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March 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: March 2023


DEBT CEILING:  The U.S. Treasury Department could default on its debt as early as June without congressional action, as the United States will exhaust its ability to pay all its bills unless the current $31.4 trillion cap on borrowing is raised or suspended. ELCA advocacy staff are very focused on several important fronts that impact hungry and vulnerable communities as debt ceiling debate develops.

In coalition with both Circle of Protection, a coalition of church bodies and related ministries representing the diversity of Christianity in the United States, and interfaith colleagues, we are receiving briefings and updates on the potential impact to poverty reduction programs should Congress fail to raise the current debt ceiling. A Feb. 27 letter from Circle of Protection leaders to President Biden and members of the 118th Congress said: “The priority we assign to reducing poverty and hunger is controversial but reflects values that are based in our Scriptures – passages such as Psalm 20:7 on trusting God rather than iron chariots, Isaiah 2:4 on beating swords into plowshares, and Matthew 25:31-46 about how God judges nations according to their response to people who are hungry and in need.”


BIDEN ADMINISTRATION GENDER PROGRESS REPORT: The White House Gender Policy Council released its first progress report to the president on its 2021 National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality.

International program highlights include: expansion of U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Engendering Industries program which advances gender equality in male-dominated industries around the world; launch of new USAID gender-based violence prevention and response programs and tools in northern Central America to promote human rights, justice, equity and equality; and launch by the State Department and USAID of the Safe from the Start ReVisioned initiative, expanding gender-based violence prevention, risk mitigation, response efforts and empowering women and girls in crisis-affected countries. The Safe from the Start Act has been a gender justice priority for the ELCA.


INFLATION REDUCTION ACT: The Inflation Reduction Act is the largest investment in climate solutions in U.S. history. It includes provisions to promote the transition to renewable energy for individuals and for institutions, and it has a large focus on environmental justice for communities most-affected by climate change.

Among provisions, the Inflation Reduction Act could as written specifically benefit “state, local and Tribal governments, as well as nonprofit organizations and other tax-exempt entities”. While most assistance in the Inflation Reduction Act comes in the form of tax credit, this provision allows for tax-exempt entities to receive “direct pay” as incentives for their climate-friendly investments into their communities. There have been calls on both sides of the aisle (examples here and here) for oversight of the distribution of these funds.

Although additional information for federal funding for energy work to guide congregations was anticipated in Feb. 2023, right now the clearest guidance is still more broad as available from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


BIDEN ADMINISTRATION ASYLUM POLICY CHANGES: The Biden Administration is using the federal rulemaking process to usher drastic changes to U.S. asylum policy ahead of the anticipated end of Title 42, on May 11. Adopting this rule would have severe consequences on people fleeing persecution and violence. Detrimental impact on children and families, Black persons, Indigenous persons and gender-based violence survivors seeking refuge could result.

Through the new proposed rule titled “Circumvention of Lawful Pathways,” the administration seeks to impose a “presumption of asylum ineligibility” for asylum seekers unless they received parole prior to arrival, presented themselves at a port of entry at a pre-scheduled time and place, or sought protection and were denied protection in a country en route to the United States. Your public comments on the proposed rule can urge withdrawal of the proposal – see our Action Alert for details. Many have spoken out. ELCA Witness in Society staff attended a rally organized by the Welcome With Dignity Campaign and Interfaith Immigration Coalition at the White House, cautioning against severe restrictions on those seeking asylum due to the way people came to or enter the United States.


HOUSING APPROPRIATIONS: ELCA Witness in Society staff met with congressional staff in February and March discussing housing and homeless investment needs in the fiscal 2024 federal budget (FY24), as intent to find new cuts in discretionary spending this year has been expressed by several members of the House.

With rents and housing costs continuing to rise in many areas across the United States this year, any serious cut to Housing and Urban Development programs this year could result in a new wave of evictions, homelessness and housing insecurity. ELCA Witness in Society staff will likely be planning an Action Alert around housing needs in the budget as the president prepares to release his budget proposal to Congress in early March.


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Faith-Based Global Gender Equity Advocacy at CSW67

You can be and are part of the exciting 67th UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW67) taking place March 6-17, 2023, in New York city. The annual gathering is instrumental in promoting women’s rights, documenting the reality of women’s lives throughout the world, and shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women.

The Lutheran Office for World Community (LOWC) and Lutheran World Federation (LWF) have assembled and prepared for a delegation and partners to take part in CSW67 both in-person and virtually, including our ELCA Hunger Advocacy Fellows. This role has involved many hours of faith-drive details, from theological grounding to visa assistance. Over 25 people are in the Lutheran delegation, including from Brazil, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Jordan, Liberia, Mexico, Mozambique, Poland, Suriname, Switzerland, Tanzania, Uganda, the United States and Zimbabwe.

Key CSW67 activities will bring the Lutheran delegation in contact with partnering governments, ecumenical and civil society colleagues to highlight the vital role that faith actors play in promoting women’s empowerment, and combating violence and discrimination to achieve greater gender equality at local, national and international levels. The priority theme of CSW67 is innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.

