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Congregation Raises Faith Voice Against Gun Violence

by Abbigail Hull, ELCA Hunger Advocacy Fellow

             Addressing the growing number of deaths and injuries caused by firearms while at the same time protecting the rights of those who use firearms responsibly called a member of Lord of the Mountain Lutheran Church in Dillion, Colo. to action after the inaugural National Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath Weekend in March 2014. “As people of faith, we are directed to do so,” said Diane Luellen. “These things are important. If we don’t do it, who will?”  

              Luellen found she wasn’t the only one moved. A small group of congregants and community members wrote a Letter to the Editor in The Summit Daily Newspaper to raise awareness of Sabbath Weekend. The congregation decided to create a gun violence task force, and later the task force connected with area coalitions to build capacity. One voice became more voices in the congregation and community.   

               “You have to be patient, but sometimes I didn’t want to be patient,” Luellen admitted. Not everyone in the congregation was energized, but the task force took the time to build understanding through listening and talking with people who were supportive and non-supportive of their focus. Church communication tools spread awareness and shared clear information, such as gun violence statistics in the bulletin.  

              The relational work and trust building slowly moved the needle. “Persistence” was the word Luellen used to describe what she learned in the process. Now, the congregation takes part in an annual National Vigil for All Victims of Gun Violence in its county. It has hosted workshops and adult forums around gun violence awareness – which seeded formation of the Summit Colorado Interfaith Council. Two years after establishment of the task force, the congregation empowered it through a resolution to make statements representing the congregation on pertinent matters. Task force members joined a legislative rapid response network that saw passage of a Colorado bill this spring. 

              Luellen and her congregation’s story mirrors the prodding of Paul in Acts 18, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you. If you are feeling the nudge to act, or speak out, tell others because you probably aren’t alone. I believe it may be the Holy Spirit wrestling with you to tell others and listen more.  

August Update: U.N. and State Edition

United Nations | California | Colorado | Florida | Kansas | Minnesota | New Mexico | Ohio | Pennsylvania | Southeastern Synod | Texas | Washington | Wisconsin

Lutheran Office for World Community, United Nations, New York, N.Y.

Dennis Frado, director

LOWC Staff, Rev. Fabian Wilches (middle) and Dr Ojot Ojulu (far right).

HIGH-LEVEL POLITICAL FORUM ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: The seventh session of the UN High-Level Political Forum on sustainable development (HLPF), held under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council, took place in New York City July 9-18 under the theme “Empowering People and Ensuring Inclusiveness and Equality”. The forum reviewed set of sustainable development goals 4 (quality education), 8 (decent work and economic growth), 10 (reduced inequalities), 13 (climate action), 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions) and 17 (partnerships for the goals), with 47 countries presenting their voluntary national reviews on these goals. During the HLPF, the LOWC office welcomed three delegates from the Lutheran World Federation: Ojot Ojulu, assistant general secretary for international affairs and human rights; the Rev. Fabian Wilches, senior advocacy officer; and John Hillary, national coordinator for LWF’s Waking the Giant program in Tanzania. The LWF co-

LOWC Staff and Dr. John Hillary (far right)

organized two side events during the HLPF, titled “Taxation & Reparation: Tools for Promoting Equity, Climate Justice and an Economy of Life” and “The Role of Faith Communities in Building Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies in Latin America and the Caribbean.” For more information on these events, see below. For more information on the HLPF, click here. A one-and-a half-days session of the HLPF will be held under the auspices of the General Assembly with heads of state and government on September 24-25 in New York City.

TAXATION & REPARATION: TOOLS FOR PROMOTING EQUITY, CLIMATE JUSTICE AND AN ECONOMY OF LIFE: On July 11, during the HLPF the World Council of Churches and the Lutheran World Federation co-hosted an event alongside the World Communion of Reformed Churches, the Council for World Mission and the United Methodist Church, during the High-Level Political Forum. The event, “Taxation & Reparation: Tools for promoting Equity, Climate Justice and an Economy of Life” focused on the need for justice and reparation for exploitation.

Panelists James Henry, Manuel Montes, and the Rev. Suzanne Matale spoke about the current tax system, urging greater transparency concerning investors and emphasizing the need for people of faith to become more involved because “taxation is no longer a matter for the privileged few.” Montes discussed the history behind the United Kingdom’s tax evasion, the Rev. Matale spoke of her experience in Africa and the unnecessary taxes, including those for digging one’s own bore holes to access clean water, whereas Henry explored the types of tax evasion taking place in the world, including offshore taxation. Raveen Shepherd shared her knowledge of the desperate need for reparation needed in the Caribbean and Iva Karuthas emphasized the need for reparations, calling them a necessary tool for healing rather than a fight for money arguing that there is “not enough money to pay back for the violence, racism, exploitation and cheap labor experienced.”

To conclude the event, the sponsors launched the Zacchaeus Project, part of the “New International Financial and Economic Architecture initiative” (NIFEA), modeled on the transformation of the tax collector, Zacchaeus, in the Gospel of Luke. This campaign’s purpose is to advocate for tax justice, address social & ecological debts, while also educating churches about the issues involved when advocating for tax justice and reparation. For more information, click here.

“ENDING VIOLENCE AGAINST CHILDREN IN THE PACIFIC AND TIMOR-LESTE”: During the HLPF, World Vision, the ChildFund Alliance, Save the Children and Plan International co-hosted an event titled “Australian Coalition of Child-Focused INGOs: Unseen and Unsafe: The Underinvestment in Ending Violence Against Children in the Pacific and Timor-Leste.” This event, held on July 12, emphasized the “normalization” of violence within the home, highlighting that while “1.7 billion people experience some form of violence every year”- childhood trauma, including brain shrinkage in children that have experienced or been exposed to violence, is preventable. The event presented two reports, including in-depth country case studies and an “INSPIRE Framework” with seven strategies for ending violence against children.

THE ROLE OF FAITH COMMUNITIES IN BUILDING PEACEFUL, JUST AND INCLUSIVE SOCIETIES IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN”: On July 17 the Inter-Religious Alliance for the 2030 Agenda together with such other organizations as Religions for Peace Latin America and the Caribbean, the Action by Churches Together Alliance (ACT Alliance) and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) co-hosted an event during the HLPF on Sustainable Development concerning “The Role of Faith Communities in Building Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies in Latin America and the Caribbean”.

The event opened with remarks by Rabbi Elias Szcztnicki, who emphasized the importance of the Inter-Religious Alliance for the 2030 Agenda as a platform of faith across Latin America and the Caribbean, helping to connect and coordinate religious networks in their advocacy work with governments and others in civil society.

Panelists Juan Carlos Navarro, Secretary General of Cáritas Madre de Dios, in Peru and Karina Gerlach, senior adviser of Pathfinder for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies, shared their experiences in Latin America and the Caribbean and connected their work to the sustainable development goals.

Sarah de Roure, country manager of Christian Aid in Brazil, mentioned the high number of homicides throughout of Latin America and the problem of threats and attacks on journalists and civil activists by the government. Fundamentalist voices are getting louder and she highlighted proposed alternatives as provided by the ACT Alliance or Christian Aid.

Laurie Smolenski, outreach and development officer at the Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP), argued that religious networks play an important role. Because they serve even remote and under-sourced communities, they can promote unity and build linkages between religions and different communities to foster achievement of SDG 16.

Find the event agenda here.


Regina Q. Banks, Lutheran Office of Public Policy- California (LOPP-CA)

SUMMER RECESS: The Legislature for the state of California is in Summer Recess and slated to return August 12. Fiscal Committees will have roughly 3 weeks, until August 30, to hear and pass the remaining fiscal bills to the floors of the respective houses. The remaining two weeks of session, until September 13, is reserved for floor sessions. This first year of a two-year session adjourns at Midnight on Friday, September 13, 2019.

SUMMER LEGISLATIVE VISITS: Summer is an excellent time to meet with federal, state and local policy officials while they are back home in their districts. LOPP-CA would like to highlight just such an opportunity taken. Lutheran Church of the Master in Sacramento, CA hosted a beautiful community meeting with elected officials on the Sacramento City Council and command representatives from the Sacramento City Police Department and local social service agencies to address the homelessness issue in their South Land Park community. Pr. Linda Boston and Councilman Steve Hansen did a great job of engaging the nearly 100 participants who came out on a hot Wednesday evening on July 24th. It is a beginning to their local advocacy and LOPP-CA has vowed to walk with them. Is your congregation interested in beginning an advocacy project? Contact us and we would be proud to walk with you.

HUNGER LEADERS’ GATHERING 2019: LOPP-CA participated with ministries across the country (and touching locations across the globe) in the Hunger Leaders’ Gathering hosted by Central Lutheran Church of Minneapolis, Minnesota July 18-21. The Hunger Leaders’ Gathering is a conference of ELCA World Hunger Grant recipients. ELCA World Hunger Grants amount to LOPP-CA’s single largest funding source and a source of ministry support and guidance. It was a blessing to get together with fellow recipients and World Hunger staff to share best practices and network. Standby for word on new initiatives from California!

MISSION SUPPORT LETTER: Be on the lookout for a letter going to congregations asking for additional mission support. The work we do here at LOPP-CA is dependent upon you and your congregation’s generosity. Please consider blessing our ministry with an additional gift today. Instructions can be found in the mail, or at our website:

CONGREGATION VISIT THANK YOU’S: A sincere Thank You goes out to congregations that have welcomed LOPP-CA into their Sunday worship experiences recently. They were truly blessed times in the Lord, and we look forward to coming back soon. Specifically, St. Mark’s Lutheran Church (Fairfield) Pr. Karen Stetins Sr. Pastor, Peace Lutheran Church (Grass Valley) Rev. Bill Wong Interim Pastor and Lutheran Church of the Master (Sacramento) Pr. Linda Boston Sr. Pastor.


Peter Severson, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry–Colorado                          

The World Hunger Gathering took place at Central Lutheran Church in downtown Minneapolis

CONGREGATION VISITS: July, Peter Severson, director of Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-Colorado, was invited to present at Trinity Lutheran Church, Boulder, and First Lutheran Church, Colorado Springs. Thank you for the invitations!

WORLD HUNGER GATHERING: Severson and other hunger leaders from the Rocky Mountain Synod took part in the ELCA World Hunger Leaders Gathering in Minneapolis, in mid-July. The event featured speakers ranging from recipients of Domestic Hunger Grants to partners in ministry from the ELCA churchwide organization, and included various training sessions and educational opportunities. We are grateful for our partnership with ELCA World Hunger, a grant from which sustains LAM-CO’s work in Colorado. The creative and courageous work being done by our faithful hunger leaders is inspiring!


