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September Update: UN and State Edition

Following are updates shared from submissions of the Lutheran Office for World Community and state public policy offices.

U.N. | Arizona | Colorado | Minnesota | New Mexico| Ohio | Pennsylvania | Texas | Washington | Wisconsin

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

Dennis Frado, director

UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY: The UN General Assembly High Level week which ushers in the annual General Debate will take place from 22nd to 29th September 2020. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there are limitations on holding large in-person meetings and for the first time since the founding of the UN, world leaders will not gather in person in New York. Heads of State and Government or Ministers representing Member States have been requested to address the General Debate via pre-recorded video statements. However, some may disregard this request and attend in person.  The UN is otherwise limiting in person attendance to delegates and staff with a direct role in a given meeting.  Attendees will be required to wear face masks except when directly addressing a meeting.

H.E. Mr. Volkan Bozkir (left), incoming President of the General Assembly, will preside over the 75th session. Mr. Bozkir is a former Member of the Turkish Parliament where he served as chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee for several years.  He also served as Turkey’s Permanent Representative to the European Union.

There are several high-level meetings scheduled to take place virtually:

LWF APPEAL FOR DR. DENIS MUKWEGE: In late August, the Rev. Dr. Martin Junge, General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), sent an urgent appeal to the United Nations for the safety of Dr. Denis Mukwege.  In a 25th August letter to UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Junge said the LWF “is very concerned about the safety and wellbeing of Dr Denis Mukwege, 2018 Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Founder and Medical Director of Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).”  Junge cited threats against Dr Mukwege and his family that are available in the public domain. Junge expressed alarm about “the risks posed by the withdrawal of the security service that was provided until recently by the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO).”

“Dr Mukwege’s work in defense of human rights and holistic care of women affected by sexual and gender-based violence is recognized globally. He is a beacon of hope for all, and especially the most vulnerable populations who have borne the brunt of violence and conflicts.  He is a global leader and human rights defender. He has continued to speak out against impunity and demanded accountability, particularly through the implementation of the recommendations of the 2010 report: DRC: Mapping human rights violations.”

While welcoming the fact “that the Congolese government has offered to provide National Police services to protect Dr Mukwege”, Junge said he firmly believes “that this approach is inadequate because the capacity and the reliability of the Congolese police cannot be ascertained.”

LOWC conveyed the letter to the Secretary-General’s office on behalf of the LWF.


Solveig Muus, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry Arizona

ARIZONA ELECTIONS AND CENSUS: For the next 60 days, the 2020 election is a Lutheran Advocacy Ministry Arizona (LAMA) priority. We are partnering with other Arizona faith-based advocates to emphasize the importance of voting, particularly in low-income neighborhoods where statistics indicate both 2016 voter turnout was low, and 2020 Census reporting is low as well. We also are preparing a voting toolkit for congregations.

LAMA is continuing its survey of the 85 Lutheran congregations in Arizona and building our network. A common thread our church leaders have identified is a desire for education and resources to help them demonstrate in a visceral way the direct correlation between being people of faith and advocating for the common good. This is one way LAMA hopes to serve to our congregations.

LAMA SUMMIT: LAMA’s policy team is planning its LAMA SUMMIT, the first state-wide gathering of Lutheran advocates and friends since the LAMA office opened its doors in February. Keynote speaker for this 3-hour virtual event on November 7 is Dr. Ryan Cumming program director for hunger education at ELCA World Hunger.

Since we last reported, LAMA has launched the Lutheran Advocacy Ministry Arizona website at and also published a weekly newsletter, subscribers welcome!

Our heartfelt thanks to all our Lutheran state public policy offices for their help and counsel as the Arizona team gets up and running. We are blessed!


Peter Severson, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-Colorado

FALL BALLOT QUESTIONS ARE SET: The Colorado Secretary of State has affirmed eleven – that’s right, eleven – questions for the November statewide ballot. All Coloradans will have the opportunity to weigh in on major issues impacting our state’s public policy. The LAM-CO Policy Committee will be meeting in early September to decide on the positions we will take, if any, on these measures.

One measure we are already supporting is Proposition 118, Paid Family & Medical Leave. This program would give workers across Colorado access to paid leave in the event of serious medical or family issues, ensuring that people are able to maintain some income and lessen the risk of losing their job. The Colorado Families First Coalition is supporting this measure – join us and learn more at

Other issues on the ballot include state income tax, property tax, the National Popular Vote Compact, abortion, gray wolves, tobacco taxes, and gambling. Look for more information from Lutheran Advocacy in the next few weeks, including our annual Voter Guide!

LIVING FAITH: The Rocky Mountain Synod is pleased to offer a new curriculum, Living Faith: Church in Society, to help spark rich conversations about our Lutheran faith and social issues. ELCA Social Statements form the backbone of our policy advocacy. These deep resources are the springboard for reflections from voices around our Synod on timely issues, including scripture, prayer, and guided discussion questions. Check it out today!


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

HEALTH EMERGENCY: Governor Walz extended the emergency allowing him executive powers impacting businesses, physical distancing, and mask-wearing. After each extension, the legislature must meet, but both chambers much vote to end the emergency. Legislators pushing to end the emergency are mostly rural and primarily see economic impacts of closed or modified business operations. Legislators from bigger communities (more COVID-19 victims) tend to vote to continue the emergency. [Having been diagnosed with presumptive COVID five months ago, I continue to experience long-term respiratory and fatigue issues despite no pre-existing conditions, and wish legislators better understood long-term health impacts on economics. -TW]

SPECIAL SESSION #3: Minnesota Management & Budget Agency (MMB) interprets SEC rules to discourage or prohibit enactments changing state financials (including appropriations/bonds/taxes) as Minnesota goes to bond markets to sell previously authorized bonds. So, bonding must wait until the end of September to pass. In the August session, the House gaveled in & out, allowing the emergency to continue. However, the Senate unexpectedly fired the governor’s commissioner of Labor & Industry (message to the governor regarding the emergency?).

Some LA-MN partners believe September’s special session will involve postponing until late September when bonding can again be considered. Others hope the governor and MMB will take another look at whether the law actually requires ongoing special sessions during the emergency.

HOUSING: We continue to work to pass bonding for affordable housing. See our website for current talking points.

RENEWABLE ENERGY/CLIMATE CHANGE: Environmental partners are generating the best project list for a 2021 bonding bill (assuming 2020 is lost). LA-MN (with various partners) will work to educate about Minnesotans impacted by climate, and how renewable energy is growing Minnesota’s economy. Watch ELCA Advocacy & LA-MN for upcoming trainings. Check with Tammy for specific action needed in your community.

[LA-MN Director: Tammy Walhof / 651-238-6506 (call/text) / Website:]


Kurt A. Rager, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-NM

State-wide and Diverse Coalitions are Crucial to our Work! LAM-NM has historically been an active part of a variety of state-wide coalitions which directly connect to the priorities of our annual policy agenda.  During the months between legislative sessions, LAM-NM actively participates with coalitions focused on the issues of hunger, housing insecurity, criminal justice reform, ethics in government, healthcare, early childhood education, and immigrant justice, just to name a few.  An example is LAM-NM’s participation with the Food, Hunger, Water, Agriculture Policy and Action Team convened by New Mexico First.  This coalition, a bipartisan group of legislators, emergency food sector, farmers, ranchers, resilient agriculture advocates, faith communities, anti-hunger and anti-poverty advocates, human rights advocates, health providers and advocates, local food system advocates, researchers, philanthropy, and more has been meeting weekly to prioritize and coordinate policy efforts and put forward a policy agenda and legislation for the upcoming 2021 legislative session.  Members of the policy and advocacy team, including LAM-NM director, Kurt Rager, have met weekly during the month of August.  Our most recent meeting took place on August 27th.


Deacon Nick Bates, Hunger Network in Ohio

ANTI-RACISM SUNDAY, SEPT. 20th : On September 20th, HNO will join with the Ohio Council of Churches and faith communities throughout Ohio and participate in an Anti-racism Sunday. Racial injustice continues to hold our communities in bondage to sin. We encourage congregations to engage on Sept 20th (or another date that fits for your congregation) in a service to center our spiritual communities on how God is calling us to respond to racial injustice. You can access resources on the Ohio Council of Churches website and register your congregation’s participation! This builds on HNO’s advocacy work to advance racial justice throughout Ohio.

RACIAL JUSTICE AND PUBLIC HEALTH: Declare racism a public health crisis in Ohio. Ohio’s legislature is looking into how racial injustice impacts public health. In Ohio, hunger, infant mortality, and covid-19 cases have hit the African American community hard. We need to break down systemic racism and understand how we can address these issues. Contact your state legislative leaders and tell them to hold hearings and begin to investigate these issues by clicking here


Tracey DePasquale, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry–Pennsylvania (LAMPa)

LAMPA CONSTITUENTS, FAITH-BASED PARTNERS SHARE CONVERSATION WITH SEN. ROBERT CASEY: More than 60 people participated in a virtual town hall on the federal response to COVID-19. Participants were invited to share questions for the senator. Topics discussed included COVID unemployment; the disproportionate impact of COVID on black and brown populations; childhood hunger and the extension of nutrition benefits, and concerns about the U.S. Postal Service.

CHILD NUTRITION ADVOCACY YIELDS SOME GOOD NEWS: As one in six children in PA experience food insecurity,  we are pleased the USDA is extending free meals for children through Dec. 31, and will continue to allow summer meal program operators to serve free meals to all children into the fall months. LAMPa advocates had been petitioning for the waivers and will continue pressing for funding to ensure nutrition support for the entire school year.

CREATION JUSTICE: LAMPa voiced opposition to state House and Senate bills aimed at stripping the power of the Department of Environmental Protection to enact a carbon reduction program such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

PA EVICTION MORATORIUM ENDS: Gov. Wolf is urging the state legislature to improve rental and mortgage assistance programs. LAMPa and Lutheran Disaster Response have been warning officials of potential for a surge in homelessness based on the witness of our ministries in their communities.

PROMOTING SAFE, SECURE ELECTIONS: LAMPa is encouraging disciples who can safely do so to register as poll workers in PA, as many volunteers are older, and at higher-risk from COVID-19. LAMPa continues to remind constituents of the deadlines for mail-in and absentee ballot applications and oppose legislative attempts to create barriers to voter access and timely ballot counting.

HATE CRIME LEGISLATION: As incidents of hate crime increase throughout the Commonwealth, LAMPa continues to promote legislation as part of the Pa. Coalition Against Hate.

Margaret Folkmer
LAMPa is pleased to be part of ULS
Seminarian Margaret Folkemer-Leonard’s
learning community.

SEMINARIAN JOINS LAMPA: Margaret Folkemer-Leonard will be serving with LAMPa and St. Matthew, York, as part of her education at United Lutheran Seminary. She hopes to focus on educational advocacy as social justice related to the service of York area congregations. Learn more.