The Lutheran delegation will start early, gathering for worship on Sunday, March 5 following orientation (you can listen in) the day before. Additional leadership opportunities coordinated with LOWC and LWF include:

  • “Inclusive, transformational technologies facilitating gender equality in financial services” (sponsored by World Vision and LWF) on Monday, March 6 at 12:30 p.m. EDT.
  • “A Phone of My Own: Sexual and Economic Empowerment in Times of Crisis” (LWF among cosponsors) on Thursday, March 9 at 8:15 a.m. EDT.
  • “Girls on Fire” (sponsored by Ecumenical Women members) on Thursday, March 9 at 2 p.m. EDT.

And a key event with perspective on CSW67’s priority theme will be:

Did you know that the United Nations airs live coverage from UN Web TV online? Access the stream and schedule from .

Another way to connect is to support this delegation and aims of the CSW67 in prayer. Shared by the Rev. Rivka Schunk, theological research assistant with LWF, for worship with our Lutheran partners:

God of glory, Your word is like a fire that never dies, that warms but does not consume, a flame that sets everything in a new light. Your word in me is a burning fire, burning in my heart, Trapped in my bones, And I cannot and will not hold it back. Let it burst out of me and light up your world. Amen.

Devotional: Stretching Past Self-doubts

By Jillian Russell, Hunger Network Ohio [about the author]

I have always known myself to be a “self-doubter.” I am constantly doubting myself – my ability to lead, my ability to be a good friend, but especially my ability to lead God’s people. I have been a self-doubter when it has come to God’s plan for me. How was I supposed to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with my God if I didn’t even believe I could do so? As much as I have tried to change this aspect of myself in recent years, I constantly find myself being burdened by self-doubting thoughts.


Planning a gap year

I especially found this after I graduated with my undergraduate degree from Capital University in the spring of 2022. I had decided to take a gap year between undergrad and grad school but was still confused about what to do in that time. In my previous summers after college terms, I had worked at Lutheran summer camps, and I decided to do this again for one last summer, this time in Colorado at Rainbow Trail Lutheran Camp. I had decided to leave my beloved camp in North Carolina and stretch myself to have a new experience. And, to make things even more difficult, I decided to not be a counselor this time but take on a travel director role for the summer. A whole new camp, in a whole new state, and in a whole new position. I was terrified to say the least.

As a self-doubter, I started in on myself. Was I good enough to lead counselors? Was I even fit for this camp? Would I let people down? Could I really be a leader to these God-ly people? These thoughts and many others were constantly running through my head. I had begun to believe that this was not what God had planned for me. I was not meant to change lives and lead God’s people. This was not where I was meant to be.


While hiking

I went through many weeks severely doubting my abilities, until this one moment.

As a travel director, I was rarely on-site but was rather traveling doing day-camp ministry. But, this particular week, I was on-site helping to lead a family camp. On this particular day, my previous hike had been canceled, and I was really bummed because my new role was giving me fewer opportunities to hike. Then, out of nowhere, a family asked me to take them on a hike to a different location.

As we were hiking, I still had these self-doubting thoughts running through my head, and what made it even worse was that I actually got lost and went on a different route. I was totally bummed and disappointed in myself. I had not only failed myself, my self-doubts said, but this family I was leading. Then, the father of the family looked at me when we reached our new location and said, “I know you think you failed us, but look. If we hadn’t had made that wrong turn, my girls would have never cried looking at the beauty of God’s creation. We would never have made the memory of laughing at our wrong turns, but most importantly, I would have never admired God’s work like I am now. You showed us that.”


God’s assurance

I was stunned. But in that moment, I knew I was where I was meant to be. Even with all my mistakes and self-doubts, I was truly where God had put me. The self-doubting thoughts diminished with other guidance. God placed me in that moment to not only lead God’s people, but to do it by leading in justice, loving in kindness, and walking humbly with God.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jillian Russell is currently serving with Hunger Network Ohio. Russell graduated from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio where she studied Youth Ministry and Christian Education and Psychology. As an ELCA Hunger Advocacy Fellow, she hopes to continue her work in building connections between people of different faiths and traditions, and expanding advocacy on state and local issues.

Devotional: Breathing Out Justice

By Savannah Jorgensen, Lutheran Office of Public Policy – California [about the author]

A specific song came to mind when I began reflecting on Micah 6:8. I often find that when I’m searching for the words to express my thoughts and feelings about something, music is my source of guidance. For me, music has always been a way of re-centering myself.

You can ask close friends and even teachers from my more creative days in school. They would attest that there have been numerous occasions where I would include a lyric or song reference in reflections or essays. If my friends read this, they will probably nod vigorously here since I have often used songs to guide serious conversations I’ve had with them, or to say goodbye before a move.