Russell Meyer , Florida Faith Advocacy Office/Florida Council of Churches (FFAO/FCC)

EDUCATION ROUNDTABLE: Working with the Real Talk Coalition for Education Equity, FFAO/FCC participated in the roundtable “Grading Education” at the Florida PTA Office, Orlando, on July 31. This gathering of stakeholders and researchers will begin developing a tool for grading the capacity of legislation to close disparity gaps in education.

RISE FOR REFUGEES: With national attention on detention centers, FFAO / FCC will be supporting Rise for Refuge on August 3 around the state. A number of clergy will deliver Spanish Bibles to the Homestead Detention Center on August 25 and 26.

OCEAN CARE: In cooperation with Creation Justice Ministries, FFAO / FCC is co-sponsoring an ocean care deep dive training event at St. Armands Lutheran Church on August 29 for younger clergy to help network climate action. Members of Congress and their staff have also been invited.

STATE CLERGY CONVENING: The FFAO / FCC State Clergy Convening will be at the Florida Hotel and Convention Center in Orlando on September 12 and 13. Major legislative advocacy issues will be presented.

NO-CALL LIST SIGN-ON LETTER: The FCC executive committee sent a letter to State Attorney Brad King, 5th Judicial Circuit, urging him to establish a “no-call list” of police officers who have made racist and violent remarks on social media and therefore would not be called as prosecution witnesses. A broad coalition co-signed the letter.

Information on all of these events can be obtained by emailing


Moti Rieber, Kansas Interfaith Action (KIFA)                     

The Kansas Legislature is out of session, but Kansas Interfaith Action keeps working!

MEDICAID EXPANSION: Expansion will be discussed by two interim committees prior to the 2020 session. The members have been named but no hearing dates have been set. Since conservative (anti-expansion) leadership is running the process we expect there to be significant proposals to limit expansion: work requirements, state spending caps, and the like. Our messaging is that expansion is meant to give more people access to health care, and that should be the focus, not figuring out ways to take it away.

CLIMATE AND HEALTH: This week saw the publication of a report from the Kansas Health Institute on likely impacts of climate disruption in Kansas. Called Policy Brief: Health and Climate Change in Kansas, the report states, “climate change is a substantial concern in Kansas” and that “projected climate changes are likely to have negative impacts on human health,” including increasing temperatures and more variable precipitation; hotter, drier conditions affecting air quality; increased rates of cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases and other chronic conditions; expanded seasons for allergies; increased length of season for insects and insect-borne illnesses, etc.

CLIMATE AND HEALTH DECLARATION: KIFA is one of the initial signatories of a climate and health declaration being rolled out next week by its long-time partner Climate and Energy Project. We will be sharing this important information with our supporters and partners and developing opportunities to deliver our message: that climate disruption is a pressing concern – not in the future, but today; and care for creation, for human health, and for the poor – who are being affected first and worst by climate change – are obligations for people of faith!


Tammy Walhof, Lutheran Advocacy- Minnesota (LA-MN)     

RENEWABLE ENERGY: Does your church have a solar array? (Or do you have one at home?) Send pictures and a short description! Also, send those pictures and description to your state legislators and tell them that Minnesota and the country need to move faster to more clean energy!

IMMIGRATION: Lutheran Advocacy-MN extensively publicized an immigration program with the Rev. Mateo Chavez of San Juan Bautista Lutheran Church in Tucson, Ariz., presented at Tapestry Lutheran in Richford, Minn. The Gospel reading, Luke 10:25-37, was the Good Samaritan story. Listen (below) as he connects the Bible passage to the situation of immigrants and asylum seekers at the U.S. border. (The Rev. Melissa Melnik Gonzalez of Tapestry does great translation). Mateo, with others from his family, also told stories of people arriving at the Nogales border crossing area. We hope to share some of those stories soon. Many Lutheran Advocacy-Minnesota advocates appreciated the hospitality (including dinner) of the Tapestry congregants. Good Samaritan/immigration sermon video is 15 minutes long and only his message, not the whole worship.

AUGUST RECESS: Visit members of Congress over their August recess and/ or have a letter-writing activity at your church or group. Find a sample letter on our website and call Tammy at 651-238-6506 for talking points to use in visits.

UPDATES AND ACTION ALERTS: LA-MN has been sending three to four action alerts, updates, or event notices per month. Are you getting them? If not, be sure to sign up on our website! (If you’ve signed up and still aren’t getting them, let us know).

New Mexico

Ruth Hoffman, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry—New Mexico (LA-MN)

LAM-NM director, Ruth Hoffman (right), joins fellow advocate, Bill Jordan, and former state senators Michael Sanchez and Dede Feldman at the gathering.

10TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION OF DEATH PENALTY REPEAL: New Mexico repealed the death penalty on July 1, 2009. Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-New Mexico was an active partner in the New Mexico Coalition to Repeal the Death Penalty, which worked for 12 years to realize its goal. On June 30, the coalition held a gathering in Albuquerque to celebrate the 10th anniversary. Memories of the coalition’s work were shared and two leaders of the coalition who have since passed away were remembered. The legislation’s prime sponsor, Rep. Gail Chasey, was honored as were several other legislators instrumental in the bill’s passage. When the death penalty was repealed in New Mexico, two men remained on death row. A few days prior to the anniversary gathering, the New Mexico Supreme Court vacated their death which permanently shut our state’s death row!




Nick Bates, Hunger Network Ohio                                                   

OHIO HAS A BUDGET! YOUR ADVOCACY MADE A DIFFERENCE: Seventeen days late, Ohio’s legislative leaders reached an agreement on our state budget that includes more money for the Ohio Housing Trust Fund and Ohio’s food banks. The Legislature also increased funding for wrap around services for students and for other programs. While these increases should be celebrated, we cannot forget that they do not alone solve the problems of poverty, hunger and homelessness in Ohio. After years of tax cuts and underinvestment, we have a long way to go toward adequate investment in solutions.

VOTER REGISTRATION GRANTS: The Hunger Network is offering $200 grants to Ohio hunger ministries if they are willing to help us collect voter registrations before the November 2019 elections. As people of faith, called to love our neighbor, we should seek all of our neighbor’s voices in our democratic process. If you have a food ministry, and would like to receive a mini-grant please fill out the application form here.


Tracey DePasquale, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry–Pennsylvania (LAMPa)

CLIMATE AND DISASTER RESPONSE: LAMPa accompanied Lutheran Disaster Response (LDR) coordinators and a Lutheran meteorologist to meet with Sam Robinson, Gov. Wolf’s Deputy chief of staff, about the administration’s Restore Pennsylvania proposal to impose a severance tax on natural gas to back a bond that could, among other things, be used to mitigate flooding and respond to climate-related disasters. Julia Menzo, LDR coordinator for eastern Pennsylvania, and the Rev. Glenn Beard, LDR coordinator for the Lower Susquehanna Synod, shared stories from their work to underscore the growing need related to more frequent disasters not covered by federal aid. Meteorologist Joe Stepansky, Lower Susquehanna Synod Treasurer, and LAMPa Director Tracey DePasquale questioned Robinson about the proposal’s lack of strong measures to transition to renewable energy. Our delegation agreed to keep working to improve the proposal, stressing that we would rather invest in a solution than borrow for a bandage.

HUNGER: After years without an increase in the State Food Purchase Program, DePasquale met with several leaders of the Pennsylvania Hunger Action Coalition to assess our advocacy, share feedback from lawmakers, evaluate our networks and begin to develop a new strategy based on emerging health-related partners and focus on local agriculture. We are laying the groundwork for a potential campaign to revamp the state’s largest anti-hunger program. LAMPa will be looking to our ELCA World Hunger leaders in Pennsylvania to champion this change.

GOD’S WORK. OUR HANDS: LAMPa is resourcing congregations to add advocacy to their day of service on Sept. 8.

Southeastern Synod

Hilton Austin, Southeastern Synod advocacy team

 GEORGIA INTERFAITH PUBLIC POLICY CENTER: We continue work on the new Georgia Interfaith Public Policy Center. We are in the process of incorporation and filing for our 501(c)(3) status. We have an impressive interfaith board of directors with contacts throughout the state. We are very excited about this expansion of our base and the opportunity to work together.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM: Over the past eight years, Georgia has transformed its criminal justice system. Reforms aimed at cutting prison costs while improving public safety, have encouraged other states to enact similar measures and helped prompt the Trump administration to take action on the federal level.

Now the state will serve as a hub, pushing criminal justice issues nationwide with a newly formed nonprofit based in Atlanta. Members hail from across the political landscape. The nonprofit’s advisory board includes such prominent Democrats, as former California Gov. Jerry Brown and ex-Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, and such prominent Republican as, U.S. Senator Mike Lee of Utah and Gov. Matt Bevin of Kentucky.

Former Gov. Nathan Deal and former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates — both Georgians — will also play key roles in the effort.

“It’s the right idea at the right time,” said Adam Gelb, founder and CEO of the Council on Criminal Justice. “There’s a real thirst across the political spectrum and across the country for sound data and research on strategies that work to cut both crime and incarceration… We’re going to be a catalyst for policy that’s factual, not just fashionable.”

SOUTHEASTERN SYNOD HUNGER FELLOW: August will be Jordan Slappey’s last month as a Hunger Fellow for the synod and will be greatly missed. Slappey is currently wrapping up his fellowship by writing a teaching document for the ELCA’s social message on immigration. This has been an adventure and we hope to be able to roll out a meaningful and reconciling document late this fall.

WORLD HUNGER: The World Hunger Leadership Gathering was most informative and inspiring. Four leaders from the Southeastern Synod had the opportunity to develop a plan to coordinate our future hunger ministry throughout our four-state synod.


Bee Moorhead, Texas Interfaith Center for Public Policy/Texas Impact

IMMIGRATION: Texas Impact is focused on the immigration crisis. We continue to take groups every week to the border, to monitor federal deportation hearings and cross the bridge into Mexico to meet with asylum-seekers. More than 250 folks have participated so far. Find out more here:

DISTRICT MEETINGS: We are facilitating district meetings with constituents in all 38 of Texas congressional districts. So far we have about 80 folks signed up to attend. Next week we will be releasing an interfaith worship resource packet for congregations to use during the August recess (and beyond).


Paul Benz, Faith Action Network (FAN)

INTERIM TIME: FAN has been busy during the legislative interim: hosting our regional summits in June, sponsoring local candidate forums for upcoming elections, leading trainings with our faith community liaisons, meeting with legislators and members of Congress and their staffs, and planning for our fall cluster gatherings and our end of the year annual fundraiser in November!

POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY: FAN is involved in the ongoing issue of community-police accountability.  The city of Seattle is under a federal court consent decree.  FAN is part of the community coalition that has been in meetings this past month with city council members, the community police commission, and a new mayor-appointed panel of modern-policing experts from around the country. The next court deadline we are working on is to come up with a methodology by which to address the current police guild contract and the accountability issues contained therein.

JOSE ROBLES: We stand in solidarity with Jose Robles, who had been living in sanctuary at Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Seattle for the past year. On July 17, he was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement after leaving sanctuary to file a stay of removal with his attorney. He is currently being held at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Wash. Jose has a U-Visa pending and a judicial stay in place, he should be released immediately and allowed to return home to his family. You can sign this petition demanding that ICE stop tearing Jose from his family:

GOODBYE AND HELLO: ELCA Hunger Advocacy Fellow Sarah Vatne finished her year with Faith Action Network on July 31st. She will begin at Gonzaga University School of Law in August. We welcome Kevin Holtz who is joining FAN as a practicum intern through the Masters of Social Work program at the University of Washington. He is excited to work to end oppression with a vision of a just and free world. Welcome, Kevin!


Cindy Crane, Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin (LOPPW) 

GOOD-BYE AND THANK YOU TO KELSEY JOHNSON, LOPPW’S 2018/19 HUNGER ADVOCACY FELLOW: We have been proud to have Kelsey Johnson as a part of our full-time staff for one year. She has made connections with ELCA members, coalition partners, and legislators that have greatly benefited our ministry. We are excited for her and the church as she prepares to begin a Master of Divinity program at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago this fall.

IMMIGRATION: Following up on the panel discussion on immigration we held in June, LOPPW met with the Rev. Walter Baires, director for evangelical mission to explore creating a resource that includes materials from ELCA Advocacy and the LOPPW, which Kelsey is taking the lead in organizing during her last few weeks with us.


  • For our Wisconsin climate table, the director organized a breakout group on the powers of the executive office in addressing climate change utilizing an environmental attorney from Clean Wisconsin and a WISPERG (Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group) Foundation resource, Climate Solutions From Day One: 12 Ways Governors Can Lead on Climate Now.
  • LOPPW joined Cassandra Carmichael of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment and local faith leaders to visit staff from the governor’s office to discuss climate change and the Endangered Species Act.
  • LOPPW and the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin are leading an effort to gather information on ELCA congregations in the state that are using solar power and gather stories about how they decided to do so and resources they used. We will then create a workshop based on our findings with resources we already have on solar grants for Wisconsin churches. LOPPW will make linkages to public policy.


  • We are working with Women of the ELCA to organize another rally in September.
  • LOPPW is working with University of Wisconsin-Madison to bring on a part-time intern who will focus on trafficking issues and assist with our rally.












Building bridges through advocacy

Orignally Posted on the Zumbro Lutheran Church Blog on July 17, 2019:

On Tuesday, we had the pleasure of learning from and being accompanied by Abbigail Hull of the ELCA’s Advocacy office. We began the day in the ELCA’s office learning about advocacy, how it ties directly into our baptismal promises and confirmation commitments, where the ELCA’s advocacy office direction comes from, and how to advocate for others (and ourselves) with our elected officials.










At the beginning of the morning, the majority of us in the group shared that we had limited experience with advocacy and weren’t necessarily comfortable with it. Abbi gave us an approach to use and coached us as we prepared to meet with the MN congress members that the office had made appointments with for us.

We split into two groups as we prepared for our visits. We read bios about the two congress people we would meet, paying careful attention to the committees they served on and had a better chance to influence decisions. Half of our group prepared to discuss the great need for mental health services in our public schools with Senator Tina Smith. The other group prepared to ask Representative Jim Hagedorn to support the Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill currently before the House. By the end of our planning session, the group was excited (with a healthy dose of anxiety) as we made our way to meet with our politicians.









Our afternoon experience was incredible, to say the least. With just a few exceptions, it was the young people on our trip who did all of the talking.

Parents, grandparents, Zumbro members — you should be so proud of the way in which our youth represented our congregation and community. They spoke with clarity and confidence. They took risks and practiced vulnerability as they spoke from their hearts. And they articulated their faith as the basis for their convictions. From stories ranging from personal experiences of struggling with depression and needing the mental health help provided in our schools, to speaking with passion about the summer meal programs needed by the children they work with at Rochester’s summer school age child care program, our young people had every adult in the room in tears.





The experiences with Senator Smith and the staff member from Representative Hagedorn’s office were vastly different. We experienced empathy and compassion. We experienced what it felt like to be listened to, and what it felt like to be disregarded. We experienced authenticity, and political guardedness. I suspect that all of us formed opinions for how we might vote in future elections. Simply put, we experienced being a part of our nation’s governmental process … and we all learned a lot.

















Marcus C. shares: “I leaned how much you can do before you turn 18 in the political system. I learned that you have a chance to talk to your representative (or some one who works with them) to let them know how you feel about what they are doing. I was shocked when we did this, that you could do this. This experience taught me a lot and that we can do more in mission that just serving.”









Jack K. also shares what he learned: “Today I learned that I really don’t want to be a politician at all (politics is confusing!). The most powerful moment was just listening to Tina and Ashley talk and realizing that even though she’s a U.S. senator, she is still just a person amongst us.“

Chaperone Sue Jenkins shares: “Meeting Tina Smith was powerful for me. I was impressed by how special she is, and also how ordinary. She impressed me with the importance of giving her information and motivation, through emails and phone calls, to work for justice.”

Ashley S. agrees with Sue. “Meeting with Tina Smith was incredible. She impressed me by how she hung on to every word we said, especially the more difficult aspects, and she listened and heard what we were saying.”

We couldn’t agree more with Bob Jenkins’ reflection: “Today our Zumbro young adults did a Holy Spirit-led job presenting issues of importance to them to Representative Hagedorn’s staff and to Senator Smith. It was such a blessing for me to be able to watch and hear them speak.”

Thank you, parents, for raising such wonderful people. We are honored to experience this with them.



– Jen and Pastor Lisa

p.s. Zumbro members, parents, and friends — we have found a wonderful gift in adding Jen Gruendler to our staff team. I hope you’ll find some time in the coming months to get to know her. She’s incredible … and that’s a feeling shared by all of us on the trip. -Pastor Lisa

July Update: UN and State Edition


United Nations | California | Colorado | Minnesota | Nevada | Ohio | Pennsylvania | Southeastern Synod | Washington | Wisconsin

Lutheran Office for World Community, United Nations, New York, N.Y.

Dennis Frado, director

GENERAL DEBATE ON HIV AND AIDS: On June 3, the annual debate took place in the General Assembly concerning the Implementation of the 2001 Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS and the 2011 Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS. The UNAIDS target of reducing HIV by 2020 is just a year away — 90-90-90 (diagnose 90% of all HIV-positive people, provide antiretroviral therapy to 90% of those diagnosed and achieve viral suppression for 90% of those treated by 2020). This target is in line with Sustainable Development Goal 3 target 3:3 of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

As Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, chef de cabinet of the secretary general’s executive, pointed out, when AIDS was first identified more than 30 years ago, suffering and death seemed unstoppable.  Years later, nearly 8 million deaths have been averted since 2000 and three-quarters of people living with the virus now know their status. Unfortunately, this progress remains uneven. Since 2010, Eastern Europe and Central Asia have witnessed a 30% increase in HIV infections.

Ten years ago the ELCA Church Council adopted the ELCA Strategy on HIV and AIDS and called on the ELCA to respond faithfully and effectively to this pandemic. Find information concerning the ELCA’s HIV and AIDS Ministry, worship resources and more here.

Read the secretary-general’s report: “Galvanizing global ambition to end the AIDS epidemic after a decade of progress”. Read the full report with short summaries of the statements here.

STILL STANDING STRONG – INTERNATIONAL ALBINISM AWARENESS DAY : On June 13, the U.N. celebrated International Albinism Awareness Day. The theme “Still Standing Strong” encourages the international community to “recognize, celebrate and stand in solidarity with persons with albinism around the world”. On this day, everyone is reminded that people with albinism deserve to have their rights to life and security protected.

Different speakers shared their work on awareness-raising and the challenges that people with albinism face. Senator Isaac Mwaura from Kenya pointed out how important it is to be innovative and create spaces where people with albinism feel secure, beautiful and seen. This message was also shared by Diandra Forrest, the first woman with albinism to sign with a major modeling agency.

 PROGRESS OF THE WORLD’S WOMEN REPORT LAUNCH: On June 25, U.N. Women launched a 2019 report titled “Progress of the World’s Women 2019-2020: Families in a Changing World,” which highlights the diversity of families. Families “can be places of love and affection” however, women and girls “too often face violence and discrimination” within the home. The report includes a comprehensive policy agenda with eight recommendations, calling on governments, civil society and the private sector to safeguard women’s and girls’ rights. You can read the online report here and a blog post on the report by Joanna Lilja, Church of Sweden.


Regina Q. Banks, Lutheran Office of Public Policy- California (LOPP-CA) 

BUDGET GAINS AND LOSSES: During our Lobby Day last month we advocated for a Medi-Cal (California’s low-income health care program) expansion that would cover all income-eligible people independent of immigration status. We, and our allies, were partially successful in spurring an expansion that will cover those up to age 26.  We also talked to legislators about the establishment of a clean, safe and affordable drinking water fund. The Legislature agreed and chose to finance the measure with cap-and-trade funds as opposed to the governor’s proposed new fee on polluters. Finally, the Legislature approved a significant expansion to the California Earned Income Tax Credit. This is a tent post for the End Child Poverty coalition to which we belong and was a huge win. Unfortunately, the expansion will not include those who file taxes with an ITIN, whose filers are primarily undocumented workers. Thank you to everyone who came to Lobby Day, made calls, wrote e-mails and prayed. We got both some significant wins and a clearer roadmap of the work ahead!

WORLD REFUGEE DAY ACKNOWLEDGMENT: June 20thmarked U.N. World Refugee Day. LOPP-CA acknowledged the day with partners such as St. Paul Lutheran Church of Lodi, Calif; Organizacion de Trabajadores, Fuerzas Unidas and others in a march and prayer circle for the reunification of families being callously held in US detentions. We prayed together and then marched to the U.S. General Services Administration building in Sacramento where we prayed for the employees and our policy makers.

SECOND-MILE GIVING: Thank you so much to everyone, congregations and individuals alike, who participated in the Sierra Pacific Synod’s second-mile giving support of LOPP-CA in June. We are humbled by your generosity.