GOD’S WORK. OUR HANDS: LAMPa shared resources with congregations adding advocacy to their service on Sept. 13.



Bee Moorhead, Texas Interfaith Center for Public Policy

TEXAS VOTING AND ELECTIONS: Texas Impact members have been busy this week participating in legislative meetings and preparing for safe, accountable voting in 2020.

In July, Texas Impact re-launched our Faith in Democracy series of local advocacy trainings online, and hosted an event August 23 in Dallas. The Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana Synod  co-sponsored the event, and Bishop Gronberg was be a featured speaker at an event with 350 registrants. Two events are scheduled for September in Houston (September 13) featuring Bishop Michael Rinehart, and Corpus Christi (September27). Each event will include a faith and community leader panel and tools to equip congregations to be effective advocates and promote safe, accountable voting.

Texas Impact’s Legislative Engagement Groups are meeting with members of the Texas House’s district offices this month about the moral nature of the budget, discussing possible revenue options to fund important state priorities.

Texas Impact is continuing to promote the “Texas Faith Votes” campaign, encouraging congregations to promote four components: completing the safe and accountable voting checklist, encouraging mail in voting and signing the accountable Pledge to Vote prioritizing health, immigration, climate and a rejection of discrimination and recruiting election workers.

RACIAL JUSTICE AND ADVOCACY: Texas Impact continued the Weekly Witness podcast series featuring speakers from the Washington Interfaith Staff Community and has added a racial justice series featuring clergy of different races discussing racial justice and advocacy.

CLIMATE AND OTHER ADVOCACY: Climate advocacy was a priority in August with advocates meeting with members of Congress during the August recess. Texas Impact is also partnering with Texas Interfaith Power and Light to map Houston-area congregations engaged in environmental justice work.

Texans of faith are mobilizing and engaging for a busy fall of civic engagement, and Lutheran leaders are playing a key role.


The Rev. Paul Benz and Elise DeGooyer, Faith Action Network

REFERENDUM 90: The Faith Action Network Governing Board has unanimously endorsed Referendum 90 for Safe and Healthy Youth. This will appear on the November ballot in Washington State as a comprehensive sexuality education measure which is age-appropriate and inclusive. During the 2020 legislative session, a coalition of parents, educators, medical professionals, and advocates passed SB 5395 (Sen. Claire Wilson) in Washington State that mandates sex education in our public schools. Those opposed to the bill, sometimes citing religious reasons, have launched a misinformation campaign and gathered enough signatures to put that law up for a public vote this November, so FAN is working in coalition to show strong support from interfaith communities around the state. See more at the campaign’s website and our Faith Leaders Statement.

INDIGENOUS FILM FESTIVAL: FAN coordinates the Interfaith Network for Indigenous Communities (INIC), a coalition of interfaith leaders seeking solidarity between first nations peoples and allied people of faith as we confront the urgent issues of our time. INIC is co-sponsoring the first online Indigenous Film Festival from August 31 – October 5, celebrating American Indian, Alaska Native, and worldwide Indigenous films, featuring new films each week and opportunities for discussion with filmmakers. Check out this amazing opportunity here:

STATE AND BUDGET COALITIONS: Washington State is anticipating a $9B budget deficit into the next biennium. FAN is encouraging advocates to urge their legislators not to cut vital programs, to protect those already impacted by the economic recession and COVID-19, and to pass significant revenue solutions such as eliminating the capital gains tax loophole and adding other wealth taxes. Co-Director Paul Benz is working on multiple coalitions to influence this goal, including pushing for the now-approved $40M Undocumented Worker Relief Fund, funding the Working Families Tax Credit, and working on policing reforms through the Governor’s taskforce and the Washington Coalition for Police Accountability (WCPA).


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

RACIAL JUSTICE: We sent out an action alert about supporting police reform in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake and an Executive Order from Governor Evers.

THE PANDEMIC AND OUR HEALTH: For Wednesday Noon Live, we interviewed Madison’s Reverend Blake Rohrer, who gave a theological perspective on the state mask mandate; Green Bay Alderwoman Barbara Dorff, who discussed the death threats to the City Council after issuing a local mandate (before the state mandate) and future hopes; LOPPW Council Member Mr. William Mattson of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Rhinelander, who responded to local issues with masks.

IMMIGRATION AND DETENTION: We taped Wednesday Noon Live for Sept (it is usually live). We interviewed Attorney Mary Campbell, AMMPARO; Ms. Marisol Fuentes de Dubon, GMS Task Force & Detained Migrant Project; and Dr. Stephanie Mitchell, Professor of Latin American History at Carthage College & Emmaus Lutheran Church (Racine) member.  They shared practical ideas about what congregations can do.

CARE FOR GOD’S CREATION: Our LOPPW statewide climate task force met for the second time after the listening sessions to strategize.  The director participated in a briefing on a Climate Action Plan convened by the Dane County Executive.

VOTING: Created a video on Caring for God’s Creation and voting with Intern Kyle. Contacted Brookfield’s clerk to ask questions about absentee ballots as part of our voting coalition’s effort to survey municipalities. Participated in a panel for a webinar on voting organized by Ms. Kelly Marciales and Rev. Amy Reumann.

September Update: U.N. and State Edition

United Nations | California | Delaware | Florida | Minnesota | New Mexico | Pennsylvania | Southeastern Synod | Washington | Wisconsin

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

Dennis Frado, director

WELCOMING ECUMENICAL CAMPERS: On August 1, 2019, the Lutheran Office for World Community (LOWC) delivered a presentation to a group of youth from Cross Roads ‘S.E.E.K in the City’ summer camp program, to inform the campers of LOWC and its work with the United Nations. Based in New Jersey, Cross Roads is a joint ecumenical retreat center and camp of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark and the New Jersey Synod of the ELCA. The youth were actively engaged throughout and asked a range of questions including the role of youth within the United Nations.

AFRICAN DESCENT LUTHERAN ASSOCIATION 2019: In early August, Jackie Maddox ( ELCA Advocacy Office, Washington D.C) and  Christine Mangale (LOWC), attended the African Descent Lutheran Association’s (ADLA) 2019 Biennial Assembly, held in Milwaukee. Assembly highlights included the celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the ordination of black women in the Lutheran Church, a discussion on the gift of Human Sexuality because all Black Lives Matter, and the historic commemoration of the 400th Anniversary of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. In response to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America’s (ELCA) Declaration to People of African Descent (adopted June 27, 2019 by the Church Council), Reverend Lamont Wells,  President of ADLA, accepted the apology (viewed here), stating ‘we the people of African descent of the ELCA can receive this apology as a divine mark of repentance that serves as a catalyst for change …This apology is received because Jesus has shown us the way towards reconciliation.’

2019 INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE WORLD’S INDIGENOUS PEOPLES: The International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples was commemorated on August 9 at the United Nations. The event focused on this year’s theme of Indigenous Languages and its preservation and revitalization at both the national and international level, in order to protect the unique cultures, heritage and identities of the indigenous peoples they sustain.

According to the United Nations, although indigenous peoples only make up 5% of the world’s population, ‘they speak 60% of the worlds’ languages’, with estimates suggesting that ‘more than half of the world’s languages will become extinct by 2100.’ The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs’ Indigenous Peoples and Development Branch held a high-level segment, a panel discussion with four indigenous speakers, followed by an interactive segment focused on creative initiatives that promote the use of indigenous languages.

Recommendations for charting a constructive pathway forward included committing to a Decade of Indigenous Languages, creating further legislation that includes incorporating indigenous languages into school curriculum, and stronger dialogue and partnerships.

FAREWELL TO REV. REBEKKA PÖHLMANN: This month, the Lutheran Office for World Community was sad to say farewell to Reverend Rebekka Pöhlmann, at the conclusion of her one-year internship with the office. While working for LOWC, Rebekka has been actively engaged with issues related to Israel/ Palestine, interreligious and ecumenical dialogue, gender equality and the intersection of gender and security questions. Rebekka has taken on the role of Senior Pastor for a congregation in Ludwigstadt, Germany. We wish her all the best!

MIGRATION AND HUMAN TRAFFICKING CONFERENCE: Dennis Frado, Director of LOWC, traveled to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to deliver a presentation on how the UN is addressing the issue of human trafficking. The International Conference on Migration and the Human Trafficking Crisis in Asia, held August 21-23, was convened by ELCA Global Mission and local Cambodian partner Life With Dignity. Four of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals related to the prevention of human trafficking were shared: SDG 5 (Gender Equality, Target 5.2), SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth, Target 8.7), SDG 10 (Reduce Inequality, Target 10.7) and SDG 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, Target 16.2), alongside an extensive list of resources, protocols and initiatives. Dennis also highlighted the Global Compact on Migration, adopted by the UN in December 2018.  LOWC had monitored the negotiations leading to the Compact’s adoption.


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

LEGISLATURE BACK IN SESSION: Fiscal committees had 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, are reserved for floor sessions. This first year of a two-year session adjourns at midnight on Friday, September 13, 2019. Please look out for time-sensitive alerts about ways to support our advocacy as measures move from the floor of the legislature to the governor’s desk for signature.

LOBBY DAY PARTICIPATION: LOPP-CA has had an exciting month supporting our ministry partners and advocacy allies in their lobby days and advocacy actions. Just a couple of highlights:

On Wednesday, August 21st we participated in Building The California Dream Alliance (BCDA) lobby day. BCDA unites more than 60 organizations in a broad progressive coalition in an ambitious agenda to uplift families and expand opportunities for all Californians. We worked on stronger protections for striking and locked out workers, more robust safeguards for student borrowers, greater securities for our undocumented siblings and much more. Go to to find out more about BCDA and our participation.

California Interfaith Power and Light (CIPL) envisions a stable climate where humans live in right and just relationship, interconnected with a healthy, thriving, natural world. They work toward this goal through education, advocacy, direct action and conservation. Their lobby day was Wednesday, August 28th and together we advocated for “Complete Streets” (safe use of our community streets for walkers, bikers, public transportation, and private vehicles), Smog Checks for Big Rigs, the protection of our state lands from would-be fossil fuel extractors, and plastics use abatement. LOPP-CA would be glad to help you register to become an IPL congregation.

PARTNERSHIP WITH FARMING HOPE: LOPP-CA is excited to announce collaboration with Farming Hope, a non-profit community organization providing transitional employment and training in the culinary industry to unhoused and low-income people in our community. They are a recipient of an ELCA World Hunger grant and Executive Director Jamie Stark was well received at the hunger leaders gathering this summer in Minneapolis, Minn. Initial discussions were had over brunch on August 24th with representatives of Lutheran Social Services of Northern California, ELCA World Hunger and the office of Bishop Mark Holmerud, ELCA Sierra Pacific Synod. To find out more about Farming Hope visit them at and have a bite at their commercial kitchen site Manny’s at 3092 16th Street in San Francisco.

