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Allow Flourishing in Season of Creation

“The Season of Creation is a splendid opportunity for Christians around the world to embody the communion for which we human earthlings are created, and to do so in the quest for lifeways that build justice among people and allow Earth’s web of life to flourish,” said the Rev. Dr. Cynthia D. Moe-Lobeda, Director of the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary’s Center for Climate Justice and Faith. The celebration spans Sept. 1 through Oct. 4, shaped as an annual season instrumentally by the World Council of Churches, and is a time for Christians to come together to care for our common home (more).

In interwoven global awareness, local action and prayer, many of us are seeking to embody communion for the sake of God’s good creation. “Time after time a new report, study or press conference calls a ‘code red’ for our planet,” observes Christine Moffett, ELCA Program Director for Environment and Energy. “It is time for less talking about it and more acting about it.”



Significant global decision-makers will be meeting in confluence with Season of Creation dates. New York City hosts the highest-level gathering of the United Nations – the United Nations General Assembly – on Sept. 19-26, 2023. Heads of state meet, including for a “Climate Ambition Summit” on Sept. 20 to accelerate action by all sectors of society to address the increasing threat of climate change. National governments have not done enough to stop global warming in the seven years since the Paris Agreement was signed, relays our Lutheran Office for World Community (LOWC) program director Daniel Pieper from content of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change March 2023 Synthesis Report. In that context, he notes that UN Secretary General António Guterres said “the world is running out of options to defuse the ‘ticking climate time bomb.'”

As a joint ministry with both the ELCA and Lutheran World Federation (LWF), LOWC colleagues find foundational affirmation from the Twelfth LWF Assembly: “the global ecological crisis, including climate change is, human-induced. It is a spiritual matter. As people of faith, we are called to live in right relationship with creation and not exhaust it.”

Stay attuned to COP28, the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference, being held Nov. 30-Dec. 12, 2023, at the Expo City, Dubai. ELCA and LWF presence will be onsite to advance advocacy priorities.



GreenFaith has organized a March to End Fossil Fuels on Sept. 17 in New York City in conjunction with the Climate Ambition Summit. Several of our faith partners and some ELCA congregations and leaders will be participating. Lutherans Restoring Creation (LRC) describes the event as a time to witness “in search of a better way to offer healthy energy to our communities.”

While advocating for global impact is vital, in each of our communities we are aware of the splendor of and the degradation to God’s gift of creation. The ELCA’s most recent social message, “Earth’s Climate Crisis,” reads: “This social message is rooted in our duty to be responsible caretakers of God’s creation. It is motivated by that responsibility and by hope… With God’s help humanity can turn from the present course, take loving and just action, and live more harmoniously within God’s beautiful and verdant creation” (pp. 1-2).

The 2023 Farm Bill reauthorization will have significant impacts for all: those of us with farm-related vocations; those of us who go to supermarkets, farmers markets, SNAP provisions and global food aid for needed provision; and the communities and natural foundations that are needed to feed us into the future. If you didn’t use the Farm Bill background & template letters as an act of advocacy in service to your neighbor on “’God’s work. Our hands.’ Sunday” this year, revisit the resource and consider reaching out to policy makers to influence a policy outcome that can – as Pr. Moe-Lobeda characterized – “allow Earth’s web of life to flourish”.



Many of us sense these times as a “Kairos moment,” a descriptor from the social message of a decisive time in our relationship with God’s creation. In this Season of Creation, let us all join in prayer.

Prayers and other liturgical resources are available around the 2023 Season of Creation theme, “Let Justice and Peace Flow.”

Additionally, LRC has shared a prayer composed by the Rev. Lee Gable and the Rev. Inge Williams called “Sowing the Seeds of Transformation.” It can be found in full online, but here is an excerpt:

O God, whose fingerprint is reflected in every leaf and person,
you have entrusted us with the resources of Creation
And yet we squander your generous life-giving gift as if there is endless supply.
Transform our stewardship from immediate gratification to generational investment.

Inspire in us repentance and encourage our struggle for a just future
As we join you in mending this wounded world and its people
So that the fullness of your Kin-dom dream may become reality for all
Into the ages of the ages.

Seeing Peaceful Sea of March on Washington

On August 28, 1963, an estimated 250,000 people gathered for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, rallying to draw attention to the nation’s racial inequities and insist on change. From the steps in front of the Lincoln Memorial, several leaders moved the crowd with resonance, challenge and inspiration, including delivery of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech. Just steps – literally – from the podium was Mark Raabe, long-term member of First Trinity Lutheran in Washington, D.C., who helps us all relive and reflect on that pivotal day.



“From the pond to the Capitol, it was a sea of people,” said Raabe. “It was a different time. People were dressed up. There weren’t any white rabble rousers – they just weren’t there. The day was peaceful and passionate.”

“The whole thing started early in the day, on a big platform on the corner of Constitution and 15th – kind of across the street from where the National Museum of African American History and Culture is now – with entertainment and speakers.” The groundswell that brought people together seemed to fuse the individuals into one. “The same crowds that arrived early just peacefully moved to the Lincoln Memorial and lined the Reflecting Pool.”

Raabe brought his camera and has personally-photographed recollections of the profound day. Who was he most excited to see? “Lena Horne. I was secretly in love with her since I was a young high school kid,” he chuckled. Other attention-grabbing movie stars included Harry Belafonte, Burt Lancaster, Charlton Heston and others. Artists including Odetta; Peter, Paul & Mary; and Joan Baez entertained with aimed songs.

The core from center stage was speeches from active civil rights movement leaders. “Of course, there was Dr. King, Ralph Abernathy, Whitney Young from the National Urban League, James Farmer, John Lewis and [A.] Philip Randolph, head of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters union, which was a very strong position.” Also standing out for Raabe were Black and white “clergymen very active in the civil rights movement.”

“In 1963 there wasn’t any cable, and I’m not sure if the news on TV carried the speeches live or not, but news reel cameras have shown them many times since. No kidding at all – I knew this was a great moment and that the country would never be the same.”