Peter Severson, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry–Colorado                                        

MINISTRY VISITS: Peter Severson, director of Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-Colorado, visited Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church in Grand Junction in late June to preach, present, and march in the Colorado West Pride Parade (alongside American Lutheran Church too). The two congregations joined Pride along with other faith communities that participate in the Grand Valley Interfaith Network.

Severson also visited Rainbow Trail Lutheran Camp in Hillside, in early June for the commissioning service at the end of staff training. Congratulations to these great counselors and staff, who are having a great summer in the mountains as they faithfully lead campers!

In July, we look forward to visiting Trinity Lutheran Church, Boulder; First Lutheran Church, Colorado Springs; and the ELCA World Hunger Leadership Gathering in Minneapolis!



Tammy Walhof, Lutheran Advocacy- Minnesota (LA-MN)     

UPCOMING EVENT – A VIEW FROM THE BORDER/UNA VISTA DESDE LA FRONTERA: The Rev. Mateo Chavez, pastor of San Juan Bautista Lutheran Church in Tucson, Ariz., is a board member of Cruzando Fronteras, a collaborative ministry between Episcopal, Lutheran, and Anglican communities on of borders with Mexico, Latin America, and elsewhere. A free will offering will support ministries of Tapestry and San Juan Bautista, which accompany immigrants, asylum-seekers and refugees.

  • 5:00 p.m. – Worship service, with Chavez preaching
  • 6:00 p.m. – Dinner (suggested donation $10/adult) and Stories of sorrow, hope, determination, and love, as Chavez shares about ministry and work with immigrants and asylum seekers at the Nogales border crossing.
  • Dinner RSVP: or on Tapastry (Richfield) Facebook page
  • Questions: The Rev. Melissa Melnick Gonzalez,

ASSESSING & PLANNING: The Legislative session is barely over, but Lutheran Advocacy-MN is meeting with coalition partners to review 2019 accomplishments and prepare for 2020. On both housing and clean energy, it is clear that we need more grassroots action, especially with senators. Housing did better than other issues, but Senate leadership blocked additional needed funding. Housing supportive services fell way short, despite bipartisan co-sponsorship and support! Clean Energy ran into many roadblocks in the Senate, and it’s clear that some senators in key committee positions are 8-10 years behind in their knowledge and understanding of clean energy technologies and possibilities. Now (and throughout the fall) it will be crucial to meet with your legislators to educate them on issues and get them pushing their leaders to do more! 


William Ledford, Lutheran Engagement and Advocacy in Nevada (LEAN)

With our legislative session officially over and the governor done signing bills, we are happy to report that almost all of the legislation we were supporting has passed. Suffice it to say, this was a successful session for LEAN. Going into our long offseason means that we are strategizing ways to increase buy-in from our represented churches and to increase awareness in our state of the work we do.


Nick Bates, Hunger Network Ohio (HNO)                                     

AND WE DO NOT HAVE A BUDGET: Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) and Senate President Larry Obhof (R- Medina) were unable to reach an agreement to pass a budget by the June 30th deadline. There are many issues at play – school takeovers by the state, school funding, tax policy, and other issues. During the final hours of June, the Legislature voted for temporary funding bills to keep the state government open for a few more weeks. HNO will continue to work with community groups and legislators to lift up our top issues, including the wealthiest Ohioans paying their fair share and investments in food and housing security.

STEPS BACKWARD FOR ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP & OHIO’S ENERGY ECONOMY: HB 6 will bail out nuclear power plants in Ohio with a guaranteed $150 million state subsidy. The bill will also reduce (Senate version) or eliminate (house version) Ohio’s renewable energy goals. This will hurt our clean energy economy and also leave Ohio behind a growing number of states that realize that renewable energy is a smart investment. We encourage our Lutheran partners to follow Ohio Interfaith Power and Light for updates on these policy issues.

VOTER REGISTRATION PLAN – EARN $200 FOR YOUR PANTRY: Are you a food pantry in Ohio and want to earn $200 (or more)? Be on the lookout for our upcoming voter registration campaign where we will pay partner pantries $200 if they incorporate voter registration into their pantry. Sign up form will be rolled out by the middle of July! 


Tracey DePasquale, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry–Pennsylvania (LAMPa)

LAMPa director Tracey DePasquale accompanied general assistance recipients and housing and domestic violence services advocates to urge lawmakers to preserve the life-saving program for the most vulnerable in times of crisis.

On June 28, Pennsylvania adopted a $34 billion budget that includes no new taxes but socks $330 million away in rainy day fund. Highlights include increases for housing; basic pre-kindergarten and special education; services for disabled Pennsylvanians and domestic violence victims; election security; and help for a struggling agricultural industry. Anti-hunger funding was held level, and a General Assistance (GA) program re-instated by the state Supreme Court last year was eliminated. LAMPa staff delivered about 100 letters in support of increased funding for anti-hunger programs that were gathered at synod assemblies. This followed more than 100 legislative visits made on Lutheran Day as well as other outreach by Lutheran advocates to let lawmakers know that, in spite of what seem like good economic statistics, our feeding ministries have not seen decreased demand.To protect GA, program director Lynn Fry met with the governor’s staff, and director Tracey DePasquale made rounds of Senate offices with recipients and advocates, including a press conference where the Rev. Timothy Seitz-Brown spoke. The battle over ending the program erupted into chaos on the Senate floor as seen in this video, highlighting growing divides in our commonwealth.


  • Staff led workshops at the Upper and Lower Susquehanna synod assemblies.
  • Lutheran advocates joined approximately 400 in urging lawmakers toward the goal of 100% renewable energy by 2050.
  • DePasquale taught post-confirmands at Camp Nawakwa how they can engage their faith in climate change advocacy.
  • DePasquale visited lawmakers urging rejection of bill reducing clean-water protection.
The Rev. Timothy Seitz-Brown urges lawmakers and citizens to see God in the faces of the poor.
Kathie Westman, a member of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod’s Church and Society Committee, joined Lutheran advocates from around the state in a rally for legislation to get Pennsylvania to 100% renewable energy













Southeastern Synod

Hilton Austin, director

SOUTHEASTERN SYNOD ASSEMBLY: We had a great assembly this year. There were three workshops that reflected our work as advocates for the common good: “Disaster Preparedness and Mitigation in the Age of Climate Change”; “Welcoming the Stranger”; and “Who is My Neighbor: A Prophetic Vision”, our ‘Advocacy Policy Council’ workshop. The latter was a seven-person panel answering how Jesus’ question “which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man?” speaks to their ministry of advocacy. It was awesome. We also gained significant support in Alabama. Kevin L. Strickland is the new bishop-elect of the Southeastern Synod.

CARE FOR CREATION: “Faithful Climate Conversations: Public Forum on Faith, Science, & Climate Solutions” was sponsored by Interfaith Power and Light and held at the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta. Speakers were the Rev. Susan Hendershot, president of IPL, and Dr. Kenneth Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists. Kait Parker of the Weather Channel was the panel moderator; the Rev. Gerald L. Hurley, chair of the IPL Board of Directors, joined the panel discussion.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM: The leader of our Criminal Justice Reform “Ready Bench” and I attended a three-day conference on “Ending Mass Incarceration” at Ebenezer Baptist Church. We made several new inter-faith connections and had the opportunity to collaborate with many of our current ecumenical partners. Michelle Alexander, Esq, author of The New Jim Crow, was the speaker at the first plenary.

IMMIGRATION AND REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT: World Refugee Day in Clarkston, sponsored by the Coalition of Refugee Services, was a great event, lifting up and celebrating the contributions of refugees in Georgia.

2019 ALABAMA LEGISLATIVE REPORT: The legislative session for Alabama officially drew to a close at the end of May, passing very few of the bills for which we were advocating. However, there is still plenty to celebrate from this session!
The state of Alabama seems to have had a great fiscal year, bringing wonderful benefits to several of the state’s governmental systems.

  1. The Education Trust Fund (EFT) was among the systems that received benefits. The surplus in funds allowed legislators to approve a 4% increase in teacher pay, make increases to most K-12 programs, and provide a 6% increase in funds allocated to state four-year colleges and public universities.
  2. Legislators also approved a $40 million increase to the state’s prison system. It is speculated that a special session may be called later in the year to address specific problems with the system as a whole.
  3. A victory for care for creation was won with the passage of a gas tax. Between now and 2021, the tax on gas will rise 10 cents, 6 in the first year, and 2 more cents each subsequent year, bringing the total tax from 18 to 28 cents. Money provided in this bill will also be used to aid the Port of Mobile and create a charging station for hybrid and electric vehicles.

As far as bills we supported are concerned, HB176 was the only one that did not die in committee. With this bill’s passage, legislators ensured that many of Alabama’s hospitals will continue to receive the funding they need to keep their doors open.

On to the less than favorable bills that were passed, Alabama was one of a few states that passed an infamous heartbeat bill, banning pregnant people seeking an abortion from obtaining one if a fetal heartbeat can be detected.
Thank you to everyone who has been involved in all of the ups and downs associated with state advocacy this year. Now that all normal state legislative sessions in the synod have ended, we can rest (for just a moment!) and enjoy what has been done. Be sure to look for our special session updates and legislative posts for next year’s sessions, and don’t forget to vote!


Paul Benz, Faith Action Network (FAN)                                                                       

REGIONAL SUMMITS: FAN wrapped up our spring summit meetings with our fourth and final gathering in Spokane on June 30. We are working to pull together notes from all of the attendees who shared their policy recommendations for the 2020 legislative session. Once we compile the notes from our network of advocates, our program committee will review them this summer. The results of that review will then be formulated into a draft legislative agenda for our board to review later in the year. Our goal is to have a board-approved draft for our legislative agenda by our annual dinner on Nov. 17! It’s important to shape this agenda with the guidance of our network and advocates from all around Washington state.


ELCA HUNGER ADVOCACY FELLOW: Sarah Vatne has spent the past year working at FAN as an ELCA Hunger Advocacy Fellow. Below she shares a reflection as she begins her final month with FAN and prepares to start law school at Gonzaga University School of Law in August:

“Throughout this year with FAN, I’ve attended rallies and marches, met with elected officials, led advocacy and educational events, spoken at youth gatherings, and worked with faith communities from a multitude of different backgrounds. I’ve really loved getting to know the other fellows in this program and talk about what brought us to this work. I’ve appreciated having the opportunity to advocate for bills that I really care about or that I think would be good for the people in our state. I’ve gotten to see real change take place in our state along the way.

It’s so important for faith communities and people of faith to get involved in policy and advocacy. I believe justice work is part of our religious calling that we are called to act with justice; to love and care for our neighbors around us. It’s not enough to say good words each Sunday, we need to actually get out and be part of the good fight, to advocate for a more just and sustainable world. It is so important for the church to continue to invest in young leaders. We need to see our church having a voice for change in our world, and I truly believe that will come from leadership from youth and young adults. Thank you all!” 