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:  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, Faith Lutheran Church in Marysville, Calif.


Gordon Simmons, Public Policy Officer, Delaware Lutheran Office for Public Policy

The Delaware Lutheran Office for Public Policy was begun in the mid 1980’s but discontinued in 2012. In 2019, we went back into business!  I’ve been serving as the (volunteer) Public Policy Officer.  We have a Policy Council composed of members of seven of the 13 congregations in the state. I spent a good deal of my time this year building relationships in the Legislature, holding one-on-ones with 60 of the 62 senators and representatives. I also preached and led forums in 12 of the 13 congregations. We had a “Lutheran Day at the Capitol.”  For 2020, we have identified two issues for concentrated work: the environment (especially trying to raise the current 25% by 2025 renewable energy goal) and education (especially supporting the state’s efforts to reorganize and improve the public schools in Wilmington).


Russell Meyer , Florida Faith Advocacy Office/Florida Council of Churches

Now that Dorian passed by the state, Floridians are turning out to support the Bahamas. Category 5 hurricanes blow cities to smithereens. There have been 4 in 5 years. More frequent and more intense weather comes from climate change. Now’s the time to talk about climate in your congregation. The Florida Legislature begins committee weeks this month in preparation for the January-March session. Expect more vouchers for private schools and disaster resiliency conversation. The hope for real criminal justice reform is high, and the fear of more adversity for immigrants is real. Healthcare and food assistance are still under attack.

Affordable housing is still being sunk by big development. Public schools are under open attack with the state education commissioner pushing to reduce them by two-thirds. The synod has combined its advocacy and ecumenical/interreligious teams, recognizing that our commitment to religious engagement is critical to our public advocacy for the common good, and vice versa. Sanctuary church is attracting great attention; contact us if you’re looking for a speaker.

The State Clergy Convening is Sept. 12-13 in Orlando to delve into advocacy issues.

A retreat with Alexia Salvatierra on faith-rooted organizing is Oct. 13-14 in Leesburg.

Check for details. Or @floridachurches FB | TW


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


  • Friday Green Tips – Several months ago, we began posting green tips every Friday. Check them out and let us know if you have ideas you would like us to share.
  • Migrant Mondays – We recently started a series on Mondays related to immigration. The first post featured a beautiful reflection on sanctuary, protection, & shelter from Bishop Jon Anderson. The series will include reflections, action alerts, & immigration updates from partners.
  • Clean Energy & Climate – Throughout the weeks that the world focuses on climate action we’ll have several posts that relate to the debate, including local events and action options.

HOMES FOR ALL: Last fall, the coalition’s Policy Team (where we serve) reviewed 44 proposals, compared them with Governor’s Housing Task Force recommendations, and carefully selected proposals bundled into legislation carried by legislative housing champions. It was a bold but necessary agenda! Although housing got more attention than any other issue in final negotiations last session (thanks to advocates like you helping raise the profile) most of that agenda was left undone! Now we’re in the processes of discerning what to emphasize of the remaining agenda, and whether there are other prescient issues that should be added. Bonding to increase the affordable supply will definitely be a priority, so you should raise that issue this fall with your legislators!

CLEAN ENERGY: We are in deep discussions with our partners regarding how much to address in legislation in the next session, versus stressing significant education with the public and legislators to aim for wins in 2021.

New Mexico

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

EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION MAKES A DIFFERENCE: LAM-NM has been an active part of a large state-wide coalition which has been advocating to increase the availability of quality early childhood education programs throughout New Mexico. Quality early childhood education includes home visiting, pre-kindergarten programs, as well as affordable childcare assistance. Such programs have been proven to make a very positive impact on the success of children and families.

The Invest in Kids Now coalition supports the adoption of an amendment to the state constitution to create a stable funding stream for early childhood education from our state’s Land Grant Permanent Fund. Members of the coalition, including LAM-NM director, Ruth Hoffman, attended and monitored an interim joint meeting of the Legislative Finance Committee and the Revenue Stabilization and Tax Policy Committee on August 29.


Tracey DePasquale, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry–Pennsylvania (LAMPa)

The Penn State Creamery, where the
fruits of PA’s agricultural research
are served up to millions of fans,
proved an excellent setting for several
LAMPa midstate summer meetings before
some 98,000 students returned for the
fall semester.

With the General Assembly in recess, August provided time for LAMPa staff to connect with partners, traveling the state to meet with new and longtime policy council members, coalition leaders, campus ministries and Pennsylvania’s new Bishop-Elect Michael Lozano. Those conversations, as well as surveys of rostered leaders and LAMPa’s network, will inform the work of our policy council at our retreat Sept. 22-23.

POVERTY: LAMPa staff and other members of the Interfaith Justice Coalition met with Rep. Francis Ryan about drafting legislation and developing a bi-partisan coalition to address intergenerational poverty.

HUNGER: Director DePasquale met with leaders of the PA Hunger Action Coalition to map strategy for the upcoming budget as well as responding to White House attacks on SNAP and related programs that will increase demand for state-level charitable support.

TRAFFICKING: DePasquale led a workshop at the Lower Susquehanna Synod convention of Women of the ELCA. Members celebrated passage of the Safe Harbor bill, on which they had worked for years, and learned how they can engage in other areas, including new anti-trafficking legislation.

RACIAL JUSTICE: DePasquale met with the Lower Susquehanna Synod Racial Justice Task Force, offering to amplify its work and sharing that we approach policy issues with a racial justice lens.

SANCTUARY: LAMPa staff responded to requests for information, including opportunities to act, stemming from the CWA sanctuary denomination declaration.

CIVIL CONVERSATIONS: LAMPa linked leaders who attended our Civil Conversations facilitator training in May and who are planning to introduce the process in their conferences and communities.

2020 CENSUS:  Program Director Lynn Fry attended the Keystone Counts quarterly 2020 Census planning meeting. LAMPa is working with the PA Council of Churches to help congregations connect with communities likely to be undercounted. An undercount could mean a substantial reduction in the $26 billion in federal census-directed funds.

Southeastern Synod

Hilton Austin, Southeastern Synod advocacy team

GUN VIOLENCE: We gathered at Liberty Plaza for a prayer vigil to end Gun Violence. Bishop-elect Kevin Strickland helped lead the prayers; we named the 609 people who where lost to gun violence in Georgia in 2018, along with prayers for peace.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM: We held a follow-up meeting on Ending Mass Incarceration to detail plans for the 2020 legislative session. Record Restriction is on the top of the list , along with expungements. We have target counties. We will also continue to battle against Cash Bail. We will also be joining others in encouraging Bryan Kemp to bring back the GA. Council on Criminal Justice Reform started by Gov. Deal.

IMMIGRATION: We continue our work on a teaching document on the Immigration Social Message. We still hope to finish and do a trial run at St. John’s in September. On August 3rd, we attended Rise for Refugees in Clarkston, GA., where we talked about the Presidential Determination on the Refugee Resettlement Cap. Plans were made for a campaign contacting the Judiciary Committee and the President.

GEORGIA INTERFAITH PUBLIC POLICY CENTER: G.I.P.P.C. is no longer a dream. We had our first Board of Directors meeting and began making big plans for the 2020 Legislative session. This is really exciting; we have brought together a most amazing inter-religious group, including Episcopal, Jewish, Presbyterian, Methodist, Muslim, Baptist, and Lutheran to mention a few.


Paul Benz, Faith Action Network (FAN)

ANNUAL FALL CLUSTER GATHERINGS: Every July and August FAN begins planning for our annual Fall Cluster Gatherings. Our statewide network of 151 advocating faith communities is divided into 21 geographic clusters. The purpose of our gatherings is to deepen the relationships we have as we continue to build new ones, discuss critical issues affecting our communities, and often meet with an elected official as well.  Our first one will be in Southwest Washington on September 15.

ELECTED OFFICIALS MEETINGS: FAN is busy year-round building relationships with elected officials and their staff, including members of Congress, state legislators, and local elected officials. Our FAN advocates and policy partners are key attendees at these meetings, advocating on the issues that matter most to them. During the August recess, our partners in the Muslim community set up a meeting of faith leaders on the issue of immigration with Sen. Patty Murray. Our partners at the Anti-Hunger & Nutrition Coalition set up a meeting with a new DC staff person of a Congressmember whose portfolio includes hunger, food, and nutrition. FAN also met with our newest member of Congress, Rep. Kim Schrier, who serves on the Agriculture and the Education & Labor Committees. FAN members living in her district engaged with her on several issues before Congress and her committees (pictured left).

RACIAL EQUITY FOCUS: Last month the FAN Governing Board and staff held a day-long facilitated retreat on the issue of racial equity, examining how we use this lens in every aspect of what we do – staffing, policy agendas, programming, etc. We look forward to next steps and being more intentional in defining the “why” of what we do.


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

ADVOCACY IN CONGREGATIONS: Bishop Laurie Skow-Anderson invited the director to consult with a new social justice group she is convening.  The leaders from around the synod were filled with energy discussing their passions for justice, ELCA priorities, and how to organize around them as a public church.

STATE BUDGET: LOPPW has a one-page summary of highlights in the signed 2019-2021 WI State Budget in relationship to our priorities, with other updates included for the advisory council members at our annual retreat and for the bishops:   file:///Users/cynthiacrane/Downloads/201920-WI-State-Budget-Plus.pdf

LOPPW 2019/20 PRIORITIES: The LOPPW Advisory Council met for our annual retreat and decided upon keeping our same priorities because of legislative needs and our growing familiarity with the issues we’ve been addressing:

  1. Calling for an End to Childhood Hunger
  2. Addressing the Crisis of Human Trafficking
  3. Caring for God’s Creation
  4. Supporting Immigration Reform

HUMAN TRAFFICKING: The director testified at one hearing on anti-sex trafficking. LOPPW is working with WELCA from the East-Central synod, the Northwest Synod, and South-Central Synod to organize a rally on September 24. Flyer:  file:///Users/cynthiacrane/Downloads/Safe-Harbor-Rally-Poster-1%20(5).pdf

IMMIGRATION: LOPPW has a new resource on immigration on immigration

ADMINISTRATION: LOPPW has a new event set up on its website with a PayPal button.


September 2018 Advocacy Update

ELCA Advocacy Office, Washington, D.C.

The Rev. Amy Reumann, director                                                                                     

ADVOCACY ON “GOD’S WORK. OUR HANDS.” SUNDAY: On Sunday, Sept. 9, we look forward to celebrating the ELCA volunteer day of service and action, “God’s work. Our hands.” Sunday. This year, ELCA Advocacy has shared advocacy resources, including a sample letter to Congress supporting the Voting Rights Advancement Act and a Voting Rights Fact Sheet. Be sure to check out all the resources and activities on the “God’s work. Our hands.” Sunday toolkit page.