After a long career as counsel to a committee of Congress, Raabe can look back at his presence at the March in a professional capacity as a personal experience as well. “I didn’t have a lot of [varied racial] experience as a [white] kid growing up in Minnesota, not even in my law school class,” he recalled. But life experiences brought him greater exposure. “Only six years earlier [than the March] I was a newly married Navy guy, and we attended a Black Lutheran church in San Diego.” After visiting several churches at that time, the young couple was drawn to the vitality of the congregation they became part of. “We were absolutely received there,” he said.

“The March was more like a confirmation of some feelings I had about the Black movement before this,” and the exposure continued to impact his personal and professional choices going forward.



“I went home that day and told my wife I had witnessed history,” Raabe marked. “There have been many watershed moments in civil rights, and this may have been the greatest watershed of all.”

There was “big discussion” before the March of possible erupting tensions. Would the March be peaceful? “The day was unbelievably calm – not on edge at all.” Even with such weighty matters before the nation, Raabe experienced the day as enjoyable. “It was a magnificent experience to be there and to hear the speeches and to be able to take it in at the moment.”

“I knew when Dr. King gave that speech that this was a speech for the ages. It absolutely was a stunning and emotional, real emotional, moment for me and the crowd.”

“As great as that day was, it showed the power of peaceful protest. When you have that kind of positive power in one direction for good,” there will be powerful impact, Raabe said. “You’re always going to have sinister forces of evil who don’t agree, or who respond by attacking verbally or even physically. Dr. King went to jail in response to what he was doing. Ultimately he paid with his life. But he accomplished incredible things in a peaceful way.”

“That’s kind of my approach to life. Do things by pointing out the morality or immorality of something and preaching that message rather than violence or destruction – George Floyd or any injustices we face. Violence only breeds more hostility and slows progress,” Raabe continued.

“My personal feeling is Dr. King showed by example what we could do by persistent, peaceful protest on strong moral grounds.”

Raabe was able to marvel at the crowd of 250,000 on August 28, 1963. In his mind’s eye, “It might have been even bigger.” The impact of that March on Washington certainly was.


Resounding Call from March on Washington Then and Now

By guest blogger Jennifer DeLeon, ELCA Director for Racial Justice [more]

As we commemorate the 60th anniversary of the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963, the resounding importance of that pivotal event echoes powerfully into the present day. The factors that propelled the March, including ending racial segregation, fighting for economic justice and securing voting rights, remain as urgent and relevant as ever.

The struggles of the past continue to surface in challenges of the present. The legacy of segregation persists, reminding us that the fight for equality is far from over. The enduring outcome of redlining, a systemic practice that denies access to loans, insurance and other financial benefits to residents of mostly BIPOC communities, continues to fragment our society along racial lines.

In addition, although the passing of the Voting Rights Act in 1965 represented progress, we find ourselves confronted with a disconcerting reality: a surge of legislative efforts aimed at curtailing voting rights that disproportionately affect BIPOC communities continuing to uphold racial divisions. According to the League of Women Voters, “In 2023, at least 322 bills restricting voting access were introduced in state legislatures nationwide.” This alarming trend underscores the need to draw a direct line from the struggles of the past to the challenges of the present, emphasizing the crucial importance of understanding history and rallying against injustice to ensure a more equitable future for all.

In our church, we continue to work towards living out the commitments we made in 1993 when we passed our social statement, Freed in Christ: Race, Ethnicity, and Culture. “The Church that confesses Christ in public demonstrates its commitment through involvement in public life—globally and locally, nationally and in neighborhoods,” it reads (p. 6). It continues: “This church will support legislation, ordinances, and resolutions that guarantee to all persons equally: civil rights, including full protection of the law and redress under the law of discriminatory practices; and to all citizens, the right to vote” (p. 7)

In recent years, we have supported and will continue to advocate for the passage of the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2021 and other similar legislation. As we commemorate this historic day, we invite you to join our advocacy network and work towards making the dreams expressed in the March a reality.


Learn more about ELCA Racial Justice Ministries at 

August/September Update: Advocacy Connections

from the ELCA advocacy office in Washington, D.C. – the Rev. Amy E. Reumann, Senior Director

Partial expanded content from Advocacy Connections: August/September 2023



FEMA FUNDING CRUNCH:  As August comes to a close, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) finds itself confronting a dire situation. The agency, responsible for responding to natural disasters in the United States, is on the verge of running out of critical funding – with the strain of coping with an overwhelming series of hurricanes, wildfires and floods pushing resources to the brink.

Witness in Society staff are collaborating with Lutheran Disaster Response colleagues to advance advocacy strategies to raise this as an urgent priority in Congress. As reported by Axios, “FEMA’s disaster fund is projected to fall into the red in late August because of tens of billions of dollars already committed to prior disasters, as well as anticipated costs for disasters that may strike this year. The fund’s deficit may grow to $4.2 billion by mid-September if Congress does not replenish it, according to FEMA’s latest monthly budget report.” This news preceded the devastation and aftermath of the wildfires in Maui.


CLEAN ENERGY TAX CREDITS FOR CHURCHES:  In a July meeting with religious leaders, the Department of Energy announced that billions of dollars in tax credits and grants are available from the U.S. government for churches and other nonprofits to help them become more energy efficient. The money comes primarily from the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, but there are also funds from the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the 2022 CHIPS [Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors] and Science Act.

Internal Revenue Service information on how churches can take advantage of clean energy tax credits using new options can be found at The Lutherans Restoring Creation network has been referencing “Federal Funding for Energy Work at Houses of Worship” from Interfaith Power & Light. Similarly, the Friends Committee on National Legislation updated in July 2023, “Inflation Reduction Act: Benefits for Houses of Worship.”


ELCA FARM BILL ACTIVITY:  ELCA advocacy has focused Farm Bill efforts on the Pennsylvania delegation, leveraging ELCA presence in the Commonwealth to bring priorities to key decision-makers. All seven Pennsylvania ELCA bishops signed on to a letter to the chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture. The letter to Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson (PA-15) calls on members of Congress to protect and enhance the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) during the Farm Bill reauthorization. Additional letters from the bishops were also sent to Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1), and Senators Bob Casey Jr. and John Fetterman of Penn. The 2018 Farm Bill is set to expire at the end of September 2023.