These words from the opening of the song Spark by The City Harmonic join breath and justice: When I breathe in hope, And breathe in grace, And breathe in God, Then I’ll breathe out peace, Breathe out justice, Breathe out love, Oh, this little light’s gonna shine With just a spark light a fire…

Keyword Justice

“Justice” is a keyword these days, with important social issues containing that word in their very name: environmental justice, racial justice, gender justice, etc. We are likely familiar with a definition people generally think of, which relates strongly to the criminal justice system. In that sense, justice is portrayed as being held to the standards of the law and society, especially in criminal cases when prosecutors may express concern with “getting justice.”

As a community of faith, we look to a different standard for measuring justice. The legal system and other institutions may not by that measure be just. In fact, these systems can be most plagued by distortions of systemic racism and classism in this country. So then, what does it mean when Micah 6:8 tells us to do justice, and what from a faith perspective does this justice mean?

We Fit Together

To me, the justice referenced in Micah 6:8 is about our duty as a community of faith to lift people up on an individual level all the way to a systemic level, to think about how we fit together as a whole not only as a particular part. It is about equity and accountability for our actions towards others. Justice is about compassion and that feeling of fervor that compels us to carry out that justice.

While it can be overwhelming at times, are we alone in this task? No! The end of verse 8 tells us to walk humbly with our God. God goes with us and before us in this journey towards justice on Earth. We also can find strength in a community of other justice-doers.

I am very grateful to be doing justice with a great team and community in the ELCA and beyond as a Hunger Advocacy Fellow this year, but I also humbly acknowledge that despite my great passion for wanting to do justice, I have fallen short of that calling. In that spirit, here are three things I’m committed to in 2023 in my efforts to do justice:

  1. Pick a few non-profits or charities to donate to, no matter how small the donation.
  2. Volunteer with an environmental justice organization.
  3. Contact more of my elected representatives to advocate for change.
Taking a Moment to Breathe

The Spark song lyrics ring in my ears and are especially poignant during this season of Epiphany. May we reflect on this season in our lives by taking a moment to breathe. When we breathe out into the world, may we do so with peace, justice and love. Much like the star shown a light to the world announcing the birth of a new kind of Savior, may this new year and season of Epiphany light a spark in each one of us to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God in 2023.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Savannah Jorgensen is currently serving with the Lutheran Office of Public Policy – California. Before her ELCA Hunger Advocacy Fellowship, Jorgensen received her master’s degree in Atmospheric Sciences from Texas A&M University. She has a passionate interest in environmental justice and climate change policy.

Devotional: Star Word – Curiosity

By Kayla Zopfi, 2022-23 Hunger Advocacy Fellow [about the author]

They were prodded by a desire to know. The magi who journeyed to baby Jesus were likely some of the only people who noticed this bright new star in the sky, and they took off with excitement and energy even still.

Story of the Magi

This past Sunday at my young adult and queer-led Synodically Authorized Worshiping Community (SAWC) in Northeast Minneapolis, Tree of Life Lutheran, we did Lectio Divina on the story of the magi. I couldn’t help but reflect on the virtue of curiosity. Curiosity about an anomaly in the established and expected patterns of astronomy led the magi to the Messiah. I like to image them packing their bags to head out on their journey, giddy to point people’s eyes towards the stars, rehearsing what their greeting line to God incarnate will be, and bickering about if they should pack their stylish shoes to change into once they get to Bethlehem or if they should just go with their sensible travel shoes to save space.

After worship we drew star words. A star word is a prayer practice connected to Epiphany, and it is a tool that can be used for periodical reflection throughout the coming year on how God is active in your life. As I flipped the exact star from the basket that seemed to be calling my name, I read the word: curiosity. I let out a laugh at the ironic humor of Holy Spirit giving me the idea I held during Lectio and read my word out loud. Immediately the friends around me started nodding, throwing out quips of, “Sounds about right!” and the like.

Curiosity Connections

Back home for the evening, I decided to pray about the word. For me, curiosity and justice have always gone hand in hand, they’re a package deal. Justice is communal and cannot happen without curiosity. Curiosity is often what ignites us to see and name injustice in the first place, and what nudges us to connect with others so that we might begin to imagine a more just future.

In Micah 6:8 we are asked, “…what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Well, maybe we’re being told rather than asked. The “O mortal” thrown in the start of verse 8 is working overtime to help us with the humility part.) For the magi, following their curiosity led to accomplishing all of these requirements.

Curiosity led them to be part of affirming the true divinity of this tiny baby, born in the hay amongst the animals, who would go on to exemplify what ultimate liberation looks like. Curiosity led them to generosity, as they brought precious gifts to this family who’d been cast out by much of society. Curiosity led them to open their hearts to the will of God, trusting the dreams sent to them along their way.