VOTER REGISTRATION: Tuesday, Sept. 25, is National Voter Registration Day. The day draws attention to voter registration deadlines across the nation and encourages prospective voters to sign up, check their status or volunteer for further democratic participation. Additionally, new #ELCAvotes resources will be released later this month, including:  

  • a new Bible study that looks at instructive parallels between the early church community found in Acts 4 and how we vote our faith values in society; and
  • a voting guide for people facing homelessness, including congregation resource tips on facilitating voter registration.

Be sure to check ELCA Advocacy social media in the coming weeks for  more engagement around #ELCAvotes!

FARM BILL UPDATE: It is a crucial moment in the legislative process for the farm bill as it moves to the conference committee, and many important policies dealing with local efforts against hunger and international food security are at stake. A farm bill fact sheet on international food aid will be distributed by ELCA Advocacy later this month. Additionally, faith leaders from certain states are joining a petition to Congress, urging their lawmakers to support a farm bill that reduces hunger and improves nutrition.

“PUBLIC CHARGE” RULE: Both ELCA World Hunger and Advocacy are monitoring a rule change being considered by the Department of Homeland Security. Historically, the U.S. government has restricted immigration applications if it is determined an immigrant would be a “public charge,” that is, they would likely depend on cash assistance or long-term medical care. The rule expansion will raise barriers for people to obtain and maintain legal immigration status in the U.S. if they or their dependents access public benefits.

A post to the ELCA World Hunger blog written by an Advocacy staff member highlights the short period for public comment. Those of us active in hunger-related ministry are encouraged to consider the potential impact and prepare to comment in opposition to this rule.

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

Dennis Frado, director 

UN Photo/Loey Felipe
Ms. Espinosa (right) is congratulated by Miroslav Lajčák, President of the 72nd session of the General Assembly, following her address to the General Assembly. Also pictured is Secretary-General António Guterres.

U.N. GENERAL ASSEMBLY: On June 6, the General Assembly elected Ecuadorian Foreign Minister María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés president of its upcoming 73rd session. She is only the fourth woman to hold that position and the first since 2006. Espinosa Garcés noted that she is also the first woman from Latin America and the Caribbean to preside over the Assembly.

Espinosa Garcés has previously been minister of foreign affairs and human mobility, minister of defense, and coordinating minister of cultural and natural heritage. She was the first woman to be named permanent representative of Ecuador in New York, after having served as ambassador in Geneva. She said, “As you know, I am also a poet as well as a politician. As such, I am fully aware that no view is useful if we do not see, and no word has value, if we do not listen. I will be ready to listen to you all and work for, and with you.” Read her vision statement here.

Espinosa Garcés has published more than 30 academic articles on the Amazon River, culture, heritage, development, climate change, intellectual property, foreign policy, integration, defense and security. She has also published five volumes of poetry and received the Ecuadorian National Poetry Prize in 1990.


Sept. 5                          High-level forum on a culture of peace

Sept. 24                        High-level meeting: Nelson Mandela Peace Summit

Sept. 25 – Oct. 1         General debate

Sept. 26                        High-level plenary meeting to commemorate and promote the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons

Sept. 26                        High-level meeting on the fight against tuberculosis

Sept. 27                        High-level meeting to undertake a comprehensive review of the prevention and control of non-  communicable diseases

NEW APPOINTMENT TO U.N. HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS: U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres has appointed Michelle Bachelet of Chile the next U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. In September, she will succeed Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein of Jordan.

Bachelet ended her second four-year term as president of Chile in March 2018, having already held the position between 2006 and 2010.  The first woman elected to Chile’s highest office, after her first term, she joined the United Nations as the first executive director of the newly established U.N. Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (U.N.-Women).

A long-time human rights champion and ground-breaking leader,  Bachelet is a pediatrician who began her government career as an adviser in the Ministry of Health, rising quickly to become the first woman to lead the ministry in 2000 and its Defense Ministry in 2002.

She became involved in Chilean human rights activism in the early 1970s. She and her parents were political prisoners, and her father, a general in the air force, died in prison. After their release, Bachelet and her mother spent several years in exile. She returned to Chile in 1979, finished school and became a pediatrician and public-health advocate. Bachelet also studied military strategy at Chile’s National Academy of Strategy and Policy and at the Inter-American Defense College in the United States.


Mark Carlson, Lutheran Office of Public Policy                                                              

LEGISLATIVE SUMMARY: The California Legislature concluded its two-year session on Aug. 31 with mixed success for proposals supported by the Lutheran Office of Public Policy-California. SB 100, a bill to require 60 percent carbon-free electrical energy by 2030 and 100 percent by 2045, passed with considerable uncertainty and drama. As this is written, it is on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk awaiting action. A New York Times editorial supported it. A major disappointment was the demise of two bills to fund access to safe, affordable water in disadvantaged communities, rural and urban. SB 844, whose supporters included agricultural interests, would have enacted a fee on fertilizer and dairies, primary sources of nitrate contamination in groundwater. SB 845 would have enacted a voluntary fee on water bills to fund domestic water supply projects, including maintenance and operation. Despite long negotiations and a degree of bipartisan support, the fear of distorted political attack ads over “taxes” in the election prevailed on the last day.

NOVEMBER BALLOT PROPOSITIONS: The public launch of the campaign for Propositions 1 and 2, the measures on the November ballot that would fund low-income housing, including permanent supportive housing for the chronically homeless and housing for veterans and farmworkers, took place at the Vietnam War Memorial in Capitol Park. Pastor Kirsten Moore of Calvary Lutheran Church, Rio Linda, and conference dean offered a brief statement at the news conference, joined by Sacramento Mayor Steinberg, other local elected officials and several state legislators, including the chairs of the Assembly and Senate housing committees.


Peter Severson, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry–Colorado                                                         

Advocates for Proposition 111 gather
in Colorado Springs to officially kick
off the campaign to Stop Predatory Payday Loans

BALLOT MEASURES CERTIFIED: Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-Colorado supports two measures on the statewide November ballot. One is a constitutional referendum, Amendment A, referred from the Legislature.

Pastor Caitlin Trussell of Augustana
Lutheran Church in Denver speaks at the Yes on A/Abolish Constitutional Slavery rally in Denver’s City Park

Amendment A would strike the exception from Colorado’s ban on slavery and involuntary servitude, finally abolishing slavery from our state constitution. The campaign kicked off on Aug. 28 with a rally in Denver’s City Park.

The second measure, as Proposition 111, will cap payday lending interest rates at a maximum of 36 percent. We are thrilled to stand up with those who have been exploited by these predatory practices, along with economic justice advocates, in saying no to usury in Colorado. The campaign kicked off with a news conference in Colorado Springs on Aug. 29.

Colorado will have six referred measures and at least five citizen initiatives on the ballot this fall, ranging from redistricting to oil and gas setbacks to funding for transportation and education. Two additional initiatives are awaiting possible certification, which would bring the total to 13 statewide items. Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-Colorado will be on the road doing a lot of voter education this fall!


Tammy Walhof, Lutheran Advocacy–Minnesota                                                         

Amy, Tammy, & Kendrick with three of
six Policy Council members who made it
to Kendrick Hall’s farewell open house

STAFF TRANSITIONS: We’re delighted to welcome Amy Shebeck to help part-time with communications and administration! Amy jumped right in, helping create a handout on immigration family separation, representing us on the Homes for All Communications Team and overhauling our website!

We’re excited for Kendrick Hall’s next step – his continuing professional education (CPE) assignment with Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota’s Center for Changing Lives (homeless youth), but we already miss his day-to-day work, especially on  housing issues! His Hunger Advocacy Fellowship was completed in August.

ISSUE PIVOTS: Important federal issues need our attention! We aren’t dropping our state-level issues but have

added farm bill and immigration concerns for fall work.

FARM BILL: The House farm bill (passed 213-211) decimates bipartisan rural-urban coalitions. Rep. Collin Peterson states the House bill “doesn’t do enough for the people it’s supposed to serve. It … leaves farmers and ranchers vulnerable; it worsens hunger and it fails rural communities.” The Senate’s bipartisan bill (passed 86-11) doesn’t make drastic changes to programs, offers more certainty for farmers, ranchers, food security advocates and more.

The bills will be negotiated by a conference committee–- the house appointed an unprecedented 47 members, compared to nine from the senate!

IMMIGRATION: Immigration took center stage in national news this summer with the outcry around family separation, court ordered reunification and many related issues. Tammy Walhof, LA-MN director, participated in a trip to Tucson and Nogales, Ariz., (both U.S. and Mexican sides of the city) to learn more. She has many stories to share. See our action alert on Facebook (and in the photo!). Watch our website and Facebook for updates and urgent action alerts!

North Carolina 

GeoRene Jones, North Carolina Synod Social Justice & Advocacy Ministries 

ENCOURAGING VOTER ENGAGEMENT: St. Mark’s Lutheran in Asheville is a good example for congregations desiring to support the ELCA’s Voter Engagement Initiative, ELCAvotes.  The congregation’s Christian Action Team partnered with The United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County, which provided materials, submitted voter registrations and emailed voting reminders to those who took the pledge to vote. Team preparation included production of event handouts, which included sample ballots and early voting information detailing dates and locations. Production costs were covered by a Thrivent Action Team grant.

Making themselves available in the common areas of the building after Sunday services, the team (pictured above) helped currently registered voters verify their registration record as up-to-date – including correct address –and registered eligible voters using official registration forms. Team members delivered the completed forms to the local Board of Elections. Also available were non-partisan information on candidates running for office, links to websites with additional information, and a sign-up sheet for people willing to make their pledge to vote. The team also provided a transportation sign-up sheet for individuals needing assistance in getting to the polls. Overall, the event garnered 49 pledges to vote, including eight individuals aided in registering to vote.

VOTER EDUCATION RESOURCES: Our website provides congregational leaders ELCAvotes resources through synod conference deans and direct mail. Bible studies, the ELCA’s Civic Education and Voter Education Guide and support information for the Voting Rights Advancement Act.


Tracey DePasquale, Lutheran Advocacy–Pennsylvania                           

ELCA WORLD HUNGER: ELCA World Hunger staff members Julianna Glassco and MaeHelen Jackson recently visited several anti-hunger sites in central Pennsylvania, including the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, which they toured with Karen Woodings, advocacy manager. They are shown, at right, at the food bank alongside corn they picked at The Wittel Farm, a ministry of the Lower Susquehanna Synod and the Lutheran Camping Corporation.

CREATION JUSTICE: LAMPa continues to promote the upcoming Energy-Star Stewardship Tour for faith communities Sept. 25-27 at seven locations across the state. Learn more about this partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency and faith-based organizations. In addition, LAMPa, along with other faith partners, is sponsoring a community solar webinar on Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. Learn more. Attendees at all events will be equipped to connect with policymakers on renewable energy.