AFGHAN ADJUSTMENT ACT:  The Afghan Adjustment Act (S. 2327/H.R.4627) was reintroduced on July 14. With bipartisan support, the Act now has even more support than when first introduced thanks in part to everyone’s advocacy. The bill supports the ability of Afghans benefitting from temporary humanitarian status to apply for lawful permanent residency and builds on efforts to help other at-risk Afghans. Urge your member of Congress to pass the Afghan Adjustment Act using the Action Alert.

Many faithful people have taken the Bible’s message to welcome the stranger to heart and in action by accompanying migrants and seeking justice for their neighbors near and far. The experience of asylum seekers and vulnerable youth, and borderland conditions, are samples of situations where U.S. policy can demonstrate our values. ELCA faith leaders have provided invaluable insight and support in search of meaningful change.


HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS PROPOSES INTERNATIONAL CUTS:  The House and Senate Committees on Appropriations recently released their FY24 budgets for international programs. The House bill cuts topline funding by 12% in contrast to FY23. The Senate funding bill looks much better overall. The House and Senate will need to reconcile the two bills in the coming weeks. Staff are meeting with various congressional offices asking for protection of funding for anti-poverty and relief programs.

In another development, the State Department has announced that it will provide $61 million in additional humanitarian assistance to support Rohingya internally displaced in Burma as well as Rohingya refugees and their host communities in Bangladesh. The Rohingya rely on dozens of nongovernmental organizations present in the camps to address humanitarian needs, including Rangpur Dinajpur Rural Service (RDRS) Bangladesh, a longtime partner of the ELCA, reports Living Lutheran (6/20/23).


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August Recess opportunity



August Recess is a congressional tradition that brings heightened opportunities to reach out to your federal lawmakers where you – and they – live. U.S. representatives traditionally return to their home districts in this month to engage with their constituents. Town Halls and in-district meetings may be available to you in this period that create windows to raise your experiences, the experiences of your faith community, and policy concerns locally.

Start by locating your lawmaker’s Web presence ( is one place to connect). Doing a little homework by looking around at the person’s top issues and sphere of influence can deepen any encounter. If a Town Hall is listed, it may be an open forum or a virtual experience. Virtual experiences may be more constrained in question-and-answer format, but any Town Hall can be a meaningful connection point.

Alternatively, instigate a local meeting. Prepare what you want to say, with pointers from resources below. A virtual visit can be a value-added creative moment to showcase placement of your ministry in the community, building relationships and future potentials. Offering a lawmaker a chance to speak or connect with fellow constituents after a worship service or event will increase the chance of their participation.

Advocacy resources to help you plan from ELCA Witness in Society include:

Below find suggestions from our ELCA policy staff about issues that intersect with 2023 ELCA Federal Policy Priorities that are presently on the horizon. The question prompts may help you shape a timely way to use August Recess opportunities.


THIS MOMENT IN TIME: 2023 Farm Bill Reauthorization

“Agriculture is basic to the survival and security of people throughout the world. Through the calling of agriculture, farmers produce the grain for our daily bread and the rest of our food supply. Without a bountiful and low-cost food supply, most Americans would not enjoy the livelihood they do. Farmers face the challenge of producing this food in ways that contribute to the regeneration of the land and the vitality of rural communities.” ELCA social statement on Sufficient, Sustainable Livelihood for All (p 16)


The Farm Bill is traditionally one of the most bi-partisan bills in Congress. This August recess both the House and Senate agriculture committees are drafting the 2023 Farm Bill, a reauthorization that is an opportunity to make this far-reaching, omnibus legislation responsive to present realities. Right now, your voice matters to your representative and senator. In listening sessions held this spring to inform ELCA advocacy on the Farm Bill, participants highlighted the importance of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and were distressed by food waste and food deserts. They were concerned with farms and their intersection with conservation, rural community health, and subsidies and crop insurance. As food production impacts all, they emphasized global food access, hunger and issues for small family farms, and challenges of marginalized communities and farmers. (One way to learn more about the Farm Bill is to follow links in the “Advocacy In Service to Our Neighbor” template letters for “God’s work. Our hands.” Sunday. As your elected representatives work to craft this critical legislation, raise your concerns and priorities.


  • The Farm Bill supports farmers, hungry people, merchants, resilience for our land and our partners overseas. How are you working to support the Farm Bill and its impact on all our communities?
  • Will you protect funding of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and oppose additional work requirements in the Farm Bill?
  • Will you preserve international emergency and non-emergency food assistance programs in the Farm Bill?


THIS MOMENT IN TIME: Homelessness and Affordable Housing

“’Sufficiency’ means adequate access to income and other resources that enable people to meet their basic needs, including nutrition, clothing, housing, health care, personal development, and participation in community with dignity. God has created a world of sufficiency for all, providing us daily and abundantly with all the necessities of life.” ELCA social statement on Sufficient, Sustainable Livelihood for All (p. 11)


This summer, the U.S. House of Representatives introduced an annual spending bill that would inflict deep cuts and, in some cases, entirely eliminate federal programs dedicated to increasing housing affordability, expanding homeownership and funding community development. This comes as housing costs have continued to climb across the United States, and as the lack of affordable options has become one of the leading drivers of houselessness in our communities. Many Lutherans and our ministries are in creative and passionate service to address these concerns, yet it is not something we can do alone. Congress must send to the president’s desk a spending bill that fully maintains existing Department of Housing and Urban Affairs (HUD) housing and homeless programs, and think longer term on what can be done to expand the supply of housing for all generations of Americans.


  • As a member of Congress, what are you doing to assist those of us struggling with houselessness in our district and address the wider housing affordability crisis across the country?
  • With rising rents and inflation in housing costs, flat level federal funding to HUD and our local communities will result in fewer people served. Are you committed to fully funding existing federal housing programs to meet inflation?
  • How can congregations like my own partner with public partners to help better address our current housing situation in our district?