Cindy Crane, Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin (LOPPW)                 

IMMIGRATION: About 140 people attended our panel discussion with Bishop Viviane Thomas-Breitfeld, Bishop Paul Erickson, Dr. Stephanie Mitchell, Tim Muth, the Rev. Walter Baires, the Rev. Nick Utphall, and Mary Campbell. We are strategizing follow up. Watch the video here. We also participated in an interfaith rally in front of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center.

EMANUEL MOVIE: Over 60 people joined LOPPW and the South-Central Synod to view Emanuel on two different nights. Several attended conversation sessions afterward. We suggested our members around the state also organize people to attend the documentary.

SYNOD ASSEMBLIES: We managed a display table at the La Crosse Area Synod Assembly and were present at the Greater Milwaukee Synod Assembly.

BUDGET: We’re involved in a state budget coalition. LOPPW sent out individual e-mails about BadgerCare (taking federal dollars for Medicaid) to every Assembly and Senate member and shared responses with the coalition.


  • Participated in a gathering for Midwestern environmentalists and funders with the common goal of diminishing carbon dioxide emissions.
  • Initiated a group to lead a breakout session on what our governor can do about climate change and how we can support his current efforts, for a Wisconsin Climate Table meeting with the hope of creating a policy advisory committee as a follow-up.
  • LOPPW was invited to register on a bill related to buying and selling water pollution credits by one of the Republican authors.

HUMAN TRAFFICKING: LOPPW updated Women of ELCA on three bills.

June Update: UN and State Edition

U.N. | California | Colorado | Kansas | Minnesota | Nevada | New Mexico | Ohio | Pennsylvania | Washington| Wisconsin

Lutheran Office for World Community, United Nations, New York

Dennis Frado, director

LOWC staff and Bishop Atahualpa Hernández of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Colombia

INTERCHURCH DIALOGUE FOR PEACE IN COLOMBIA CALLS FOR FULFILLMENT OF 2016 PEACE ACCORDS:The Lutheran Office for World Community joined the World Council of Churches, the World Communion of Reformed Churches, and the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. in co-sponsoring a panel discussion by members of the Interchurch Dialogue for Peace in Colombia (DiPaz in Spanish) on May 29. The panel was led by Bishop Atahualpa Hernández of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Colombia and included a representative of a women’s association (name withheld for safety reasons) and the Rev. Milton Mejía of the Presbyterian Church of Colombia.DiPaz has strongly supported the 2016 peace accords between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC in Spanish) but is currently concerned that President Iván Duque’s government is not implementing the agreement fully. They are concerned about war victims’ rights, intimidation of and attacks on human rights defenders, rural reform, legal attempts to unilaterally modify the accords, political participation, disarmament and reintegration of former FARC guerillas, and other issues inhibiting a just peace and reconciliation. The delegation also urged the U.N., especially the Security Council, to continue its role in the verification of the accords, affirmed a planned council visit in July, and asked for support from the international community to have the government resume its dialogues with the other major insurgency group, the National Liberation Army.The delegation met with the UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Member States of the Security Council.


Permanent Mission of Rwanda to the United Nations

HUMANITY THROUGH COOPERATION AND SHARED RESPONSIBILITY IN FIGHTING IMPUNITY AND GENOCIDE DENIAL.”: On May 20, the Permanent Mission of Rwanda to U.N., the American Jewish Committee, the U.N. Office on Genocide Prevention, the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, and the New York Bar Association organized a conference on the 25th commemoration of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.In her opening remarks, Ambassador Valentine Rugwabiza highlighted the cost of indifference to genocide and the collective need to speak out: “It is our collective responsibility to stand and act for stigmatized communities who are seen as less deserving of life.”During two panels different aspects of genocide prevention, fighting impunity and genocide denial were discussed. Simone Monasebian, director of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime emphasized that genocides are processes that start with an increasing use of hate speech, which dehumanizes people. This was reiterated by Zachary D. Kaufmann, lecturer in law, who added that genocides are preventable and that female leadership and women’s representation in political systems are crucial concerning prevention.On the second panel Celine Uwineza and Consolee Nishimwe, two survivors of the genocide against the Tutsi in 1994, talked about their journeys after the genocide and about the importance of sharing witness’s stories. Rugwabiza reminded the audience that accountability is an effective means of prevention.


Photo: U.N. Library

On May 21, a high-level event was held at the U.N. Trusteeship Council Chamber on culture and sustainable development. This full day of thematic debates coincided with the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, a day of recognizing the values of cultural diversity and to advance the goals of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions adopted in 2005. The event on culture and sustainable development included a roundtable discussion on cultural heritage and its mobilization of people toward sustainable development and two panels highlighting the importance of cultural education and culture as a means of empowerment and equality. To achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the transformative power of culture has been recognized as a key enabler in providing sustainable solutions to local and global challenges.


Regina Q. Banks, Lutheran Office of Public Policy- California (LOPP-CA)          

LUTHERAN LOBBY DAY 2019 WAS A HUGE SUCCESS: About 105 Lutherans from throughout our diverse state gathered in Sacramento on May 29 to talk to policy makers about childhood poverty, a MediCal expansion to cover undocumented adults and water justice. We assembled at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Sacramento to hear the gospel preached by the Rev. Amy Reumann, director of ELCA Advocacy, commune together and learn advocacy tips and strategies before heading to the Capitol for scheduled meetings. We met with 52 (of 120) state legislator offices in four hours! Some were short, uplifting meetings of like-minded people; others were more contentious. But all participants had a meaningful day putting faith into action. LOPP-CA would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who helped make the event a success. We’d especially like to highlight Bishops Guy Erwin of Southwest California, Mark Holmerud of Sierra Pacific and Andy Taylor of Pacifica Synod who attended and committed themselves and their staffs to highlighting the role of advocacy in the life of the church. St. John’s and its pastor, the Rev. Frank Espegren, who were a study in hospitality for the day; and our ministry partners throughout the capitol community that made the vision for the day come to life. It was truly a blessed time in the Lord, and it’s not too soon to plan to join us next year!


Peter Severson, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry–Colorado                                        

END OF SESSION: The Colorado General Assembly has adjourned for 2019. Our complete legislative wrap-up is now available at Below are highlights of passed bills from this session in the key areas of our policy agenda.

  • Hunger: House Bill 1171 will extend the School Lunch Protection Act through high school, providing a state copay for reduced-price lunches. House Bill 1132 will incentivize the use of locally-grown food, reducing the carbon footprint of school meals.
  • Housing: House Bill 1118 will increase the time a tenant has to cure a minor lease violation, while Senate Bill 180 will establish an Eviction Legal Defense Fund to help keep tenants in their homes with balanced legal representation in eviction proceedings.
  • Economic security: House Bill 1013 will extend a child care expenses tax credit for low income families. We supported a bill to establish paid family leave in Colorado, but it was amended to a study.
  • Criminal justice: House Bill 1025 will officially “Ban the Box” in Colorado, allowing job applicants with a criminal history to get their foot in the door for an initial job interview as they reintegrate into society.
  • Environmental justice: House Bill 1261 will implement concrete climate action goals to reduce carbon and other greenhouse gas pollutants in Colorado.

We are grateful to all the advocates who took action this year! We look forward to continuing our stakeholding work with legislators and faith communities over the summer and fall, particularly around paid leave and abolishing the death penalty.


Moti Rieber, Kansas Interfaith Action (KIFA)                                

KANSAS LEGISLATIVE SESSION ENDED: The Kansas legislative session ended May 29. This year we had a new Democratic governor while legislative leadership remained in conservative hands. KIFA’s major priority this year was Medicaid Expansion, which was passed 3 years ago but vetoed by the then-governor. With clear legislative majorities in support and a supportive governor, the only thing that stopped it was legislative leadership, which refused to give the bill a hearing or a floor vote. The House managed through procedural means to pass it, but the Senate stayed obstructive. Late in the session protests escalated until cracks appeared in the Republican caucus and a vote to proceed over leadership’s objections failed by one vote in the Senate. This is disappointing (and will cause an estimated 600 deaths of people without health insurance) but we’ll be working on the issue during the legislative off-season.

KIFA also helped to sustain the governor’s veto of a bill that would have given tax cuts primarily to multinational corporations and the wealthiest Kansans, especially ill-advised as we try to climb out of the budgetary abyss caused by the “Brownback tax experiment.” We are on two coalitions, on criminal justice reform and voting rights, led by the Kansas ACLU, and we also testified in favor of a bill that protects domestic violence survivors in rental property relationships, which passed, and against a bill to lower the concealed carry age to 18, which didn’t.


Tammy Walhof, Lutheran Advocacy- Minnesota (LA-MN)     

MINNESOTA LEGISLATIVE SESSION: Significant disagreements between the House and Senate bills meant negotiation meetings at all hours in the final official weeks of the session. Committees kept meeting “unofficially” following the May 20 “end” and then the legislature kicked off Memorial Day weekend with a 21-hour special session!

Affordable housing came out better than every other issue and agency, though need still outstrips appropriations. Clean energy had disappointing results. A session summary will be available on our webpage. Thanks for the many calls, emails and visits with legislators!

EVENTS AND PRESENTATIONS: Minnesotans from five synods participated in the ELCA Advocacy Convening on “advocacy in the context of disasters enhanced by climate change” (April 29-May1, Washington, D.C.) The group had several good meetings, though there is more work needed with some of Minnesota’s congressional delegation.

Director, Tammy Walhof, presented on LA-MN to pastors from the Saint Paul Area Synod South Metro Conference at its meeting (May 2). Later (May 17-18), she did similar mini-sessions at the Saint Paul Area Synod Assembly, passed out 300 plus action alerts and spoke in-depth with several participants.

Walhof had many wonderful conversations at the Southwestern Minnesota Synod Women of the ELCA convention (May 3-4), and was able to give out 230 plus action alerts after being allowed a brief announcement about decisions being made by legislators. LA-MN’s Lutheran Affordable Housing Event (May 6) was followed by a rousing Homes for All Rally in the capitol rotunda with hundreds of other housing advocates from across the state.


William Ledford, Lutheran Engagement and Advocacy in Nevada (LEAN)

LEAN has been very active this month given that our legislature only meets for a few months every two years and that we are currently at the end of the last month of the session. We are continually engaging one-on-one with legislators, as well as testifying in committees as much as we can for bills related to justice, education, equality, and hunger/poverty issues. We are involved with a bill increasing our abysmal minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2024. We wish it was more aggressively paced than that but at least it is something. We also saw a victory in a bill being signed that protects the LGBTQ+ community by making the “gay panic” and “trans panic” defenses no longer valid arguments in court. We also saw a significant victory in our primary concern this session: the regulations protecting against predatory payday loan practices. One bill was withdrawn but will come back around as a ballot measure and historically across the country those have done well. The other was creating a system that would prevent people from being able to take out a payday loan if they already have one, protecting people from the “cycle of debt” that many fall in to. This is my first session in this position, and I am pleased at how well it went.