Finding Excitement and Energy

Maybe we can only begin to fully do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God when we first agree to sit with what we know and what we don’t, and lean into the invitation to notice the world and people around us. Be curious. Like the magi, find excitement and energy in the things around you that many don’t even realize they are missing. May we, too, let our curiosity lead us closer to each other and closer to God.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kayla Zopfi (she/they) is a Hunger Advocacy Fellow with the ELCA Witness in Society team, passionate about the intersection of faith and the policy. Zopfi is a 2021 graduate of Concordia College, Moorhead, where they studied Religion, Political Science, and Interfaith Studies.

November/December 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: November/December 2022


HOMELESSNESS AND AFFORDABLE HOUSING AWARENESS: In January, the ELCA Witness in Society office will be hand-delivering invitations to members of Congress to encourage lawmakers to visit Lutheran ministries actively addressing homelessness and poverty in their district.

Interested Lutheran ministries which would like to host a site visit with a lawmaker through the January outreach should contact This distribution will come after the Homeless Remembrance Blanket Project art display and press event on the West Lawn of the Capitol in D.C. Dec. 21 in which several synods, congregations and Lutherans are taking part through blanket making, interviews, logistics and viewing, highlighting similar issues to invited lawmakers. At the time of writing, over 1,500 blankets have been committed to the event—which will cover a considerable amount of area along the West Lawn of the Capitol. This event will be shared via podcast through organizers and national press is anticipated. Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania in our state public policy office network, which has been active in local events in prior years and this year’s national stage, shares more information here.


GLOBAL FOOD SECURITY ACTION:  As a major producer of grains and oil seeds, we are encouraged by the 120-day extension of an U.N. backed deal to facilitate Ukraine’s agricultural exports from its southern Black Sea ports.

The agreement creates a protected sea transit corridor and is designed to alleviate global food shortages by allowing exports from three ports in Ukraine. The agreement was initially reached in July between Russia and Ukraine was and was negotiated by the president of Turkey and the U.N. secretary general.

Our ELCA advocacy efforts are also working with advocacy partners to push for passage of the Global Food Security Reauthorization Act in the U.S. Senate. An Action Alert pertaining to this legislation is available to relay your messages. The House passed the bill in September. We anticipate Congress will pass the bill before the end of the year.


STATUS OF TITLE 42: The Department of Justice has announced they plan to appeal a prior court decision (Nov 15) blocking Title 42. Irrespective of this appeal, a block on Title 42 is still on track to become effective Dec. 21.

Title 42 is a section of U.S. code empowers federal health authorities to prohibit migrants from entering the country if it is determined that doing so could prevent the spread of contagious diseases. The Biden Administration is expected to pursue expulsions until the stated date. Reports have circulated claiming that the Biden Administration may revive a “Transit Ban” applicable to single adults (expansion of a process for other nationalities akin to the process for Venezuelans), revamped refugee resettlement and much more in the post-Title 42 landscape. For those seeking safety from persecution, some of these policy proposals would indubitably raise the risk of exposure to danger and raise the difficulty in accessing humanitarian protection. Advocacy efforts will continue to seek to uphold humane principles of border management and protection consistent with AMMPARO and wider ELCA guidance.


WORLD AIDS DAY DEMANDS ATTENTION:  The Church Center of the United Nations was site of an Interfaith Service planned with the Lutheran Office for World Community. Keeping the concerning realities of HIV/AIDS before lawmakers is the subject of an available Action Alert issued on World AIDS Day 2022.

This year, World AIDS Day 2022 was marked under the theme Equalize, a call on global leaders and all peoples of goodwill to recognize and address inequalities holding back progress in ending aids. It is critical to equalize access to essential HIV services particularly for children and key populations and their partners.


RESPECT FOR MARRIAGE ACT:  The Respect for Marriage Act, with broad bipartisan support, will codify same-sex and interracial marriage protections into law. It passed the U.S. Senate at the end of November, was passed by the House on Dec. 8, and now advances for President Biden’s signature.

The bill was amended to uphold religious protections. ELCA advocacy staff joined several interfaith coalition letters in support of the legislation following its amended markup in the Senate and additionally sent a separate ELCA letter to Capitol Hill highlighting Lutheran social teaching in support of the measure.


Receive monthly Advocacy Connections directly by becoming part of the ELCA Advocacy network – , and learn more from .


Current sign-on letters



Our advocacy takes many forms with long-term and immediate aims, and ELCA Witness in Society staff are active equipping members, building influential relationships with policy makers, networking strategically with other concerned partners, researching policy pieces and their impacts and inviting our ELCA Advocacy Network to action at impactful moments.

One timely way we can act as ELCA is to sign on with others to offer pointed comments to decision makers when developments demand.



A “sign-on letter” is an advocacy tool that acts like a petition to members of Congress or other policy decision makers, often addressing an immediate issue or impending vote. Sign-on letters are drafted and circulated among organizations with similar policy goals to ask other organizations to join, showing support for a policy position or value by adding their name.

The Witness in Society team may recommend listing the ELCA as an organization on a sign-on letter. Some letters are tailored for individual sign-ons, usually by the head of an organization. In the ELCA, most individual sign-ons are done by the ELCA presiding bishop.