“The suffering of persons with AIDS demonstrates anew that life for all is vulnerable, limited, and broken, yet also graced with courage, hope and reconciliation. As a disease that affects women, men and children around the world, it shows how closely we are bound together in relationships of mutual trust, need and responsibility.” ELCA social message on “AIDS and the Church’s Ministry of Caring” (pg. 1)


In 2003, the U.S. government launched a program known as the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), through which it provides lifesaving HIV treatment treatments, care and prevention services to people living in low-income countries. PEPFAR is the largest U.S. global health program devoted to a single disease. Today, PEPFAR supports over 20 million people around the world. The current congressional authorization for PEPFAR expires this year on September 30th. Congress needs to pass legislation to reauthorize continuation of the program in its current form. “This past summer, as an ELCA young adult delegate to the International AIDS Conference, I saw firsthand the struggles that many people living with HIV face on a daily basis, and I was moved by the efforts being made by both religious and secular organizations to support these individuals and fight AIDS,” said Brendan Lewis in 2022.


  • As a member of Congress, what’s your position on the PEPFAR program, which has had bipartisan support since its inauguration?
  • What is your commitment to ensuring that a new PEPFAR reauthorization passes this year?
  • If you oppose reauthorization of the program, what are the reasons behind that decision and what would you like to see happen to change your position?


THIS MOMENT IN TIME: Transition to Clean Energy with an Environmental Justice Focus

“The ELCA calls upon individuals, agencies, organizations, corporations, and governments to pursue goals, set policies, and establish practices that… Promote a just transition from fossil fuels to a clean energy future that leaves no one behind, through public investments in economic development and job retraining programs.” ELCA social message on “Earth’s Climate Crisis” (pp. 11-12)


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment Report, published in 2021, warns that “global surface temperature will continue to increase until at least mid-century under all emissions scenarios considered. Global warming of 1.5°C and 2°C will be exceeded during the 21st century unless deep reductions in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions occur in the coming decades.” With God’s help humanity can turn from the present course, take loving and just action, and live more harmoniously within God’s beautiful and verdant creation. In this Kairos moment for the planet, we must urge passage of policy to further address climate change and to reflect urgency for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. With the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act last August, the United States made the largest investment into climate and clean energy ever. With this investment, further policies and reform must be passed to expedite the transition to clean energy and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. It is important that we lift up the concern of environmental justice in all energy and environmental policy and highlight the disparate impact of pollution and climate change on low-income communities, ethnic minorities, developing nations and Indigenous lands. Legislation such as the Environmental Justice for All Act, reintroduced this year, aims to address environmental disparities in majority Black, Latino and Indigenous communities.


  • As a member of Congress, how can you help expedite the U.S.’ transition to clean energy?
  • How can Congress ensure that reform to the energy permitting process won’t disproportionately affect low-income communities, ethnic minorities, developing nations and Indigenous lands?
  • Do you support the Environmental Justice for All Act? Why or why not?


THIS MOMENT IN TIME: Migration Policy Clarity

“The leaders and congregations that have given us this legacy [with roots in immigrant churches in a nation of immigrants] remind us that hospitality for the uprooted is a way to live out the biblical call to love the neighbor in response to God’s love in Jesus Christ. They recall for us God’s command to Israel: ‘The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the stranger as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God’ (Leviticus 19:34).” ELCA social message on “Immigration” (p. 3)


Many faithful people have taken the Bible’s message to welcome the stranger to heart and in action by accompanying migrants and seeking justice for their neighbors near and far. The experience of asylum seekers and vulnerable youth, and borderland conditions, are samples of situations where U.S. policy can demonstrate our values. An asylum decision can lay pending an average of 4.2 years and at least initially, asylum seekers do not have work authorization, a situation which the Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act tries to address. Deescalating militarization of U.S. borderlands and cities can help mitigate trust erosion between law enforcement and communities; vulnerability of migrants to extortion, kidnapping and death from exposure; and environmental impacts. The status of youth who from suffered neglect or abuse have court-recognized Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), like thousands from Central America and Mexico, are eligible to apply for a green card but face limits on the SIJS number issued in a given fiscal year and “per country” caps, adding to the tenuous nature of their relief from harm. In the next few months, lawmakers will consider each of the Fiscal Year 2024 spending bills, alongside other key policy proposals supporting migrant children and families. How Congress allocates funding sends a clear statement of our values and priorities. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports that more than 100 million have experienced forced displacement for complex reasons like persecution, environmental degradation and war. The U.S. immigration system urgently needs to be remade in simple yet effective ways to meet contemporary realities and needs while modeling compassion, pragmatism and cooperation as our customs and values stand for. Urge your representative to heed this call.


  • Will you support legislation like the bipartisan Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act (H.R. 1325) to promote the economic self-sufficiency of asylum seekers by expediting work authorization, and how would you suggest building capacity across the asylum system?
  • Do you support the invaluable partnership between non-government organizations (NGOs) and federal agencies in U.S. borderlands and cities with federal funding for NGO to help deescalate militarization of the regions?
  • Will you support exempting vulnerable youth with Special Immigrant Juvenile Status from annual visa limits?


THIS MOMENT IN TIME: Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies

“We are becoming increasingly aware of the ongoing evils of the Doctrine of Discovery, and by the actions we commit ourselves to herein, we now declare our allegiance to the work of undoing those evils, building right relationships with Native nations and Native peoples, and remaining faithful to our shared journeys toward truth and healing.” From “A Declaration of the [ELCA] to American Indian and Alaska Native People” (p. 5)


In May 2023, S.1723, the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies Act, was reintroduced to Congress. The bill would create a formal commission with the goal of listening, investigating, recording and acknowledging previous injustices committed by the government’s past boarding school policies that aimed to assimilate Native American and Indian children. After a markup process including the adoption of amendments reflecting feedback from Tribal leaders, boarding school survivors, advocates, religious organizations and others, S.1723 currently awaits a vote on the Senate floor. The terrible legacy of Indian boarding schools lingers in the bodies and minds of direct survivors and their descendants. They suffer tremendous trauma that impacts their well-being — cultural, spiritual, economic and more. As the ELCA lives into our own Truth-Seeking & Truth Telling Initiative to organize Lutherans around our church’s involvement in Indian boarding schools in the United States and their impact on Native peoples, we also recognized the need for our nation to know and claim complicity in the history of Indian boarding schools and the schools’ deliberate, devastating impacts on Native people and their communities, then and now.