New Mexico

Ruth Hoffman, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry—New Mexico (LA-MN)

LEGISLATIVE INTERIM BEGINS: Since New Mexico’s legislative sessions are somewhat short, interim is

May meeting of the Legislative Health and Human Services Committee

crucial for legislators to gain knowledge and discuss many issues. It is also a time for advocates to be heard and to bring up topics and questions. Senate and House members serve together on interim committees that focus on a number of topics and interests and meet between now and December in Santa Fe and around the state. LAM-NM monitors and attends meetings of the Legislative Health & Human Services Committee; the Revenue Stabilization & Tax Policy Committee; the Mortgage Finance Authority Oversight Committee; the Legislative Finance Committee; and the Courts, Corrections & Justice Committee. LAM-NM director, Ruth Hoffman recently testified before the Legislative Health and Human Services Committee to urge it to include poverty and hunger as well as increasing the State SNAP Supplement on their work plan for the interim.


Nick Bates, Hunger Network Ohio                                                   

THE BUDGET ROLLS ALONG: Hunger Network offered testimony last week in the Senate Finance committee (and it can be read here). This testimony echoed legislative meetings advocates had earlier in the month with State senators on issues related to food banks, affordable housing, and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). We are hopeful to see investments in Ohio to solve problems instead of just more income tax cuts for the wealthy.

TAKE ACTION NOW: Write a letter to your local newspaper in June to create the change we wish to see in the world. CLICK HERE for the links.

THANK YOU: to all the great advocates who came out in mid-May to talk with about 1/3 of the state Senate about simple steps to address hunger and poverty in our communities.






Tracey DePasquale, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry–Pennsylvania (LAMPa)

 CIVIL CONVERSATIONS TRAINING: Fifty bridge-builders from diverse faith traditions gathered May 19 to improve their skills in engaging in meaningful conversations in our divided times and learn how to organize civil conversations in their communities to build a thriving, diverse democracy. LAMPa and United Lutheran Seminary co-hosted the training led by Interfaith Philadelphia.

LUTHERAN DAY AT THE CAPITOL: More than 130 individuals gathered in Harrisburg on May 20 for LAMPa’s annual day at the capitol. The theme was “Set A Welcome Table- How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1). Participants gathered for worship, a keynote address by Kathryn Lohre on the ELCA’s proposed “Declaration of Inter-Religious Commitment”, a variety of issue workshops, recognition of synod advocacy honorees, and legislative visits on hunger funding. Learn more.

LAMPA WORKSHOP AT SYNOD ASSEMBLY: Director Tracey DePasquale provided a workshop at the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod Assembly titled “Building the Beloved Community Beyond Our Walls-When loving your neighbor leads you into the public square, let LAMPa and ELCA Advocacy accompany you.”

HUNGER IN PENNSYLVANIA ACTION ALERT: LAMPa advocates are emailing lawmakers requesting $21 million for the State Food Purchase Program and $3 million for the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System. As a portion of the total state budget, funding for these programs is small, however the impact on the ability of the state’s charitable food assistance network to provide critical aid is enormous.


Paul Benz, Faith Action Network (FAN)                                                                  

REGIONAL SUMMITS: FAN has entered a new season of our program year! As we transition from our state legislative session that ended April 28, we move toward a focus on congressional issues and hosting our four regional spring summits across the state- in the Tri-Cities, Vancouver, Seattle, and Spokane. We will share our legislative successes and strategize in different subject area groups. Our small and large group conversations will help us shape our next legislative agenda and plan for our year ahead. We will be hosting these gatherings throughout June and are very excited to meet with folks in our network across the state!

RACIAL EQUITY: Racial equity and justice must be central to our work. Staff has been working with FAN’s board to ensure that our organization examines policy, programming, and the culture of FAN through a lens of racial equity. This summer, our board and staff will have a retreat with training and conversation as a commitment to this ongoing process.


Cindy Crane, Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin (LOPPW)                

IMMIGRATION/ASYLUM & STUDENT PASTOR BETTY RENDÓN: LOPPW organized a van of people to drive to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in Kenosha to attend a vigil held for Rendón and her husband, Carlos. We were also in contact with the immigration center in Chicago to get language for a sample letter to send to our listserv when inviting our members to support them in receiving a stay on their removal. We have kept our members updated, especially with messages from Bishop Paul Erickson of the Greater Milwaukee Synod, who has championed the family’s efforts. LOPPW is in the process of planning an immigration panel with the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin.

SYNOD ASSEMBLIES: LOPPW staff led a presentation based on our still very new PowerPoint on water at the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin and invited participants to write letters about water issues included in the draft of the state budget. Kelsey Johnson, hunger fellow, and Cindy Crane, director, also managed tables at the Northern Great Lakes and East Central Synod of Wisconsin assemblies held at the same time.

LEGISLATION: Johnson was asked by a legislator’s office, where she has made connections, to testify on a bill that had an indirect link to sex trafficking. Crane met with the staff of the chair of the Wisconsin Clean Water task force to discuss how his work was coinciding with water issues highlighted in the proposed state budget.

GOOD-BYE: We said good-bye to our part-time intern Sarah Schultz who shared her creativity and passion for justice as part of a campus ministry program.

Goodness of biodiversity: Mindfulness required

By Ruth Ivory-Moore, Program Director for Environment and Corporate Social Responsibility

The intricacies and diversity of creation are mind-boggling, a reflection and reminder of the power and glory of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit expressed through the created order. The United Nations honors creation on May 22 through the International Day for Biological Diversity. This year’s theme is “Our Biodiversity, Our Food, Our Health.” Marking the day increases our understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues in God’s good creation.

Try to trace the biodiversity story of many things you eat and use every day. From a lunch bag apple to ingredients in your cold medicine, our food and health are dependent on biodiversity. 

Biodiversity is the variety and diversity of various forms of life on earth, and particularly that in a specific region that includes various species of plant and animal life, microorganisms and the ecosystems where they exist. It is essential. Living entities support each other and interact with their non-living environment to provide and enhance healthy life for all of creation. As told in Genesis, from chaos came synchronization where all life is valued and interlinked. “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good,” (Genesis 1:31).  

Where do we see the essential role of diversity in our food and health? Crop genetic diversity, for example, plays a critical role in creasing and sustaining production levels and nutritional diversity throughout the full range of different agroecological conditions. Diverse organisms contributing to soil diversity perform vital functions that regulate the soil ecosystem, such as decomposition of litter and recycling of nutrients, converting atmospheric nitrogen to an organic form and reconverting this to gaseous nitrogen, and altering soil structure. Ecosystems support soil formation, nutrient cycling, and primary production; provide food, fresh water, fuel, fiber, biochemicals, and genetic resources, and regulate the climate, disease, water, water purification, and pollination.  

Then there are bees! Consider these truly amazing insects. A one-minute video from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations imagines a world without this essential component in the food chain. Threats to biodiversity are threats to us all.  

Havoc imposed on earth and its ecosystems cannot continue unrestrained. While production of basic goods and services are among priorities noted in the ELCA social statement “Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope and Justice, our quest for economic prosperity and other human activity threatens global biodiversity. Disregard for life of a certain species or ecological system will negatively impact all of life.  

The sabbath and jubilee laws of the Hebrew tradition remind us that we may not press creation relentlessly in an effort to maximize productivity (Exodus 20:8-11; Leviticus 25). The principle of sustainability means providing an acceptable quality of life for present generations without compromising that of future generations. Protection of species and their habitats, preservation of clean land and water, reduction of wastes, care of the land—these are priorities,notes the Caring for Creation statement. 

On this International Day for Biological Diversity, let’s lift all of creation in prayer. 

God of wisdom, showing us your love in the rising sun and waning tide, you grace Earth with life in all its variety. Everything has meaning, is blessing; everyone is charged with care for the smallest creature to the ocean’s depth. Grant us wisdom to know your ways of love and gentle kindness. Give us the mind to learn what we do not know but long to understand so that we may honor and nurture all that makes us one with you. Amen 


Prayer by Diane Lopez Hughes at  

Additional information: 

May Update: UN and State Edition



*From April 29 to May 1, the Lutheran Office for World Community and state public-policy offices attended the 2019 ELCA Advocacy Convening in Washington, D.C. The theme of the convening was, “Prepared to Care: Our Advocacy in Light of Disasters Intensified by Climate Change”. Over 70 attendees, including ELCA bishops, community leaders, and state public-policy advocates, participated in workshops, trainings, and hill visits with their legislators.

Lutheran Office for World Community, United Nations, New York

Dennis Frado, director


Photo: CPD; Credits: UN DESA

The 52nd session of the Commission on Population and Development (CPD) took place at the Headquarters of the United Nations in New York from April 1 to 5. The theme of this year’s session was: “Review and appraisal of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and its contribution to the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. At the opening session the commission adopted a “declaration on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development”. This was the first time ministerial declaration passed by the commission after several years; during this time the commission has been unable to adopt a resolution because some countries (the U.S. included reportedly) oppose any text referring to sexual or reproductive health and rights.

Among the many side-event that took place was, “Faith-based Approaches to Sexual and Reproductive Health from a Human Rights’ Perspective” organized by ACT Alliance, the World Council of Churches, UN AIDS, Faith to Action Network, Islamic Relief-USA, the Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Permanent Missions of the Philippines and Norway. The event emphasized that religious actors play a crucial role in advancing gender equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights. Specific topics included delivery of health and education services and how religious leaders and other religious authorities function as “norm setters”, and their relationships as advocates with legislators nationally and globally. Watch the event here. Read the full report on the general debate over sexual and reproductive rights during CPD session here.


The Rev. Mari Valjakka (second from left), Sami pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and moderator of the World Council of Churches’ reference group on indigenous peoples, visited the Lutheran Office for World Community during the recent UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

The Lutheran Office for World Community attended the 18th session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) held April 22 – May 3 the Headquarters of the United Nations. This year indigenous people are sharing invaluable knowledge and information around the theme “Traditional Knowledge: Generation, Transmission and Protection.”

 The chair of the forum stated that “traditional knowledge is at the core of indigenous identity, culture and heritage around the world and must be protected.” Discussion centered on the urgent need to preserve and revitalize indigenous languages in this the International Year of Indigenous Languages. According to the publication Ethnologue:Languages Around the World, of the 7000 languages spoken around the world 2,680 are in danger of disappearing, and with them the important culture and practices they articulate.