In the photo, Senator Cy visits
with a family who has two children
with pre-existing conditions.

POVERTY SIMULATION: Lynn Fry, program director, recently participated in a poverty simulation in Franklin County. “It would be quite beneficial if all legislators were able to participate in this simulation so they could gain insights into how difficult life is for a segment of our population. Even though assistance programs are available, many are very difficult to access,” Fry said.

GOD’S WORK. OUR HANDS.: LAMPa is providing resources to help congregations take their service to their neighbor a step further toward justice through advocacy.

HEALTH CARE ROUNDTABLE: Fry also attended a health care roundtable hosted by U.S. Sen. Robert Casey. Casey spoke about concerns related to insurance requirements on existing conditions with those in attendance.

Southeastern Synod

Hilton Austin, director               

We are excited to introduce our new Hunger Advocacy Fellow, Kimberly Jordan Slappey, who started on Sept. 4. Jordan is a recent graduate of the University of Georgia.

  • Major: religion. Focus: the religion of the civil rights movement and the intersections between gender, race and religion.
  • Minor: political science. Focus: constitutional law and the law as it pertains to marginalized populations.

Jordan plans to attend Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in the fall of 2019 following her internship as an ELCA World Hunger advocate. Jordan has a background in church work, LGBTQ+ advocacy and local government. When she isn’t working, Jordan enjoys podcasting, geocaching, attending concerts and playing video games. Jordan is looking forward to broadening her knowledge and understanding of the many facets of advocacy.


Paul Benz, Faith Action Network                                                                                                     

BALLOT INITATIVES: FAN is engaged, as always, on numerous statewide initiatives:

  • 940 – Reform our state’s use of deadly force statute, which is one of the most egregious in the ability of a county prosecutor to convict a law enforcement officer. Endorsed
  • 1000 – Reinstate our affirmative action laws that were rescinded by an initiative several years ago. It is currently in the signature-gathering stage and has until the end of the year to complete that stage. Endorsed
  • 1631 – Create a carbon fee of $15/ton on our state’s largest emitters of CO2s and is an obvious way to reduce global warming through our state laws. Endorsed
  • 1634 – Prohibit municipalities outside of Seattle from enacting a tax on sugary beverages. FAN right now is neutral.
  • 1639 – Improve gun responsibility laws in our state, raising the purchase age to 21 for semi-automatic rifles, enhance the background checks for those purchases, and create a liability law for gunowners who are found to not have safely stored their firearms/weapons in an incident where someone in the owner’s home was injured with that firearm. Endorsed

CANDIDATE FORUMS: FAN is finalizing the logistics for four highly competitive state legislative district races and one congressional district race. These are hosted by faith communities in FAN’s network and sponsored or co-sponsored by FAN. Candidates are allowed opening and closing statements, are asked prepared questions and then take questions from the audience, but they are not allowed to ask questions of one another.

CLUSTER GATHERINGS: FAN convenes the 21 geographic clusters that make up our 141-member state Network of Advocating Faith Communities every fall. We have 18 scheduled for September through November. These gatherings allow us to inform and strengthen our relationship with our faith community advocates and to have intersectional conversations about how to be more collaborative and effective in our justice work.

ANNUAL DINNER: FAN has two major events during the year – IFAD (Interfaith Advocacy Day during the legislative session), and our Annual Dinner. This year’s dinner will be on Sunday evening, Nov. 18, and we’ve invited Washington’s U.S. Rep Pramila Jayapal to speak. Our goal is to have 400+ in attendance.


Cindy Crane, Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin                                      

HUNGER FELLOW: Welcome to Kelsey Johnson, who just started as LOPPW’s 2018-19 Hunger Fellow! Thank you to ELCA World Hunger for providing a grant for this important ministry! Kelsey has been active in the church. Most recently, she served with the ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission program in Jerusalem and the West Bank. At the Lutheran School of Hope in Ramallah (West Bank), she assisted with English and art classes. She has explored topics related to refugees, interfaith dialogue and accompaniment. Kelsey graduated with a degree in journalism and mass communications from the University of Iowa. She has interests in writing, using social media and working with young people. Kelsey says she is very excited to be working with LOPPW.

FARM BILL: LOPPW has continued to encourage people to contact their members of Congress about the farm bill.  Kelsey has initiated a social media campaign with a focus on the bill.

CARE FOR CREATION: LOPPW with the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin’s Care for God’s Creation team is organizing an event to focus on what’s working in Wisconsin to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.  Participants will gain practical ideas and resources for increasing renewable energy in their business and congregational lives and advocacy tools. Save the date.

WISCONSIN HAS TWO NEW BISHOPS: Congratulations to Bishop Viviane Thomas-Breitfeld of the South-Central Synod and Bishop Laurie Skow-Anderson of the Northwest Synod! LOPPW was delighted to have a presence at both joyful installation services.

ELCA Statement on Honduran TPS

On Friday, May 4th, 2018, the Administration announced that it will end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for approximately 60,000 Hondurans. TPS is a legal immigration status that allows citizens from other countries who are present in the U.S. during a catastrophe in their country to remain in the U.S. until it is safe to return home. As a church that affirms that earthly peace requires safeguarding the dignity and well-being of every person, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is disappointed by the Administration’s decision that will separate families and harm communities.

Just this week, over 600 faith leaders and organizations delivered a letter in support of continuing TPS for Hondurans.

“Lutherans are blessed with the gifts that Hondurans bring to our communities throughout the United States and in Central America,” Mary Campbell, Program Director for AMMPARO, said in the letter. “Thanks to the programs we accompany in Honduras, we know that the vast majority of Hondurans that are deported have little to no long-term support despite returning to unsafe conditions, and facing trauma and stigma. Ending TPS would create a crisis in the face of an already challenging landscape in Honduras.”

Through the AMMPARO Strategy, the ELCA strengthened our commitment to walk alongside children and families who are forced to flee their homes in Central America. We did this to respond to the suffering of thousands of unaccompanied children and families that are displaced from their communities due to violence, lack of opportunities and environmental issues.

This marks the 7th time the Administration has rescinded an immigration status that provides protection to members of our communities. Children and family members of TPS or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) holders from El Salvador, Haiti, Sudan, Nicaragua, Liberia, Nepal, and Honduras, many of whom are U.S. citizens, will bear the brunt of these Administrative decisions.

We pray today for all who are suffering due to these decisions and ask members of our church to join us in prayer and action. At the same time, we urge Congress to pass timely legislation that provides a pathway to citizenship these important members of our communities.


ELCA Advocacy statement on Senate’s failure to pass Dreamer legislation


Yesterday, Feb. 15, the Senate failed to pass legislation to protect young Americans without legal status, called Dreamers, from deportation. We are disappointed that politics got in the way of passing sensible and compassionate policy to provide a pathway to citizenship for young people who are incredible assets to our congregations and communities. We pray today for those young people and families who face an uncertain future and reinstate our call for Lutherans to be engaged with those young people locally and through advocacy on their behalf. Our voice as people who express our faith by seeking a more just world for all of God’s children is more important than ever.

Since this administration announced the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Lutherans have sent out over 1,300 messages and made phone calls to their members of Congress in support of legislation to protect Dreamers. The advocacy of the faith community has been key in ensuring that trafficking protections for children are not taken away as a compromise to pass legislation.

We were dismayed to see yesterday some senators vote for the Secure and Succeed Act, which would take these protections away and would make it harder for families legally present in the U.S. to be together. As members of Congress head to their districts for recess next week, our voices must be strong and unwavering in the face of the administration’s March 5 deadline to end DACA. Continue to follow our social media and connect with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service for updates and action opportunities.

February 2018 ELCA Advocacy Update

ELCA Advocacy Office, Washington, D.C.

The Rev. Amy Reumann, director                                                 

STATE OF THE UNION & ADVOCACY PRIORITIES: On Tuesday, Jan. 30, President Trump addressed our nation and introduced this administration’s major priorities for 2018. The annual State of the Union speech provides an opportunity for Americans to learn about the policies our president hopes to focus attention on in the upcoming legislative year. In response to this important moment, ELCA Advocacy presented our public policy priorities for 2018.

The ELCA Advocacy policy action agenda focuses the work of the Washington, D.C., office on current issues central to sustaining a just world where all are fed. Issue selection is based on many factors, starting with prayerful consideration of God’s vision for a more just world. Issue agendas are based on concerns that the ELCA has identified and spoken about through social statements, churchwide assembly memorials or other authoritative documents. You can read more at the ELCA Advocacy Blog.

JANUARY HUNGER LEADERSHIP GATHERING: On Jan. 23, approximately 150 Lutheran hunger leaders from across the nation gathered on Capitol Hill to advocate for policies and provisions in the 2018 farm bill. Reauthorized roughly every five years, the farm bill determines far-reaching rules that affect food assistance and agricultural development, research, land usage, farm and energy production – both in the U.S. and abroad.

Lutheran leaders held over 130 visits with congressional offices in which they called on Congress to support comprehensive solutions that affirm Lutheran values and shared stories about ways their ministries and local communities are affected by policies in the farm bill. Lawmakers are debating early drafts of the bill now, and this month is a critical time for action! Advocates can reach out to their members of Congress at the ELCA Action Center.

FEB. 21, PRAY. FAST. ACT: The February day to #PrayFastAct is Wednesday, Feb. 21! This month, we are mindful of the injustices levied upon American Indians and Native Alaskans. There are approximately 1.9 million American Indians and Alaska Natives whose ancestors have ceded millions of acres of land that has made the United States what it is today and who also were, and are, subjected to various forms of physical and social injustices. As Lutherans, we have an obligation to work, pray and give to respond to and end those injustices. Resources and a shared statement from ELCA Advocacy and The Episcopal Church will come later this month.

BUDGET UPDATE – GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN: Earlier last month, the federal government shutdown for three days after Congress failed to meet a spending deadline. Shortly after the shutdown began, ELCA Advocacy shared a statement with lawmakers encouraging a way forward on important issues.

Though Congress passed a temporary stopgap measure to keep the government open for several weeks, lawmakers will need to pass a new spending deal by Feb. 8. Faith advocates can reach out to their representatives on top budget priorities at the ELCA Action Center and through action alerts focused on the “For Such a Time as This” campaign.

THE MIGRANT JOURNEY THROUGH AMMPARO: Alaide Vilchis Ibarra, program director for migration policy; Mary Campbell, program director for AMMPARO; Stephen Deal, regional director for Central America; and David Wunsch, director for unit operations and programs in Global Mission, traveled to Guatemala and Mexico alongside members from companion churches and partners implementing AMMPARO programs. The delegation followed a common migrant route taken by Central American children and families in Guatemala and the southern border of Mexico.