  • The Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies Act would provide resources and assistance to aid in the healing of trauma for American Indian, Alaskan Native, and Native Hawaiian communities. As a representative, how are you working to support this bill?


THIS MOMENT IN TIME: Detention of Palestinian Children

“This brutal conflict has taken hundreds of Palestinian lives and caused untold suffering. It has also divided the citizens of Israel as well as the worldwide Jewish community, many of whom are concerned that a continuation of the conflict will only further erode Israel’s democratic institutions and undermine Jewish prophetic values, which are our Christian legacy as well.” ELCA social message on “The Israeli/Palestinian Conflict” (pg. 2)


The Israeli military prosecutes between 500 and 700 Palestinian children each year, according to Defense for Children International – Palestine. An average of 225 Palestinian children are held in custody each month, according to data provided by the Israel Prison Service. The systematic denial of their due process rights along with widespread ill-treatment must end. H.R. 3103, the Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act, to stop US taxpayer funding of this practice and halt the destruction of Palestinian homes which often renders children homeless, a violation of international humanitarian law. A statement from the Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, ELCA presiding bishop on July 5, 2023 reinforced: “The ELCA will continue our advocacy for justice in the Holy Land in collaboration with our ecumenical, interfaith and other partners who share our commitments to seeking a just peace for Palestinians and Israelis.”


  • As my Representative, will you co-sponsor H.R. 3103, the Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act?


Thank you for your advocacy.

June/July Update: Advocacy Connections

from the ELCA advocacy office in Washington, D.C. – the Rev. Amy E. Reumann, Senior Director

Partial expanded content from Advocacy Connections: June/July 2023



ENERGIZING FARM BILL LISTENING SESSIONS:  With great representation of well over 100 of us from many parts of the United States, “Listening Sessions to Inform ELCA Farm Bill Advocacy” were productive opportunities to learn more about the Farm Bill reauthorization process and hear from bishops, farmers, USDA employees, school lunch program volunteers, food bank managers, rural young adults and many others about their priorities for the issues impacted by the policy.

Right now, our policy directors are in process of distilling the substantial input we received during the Farm Bill listening session process and interfacing it with other expertise in our networks. This will become a more concise list of asks which the ELCA will continue to advance with policy makers. In general, participants highlighted the importance of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and were distressed by food waste and food deserts. They were concerned with farms and their intersection with conservation, rural community health, and subsidies and crop insurance. As food production impacts all, they emphasized global food access, hunger and issues for small family farms, and challenges of marginalized communities and farmers. These concerns are being synopsized for communication from an engaged and informed body of Lutherans, and we appreciate the input from all who took part!


AFGHAN ADJUSTMENT ACT REINTRODUCED:  The House and Senate have reintroduced the Afghan Adjustment Act. ELCA congregations and leaders have been deeply involved in accompaniment and advocacy for this policy, including sending messages through the ELCA Action Center when it was originally introduced in August 2022.

Bipartisan reintroduction of the Afghan Adjustment Act could provide a direct path to lawful permanent residency. Operation Allies Welcome brought over 75,000 evacuees to safety in the United States, yet an uncertain legal limbo awaits Afghans who fled their war-torn country. An Afghan Adjustment Act would allow humanitarian parolees here in the United States to adjust their status, providing long-term stability and security for themselves and families.

In another development, World Refugee Day on June 20 was unfortunately marked by more than 100 million people forcibly displaced around the world. Climate change, the war in Ukraine, the multi-faced conflicts through the globe, the collapse of democratic systems and freedoms and more have wrought new crises that are forcing more people to leave their homes. Newly released State Department data shows 6,975 refugees were resettled in May, the highest monthly total since December 2016. “LIRS and ELCA remain committed to uplifting the voices and stories of people affected, many of whom will help lead our efforts on Capitol Hill,” states a 2023 ELCA-LIRS World Refugee Day letter.


NEW WHO NETWORK LAUNCHES:  The World Health Organization has launched the International Pathogen Surveillance Network (IPSN), “a global network of pathogen genomic actors, to accelerate progress on the deployment of pathogen genomics and improve public health decision-making.”

The International Pathogen Surveillance Network (IPSN) will “enable faster detection of new pathogens and enhance tracking of the spread and evolution of diseases…the IPSN supports ongoing disease surveillance and will help detect and fully characterize new disease threats before they become epidemics or pandemics.” This tool will potentially assist with effective action, such as the church’s response related to the COVID pandemic.

In other developments, the U.S. government has announced that it will provide nearly $524 million in additional assistance to respond to dire humanitarian needs in the Horn of Africa. The announcement brings the total U.S. humanitarian assistance for response efforts to more than $1.4 billion in fiscal year 2023. The Horn of Africa region launched the collective Humanitarian Response Plan, which calls for a cumulative $7 billion in assistance for 2023. Total funding for 2023 now stands at $2.4 billion only. The region is experiencing multiple crises. Many in our companion synods have been challenged by these developments – for example read more from ELCA World Hunger where with the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) we are working in the Kakuma region in Kenya alongside the local government to help build the capacity of families to respond to and withstand worsening droughts in the region.


WATERS OF THE UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT DECISION:  The Supreme Court made a decision in a closely watched case regarding the jurisdictional reach of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA). This result will reduce the number of wetlands subject to federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. The Supreme Court Justices decided in favor of the Sacketts, ruling that the land they are building their home on should not be regulated by the Clean Water Act, which in this case would be considered a wetland. Therefore, under the new Sackett standard, a surface connection must be present in order for a wetland to be considered adjacent to a “waters of the United States” for jurisdictional, regulatory purposes. Reaching the goal of clean water and sanitation for all is critical.