Sign-on letters are frequently used when swift and targeted action will have an impact on decision-makers. The aim is to provide education on an issue, articulate shared organizational values on a subject and urge the recipient to take a specific action or vote. Ecumenical and interfaith sign-on letters summarize broad consensus in the faith community. In addition to receipt by individual members of Congress or Executive Branch officials for example, they may be used in constituent meetings and shared as public statements as well.



The ELCA joins sign-on letters following careful analysis by the Witness in Society team, sometimes in consultation with other staff. The Senior Director for Witness in Society makes the final determination for a sign-on. Sign-on letters require a foundation in ELCA social teaching and relevance to ELCA public policy advocacy priorities. Sign-on letters are also evaluated for accuracy of facts and the tone of the statement, seeking language that will educate or persuade, avoiding hyper-partisan or inflammatory language. Witness in Society staff are strategic about the use of sign-on letters, asking if a joint letter is the right approach at this time; how the letter will be disseminated and used to create awareness among members of Congress, the Administration and throughout the ELCA; what the impact of not signing a letter might be; and discerning whether a standalone effort from the ELCA would have greater impact at the given point-in-time or may be preferable to state distinctly the ELCA’s position.

LAST UPDATE: 2/23/23

Our ministry of advocacy is a witness to God’s love for our neighbor, ourselves and for all creation. Here are recent statements made with ELCA support. Use the link in the date to read a public posting* of the sign-on letter in full.

  • February 17, 2023 – National Faith Organizations urge the United States to lift sanctions on Syria and expedite humanitarian assistance to facilitate earthquake response. Faith letter to Biden administration and members of Congress.
  • February 1, 2023 – “We, the 1,921 undersigned organizations, write to urge the Biden administration to use the fiscal year (FY) 2024 budget request to call for robust funding for affordable housing, homelessness, and community development programs that help low-income households and communities thrive.” Letter to President Biden and Secretary Fudge organized with the Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding.
  • January 23, 2023 – “As 165 faith-based organizations and congregations across traditions, we write with grave concern about the forthcoming Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that will set in motion an asylum ban in the form of a rule that bars people from asylum if they enter without inspection or do not seek protection in countries of transit.” Letter to President Biden, Vice President Harris, Secretary Mayorkas and Secretary Blinken.
  • January 9, 2023 – “We, the 94 undersigned civil society organizations, are writing ahead of the North American Leaders’ Summit (NALS) to urge your administrations to center human rights, humanitarian protection, and access to asylum for individuals fleeing persecution in your discussions regarding regional migration.” Letter to the President of the United States, the President of Mexico, and the Prime Minister of Canada.”
  • November 28, 2022 – “The Respect for Marriage Act is a simple way to provide legal stability for all married couples and their families. Within our communities, we approach matters of marriage, family, and identity differently. This bill recognizes this diversity of belief while ensuring that same-sex and interracial couples are treated with equal respect by federal and state governments.” Letter to Senators Baldwin and Collins.
  • November 22, 2022 – “We are writing to urge you to expand the Child Tax Credit, especially for the
    poorest families during the Lame Duck Session.” Letter to president and members of Congress through Circle of Protection.
  • November 16, 2022 – “On behalf of the 45 undersigned faith-based organizations, we join together in support for the Respect for Marriage Act (S. 4556).” Letter to senators.
  • November 15, 2022 – ““As faith leaders with a deep concern for the Holy Land, we call on our government to lead a thorough and transparent investigation into the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.” Letter to Secretary of State signed by ELCA presiding bishop.
  • September 27, 2022 – “As U.S.-based groups concerned with public health at home and abroad, we write to ask you to deliver urgently needed health funding for COVID-19 and the Monkeypox Virus (MPXV) response to protect domestic and global health.” Letter to Congressional Appropriators.
  • September 23, 2022 – “We, the undersigned organizations, are writing to urge you to take immediate action to activate disaster recovery efforts in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona.” Letter to Administrator Criswell and Secretary Fudge.
  • September 21, 2022 – “On the one-year anniversary of the restart and expansion of the Central American Minors (CAM) Refugee and Parole Program, the undersigned immigrant and refugee rights organizations write to request that your administration immediately strengthen the program so that it can deliver on its promise as a pathway to safety and family reunification.” Letter to President Biden, Secretary Mayorkas and Secretary Blinken.
  • September 16, 2022 – “As 111 religious leaders and 59 national, state, and local faith-based organizations across traditions, we urge you to support and pass the Afghan Adjustment Act (S.4787 / H.R.8685) as part of the upcoming FY 2023 Continuing Resolution.” Letter to Members of Congress.
  • September 15, 2022 – “The undersigned organizations urge your administration to designate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala.” Letter to President Biden, Secretary Mayorkas and Secretary Blinken.”
  • August 22, 2022 – Ending border officials’ religious-freedom violations and their practice of trashing migrants’ personal belongings. Letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary.
  • August 1, 2022 – Righting the wrongs of family separation. Letter to House and Senate leaders.
  • July 28, 2022 – Federal Financial Aid Access in FY 2022 Reconciliation for DACA, TPS, and DED Holders. Letter to Senate and House leaders from 96 groups.
  • July 20, 2022 – “We are writing now with a very specific purpose—to urge that the budget reconciliation package include funding to close the Medicaid coverage gap and extend life-saving medical care to the two million Americans who are currently unprotected because their state did not expand Medicaid as provided under the Affordable Care Act.” Circle of Protection letter to senators.
  • July 7, 2022 – “As the undersigned religious denominations, faith-based service providers, and houses of worship from across the country, we ask you to proactively support the Housing First model as a proven strategy to address homelessness and housing insecurity in our communities.” Letter to members of Congress.
  • July 7, 2022 – “As Christian faith organizations with a deep concern for the Holy Land, we urge you allow floor consideration and support passage of Representative Andre Carson’s amendment to the Fiscal Year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to require the State Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in consultation with the Director of National Intelligence, to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation into the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.
  • July 1, 2022 – “On Monday, the nation witnessed a tragedy as at least 53 individuals were found dead in a tractor-trailer in San Antonio, with reportedly 16 more individuals sent to local hospitals… We believe the surviving victims are at imminent risk of deportation or expulsion under Title 42 and want to ensure that your office is aware of this risk and takes action to prevent it from occurring.” Letter to DHS Secretary Mayorkas organized through American Immigration Council.
  • June 29, 2022 – “As representatives of faith-based denominations and organizations, many of whom have a long history of relationships with Cuban faith partners…. We hope these initial positive steps will help increase support for the Cuban people and allow Cuban Americans to assist their families on the island.” Letter to President Biden.
  • June 23, 2022 – “As people of faith, we are called to seek peace and imagine a world free from war and the threats of nuclear weapons. Today, we are calling on President Biden to move one step closer to that vision through a mutual return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) by the United States and Iran.” Faith leader statement.
  • June 17, 2022 – “As the undersigned members of the Washington Interfaith Staff Community, our religious organizations would like to express support for a letter… that [supports] creating a federal reparations commission through an executive order by Sunday, June 19, the Juneteenth holiday.” Letter to PresidentBiden.
  • June 14, 2022 – “The undersigned 21 organizations from the Washington Interreligious Staff Community (WISC) Health Care Working Group write to urge you to advance a budget reconciliation package that prioritizes health care for vulnerable communities.” Letter to Senators.
  • May 18, 2022 – “Today we, bishops of the [ELCA], write you as lead congressional appropriators, to call your attention to the dire cash flow situation faced by the Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH) in East Jerusalem. A.” Letter to congressional foreign affairs chairmen.
  • May 9, 2022 – “The undersigned… write to express our deep concern with the text introduced in the TRIPS Council on May 3, 2022 that has been put forward as an alternative to the proposed waiver of World Trade Organization (WTO) intellectual property (IP) barriers for COVID-19 medical tools. We urge the U.S. and other WTO Member States to reject this text and negotiate a true TRIPS waiver instead.” Letter to U.S. Trade Rep. Katherine Tai.
  • May 6, 2022 – “We call on Congress to appropriate $5 billion in emergency resources to address food insecurity and humanitarian crises exacerbated by the conflict in Ukraine…” Letter to congressional appropriations chairmen and Leadership.