The trip focused on learning more about the services and gaps for Central American children and families, and asylum seekers in Mexico, and making connections with existing organizations to ensure the protection of children and families. The delegation met with civil society, government officials and representatives of international organizations. We confirmed that the number of people seeking asylum in Mexico continues to go up.

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

Dennis Frado, director

SYMPOSIUM FOCUSES ON MIGRATION – DISPLACEMENT AND MARGINALIZATION, INCLUSION AND JUSTICE: The Fourth Annual Symposium on the Role of Religion and Faith-Based Organizations in International Affairs was held at the United Nations on Jan. 22, organized by the ACT Alliance, the General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church, the General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists, and the World Council of Churches.

The symposium focused on migration: displacement and marginalization, inclusion and justice. Since its inception in 2015 the symposia have discussed human dignity and rights; prevention of atrocity crimes and violent extremism; and just, inclusive and sustainable peace.

The tone was set as U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed welcomed approximately 250 participants and said that 2018 offers an excellent opportunity to ensure that migration is undertaken in a safe and orderly manner as the United Nations negotiates global compacts for migrants and refugees. Mohammed urged faith-based organizations to be involved in this process however possible. She noted that she comes from the Fulani tribe, a group widely dispersed in the Sahel and West Africa, pointing out that “refugees and migrants are not the other; they are us.”

The Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, World Council of Churches general secretary, asked, “What does it mean to be a human being in the world today?” ACT Alliance General Secretary Rudelmar Bueño de Faria said faith-based organizations need to focus on the person and reminded participants that migration itself is not a problem – “What does need fixing is the continued violation of the human rights of migrants.”

CHILDREN’S RIGHTS IN RELATION TO PROPOSED COMPACTS: UNICEF hosted a half-day consultation on Jan. 23 to explore children’s rights in the Global Compact on Refugees and the Global Compact for Migration.

Dennis Frado shared perspectives provided by the experiences of several Lutheran World Federation’s (LWF) country programs including Kenya, South Sudan, Uganda, Myanmar, Central African Republic, Cameroon and Colombia. To protect and assist unaccompanied and separated children in refugee and internally displaced situations, LWF has partnered with UNICEF, the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), other non-governmental organizations and host governments to set up child-protection and education programs. Using a community-based approach, LWF builds the capacities of foster parents, teachers, care-givers and community members to understand and protect child rights as well as strengthen mechanisms for prevention and response to rights violations.

LWF works with UNHCR and host governments in welcoming and receiving asylum seekers, including the provision of first-line services by managing transit and reception centers, including registration and identifying specific vulnerabilities and capacities among the affected populations.

In addition to providing basic education at two refugee camps in Kenya and six camps in South Sudan, incentives there promote the enrollment and regular attendance of girls, given the numerous barriers to girls’ education.  Another focus is on accessibility for and inclusion of physically challenged youth to education. Malnutrition, child health and regular attendance concerns are addressed through school feeding programs.


Mark Carlson, Lutheran Office of Public Policy                                           

ELCA HUNGER LEADERS GATHERING: A highlight for January was the ELCA World Hunger Leaders Gathering in Washington, D.C., with about a dozen people from the three synods that cover California, including two students from California Lutheran University.  “A Day on the Hill” included delegation meetings with staff for senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, and a number of meetings and drop-in visits with California’s large House delegation.  Farm bill reauthorization was the focus, and a primary emphasis was on the food-aid provisions, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.


Peter Severson, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry–Colorado                                        

Sophia and Peter on Capitol Hill
at the World Hunger Leaders Gathering

LEGISLATIVE SESSION UNDERWAY: The Colorado General Assembly convened on Jan. 10. In the first three weeks of the session, several bills have been introduced that Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-Colorado is supporting. These include:

  • HB 18-1001, Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act: This bill establishes a paid family leave program for workers in Colorado.
  • SB 18-005, Rural Economic Advancement of Colorado Towns Act: This bill creates a coordinator to assist rural counties in Colorado in recovering from major job-loss events or disasters.
  • SB 18-010, Residential Lease Copy and Rent Receipt: This would require landlords to provide a written copy of the lease to tenants, as well as written receipts for rent payments made by cash, check or money order.
  • SB 18-013, Expand Child Nutrition School Lunch Protection Act: This bill expands access to a state subsidy for children who qualify for a reduced-price lunch to receive free lunch instead, adding children in middle schools up to eighth grade.

ELCA WORLD HUNGER LEADERS GATHERING: Several Lutheran anti-hunger advocates from Colorado joined the Hunger Leaders Gathering in Washington, D.C., in January. The delegation met with staffers from Sen. Michael Bennet, Rep. Jared Polis, Rep. Ed Perlmutter, and Rep. Ken Buck, as well as with Sen. Cory Gardner.

New Mexico

Ruth Hoffman, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry – New Mexico

2018 BISHOP’S LEGISLATIVE LUNCHEON & ISSUES BRIEFING: This year’s event began in the morning with about 160 advocates from around New Mexico gathering to learn about issues included in the 2018 LAM-NM Advocacy Agenda and that are being considered in the current legislative session.      Advocates were from ELCA congregations as well as from Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, and United Church of Christ congregations. Breakout sessions included “Negative Impacts of Taxing Food” and “Health Care in NM: Opportunities & Challenges in 2018 and Beyond.” In the morning, Bishop Jim Gonia spoke about “incarnational advocacy.”

Members of St. Timothy accept award

During the luncheon, St. Timothy Lutheran Church in Albuquerque was recognized with the Haaland Advocacy Award. State Sen. Bill O’Neill and state Rep. Alonzo Baldonado were honored as Legislators of the Year for their work on “Ban the Box” legislation. Bishop Gonia “connected the dots” of Luther’s explanation of the Ten Commandments with service to our neighbors through advocacy. Following the luncheon, about 25 advocates visited the capitol to talk with legislators and become familiar with the building.


Tracey DePasquale, Lutheran Advocacy–Pennsylvania

ELCA WORLD HUNGER: Eleven hunger leaders from across Pennsylvania, accompanied by LAMPa staff, participated in the ELCA World Hunger Leaders Leadership Gathering Jan. 21-24. More than 150 leaders from across the country gathered in Washington, D.C., where they learned about the root causes of hunger, shared stories of their ministries, and advocated for the farm bill with their members of Congress.

P.A. BUDGET: The Pennsylvania Legislature begins its process of working with the proposed annual state budget that Gov. Tom Wolf presents on Feb. 6. LAMPa has been working with partners to prepare requests for the governor’s budget proposal. We will continue to monitor the process and share alerts with constituents as budget formulation continues.

Volunteers and LAMPa staff advocated for the farm bill with senators’ and representatives’ staffs.

ASHES-TO-GO: For the third year, LAMPa is organizing Ashes-to-Go at the Capitol. Ecumenical partners are invited to assist in offering prayers and imposition of ashes for those who wish to receive. LAMPa’s network is encouraged to invite their lawmakers and staff to participate since many will not be in their home communities for Ash Wednesday.

LUTHERAN DAY 2018 “Let Justice Roll Down Like Waters”:  State Sen. Judiciary Chair Stewart Greenleaf will be the keynote speaker at LAMPa’s annual day of advocacy on May 21. LAMPa will recognize Greenleaf for his many years of service and for being a champion of criminal justice reform.

FORGOTTEN LUTHER II: Staff attended the second Forgotten Luther Symposium, Jan. 19-20 in Washington, D.C., along with their State Public Policy Office colleagues.



Paul Benz, Faith Action Network

STATE POLICY UPDATE: FAN’s Interfaith Leadership Council had its annual session meeting with the governor. Fourteen faith leaders, including two ELCA bishops, two Muslim leaders, a Rabbi, and a leader each from the United Church of Christ, the United Methodist Church, American Baptist Church, and Quaker community, discussed five policy issues: criminal justice, racial justice, the environment, the supplemental budget, and poverty. We are very pleased that two racial equity bills are now heading to the governor’s desk: Breakfast After the Bell (BAB) and the Voting Rights Act (VRA). The BAB will increase access to breakfast for kids of color and help improve their test scores. The VRA will enfranchise communities of color in our state by transitioning to a district voting system from an at-large voting system. The status of bills on our legislative agenda can be found on our Bill Tracker.

Interfaith leaders met with Gov. Jay Inslee
and two members of his staff.

INTERFAITH ADVOCACY DAY: Our annual advocacy day in the state capital will be Feb. 20; see a flyer. We will also host an advocacy day on the other side of our state, in Yakima on Feb. 10. These days follow the success of our regular legislative conference in Spokane, where we did a joint presentation with the Catholic Conference for over 160 advocates.

ELCA D.C. HUNGER CONFERENCE: Paul Benz represented FAN at the D.C. Hunger Conference this year and had a great time guiding the eight-member Washington delegation around to visit eight offices of our congressional delegation, including a meeting with Sen. Maria Cantwell and two of her staff on the farm bill, DACA and other related budget issues.


Cindy Crane, Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin

CO-LEADING ON ADVOCACY: The director led the first of two advocacy conferences with Bishop Gerald Mansholt in the East Central Synod. Bishop Mansholt focused on advocacy, immigration and refugees. The director focused on how to create an advocacy ministry in congregations using several exercises from the new LOPPW resource, “Our Church Our World: Partnering in God’s Mission.

The director also co-led a workshop with an advisory council member, Lisa Hassenstab (left), on another one of our relatively new resources, a devotional on the social statements, as part of introducing advocacy into a congregation.

CONFERENCES IN WASHINGTON D.C.: The director accompanied other Wisconsinites to the offices of two senators and two representatives (right, Sen. Ron Johnson’s office) to advocate for a healthy farm bill as part of the ELCA World Hunger event. The director also attended the Forgotten Luther II symposium.

BILLS: Authors Sen. La Tonya Johnson and Rep. Jill Billings (left) of an anti-trafficking bill LOPPW has supported for a few years attend its second public hearing.  The bill finally has traction.


COP23: An inclusive and intersectional way forward

By Ruth Ivory-Moore, Program Director, Environment and Energy Policy

Talanoa is a generic term referring to a conversation, chat, sharing of ideas and talking with someone. It is a term that is shared by Tongans, Samoans, and Fijians.” It is also a term that will be linked to the twenty-third United Nations Climate Change conference (COP 23) that ended on November 18.

During this conference, Fiji’s Prime Minister and COP 23’s President, Frank Bainimarama lifted up the experiences and voices of Fijians and communities most vulnerable to climate change. Three critical outcomes of the COP meeting include the creation and inclusion of the Gender Action Plan (GAP), an Indigenous Peoples platform, and moving forward in Talanoa dialogue. These three resolutions will help ensure that the Paris Agreement is inclusive and intersectional in its continued planning and implementation. [Right: photo of The Fiji Pavilion at COP 23]

As a global community, we are facing what is likely one of the most serious threats to all creation: climate change. The time for action around climate change has never been more critical. Human activity is greatly amplifying Earth’s rising temperature and environmental degradation due to increased accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The negative consequences of this degradation disproportionately impact the most vulnerable and marginalized communities, even though they have contributed the least to it. They are also least equipped to mitigate and adapt to the changes in our environment.

