On Thursday, September 8, Bishop Stephen T. Lane was joined at St. Luke’s Cathedral in Portland by St. Luke’s Cathedral Dean Ben Shambaugh and the Rev. Larry Weeks, rector of Trinity Church and St. Peter’s, Portland, as well as ministers and rabbis from several Portland-area congregations to voice their support for Question 4, the ballot initiative that will raise the minimum wage in Maine to $12 by 2020. Also speaking were two women who would be directly affected by passage of the measure. Read the text and learn more about Question 4.
The text of Bishop Lane’s remarks may be read below the video window.
Good afternoon. My name is Stephen Lane, and I am the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine. I am here to offer my support for Question 4, the referendum which will raise the minimum wage for workers across Maine. I am also pleased to share the endorsement of the Maine Council of Churches, which represents nine denominations and 550 congregations.
It is fitting to offer support this week as our nation celebrates Labor Day to honor the contributions millions of workers have made to our country’s strength and prosperity.
For more than 20 years, The Episcopal Church has promoted efforts to establish a living wage, supported workers in achieving self-sufficiency, and worked to maintain a safety net critical to the welfare of vulnerable families.
Like many Mainers, I am concerned about the decades of growing wage inequality and how it compromises the dignity of every human being. Working people have been losing ground since the 1970’s. More than 180,000 working people in Maine will benefit from the first raise in the minimum wage since 2009, 90 percent of them over the age of 20 and many over the age of 55. The primary beneficiaries of an enhanced wage will be women, many of them single parents, as well as the parents of 63,000 Maine children. Our call as Christians is to love and support our most vulnerable neighbors, and the current income inequity requires us to speak out on their behalf.
The minimum wage is an issue of faith. Jesus told us to love our neighbors as ourselves and that requires us to work for all of our fellow citizens. At our annual convention in October the Episcopal Church in Maine will consider a proposal to set a $12 per hour minimum wage for our churches’ lay employees for 2017 with the intention to move to a $15 per hour living wage by 2020. Churches from Dover-Foxcroft to Portland support this measure. We are taking our quest for economic justice to the pews and are hopeful Maine people will support our position.
I am proud to be among many Mainers supporting Question 4. As more small business coalitions and individuals support the increase to the minimum wage, I hope all businesses will realize this step will be beneficial to the whole economy in the long term. It is difficult to make a change such as this piecemeal. It makes much greater sense to do it together. This measured, incremental approach to achieving a moral economy will help our fellow citizens across the state. An economy where all work is justly valued benefits all Mainers.