*These urls were selected for public availability of the signed document, not for the content of the website.

October 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: October 2022


GLOBAL MALNUTRITION PREVENTION AND TREATMENT ACT PASSES: We celebrate that the bipartisan Global Malnutrition Prevention and Treatment Act recently passed the Senate following spring passage by the House and thank the many Lutherans who used their voices to encourage this action!

The bill directs USAID to implement activities to prevent and treat malnutrition globally. The legislation provides better strategic vision and improves coordination and effectiveness of existing U.S. global nutrition programs. An Action Alert and other ELCA activity advocated for passage of this bill which doesn’t turn away from global malnutrition. #untilallarefed


DACA-RELATED DECISION STILL INDICATES NEED OF PERMANENT PROTECTIONS: On October 7, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit made a major decision impacting Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Touching the lives of 600,000 current beneficiaries, the decision also impacts thousands of young adults who were locked out while litigation has played out.

The court sided with an earlier ruling by a judge finding that DACA violated the Administrative Procedure Act, but in light of a new regulation, which takes effect on October 31, they have returned the case to U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen for further consideration. The fifth circuit decision maintains the freeze on all new applications, but renewals can continue. “For the time being, this semblance of protection is significant to the hundreds of thousands who depend on it to maintain their jobs, carry on their studies, and support their families. But there’s more to this decision. This is unresolved, leaving Congress with an unmistakable call to action. Congress should heed the call of advocates, amplified by DACA recipients and supporters across the political spectrum, to pass permanent protections now,” said Giovana Oaxaca, ELCA Program Director for Migration Policy. Oaxaca will be among panelists at “Faith Voices Call: Citizenship For All,” a webinar hosted by the Interfaith Immigration Coalition on Thursday, October 27 at 8 p.m. ET. Learn more from


INFLATION REDUCTION ACT AND CHURCH BUILDING INFRASTRUCTURE:  Through the Inflation Reduction Act, faith-based and community-based organizations are eligible for new grant programs that the law will create to address pollution, incentivize the use of clean energy sources and mobilize certain places that commit to their communities to advance climate-benefitting solutions.