As emphasized in advance of participation by ELCA advocacy and World Hunger representatives in an UN international conference on water: “‘Water is a dealmaker for the Sustainable Development Goals, and for the health and prosperity of people and planet.’ Indeed, without access to clean water and sanitation, many of the other Sustainable Development Goals will be out of reach.” Our ELCA advocacy staff will continue to monitor environmental regulation developments such as these to the Clean Water Act.


DEBT CEILING UPDATE:  President Biden in early June signed a compromise bill, H.R. 3746, to lift the U.S. debt ceiling until 2025. The final bill imposes some spending cuts over the next two years on federal programs – while giving Congress the option to make up most of those cuts through drawing back unspent pandemic funding.

The final bill would also expand some existing work requirements on safety-net programs like SNAP food assistance – which the Congressional Budget Office estimated would actually cost more money each year to enforce rather than save. In the coming months, it will be critical to advocate with appropriators in Congress and encourage them to not enact any automatic spending cuts to core annual discretionary programs such as low-income housing assistance. Also of note, the bipartisan “Fiscal Responsibility Act,” H.R. 3746, greenlit the completion of the Mountain Valley pipeline and made various changes to the National Environmental Policy Act. This is likely the first step of a congressional push to continue to reform permitting across the country on energy production projects.


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Fall Climate Summit Equips Young Adults for Advocacy

Young adults understand that gridlock and partisanship are some of the biggest barriers to progress in our world. One particular area of concern that needs action, and quickly, is the looming climate crisis. Inaction poses grave danger to present and future generations.  


Since its founding, the ELCA has used social teaching documents as tools for speaking in and to society, and with each other about society. These teachings result from expansive consensus building processes and intentional conversations with people from many points of view and lived experiences. As we live into our sacred responsibility to care for and keep God’s creation for future generations, ELCA social teaching can strengthen our impact from the inter-personal to communal and global levels.  

The young adult focused ELCA Fall Climate Summit is an opportunity for young adults from a range of identities and experiences to gather and deepen their advocacy, storytelling and organizing. Sponsored by the ELCA Service & Justice team, 25 young adults from across the country will gather in Chicago, Illinois from October 20-22, 2023, to engage with ELCA social teaching, centering in the Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope and Justice social statement, the new “Earth’s Climate Crisis” social message, and the ongoing work of the Corporate Social Responsibility program, and will build momentum and power to energize further action and impact.  

Apply and help identify individuals for this opportunity before the July 26 application deadline! 


Who should apply? 

At no cost to participants, this summit is focused on U.S.-based young adults between the ages of 18-35 years old. Whether someone has years of climate advocacy practice, or this would be their first time engaging in advocacy, young adults of all levels of experience are encouraged to apply. There will be intentionality throughout the selection process to ensure that participants reflect intersecting social identities. Meeting spaces and lodging will be accessible for wheelchair and cane users.  

Individuals who do not come from an ELCA background are invited to apply but should understand that the summit will be focused on ELCA systems, processes and teachings. Non-ELCA-affiliated applicants are encouraged to articulate in their applications why they are drawn to this opportunity. 


How to apply 

We have one application for all interested individuals.  

The application includes questions about who the applicant is, why the Fall Climate Summit would be an enriching opportunity, and how it might inform the future engagement and interests of the participant. No references are requested. Applications are due on Wednesday, July 26 at 11:59pm. 

Application link:


By the end of this event participants will:  

  • Gain and practice skills such as power-mapping and demonstration, campaign creation, base building and others. 
  • Deepen understanding of and literacy around ELCA social teaching documents including what they are, how they are created, and how they can be used as a tool for change-making. 
  • Make connections with ELCA faith-based advocacy activity including the ELCA’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program, which uses social teaching to engage with company practices. 
  • Begin creating an action plan for how and where highlighted social teachings can be employed by summit participants in their own communities and brainstorm on priorities for campaigns and climate-related work. 
  • Built stronger relationships and networks with fellow participants and the ELCA. 
  • Make connections available with ELCA-affiliated state public policy offices. 


Timeline Overview 

  • July 5 – Application process opens. 
  • July 26 – Application process closes. 
  • August 9 – Decisions communicated to applicants. 
  • August 16 – Participant deadline for acceptance response. 
  • August 24 – Participant roster finalized. 
  • October 20-22 – ELCA Fall Climate Summit 


Use announcements available from @ELCAadvocacy socials to share this opportunity with others. Further questions/inquiries can be directed to Kayla Zopfi ( and Kaari Reierson ( 


Showing Up and Speaking Out Against Harmful Anti-LGBTQ Legislation

The last few years have seen record numbers of anti-LGBTQ bills being proposed and passed, particularly in state legislatures, across the country. “As bishop of this church, I am concerned that the rights of transgender and nonbinary Americans have been targeted all over this nation,” wrote ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton in her statement on anti-transgender legislation (3/20/23). “We must stand together, dear church, faithfully advocating for the full humanity and dignity of all people. Let us recognize and affirm the humanity of our transgender and nonbinary siblings. Let us advocate for their dignity.”

With a family-informed plea, Jamie Bruesehoff, a member of the ELCA Church Council, wrote: “Our transgender siblings are crying out for justice, they are begging for mercy and protection, for support, for people to care with their words and their actions. Our rostered leaders, our seminarians, families with transgender youth, and the transgender people in our pews need the church to show up at this moment” [written for their blog and reprinted in the ELCA Advocacy Blog (4/3/23)].

A confession in ELCA social teaching serves as caution as we confront the current policy trend. “Christian churches have rarely been in the forefront to gain civil rights for people who are lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgendered or queer,” reads the ELCA social message “Human Rights” (p. 7). Yet many in this church have cried and heard the cries and been stirred to action.



Showing up and speaking out in support of transgender siblings include several ELCA bishops, ELCA-affiliated state public policy offices, and lay and rostered congregational leaders from many parts of the United States.