We must become a global community that works together to ensure the sustainable and peaceful coexistence of all. Climate change leads to increased poverty, food insecurity, migration (due to necessity for survival), and health issues. To lessen these consequences of climate change, we must all work together. As stewards of God’s creation, the only option is to act, to mitigate, to adapt, and to build resilient communities. The simple fact is that we must step up our game and implement the three mechanisms that were produced to facilitate more inclusive and productive planning.

Critical outcomes of COP23:

The Gender Action Plan (GAP) facilitates the implementation of the Paris Agreement by formalizing the role of women in decision making around climate policy and action. While the role of gender and women was acknowledged in the preamble to the Paris Agreement, the GAP includes provisions for: capacity-building, knowledge sharing and communication, gender balance, participation and women’s leadership, coherence (strengthening the integration of gender in all aspects of implementation of the Paris Agreement), gender-responsive implementation and means of implementation, and monitoring and reporting.

The Indigenous Peoples Platform provides a means for native communities, who are often most impacted by climate change, to have a significant voice in all aspects of discussions around solutions. Discussions and resolutions included strengthening the knowledge of indigenous people, enhancing engagement of indigenous people, sharing of best practices and experiences, and providing means to facilitate the operationalization of the Indigenous Peoples Platform. [Right: photo of Indigenous People March at COP22]

The Talanoa dialogue lays a foundation critical for working toward climate resilient communities. The Talanoa dialogue stresses inclusivity of all, upholds communities most vulnerable, and emphasizes the need for fair and balance processes that will create fair and balanced solutions.

The Gender Action Plan, Indigenous Peoples Platform and Talanoa dialogue are key to ensuring the implementation of an inclusive process and that ensures the achievement of sustainable solutions. We celebrate these important successes; and we should congratulate the COP 23 Fiji Presidency on his leadership as well as the significant progress that was made.

We must now move and act with deep intentionality. No one entity is to be vilified, demonized or otherwise disparaged. We need energy companies, civil society, governments at all levels, trade associations, faith-based communities, policy makers, attorneys, researchers, agriculturalists, and people from every discipline working for a sustainable world. As bridge builders, faith-based communities have a tremendous opportunity! In the words of the Fiji youth who delivered a powerful message at the opening of the COP23 plenary, we must “walk the talk.” [Left: photo of World leaders congratulating the Fiji youth after his powerful speech]

We must proceed intentionally to work on implementation of the Paris Agreement. We have hope, and we have faith. But we know “for just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.” (James 2:26)

To that end, to the Fiji Presidency of COP 23:


ELCA Advocacy prays for TPS holders today

On November 6, the Administration announced the end of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Nicaraguans and took no action to protect Hondurans, automatically extending their designation for 6 months. TPS is a legal immigration status that allows citizens from other countries who are present in the U.S. during a catastrophe in their country to remain in the U.S. until it is safe to return home. As a church guided by Scripture to act for earthly peace that is built on compassion and the dignity of every person, we are disappointed by the Administration’s decision that will separate families and leave people to face an uncertain future.

Through the ELCA’s AMMPARO Strategy, our church strengthened our commitment to walk alongside children and families who are forced to flee their homes in Central America. We did this to respond to the suffering of the thousands of unaccompanied children and families that are displaced from their communities due to violence, lack of opportunities and environmental issues. We are committed to accompany churches and our partners in Central America to address these issues, knowing that today conditions in these countries are still unsafe.

The Administration has already rescinded TPS for over 1,000 people from Sudan, and now hundreds more face an uncertain future. For almost 20 years, TPS holders from Honduras and Nicaragua have worshiped alongside us and brought their gifts to our communities. Without this protection, they will be forced to leave their communities yet again. Children and family members of TPS holders, many of whom are U.S. citizens, will bear the brunt of this Administrative decision. We pray today for all who face an uncertain future due to this decision. We call on the Administration to extend TPS for Hondurans for 18 months and urge Congress to pass timely legislation that protects all TPS holders.

September 2017 ELCA Advocacy Update

Lutherans are taking action across the country! Below you will find our monthly State Advocacy Newsletter. Share with your friends!

ELCA Advocacy Office, Washington, D.C.

The Rev. Amy Reumann, director

FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS: The day of fasting and action this month is Thursday, Sept. 21. This month, we focus on programs that help end hunger and offer critical nutrition resources for working families in need. Proven and traditional support such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and child nutrition programs have helped reduce hunger and food insecurity for decades. Looming federal decisions to cut these programs could leave thousands, if not millions, unsure of where their next meal may come from. Food security gives children and adults the fundamental elements needed to grow, thrive and succeed. As churches and places of worship dedicated to ending hunger, we call on our national leaders to maintain programs for struggling low-income households.

‘GOD’S WORK. OUR HANDS’ SUNDAY: ELCA Advocacy has prepared several congregation resources for those interested in including advocacy on their day of service on Sept. 10. Congregations and volunteers are encouraged to participate in letter-writing campaigns to their lawmakers on critical issues, such as: hunger, international aid, care for creation and more.

Preparing advocacy letters for a group activity is easy! Simply:

  • Print out copies for your group or congregation. *Be sure to make three for each person if you want to write to both Senators and Representative!
  • Fill out the member of Congress’ name and address info.
  • Write your own personalized message in the body of the letter, sharing why this issue is important for you or your congregation.
  • Send the completed letters to ELCA Advocacy (instructions on the letter PDF).

Interested congregations can download sample letters to fill out on the “God’s work. Our hands.” Sunday resource webpage.

DACA STATEMENT: The Trump administration announced on Sept. 5 the plan to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program with a six-month delay on implementation. The program has allowed nearly 800,000 “Dreamers” to have a temporary work permits, driver’s licenses and student aid, with the vast majority now contributing to the U.S. workforce. If Congress fails to pass a bill that protects DACA recipients, these young people will be at risk for deportation.

Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., who has sponsored two bills that would grant lawful status to Dreamers, has indicated that he will be pushing to pass a legislative solution to protect them. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has likewise supported paths to citizenship and immigration reform in the past, but passing an overhaul bill in Congress will be a challenge. ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton shared a statement with lawmakers on Capitol Hill following the DACA announcement. Meanwhile, ELCA partner Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS) issued a statement, as well as the corresponding LIRS action alert calling in support of passing the 2017 DREAM Act. As Congress discusses possible next steps, ELCA Advocacy will continue to advocate to protects Dreamers and other vulnerable communities.

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

Dennis Frado, director

Election of the President of the General Assembly for the seventy-second session

U.N. GENERAL ASSEMBLY: In the coming weeks, the 72nd session of the U.N. General Assembly will convene under  Miroslav Lajčák, minister of foreign and European affairs of Slovakia. Lajčák has proposed “focusing on people: striving for peace and a decent life for all on a sustainable planet” as the theme for this year’s general debate. The General Assembly also will hold several thematic meetings:

High Level Meeting on New Urban Agenda and UN-Habitat, Sept. 5-Sept. 6

High-level Forum on the Culture of Peace, Sept. 7

Progress made on SDG implementation during 71st Session,  Sept. 8

Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, Sept. 27-Sept. 28


“Leading by Example: Faith and HIV Testing,” interfaith service and testimonies, sponsored by the World Council of Churches–Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance with the support of UNAIDS and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) on Sept.12.

Interfaith prayer breakfast on “fostering partnerships for fast tracking access to testing and treatment to infants, children and adolescents,” sponsored by the World Council of Churches, UNAIDS and PEPFAR on Sept. 13.


Mark Carlson, Lutheran Office of Public Policy

HOSPITALITY AND HATE: On an ugly and sad Saturday in Charlottesville, an amazing gathering of California’s diversity gathered in the social hall at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Sacramento, where the Lutheran Office of Public Policy–California was site host for the statewide meeting of the California Environmental Justice Coalition. From Calexico through Coachella (photo), the rural San Joaquin Valley, West Oakland, Bayview (SF), and an Indian rancheria in Mendocino County, the group met to build community and momentum and prepare for meetings with state agencies and legislators on a variety issues.

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: The first half of the 2017-2018 session of the California Legislature concludes Sept. 15, and Gov. Jerry Brown has until Oct. 15 to act on bills that reach his desk. LOPP-CA hosted the August lobby day for California Interfaith Power & Light and participated in the Green California lobby day and awards reception. LOPP-CA-supported bills to reform the bail system have been held until next year. Requiring a two-thirds vote, the outlook is shaky for long-negotiated legislation to add a small charge to water bills to support drinking water cleanup and affordability for low-income Californians. Other two-thirds vote, “heavy lift” legislation, including measures to place a low-income housing bond and a parks-for-all bond on the November 2018 ballot, and reform campaign finance reporting for ballot measures, are current priorities. Mark Carlson, director, spoke at a capitol lawn rally for the DISCLOSE Act, asserting that we will not let the mountain of dark money eclipse the Range of Light.


Peter Severson, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry–Colorado

Mount Crested Butte, Colo.

ANTI-POVERTY CONFERENCE: The Colorado Community Action Association held their annual anti-poverty conference Aug. 7-11 in Crested Butte. Lutheran Advocacy was present alongside government officials, direct-service providers, advocates and organizers for four days of learning and relationship-building in service of fighting the root causes of poverty in Colorado.

Presenters focused on a variety of issues, including policy mapping, affordable housing development and funding, using data in health policy making, and building relationships of trust in rural communities, among many other topics. We’re thankful to the CCAA for gathering this diverse group together to address critical human needs in our state.

FALL EVENTS: Lutheran Advocacy is preparing for several events this fall, including the Rocky Mountain Synod Theological Conference Sept. 18-21 in Colorado Springs. We are cosponsoring the Colorado Social Legislation Committee Fall Forum during the final week in October, which will focus on the impact of the federal budget on Colorado. And we’ll be traveling around Front Range communities to visit ministries and  congregations to share updates on our advocacy work, including Greeley, Longmont, Broomfield and Denver. Keep in touch through our email list, Facebook page and Twitter to get the latest updates!


Tammy Walhof, Lutheran Advocacy–Minnesota

Kendrick Dwight, holding the “L,” is the third from the left.

HUNGER ADVOCACY FELLOW: Please welcome Kendrick Dwight as our new Hunger Advocacy Fellow. More information about Kendrick and the work he will be doing with congregations and hunger teams coming soon!