With the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, non-profits and houses of worship now have easier access to clean energy funds and tax credits through a program called “direct pay.” Interfaith Power and Light wrote, “Before the IRA, only homeowners and commercial entities with some tax liability could claim tax credits when installing solar panels, wind turbines, or other eligible technologies on an eligible property. Now, the ‘direct pay’ option means non-taxable entities can also benefit from these credits.” Although incentives and monies will become available, reach and distribution specifics are unrolling. However, it is anticipated that churches will not experience up-front costs to participate in infrastructure updates; rather they will operate through participant agreements. Our ELCA advocacy staff will continue to monitor these aspects of the law and their interface with faith communities.


ACUTE AWARENESS OF DISASTER RESPONSE NEEDS Lawmakers in Congress, who are currently in their home state districts and not expected to return to Washington, D.C. until after Election Day, will be discussing what additional resources hurricane-impacted states will need in the coming days and weeks following Hurricane Ian.

Several members of the GOP Florida delegation have called on legislators to reconvene in D.C. to pass a “clean” supplemental relief bill before Election Day. ELCA advocacy staff will be working with affected synods and ministries to advocate for an adequate response to be procured in Congress. Use the Action Alert to give your input on disaster response needs in U.S. policy


ELECTION DAY IS ALMOST HERE As Lutherans, we live out our mutual responsibility for one another by guaranteeing our neighbor’s right to vote and supporting free and full participation in elections. As various election deadlines near in states across the country in the coming days, and Election Day arrives on Tuesday, November 8, encourage one another including with @ELCAadvocacy socials and #ELCAvotes resources. ELCA advocacy staff are monitoring mid-term election impacts.

Resources to explore what is on your local ballot include and Consider congregation and other action like taking someone to the polls, setting up a booth to look up polling locations and other innovative ways to be there for our neighbors and neighborhoods. More from

Attention to U.S. Hunger at White House Conference

When the ELCA signed a request of President Biden to host a White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, Hunger, and Health, the group of organizations stated: “We can end hunger in America, and a public commitment to a White House Conference, with ending hunger as a key priority, is an essential step in accomplishing this goal” (March 14, 2022 Letter). The conference sponsored by the White House on September 28 became the second of its kind in over half a century. Tackling hunger, nutrition and health in America was the theme, accompanied by the announced Biden-Harris Administration National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health.


Hunger in the United States

According to the White House data on hunger, nutrition and health, 1 in 10 American households experience food insecurity. Additionally, diet-related diseases are some of the leading causes of death in the United States of America: 10% of Americans have diabetes, 1 in 3 Americans will have cancer in their lifetime, and more than 40% of Americans suffer from high blood pressure. These grim statistics disproportionately affect communities of color, people living in rural areas, people living in U.S. territories, people with disabilities, older adults, LGBT community members, military families and veterans. It is with this landscape that the work being done by government programs such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); school meals and Child Tax Credits (CTC) is important for meeting basic needs. Among ELCA federal policy prioritization is supporting the strength and reach of these programs.


White House Conference and Strategy Highlights

Over 500 elected officials, advocates and activists, and leaders of business, faith and philanthropy groups from across the United States convened in Washington D.C. as well as virtually to discuss the Administration’s goal of “ending hunger and increasing healthy eating and physical activity in the U.S. by 2030.” The first step toward achieving this goal was announced by President Biden: the commitment of $8 billion by public and private sectors toward helping to provide more food and better nutrition by 2030.

It is through the release of the 44-page Biden-Harris Administration’s National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health that the White House gave a direct and detailed plan. This strategy calls for a “whole-of-government” approach that is pursued across five pillars.

  1. Improve food access and affordability – approach includes goals to increase access to free and nourishing school meals, provision of Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) benefits to more children, and expansion Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) eligibility to more underserved populations. This pillar in the strategy names helping all Americans become economically secure as a critical step to reduce hunger and associated disparities toward “making it easier for everyone—including individuals in urban, suburban, rural, and Tribal communities, and territories—to access and afford food.”
  2. Integrate nutrition and health – approach includes pilot coverage of medically tailored meals in Medicare, testing Medicaid coverage of nutrition education, and expanding Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries’ access to nutrition and obesity counseling.
  3. Empower all consumers to make and have access to healthy choices – approach proposes a front-of-package labeling scheme for food packages, an update the nutrition criteria for the “healthy” claim on food packages, expansion of incentives for fruits and vegetables in SNAP, and facilitation of sodium reduction in the food supply by issuing longer-term, voluntary sodium targets for industry.
  4. Support physical activity for all – approach includes expanding the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) State Physical Activity and Nutrition Program to all states and territories, investing in efforts to connect people to parks and other outdoor spaces, and funding regular updates to and promotion of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.
  5. Enhance nutrition and food security research – approach includes bolstering funding to improve metrics, data collection and research to inform nutrition and food security policy, particularly on issues of equity and access; and implementing a vision for advancing nutrition science.


