St Silas Episcopal Church is a Fairtrade Church and has been a member of the Scottish Fair Trade Forum since 2010.

The Church won the Outstanding Achievement Award at the Scottish Fair Trade Awards 2021, and rightly so – please read on to find out all about Fair Trade and St Silas.

In celebration of Fairtrade Fortnight 2022, Tracy Mitchell (JTS) spoke during the Family Focus slot during Morning Service on the 20th February. Amy Wicks, Associate Pastor for Women and Pastoral Care ran a supermarket sweep with kids rushing around the church to find pictures of different products, followed by “can you Fairtrade it?” which gave Tracy a chance to talk about lots of different Fair Trade products.

You can watch from around 16.30 minutes to 25.00 minutes in the video below.

Here’s what was said about St Silas when they were nominated for the Scottish Fair Trade Award in 2021:

“I am nominating St Silas Church for an Outstanding Achievement Award for their dedication to supporting Fair Trade ( Fairtrade Church since 2005) and their significant response to the extra difficulties faced by farmers in Malawi due to Climate Change and the global pandemic.

St Silas serve Fairtrade tea and coffee and have a stall selling goods from Traidcraft and JTS (and Bala and Carishea in the past), this has had an average turn over of around £10,000 a year. It is also a way in which younger people and children are involved, in helping to sell at the stall. The church also use Traidcraft cleaning products and toilet roll and look for all opportunities to use Fairtrade goods in the wider activities of the church.

In October 2014 St Silas were the first church in the UK to sell over a tonne of fairly traded Kilombero Rice and in 2015 they encouraged the congregation to ‘swop your shop’ and significantly increased the sales of Traidcraft products. St Silas have also spread the message of their support for Fair Trade into the local community by attending the local Gala and giving away fair trade items and then holding (previously annual) Fairtrade cafes which have had attendances in excess of 2000! They have also held Fashion Shows, Art sales and had visits from the local MP.

During the lockdowns St Silas continued to sell Traidcraft and JTS goods by running ‘virtual stalls’ and then delivering the goods or arranging for the goods to be collected. Another response from St Silas during the pandemic was to make donations to local groups which required support. Each time the option to include Fair Trade goods where possible was included and this meant that a variety of Fair Trade goods was given to the City Mission, the local school received pasta sauces for famillies who were struggling, rice was donated to a local food poverty charity and bamboo socks were sent for the men at a local night shelter.

The congregation have been buying Fair Trade goods from the stall for over 20 years, even longer then they have been a Fairtrade Church and I think they deserve the Outstanding Achievement Award for the commitment they have shown over this time, but especially for their recent response on Sunday 3rd October 2021, when their service was focused on concern for the effect that Climate Change is having on God’s creation.

Information was shared with the congregation before the service about the links between fair trade and climate justice and a request was made to support the farmers in Malawi by buying their rice and also to support those in food poverty in Glasgow by donating some of this rice to food banks.

At the service a Fairtrade Foundation video linking climate justice and trade justice was shown and a short illustrated talk was given about the impact of climate change on the rice farmers and the difference that fair trade made to them.

The response from the congregation was to donate the money to send 14 25kg sacks of rice to the City Mission and 60 kg of rice to other local foodbanks as well as buying 90kg of rice to enjoy with family and friends!

This means that on one Sunday, St Silas congregation bought 500kg of fairly traded Kilombero rice and gave 410kg of it to people in Scotland in food poverty.

I think St Silas is an inspirational church which deserves the Outstanding Achievement Award”.

 

Find out more about St Silas and Fair Trade in our Member Spotlight.

Photo credits: St Silas Episcopal Church.