During the session on human rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli Corpuz, the UN Special Rapporteur, spoke on attacks on and crimes against indigenous peoples, highlighted in her 2018 report to the Human Rights Council. Her 2019 report will focus on indigenous governance and systems.

Other side-events during the forum included, the launch of “Indigenous Youth: Through Their Eyes,” a book by the Global Indigenous Youth Caucus and the UN Special Envoy on Youth in collaboration with Columbia University. Fourteen indigenous youth contributed to the book, representing all seven regions of the world. They shared a unique perspective on indigenous issues that are affecting the world today.

Read more about the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted by the General Assembly in 2007.

During April, ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton (second from left) paid her first visit the Lutheran Office for World Community, accompanied by Kathryn Lohre, ELCA executive for ecumenical and interreligious relations (far right).



Regina Q. Banks, Lutheran Office of Public Policy- California                                              

ADVOCACY CONVENING: California was well-represented at this year’s Advocacy Convening held April 29 through May 1 in Washington, D.C. The theme of this year’s event was “Prepared to Care: Our Advocacy in Light of Disasters Intensified by Climate Change”. The California delegation consisted of Bishop Guy Erwin of the Southwest California Synod, Debi Groon of Lutheran Social Services of Southern California, Wylie Cook a seminarian and board member of the Lutheran Office of Public Policy- California, and Regina Q. Banks, director of LOPP-CA.

The delegation discussed the ELCA’s commitment to disaster response and preparedness with congressional representative Gilbert Cisneros (CA-39), Doris Matsui (CA-06) and Brad Sherman (CA-30),  as well as senators Kamala Harris and Diane Feinstein. All of the meetings went very well and it was decided all of the offices were receptive to the ELCA Advocacy Ask.

LUTHERAN LOBBY DAY IN SACRAMENTO: Washington was good practice for California’s first statewide advocacy event scheduled for Wednesday May 29th in Sacramento. You can still register for Lutheran Lobby Day at the State Capitol. Participants from D.C. will give an in-depth debrief. Information and a link to register can be found at


Peter Severson, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry–Colorado                                                       

LEGISLATURE CONCLUDES: The Colorado General Assembly adjourned on Friday, May 3, after four months of legislative work in 2019. Major priorities of the Lutheran Advocacy office this session included death penalty abolition, paid family leave, school lunch access, renter’s rights, and climate action. The assembly had not adjourned by our deadline, so consult our June update for a full run-down of how these priorities fared.

ADVOCACY CONVENING: Colorado was represented at the ELCA Advocacy Convening in Washington, D.C. from April 29 to May 1. Peter Severson, director of LAM-CO, and Jim Gonia, Bishop of the Rocky Mountain Synod visited with staff of the Colorado congressional delegation on Capitol Hill.

ROCKY MOUNTAIN SYNOD ASSEMBLY: The Rocky Mountain Synod convened May 3-5 for its 2019 assembly in Albuquerque, N.M., under the theme “Be Transformed!” The event featured keynote speaker Fr. Richard Rohr and also lifted up the ministries of the RMS that are leading hospitality for migrants in Las Cruces and El Paso.

CONGREGATION VISIT: Thank you to the people of Our Saviors’ Lutheran Church in Fort Collins for hosting LAM-CO Director Peter Severson, who preached at their Wednesday Lent service on April 3!

North Carolina

GeoRene Jones, North Carolina Synod Social Justice & Advocacy Ministries (SJAM)

Last month we reported on our March 26 Advocacy Day event, Lutherans at the Legislature 2019, and follow-up efforts by congregations across the state. Our advocacy focus was to raise awareness about the significant number of homeless people in our communities and to ask for increased support from the state for affordable housing initiatives across our 100 counties.

One week later, on April 2, legislators in the North Carolina House of Representatives introduced House Resolution 564, which would create a North Carolina House of Representatives select committee on homelessness.

The measure, which passed first reading on April 4, is now under review by the House Committee on Rules, Calendar, and Operations, and we are hopeful that the resolution will be allowed to the floor and passed before the end of this year’s legislative session.

SJAM efforts in this area of advocacy continue, our next event being a pre-assembly educational forum on homelessness and affordable housing.


New Mexico

Ruth Hoffman, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry- New Mexico (LA-MN)  

GOVERNOR MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM SIGNS BILLS SUPPORTED BY LUTHERAN ADVOCACY MINISTRY-NM: Eight bills for which LAM-NM advocated during the 2019 legislative session made it to the governor’s desk for consideration and were signed into law:

Workers look on as Gov. Lujan Grisham prepares to sign a bill increasing the

state minimum wage to $12.

  • Increasing the state minimum-wage to $12 by 2023;
  • Protections for domestic workers under the state minimum wage and labor laws;
  • Stricter requirements and reporting for small loans;
  • Creation of the mid-level dental profession of dental therapist which can expand access to oral health care for low-income New Mexicans;
  • Prohibiting trafficked minors from being charged with prostitution;
  • Prohibiting solitary confinement for children, pregnant women, and people with a serious mental illness;
  • Increasing the state Working Families Tax Credit, which piggy-backs on the federal Earned Income Tax Credit, from 10 % to 17%; and
  • Prohibiting most employers from asking on initial job applications whether or not an applicant is a felon.


Southeastern Synod

Hilton Austin, director

WASHINGTON, D.C. ADVOCACY CONVENING: We just returned from D.C. We had good visits with our legislators or their assistants; Rob Woodall (GA) and Gary Palmer (AL) individually welcomed us to D.C. and talked with us for 30 minutes. It was very refreshing to have them take time out of a very busy day to speak with us.

MISSISSIPPI LEGISLATION 2019 – ’20 SESSION: Mississippi’s legislative session has closed for the year. We were fortunate to have six of the bills we supported pass.

Criminal Justice Reform:

  • HB1352 – This bill will create the “Criminal Justice Reform Act.” which redefines certain courts (such as drug courts) as “intervention courts,” removes the offense of contempt for an individual’s inability to pay fines, and revises expungement procedures to make them more inclusive.
  • SB2328 – This bill will create the “Forensic Mental Health Act of 2019,” to ensure protections for people with mental health concerns who are involved in the justice system.
  • HB1284/SB2781 – This bill will create the “Mississippi Fresh Start Act” which states that no person pursuing, practicing, or engaging in any occupation that requires a license shall be disqualified solely or in part because of a prior conviction, unless that conviction directly relates to the duties and responsibilities of the licensed occupation.

Environmental Justice:

  • HB1568 – This bill will authorize the issuance of state general obligation bonds in the amount of $27,940,000 to provide matching funds for the Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund.


  • HB637 – This bill will create the Voter Enfranchisement Study Committee to examine the impact of non-violent offenses on enfranchisement.


  • SB2267 – This bill will create and act to amend the code of Mississippi to transfer the responsibilities of the Mississippi Commission on Expanding Medicaid Managed Care to the Medical Care Advisory Committee within the division of Medicaid in order to monitor and study the Medicaid Managed Care payment program and to make an annual report to the legislature. The bill will also authorize the Medicaid Care Advisory Committee to consult with similar groups.


Nick Bates, Hunger Network in Ohio                                                           

THE OHIO BUDGET – A MORAL DOCUMENT: Ohio continues to trail the nation in hunger, infant mortality, college tuition, income, and overdose death rates. We must do better. Faith leaders across Ohio attended an advocacy day at the Ohio statehouse in early April to discuss affordable housing, food security, a refundable Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC), and fair school funding. The senate will spend May putting their mark on the budget before a final version goes before the governor by June 30.

TAKE ACTION WITH A LETTER TO YOUR LOCAL PAPER: Public officials are dealing with many important issues in the state budget, but you can help lift up the needs of hungry Ohioans with a letter to the editor. CLICK HERE for instructions and a link to your local newspaper. This advocacy is extremely important!

OTHER HAPPENINGS: The Hunger Network was pleased to join our ELCA colleagues in Washington, D.C., for an advocacy convening on climate change and disaster. As we know, those already struggling to get by will bear the brunt of the impact of climate change. (top: Nick Bates, Presiding Bishop Eaton, and Amanda Silcox) . (bottom: Nick Bates, Sen. Rob Portman, John Pyron, and Paisha Thomas).

FAITH ADVOCACY TABLE: HNO continues to assist in convening an inter-faith table of statewide advocates. Paisha Thomas, an ELCA Advocacy Fellow, facilitates the day’s conversation.







Tracey DePasquale, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry – Pennsylvania (LAMPa)            

ELCA ADVOCACY CONVENING: LAMPa staff joined Bishop Collins and Bishop Dunlop of the Upper and Lower Susquehanna synods, respectively, as well as five LAMPa advocates in Washington, D.C., for the ELCA Advocacy Convening “Prepared to Care: Our Advocacy in Light of Disasters Intensified by Climate Change.” Along with bishops and leaders from around the country, the group learned about climate and disaster response before visiting lawmakers to advocate for policies to address the threats posed to all.

LUTHERAN DAY AT THE CAPITOL: Registration is open for our day of advocacy on May 20, which will begin at Trinity Lutheran Church in Camp Hill and include presentations on hunger and child nutrition, human trafficking, climate change, prescription drug pricing, the ELCA proposed Declaration of Inter-Religious Commitment with keynote speaker Kathryn Lohre, and more. In addition, the day will include worship, legislative visits, breakfast, lunch and a celebration of advocates from each synod. The advocacy day is part of a two-day event on the theme “Set A Welcome Table,” designed to equip disciples to live into the beauty of Psalm 133:1: “How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!” More.

CIVIL CONVERSATIONS TRAINING: On May 19, LAMPa will co-host training inspired by Krista Tippett’s “On Being” podcast and the Civil Conversations Project. Designed to help participants improve their skills for engaging in meaningful conversations in divided times and organize civil conversations in their community. This event invites people of all faiths to build a thriving, diverse democracy. More.


Paul Benz, Faith Action Network (FAN)                                                                                    

The Washington State legislative session adjourned right on time, and we were busy working to ensure that policies passed will prevent poverty, build housing, protect immigrants, promote civil rights, create clean energy, restore justice to the criminal justice system, and increase public access to medical and mental health care!