Synod Sampling

As Missouri grapples with reportedly the most anti-LGBTQ bills filed of any state, more than 300 faith leaders throughout Missouri including Bishop Susan Candea of the ELCA Central States Synod and many rostered ministers of that synod added their signatures to an open letter to state lawmakers to oppose bills targeting the LGBTQ community. “Many of the bill sponsors cite their faith as a reason for their support of such legislation,” the letter (March 28, 2023) available from The Episcopal Diocese of Missouri states. “We disagree. These bills do not uphold the shared principles of mutual respect, undeniable dignity, or abiding love found in the tenets of our faiths. The signers of this statement, while representing a diversity of faiths and perspectives, are united by our opposition to further legal restrictions aimed at LGBTQIA+ people that dishonors their belovedness and worth.”

In a March 17, 2023, statement shared with the ELCA Central States Synod, Bishop Candea wrote, “This is not a social issue. These are the lives of people we know… We are all diminished by the lines we draw between ‘us’ and ‘them.’”

Also acting in coalition, Bishop Tessa Moon Leiseth of the ELCA Eastern North Dakota Synod and Bishop Craig A. Schweitzer of the Western North Dakota Synod signed on with others from the ELCA as well as other denominations to a published letter (March 10, 2023) calling for the state legislature to “oppose bills that would harm the people of North Dakota and support legislation that reflects the true values of North Dakotans, values that guide us to care for one another and build a state that welcomes everyone.”

Earlier in the year, Bishop Amy Current of the ELCA Southeastern Iowa Synod included raising attention to anti-LGBTQ legislation among items in the legislative session that aligned with Lent. “A recent study shows 44% of LGBTQ youth in Iowa considered suicide in the last year compared to 18% of non-LGBTQ youth,” she wrote to the synod (Feb. 27, 2023), noting several bills had been introduced in this legislative session that put LGBTQ adults and children at risk, including through curbing access to education, privacy, accommodations and healthcare. “Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves,” Bishop Current wrote, “These neighbors, LGBTQ children, adults, and their families are our neighbors and deserve to live with dignity and respect.”

An op-ed column coauthored by Bishop Sue Briner, ELCA Southwestern Texas Synod, and Bishop Suffragan Kathryn M. Ryan, The Episcopal Diocese of Texas, was published (March 30, 2023) in the state which has seen may anti-LGBTQ bills in the 2023 legislative session. “It is plain to see by the many anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ+ bills filed in the Texas Legislature and across the country that trans individuals are not being seen to bear the image of Christ, are not having their dignity respected, and are not being seen as an opportunity through which the rest of us, in striving for justice and peace, might honor the image of God,” they wrote. “We faithfully hold the position that God calls us to meet the needs of transgender individuals and to empower them to flourish through the means of care which medical and therapeutic professionals continue to hold up as the gold standard. We stand with our transgender siblings and their parents and doctors, opposing interference with their access to medical and psychological care because it violates the human dignity we seek to uphold.”

Bishop Michael Rinehart of the ELCA Gulf Coast Synod participated in a prayer vigil (March 27, 2023) to support LGBTQ Texans testifying against a number of anti-trans bills in the state’s House.

From the ELCA Nebraska Synod, Bishop Scott Alan Johnson co-authored with Bishop J. Scott Barker of The Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska a piece in the Omaha News-Herald titled “Midlands Voices: Legislation like LB 574 and LB 575 violates human dignity” (4/2/23 updated 5/9/23).* “These bills dishonor those who are doing their utmost to discover how they bear the image of God within themselves and in relationship to the people they love,” they write.


ELCA-Affiliated State Public Policy Office Sampling

ELCA-affiliated state public policy offices (sppos) have galvanized significant advocacy to promote dignity and respect under legislative threat.

  • Discrimination is not a Texas Value is the headline accompanying a letter to Texas lawmakers (May 2023) organized through Texas Impact in the sppo network. “We wish to bring lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) Texans to your attention, as they remain at great risk. They are the target of routine mistreatment ranging from unkindness to life-ending assault, and they are forced to navigate unjust policies and practices on a daily basis. Alarmist language, fear-based rhetoric, and general mis or disinformation fuels discrimination, and discrimination does great harm.” The letter, signed by many including Lutheran congregations and individuals, continues, “As legislation is developed, filed, and negotiated, we urge you to use the authority afforded you by your office to unequivocally reject the targeting of marginalized people, and to both protect and do good for vulnerable Texans.”
  • Kansas Interfaith Action, a sppo, has been attentive to developments in the Kansas legislature. “We spent quite a bit of time and effort recruiting and preparing testimony on several bills targeting trans people in Kansas,” wrote Rabbi Moti Rieber, executive director (February 2023).
  • The Columbus Dispatch published a Letter to the Editor (Dec. 2022) by ELCA Deacon Nick Bates, director of Hunger Network in Ohio. “Sadly, there are lawmakers in Ohio that want to ban the right of kids to play as their authentic selves. I am discouraged by legislative proposals such as House Bill 151 that deny our trans and non-binary youth the opportunity to play sports,” he wrote. “House Bill 151 replaces love with bureaucracy, it replaces compassion with big government. We should welcome these children, because God already has.”



There is some encouragement to hear voices of Christians confronting this struggle, but our advocacy remains vital. “As we celebrate Pride Month in June, we know that there are 29 states that still have harmful laws that are harmful to our LGBTQIA+ siblings,” says John Johnson, ELCA Program Director for Domestic Policy. “As too many states across the country join in introducing anti-trans legislation at the state level, we must remain allied, together, and vigilant.”

The ELCA social message “Human Rights” articulates a summons for God’s people in the ELCA to renewed attention and courage, discernment and action to promote and protect human rights. It says, “Christians are called to participate in God’s work in society, and we should expect to participate in history as rights are discerned, defined and defended” (p. 11).

In your communities and states, your advocacy is important. Reach out to your sppo or synod staff or task force for support and collaboration. Federally, our ELCA Witness in Society advocacy staff are monitoring for opportunities for federal policy action. The 🗺️ “Synod and District Map” can help you identify federal policy makers in your area to whom you may want to reach out to urge federal action.