This Strategy and Our Convictions

Non-governmental programs were highlighted by President Biden during the conference, and he expressed that “everyone has an important role to play”. This includes private and non-profit efforts, to which ELCA congregations, social ministries and ELCA World Hunger initiatives are deeply committed.

The Alliance to End Hunger, in which the ELCA is a member, noted the significance in the White House plan of intending to end hunger for millions by reducing the number of households defined as having a very low food security to less than 1% and by cutting the number of households defined as food insecure by 50% by 2030. “The White House laudably built its strategy based on feedback from stakeholders, the general public and those with lived experience of poverty and hunger… We now look forward to working with our diverse network to determine the action steps that will bring the plan to fruition.”

“The vision of ELCA World Hunger is nothing short of a just world where all are fed,” says Ryan Cumming, ELCA Program Director for Hunger Education. “Congregations, social ministries and local partners have a key role to play in this work. They are on the frontlines of responding to hunger and connecting neighbors to public support, but just as importantly, they are building the relationships rooted in justice, love and hope that will be needed to end hunger for good, together. The White House’s national strategy is a key step to that future.”

Recordings of panel sessions and plenary sessions are available online.

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: September 2022 



INFLATION REDUCTION ACT:  The president signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law, which is the culmination of months of advocacy on important priorities with Lutherans and partners from every corner of our networks. In addition to significant climate provisions, the Act will make health care more accessible for more people by continuing the Affordable Care Act subsidies and allowing the government to negotiate prices for prescription drugs in the Medicare program. It also makes changes to current tax credits that impact some homeowners and car buyers as well as shifts some longtime tax policy, particularly for some large corporations, provisions which also aim to address inflation.

As a result of our sustained advocacy, the ELCA was represented by invitation to the White House by John Johnson at a reception on Sept. 14 celebrating the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act. Virtual relationships were deepened at this in-person event, including with staff of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.


FISCAL YEAR ENDING:  The government fiscal year ends on October 1. Should a fully passed budget be absent, lawmakers are preparing a Continuing Resolution to keep federal programs funded. Extended flat funding levels will hurt low-income assistance and housing programs particularly hard due to inflation and the rising costs of housing nationwide.

A Continuing Resolution extension will keep funding levels flat from the previous fiscal year. Hundreds of Lutherans have already contacted their lawmakers in Congress over the past year, urging them to prioritize passing a budget with renewed investments in homeless and housing programs. As October nears, advocates are encouraged to continue taking action with the Action Alert to urge lawmakers to prioritize those investments as soon as possible.


U.S. DISASTER RESPONSE IMPROVEMENTS:  The Reforming Disaster Recovery Act (S. 2471) has been included by budget appropriators in Congress as an amendment to a greater FY23 budget bill. It would authorize Community Disaster Block Grant programs, one of the top policy asks of an ELCA Action alert over the last year, among other substantial improvements.

This comes as multiple communities are facing several natural disasters, such as wildfires and hurricanes, and others have failed to see adequate recovery assistance over the last year from the federal government. Though included for now, the inclusion of the amendment is expected to face challenges as the FY23 budget comes to a vote. Advocates are encouraged to take action to ensure the legislation meets final passage.


REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT: The U.S. Refugee Admissions Program has historically been an important foreign policy and migration policy tool, ensuring that the U.S. can receive its share of the global displaced population. So far, the United States has resettled just 20,000 refugees out of a goal of 125,000. The FY23 refugee admission target still needs to be authorized by Congress.

It is expected to retain a goal of 125,000 in FY23. Not including the 20,000 refugees resettled via USRAP in FY22, the country has admitted over 50,000 Ukrainians on a temporary basis through the Uniting for Ukraine initiative and over 79,000 from Afghanistan, many through humanitarian parole. With humanitarian parole, migrants are not guaranteed permanent status or access to many of benefits from other processes. Humanitarian parole has re-emerged as the most used policy option given constraints affecting USRAP and following extraordinary displacement crises like Ukraine and Afghanistan.


WHITE HOUSE CONFERENCE ON HUNGER:  In 2020, 38.2 million Americans, including 11.7 million children, lived in homes in which they were unable to always afford enough food. A White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health is scheduled on Sept. 28 presents an opportunity to make ending hunger a national priority.

This is only the second time a conference focused on ending hunger has been held by the White House, following one more than 50 years ago. It has been organized to bring together Americans from all walks of life to accelerate progress in fighting hunger, diet-related diseases and health disparities. Sign up to watch the livestream from .


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