  • The 2019-’21 biennial operating budget of $52.4 billion, which includes some increases for affordable housing and our broken mental health system.  We took a small step toward progressive tax reform by revising REET (Real Estate Excise Tax) and how home sales are taxed in our state.
  • 100% Clean Electricity (E2SSB 5116) – The nation’s most comprehensive clean energy bill which will eliminate Washington State’s use of fossil fuels by 2045.
  • Religious Zoning (SHB 1377) – Authories a “density bonus” for faith communities building affordable housing on their properties.
  • Keep Washington Working (E2SSB 5497) – Separates the work of local law enforcement from that of federal ICE agents, allowing immigrant families to participate in their communities without fear of deportation.
  • Initiative 1000 – This petition to restore affirmative action in jobs, contracts, and education was signed by more people than any other in the history of Washington State.
  • Use of Deadly Force (SHB 1064) – Restricts the use of deadly force by law enforcement. The first bill to be signed by the governor this year, based on Initiative 940 which was passed by Washington voters in late 2018.
  • Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women (2SHB 1713) – Improves law enforcement response to the safety of indigenous women.

FAN HAS BEEN WORKING FOR PEACE IN UNJUST AND DIFFICULT TIMES. We celebrated as the No Ban Act was introduced at the federal level and we met with local staff senators Murray and Cantwell who support the measure. As part of Holy Week, we attended a Table Turning event at Tukwila Detention Center to call out the systems of oppression that harm our neighbors. We mourned with the victims of the shootings in Sri Lanka and San Diego, attacks on people of faith that come far too frequently. We hosted a Statewide Giving Day on April 30 and took to the streets the following day to march with our union friends for May Day. Our work extends from our local communities across the state to the federal level.

PAUL AND SARAH ATTENDED THE ELCA ADVOCACY CONVENING IN WASHINGTON, D.C., and met with the staff of Washington State’s congressional respresentatives. We discussed climate change, natural disaster response, and funding for Puerto Rico.




Cindy Crane, Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin (LOPPW)                             

Our state government is currently shaping its 2019-20 budget. Many of our efforts as an individual ministry and in coalition with our partners have been focused on influencing the budget according to our priorities on hunger and poverty.

PEOPLE OF FAITH UNITED FOR JUSTICE – INTERFAITH ADVOCACY DAY: One of our budget priorities was clean drinking water in Wisconsin, on which LOPPW took a leadership role. LOPPW’s director, Cindy Crane, and Lutheran Campus Ministry Faith and Vocation Fellow, Sarah Schultz, co-led a workshop on the state of drinking water in Wisconsin. Both Schultz and Hunger Fellow Kelsey Johnson served as legislative captains, leading participants from their assigned districts to their state senator’s and representative’s offices.

Sarah (left) co-leading the first of two 30-minute water presentations.


Kelsey (right) leading participants in a discussion during a legislative visit.


Water presentation video:

JOINT FINANCE COMMITTEE PUBLIC HEARINGS: The director of LOPPW testifed on water, human trafficking, driver’s licenses, and federal dollars for Badger Care at the commitee’s first public hearing, held in Janesville.

Kelsey and LOPPW volunteer Laura Hermanns attended the hearing in the Milwaukee area. LOPPW volunteer and WELCA leader Shirley Paulson attended the hearing in Green Bay.



Compromiso con la creación y l@s Vecin@ en este momento [en español]


-por la Rev. Amy E. Reumann, Directora de defensa de ELCA


Oh Dios, nuestra ayuda en épocas pasadas, nuestra esperanza en los años venideros,

Nuestro refugio en la ráfaga de tempestad, y nuestro hogar eterno.

ELW 632, stanza 1 [Adoración Evangélica Luterana 632, primera estrofa] 705pm


A mediados de 2018, el Grupo Defensor de la ELCA decidió enfocar la Convocatoria de Defensa, una reunión de defensa para los obispos y líderes clave de la comunidad y ELCA en la intensificación de los desastres como consecuencia del cambio climático. Sabíamos que este tema requería nuestra defensa urgente. Desde ese entonces, millones de personas más han sufrido a raíz del terremoto y el tsunami en Indonesia, los incendios forestales en California, el ciclón Idai en el sureste de África, y las inundaciones generalizadas en la zona central de los Estados Unidos. La tierra gime mientras el calentamiento del clima intensifica la sequía, las inundaciones, los incendios forestales, y aumentan los niveles del mar, y éstos, a su vez, aceleran el hambre, el conflicto, la migración, y afectan el bienestar de cada habitante de nuestro planeta.

Como respuesta a este sufrimiento masivo, nos volvemos a Dios, nuestra ayuda, pidiendo liberación para aquellos que están en peligro. Lamentamos que los impactos del clima golpean primero y en forma desproporcionada a los que menos han hecho para ocasionarlos. Confesamos que los esfuerzos de alivio y recuperación para los supervivientes de desastres naturales no son distribuidos justamente, lo cual refleja y agudiza las inigualdades raciales y de género que se encuentran entretejidas en nuestra sociedad.

Se requiere que el liderazgo de la comunidad de fe, en el corto lapso de tiempo que le queda a nuestro mundo, dé marcha atrás de los peores impactos climáticos. La solución de la crisis climática exige que reimaginemos nuestras relaciones con la creación y las de los unos con los otros. Esto incluye nuestras medidas de repudiar la doctrina del descubrimiento y denunciar la colonización de la creación, las cuales alimentan nuestro consumo interminable. También exige un despertar espiritual a formas nuevas y más vivificadoras de relacionarnos con el mundo creado y los unos con los otros.

Nuestro esta iglesia a la acción persistente y resuelta a favor de la creación y de nuestro prójimo está profundizando. Aprenderemos de la experiencia y del conocimiento experto en el clima y de la respuesta ante desastres de unos y otros, llevaremos importantes conversaciones sobre el clima y un discernimiento comunitario a lo largo de las fallas geológicas de nuestro país, y llamaremos a nuestros líderes a la acción. Estamos involucrados en un esfuerzo continuo por reducir las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero, asegurar la transición justa de combustibles fósiles en nuestras comunidades, y abordar las pérdidas, daños, y el bienestar de los supervivientes de desastres naturales. Se necesitan urgentemente su voz y su presencia. Mientras nos reunimos, ponemos nuestra confianza en el Dios que nos formó, sopló aliento de vida en nuestro mundo, y nos sostiene ahora y siempre.


Antes de que los montes fuesen ordenados o la tierra recibiera su marco,

Desde la eternidad eres Dios, el mismo por siempre y para siempre.

ELW 632, stanza 1 [Adoración Evangélica Luterana 632, tercera estrofa]



Commitment to creation and neighbor in this window of time [English version]


-by the Rev. Amy E. Reumann, ELCA Advocacy Director


O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come,

Our shelter from the stormy blast, and our eternal home.

ELW 632, stanza 1

In mid-2018, the ELCA Advocacy team decided to focus the 2019 ELCA Advocacy Convening, an advocacy gathering for bishops and key community and ELCA leaders, on disasters intensified by climate change. We knew then that this topic required our urgent advocacy. Since then, millions more have suffered in the wake of an earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia, wildfires in California, Cyclone Idai in southeast Africa and widespread flooding in the U.S. heartland. The earth is groaning as our warming climate intensifies drought, floods, wildfires and sea level rise, each in turn accelerating hunger, conflict, migration and the well-being of every inhabitant of our planet.

In response to such massive suffering, we turn to God, our help, asking for deliverance for those in harm’s way. We lament that climate impacts are visited first and most disproportionately on those who have done the least to cause them. We confess that relief and recovery for survivors of natural disasters is not justly distributed, reflecting and reinforcing the gender and racial inequities woven into our social fabric.

Faith community leadership is required in the small window of time our world has to pull back from the worst climate impacts. Solving the climate crisis requires us to reimagine our relationships to creation and one another. This includes our actions to repudiate the doctrine of discovery and denounce the colonization of creation that feeds our endless consumption. It demands a spiritual awakening toward new and more lifegiving ways of relating to the created world and one another.

Our church’s commitment to persistent and resolute action on behalf of creation and our neighbor is deepening. We learn from one another’s experience and expertise in climate and disaster response, practice leading climate conversations and communal discernment across the fault lines in our nation, and call our leaders to act. We are engaged in a sustained effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, ensure a just transition from fossil fuels in our communities, and address loss, damage and the wellbeing of survivors of natural disasters.

Your voice and presence are urgently needed. We place our trust and confidence in the God who formed us, breathed life into our world and sustains us now and always.

Before the hills in order stood or earth received its frame,

From everlasting you are God, to endless years the same.

ELW 632, stanza 3

The imperative to leave no one behind

by Abbigail Hull, Hunger Advocacy Fellow-Washington, D.C. 

Leave no one behind.

32 Lutheran delegates from 7 countries (Colombia, Liberia, Palestine, Peru, Switzerland, Tanzania, and the U.S.) took part in CSW63, including our author (pictured first row, 4th from left)

This was the ambitious commitment in the creation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs are a set of universal goals “unique in that they cover issues that affect us all. They reaffirm our international commitment to end poverty, permanently, everywhere. They are ambitious in making sure no one is left behind. These 17 goals, such as zero hunger, are for striving toward by developed and developing countries.

Leave no one behind.

This call is not just a United Nations commitment, but a biblical call for us as Christians. We leave no one behind not only because it is good for the economy, or the planet, or the “right thing to do,” but because Jesus Christ, our example, time and time again focused his love and attention on those who were forced into the margins. He cared for the people that the Pharisees and others in power had left behind, including the poor, the diseased, the widow and the prostitute.

I was a part of a Lutheran delegation during this year’s United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW63) held in March. The Lutheran delegation hosted worship on the event’s opening day. The Gospel chosen was Matthew 20:1-16, where Jesus reminds His disciplines in a parable: “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” Leave no one behind by making our most vulnerable siblings first.

For those in power, who have always been first, this can be uncomfortable. As Christians, we are called to be examples of this radical love of leaving no one behind. So, how do we do this?

The theme of this year’s CSW63 was: “Social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.” When Lopa Banerjee, Director of the Civil Society Division for UN Women, addressed the Ecumenical Women at the United Nations, which the Lutheran delegation was a part of, she simply put that social protection systems such as pensions and food programs are “leaving no one behind in manifestation.” Social protections systems can manifest the biblical call to leave no one behind by putting those who are normally last, first.

Leave no one behind.

Mikka McCracken, Director of Planning and Engagement for ELCA World Hunger, presented at CSW63. She put another powerful spin to the statement: “leave no one behind.” She reminded the audience that everyone, and every institution, has a role to play in de-marginalizing those in the margins, especially the Church. The ELCA and the wider Christian community need to continue to take their seat at places such as the United Nations. Not only do we have the theological tools available and necessary to inspire communities to tackle these lofty SDGs, but also the Church has been providing social protection services and caring for the marginalized from the very beginning.

And that is why as a church we not only say “leave no one behind,” but we continue to act on it.