FAITH LEADER LETTER ON CLEAN ENERGY: The Renewable Energy Standard Minnesota passed in 2007 with broad bipartisan support mandated that 25 percent of Minnesota’s energy come from renewable sources by 2025 (30 percent for Xcel Energy). Minnesota is on target to exceed the mandate, and various studies have shown that Minnesota could dramatically increase renewable energy use without sacrificing reliability or causing grid problems. Wind is Minnesota’s cheapest energy, and now solar is also competitive. Bipartisan legislation for an updated standard of 50 percent renewable energy by 2030 was introduced during the 2017 legislative session. Unfortunately, several legislators oppose these changes based on outdated concerns, cost misunderstandings, and significant pressure from fossil-fuel campaign contributors. Lutheran Advocacy-MN, Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light, ISAIAH, and the EcoFaith Networks from the Minneapolis Area Synod and the Northeastern Minnesota Synod, ask church leaders to sign a letter and add a note for legislators in support of the improved standard. An educational event is also being planned for Oct. 24.

PROTECT OUR HOMES: Some Homes for All Coalition groups, including Lutheran Advocacy-MN, have formed “Protect our Homes” to address federal affordable housing concerns. In August, we met with Rep. Keith Ellison to talk about severe cuts proposed to housing programs and to consider what can be done in Congress to save them. Watch for upcoming action alerts!

LA-MN Director, Tammy Walhof, is on the far left in pink

New Mexico

Ruth Hoffman, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry–New Mexico

FARM BILL LISTENING SESSION: U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., recently held a listening session about the federal farm bill. She is a member of the House Committee on Agriculture, which has primary responsibility for the development of the legislation to reauthorize the farm bill, which includes the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) as well as other vital nutrition programs.

LAM-NM was invited to participate in the session and to provide input about crucial provisions of the farm bill. LAM-NM Director Ruth Hoffman made these points: not enacting new work requirements for SNAP recipients, rescinding the SNAP ABAWD work requirements, increasing the monthly allotments for SNAP recipient,; making no cuts to SNAP eligibility standards, and not block granting SNAP funding.



Nick Bates, The Faith Coalition for the Common Good

HUNGER NETWORK IN OHIO: We would like to thank three congregations in the Clintonville neighborhood of Columbus for their public witness and advocacy over the weekend on hunger issues. Clinton Heights Lutheran Church, North Community Lutheran Church, and Maple Groove United Methodist Church sit within 2.5 miles of each other along the main corridor of High Street. The Lutheran congregations sponsored a hunger walk on Saturday where they witnessed to the community and raised awareness about hunger in Ohio. They also collected food and money to support local hunger ministries. On Sunday, Maple Grove  sponsored their food-for-all Sunday, where the congregation dedicated their worship time to service projects.

All three congregations understand that we cannot just feed people today but must also engage policymakers on these issues. Members wrote letters to Sen. Rob Portman, encouraging him to protect the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and other programs that address hunger. Our budgets are moral documents, and we need to make sure our legislators know this.

The Hunger Network will gladly help other congregations identify ways to incorporate advocacy into their charity projects. As key hunger advocates around Ohio have repeatedly said, “We cannot foodbank our way out of hunger. We need a public commitment to it.” Please contact us at with any questions or to request a facilitator for an advocacy project.


Tracey DePasquale, Lutheran Advocacy–Pennsylvania

In August, the state budget remained half-complete, with a spending plan passed, and a revenue package awaiting action by the House, which remained on recess. The House is scheduled to return to Harrisburg Sept. 11. Lawmakers are facing a $2.3 billion deficit. The Senate passed a revenue plan in late July that included a variety of revenue sources, including a severance tax on Marcellus Shale that was lower than that requested by the governor in return for rollbacks on environmental protections – a trade that LAMPa opposes. Among House proposals being circulated to close the gap are attempts to transfer money from non-General Fund accounts – in effect taking money already set aside for specific projects and diverting it to the overall budget.

LAMPa Director Tracey DePasquale had the opportunity to update the board of directors of SpiriTrust Lutheran on Aug. 17 about the LAMPa agenda and what is happening and not happening in Harrisburg. LAMPa remains grateful for the continued support and partnership with SpiriTrust in caring for our neighbors in southcentral Pennsylvania.

On Aug. 20, LAMPa offered two advocacy workshops at the convention of the Lower Susquehanna Synod Women of the ELCA and thanked them for their work against human trafficking, particularly sex trafficking of minors in Pennsylvania.

In addition, LAMPa has been preparing congregations around the state to add advocacy to their “God’s Work. Our Hands.” Sunday, Sept. 10, and planning for our annual policy council retreat later this month.

Southeastern Synod

Hilton Austin, Director

We continue to encourage and support congregations with, or in the process of developing, advocacy teams, while continuing to educate folks on current social issues. Melanie Johnson has been busy making presentations to congregations interested in Circle of Welcome. At present, there are two Southeastern Synod  congregations involved, St John’s and Resurrection (Trinity is doing the same thing; they just started pre-program); I am sure that number will continue to grow.

“FOR SUCH A TIME …” : On Aug. 26, I attended Atlantans Building Leadership for Empowerment’s (ABLE) “For Such A Time As This” banquet. That night it was announced that the Rev. Ronald Bonner, assistant to the bishop, is the new president of ABLE. This will bring a new dimension to our advocacy partnership; Ron and I have already discussed how we can expand this relationship across the synod. In September, we will have an exhibit at the Women of the ELCA convention, and in October, we will be at the SES Leadership Convocation.

IMMIGRATION: We are still in the process of gathering folks to participate in the AMMPARO Guardian Angel program in Georgia. Twelve people will participate by accompanying immigrants at the Atlanta Immigration Court. They will work in pairs, one must speak Spanish; training will be provided by AMMPARO. Mary Campbell will set that up as soon as we have the 12 people; we are well on our way.

As Congress comes back from recess, we are mobilizing all of our people to react to the important issues that affect many of our neighbors. We are here “For Such A Time As This.”


Kim Bobo, Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy 

The Rev. Juan Gutierrez Palomino was deported last week to Peru, a country he hasn’t been to for 15 years. His wife and children in Dumfries, all U.S. citizens, are left without their father, husband and breadwinner. VICPP had been working for his release and now is helping his family. Palomino was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement at a regular check-in, as he had been doing faithfully for years, and was not granted a day in court to make his case. Deporting pastors, fathers, husbands and community members serves no purpose other than amplifying fear and distrust in the community. In the wake of the Aug. 11-12 tragedy in Charlottesville, it’s clear Virginia and the nation have not sufficiently grappled with our racist history and systemic racism. If our democracy is going to stand and our nation to prosper, we must find new ways to address our history and break down barriers that harm and exclude our neighbors based on race, religion or ethnicity.

VICPP has a petition online that calls on the Legislature to take action to welcome all, specifically in tracking hate crimes and establishing a task force to address racism and exclusion in Virginia. You can sign the petition here. Our Richmond Chapter is partnering with the Richmond Office of Community Wealth Building to develop a Living Wage Certification program. We are also developing this program in Charlottesville and Alexandria. Find a copy of the application on the website, or email for more details. VICPP’s Annual Meeting and Awards Celebration will be Dec. 7 in Richmond.


Cindy Crane, Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin                            

CARE FOR GOD’S CREATION: LOPPW is advocating for legislators to amend a bill, which includes diminishing environmental regulations for companies that build in electronics and information technology manufacturing zone, to not ease any of the state environmental regulations it proposes to ease. The director attended the public hearing for the bill and also spoke on the radio about our concerns.  Here is LOPPW’s news release:

BISHOPS AND ADVISORY COUNCIL: The director recently met with all six bishops to prepare for our annual advisory council/staff retreat to discuss LOPPW’s priorities. The bishops expressed concerns about poverty and opioid abuse in their communities, the treatment of people who are immigrants and refugees, human trafficking and affordable housing.  The director began working with an advisory council member to plan our September retreat.

ADVOCACY RETREAT FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS: The campus pastor at UW-Madison, a volunteer and the director are finalizing a flyer to advertise our Nov. 3-4 retreat for college students interested in taking leadership in advocacy. This will be an ELCA event advertised via our campus ministries in Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and it will include information on how young adults can be more involved in the ELCA. The retreat will be open to any interested student.

MONDAY QUOTES: LOPPW has invited people via our database and social media to send us quotes that inspire them. We share at least one quote we receive with a reflection on Mondays.

The Importance of Food for Peace


Since Congress has gone home for August recess, the budget for Fiscal Year 2018 remains unclear. It is during these times of uncertainty, that it becomes even more important to remember the most vulnerable around the world. There are various ways that the United States assists those in need in the international community and it is no surprise that securing food—a necessity for all people—is one way to do this. “Food for Peace” is a program that began in the 1950s as a way to provide food assistance to those in need in other countries. After several innovations over the years, including restructuring under the Food for Peace Act (2008), it is now a program that is managed primarily by the United States Agency of International Development (USAID) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The most important piece of the program is arguably Title II, which provides emergency and development food aid to countries that face difficulty with feeding their people.

How does Title II work?

The mission of Food for Peace programs is to “combat malnutrition, improve the livelihoods of vulnerable groups and mitigate the impact of disasters which are occurring with greater frequency.” Keeping these goals in mind, as well as the proposed budget of the President, USAID and the State Department submit an annual budget to Congress to be approved. When levels of funding are established, international organizations and private organizations submit program proposals and work with USAID to create food aid plans. The USDA plays a part in the process by obtaining agricultural commodities, while USAID facilitates getting the food shipped to the various countries. This process ultimately leads to feeding millions of children, mothers, the elderly, and other vulnerable populations. Approximately 3 billion have benefited from U.S. food assistance to date.

Our priorities as Lutherans

Scripture teaches us that having been justified by faith, one of the ways faith is revealed is through good works: “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead” (James 2:26 NRSV). Food for Peace is an exemplary program and is an essential element in promoting food security in times of natural disaster, famine, and high levels of world poverty. As disciples of Christ, we are not only members of our familiar communities at home, but are a part of a global community. This fact, combined with our strong belief in helping our neighbor, compels us to support communities that are in the most need—no matter their country of origin or circumstances.

Alleviating hunger is one of several ways we can serve all people and contribute to the establishment of peace in our world, an important part of the Lutheran baptismal covenant. Programs like Food for Peace are critical for countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where violent conflicts continue to wreak havoc in various regions of the country.  This is reflected in the 3.8 million who remain internally displaced in the DRC, many of which are unable to feed their families. The struggle of food security in conflict zones that exist within unstable countries like the DRC is prevalent, but this is where food assistance provided from Food for Peace can really make an important difference. Lutherans have long supported the revitalization of foreign humanitarian aid that brings us closer to a peaceful world.

As Lutherans, let us not forget about those who go without the most basic necessities and let us prayerfully use our voices to support programs that help bring peace to the world.