPS, the FedEx and other transportation firms.
- And if the sister-parish proposal made by this columnist is implemented, the American parishes and churches can recruit potential foreign seminarians, nunnery students and/or those that want to study in U.S. medical-and-nursing schools. The end result is that some parishes or even the diocese can become the provider of nurses, priests, nuns, other medical workers — on call and/or on contracts for several years — to rural towns and medical-facility operators. This will not only enlarge the parish treasury and the town’s public coffers but also add contributions to Social Security, Medicare and tax revenues.
When all or some of the suggested socioeconomic ventures take off and succeed, churches will end the practice of their parishioners or members living in an “economic purgatory.” Yes, while they wait for their turn to enter God’s kingdom called “Heaven.”