Thank you for showing up and speaking out.


*Reference added to ELCA Advocacy Blog post 6/15/23


Creation Care Ambassadors and All of Us Together

“In the Scriptures, God assigns a sacred responsibility to human beings: we are to care for and keep God’s creation for future generations,” opens the ELCA’s most recent social message, “Earth’s Climate Crisis.” It continues, “With God’s help humanity can turn from the present course, take loving and just action, and live more harmoniously within God’s beautiful and verdant creation.”

Creation Care Ambassadors (Ambassadors), trained through a certification program of Lutherans Restoring Creation (LRC) with ELCA collaborator Blessed Tomorrow, empower themselves to make a difference with tools, resources and networking to act and advocate for climate solutions. Reach out to an Ambassador to help support local congregational and synod creation care activities using the 🗺️ LRC locator map, and consider taking the free training.

“[This network] helps us engage with all the ways we care about our environment as people of faith, and makes us able to talk about climate change – not as a political issue, but as something that affects how we love our neighbor,” says Phoebe Morad, LRC Executive Director and ELCA Creation Care Network Associate. “We’re saying to the Creator we worship – thank you for this creation,” she describes, and Ambassadors can prompt informed and faithful response. “And then we are acting, together.”

Stephanie Coble Lower attended the Susquehanna Summit in Oct. 2022, an interfaith environmental gathering, after her Ambassador training. “One thing I have discerned is that I love connecting organizations in our work. There is so much more we can do together as opposed to individually,” she said. Great times to invite an Ambassador to facilitate presentations and conversations on faith and climate include conferences, small-group forums and retreats, and important days like Earth Day and holy seasons. “I pray daily for opportunities and guidance [about] how my expertise and passion can be used to benefit God’s creation,” Lower adds.

Many of us find ourselves enjoying and centering the natural world in our daily activities anew this spring. “As Lutheran Christians, we confess that both our witness to God’s goodness in creation and our acceptance of caregiving responsibility have often been weak and uncertain,” is a confession in Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope, and Justice, the third-ever ELCA social statement passed nearly three decades ago. As climate change presents humanity with a kairos moment, let’s center and enjoy anew actions together of creation care.

May Update: Advocacy Connections

from the ELCA advocacy office in Washington, D.C. – the Rev. Amy E. Reumann, Senior Director

Partial expanded content from Advocacy Connections: May 2023



DEBT CEILING:  The debt ceiling debate in Congress is reaching fever pitch following announcement by the Department of Treasury that the United States could hit its debt limit close to June 1. There are significant implications should the nation default on its debt including funds for Social Security, veterans benefits and more. Though we encourage lawmakers to spend within our means, spending cuts should not fall hardest on those of us who rely on public programs for daily subsistence. A call-in Action Alert invites us to call our lawmakers to encourage them to protect the integrity of antipoverty programs in any final debt ceiling deal.

House Republican leadership in late April passed a debt ceiling bill by a narrow margin (217-215) that would flatten non-defense discretionary funding to fiscal year 2022 levels – a cut that would essentially lead to a 22% decline in U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) housing programs according to HUD Sec. Marcia Fudge, among other impacts. Some form of a debt-ceiling raising bill will be needed before treasury runs out of emergency measures to pay U.S. obligations, and unified House leadership indicate determination to come to some compromise measure. Encouraging lawmakers to pass a clean proposal will be a top priority in the coming weeks. The process remains entrenched.


ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE EXECUTIVE ORDER: President Biden signed an executive order directing every single federal agency to work toward “environmental justice for all” and improve the lives of communities hit hardest by toxic pollution and climate change. Among other things, the order will establish a new Office of Environmental Justice within the White House to coordinate efforts across the government and requires federal agencies to notify communities if toxic substances are released from a federal facility. This rule is especially poignant as a response to the February train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.


HUMAN TRAFFICKING:  A bipartisan bill, the International Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (S. 920), has been reintroduced with proposed reforms to expand U.S. efforts. Senators Menendez (D-N.J.), Risch (R-Idaho), Kaine (D-VA.) and Rubio (R-Fla.) led the reintroduction. The proposed legislation reauthorizes and enhances anti-trafficking programs, policy and funding; and proposes reforms to expand U.S. efforts relating to combating human trafficking, including forced labor, as well as new requirements for the United States Agency for International Development to integrate prevention efforts into the agency’s global programming. Among other provisions, the bipartisan bill also amends the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act to ensure that the nations’ commitment and progress toward implementing effective counter-trafficking measures are factors in determining recipients of U.S. development assistance. No companion bill in the House has yet surfaced.


PROPOSED ASYUM RULE NOW IN EFFECT:  The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) finalized the new “Circumvention of Lawful Pathways” rule on May 10, which went into effect following termination of the Title 42 public health order. Our related Action Alert opposing the rule during the proposed rule’s comment period had incredible engagement from our network! The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has said the rule goes against international law and should be rescinded altogether. DHS and the State Department released a fact sheet on April 27 outlining the measures the Biden Administration planned after Title 42 ceased on May 11. It remains to be seen if the alternative legal pathways will serve people and families in the most immediate need. The situation will continue to be closely monitored in the next weeks and months, particularly in Central and South America. NGOs and faith organizations have been building towards this day in order to faithfully provide humanitarian assistance without disruption.


YOUNG ADULT BORDER TRIP:  Fourteen young adults were selected for an immersion trip in collaboration with ELCA AMMPARO, ELCA Young Adult Ministries, LIRS and Border Servant Corps. The trip took place between April 26-30. Participants stayed in New Mexico and had the opportunity to visit hospitality centers for asylum seeking families in Las Cruces and El Paso, Tex. After the trip, young adults will serve as LIRS ambassadors for a year and have been invited to reunite in September for an advocacy day with ELCA Witness in Society. Their congregations have been invited to learn more about AMMPARO. It was a truly unforgettable experience! Pictures can be found on the @ELCAammparo Facebook page.


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