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Lutherans in the 118th Congress

The 118th U.S. Congress convened on January 3, 2023. Following finalization of House speakership, the official swearing in took place January 7, 2023. The following are some of the legislators with Lutheran affiliation who will serve the country in this new session. 


In the U.S. Senate, ELCA member Sen. Sherrod Brown D-OH, Sen. Joni Ernst R-IA, Sen. Martin Heinrich D-NM, and Sen. Jeff Merkley D-OR are continuing their service. In the U.S. House of Representatives, incumbent ELCA members continuing their service includes Rep. John Carter R-TX, Rep. Zoe Lofgren D-CA, Rep. Scott Peters D-CA, Rep. Chellie Pingree D-ME, Rep. Stacey Plaskett D-U.S. Virgin Islands, and Rep. Lloyd Smucker R-PA.  

Additional Lutheran leaders in the Senate include Sen. Cynthia Lummis R-WY and re-elected Sen. Ron Johnson R-WI. In the House of Representatives, incumbent Lutheran leaders continuing their service include Rep. Kelly Armstrong R-ND, Rep. Jack Bergman R-MI, Rep. Larry Bucshon R-IN, Rep. Angie Craig D-MN, Rep. Ron Estes R-KS, Glenn Grothman R-WI, Rep. Tracey Mann R-KS, Rep. Donald Norcross D-NJ, and Rep. David Trone D-MD. Rep. Sydney Kamlager D-CA will be joining the House, and Rep. Ryan Zinke R-MT will be returning to the House after leaving his seat to serve as Secretary of the Interior in the Trump administration from 2017-2019.  

Prior to conclusion of his term, Rep. Jim Hagedorn R-MN, had died in office in February 2022. Retiring from Congress are Lutherans Rep. Ron Kind D-WI, Rep. Ed Perlmutter D-CO, and Sen. Ben Sasse R-NE. 


 

“Taking the time to learn about your legislators is an invaluable asset to your advocacy efforts at any level of government,” notes Lutheran Advocacy Ministry Arizona in the ELCA-affiliated state public policy office network. “Maybe you’d be surprised how effective a simple postcard congratulating them on their victories can be,” they add. 

Get a jump start on building relationships with your lawmakers this session! Start by making sure you know who represents you. Use govtrack.us to find federal officials, or openstates.org, among other lookup tools to find websites and social media for state and federal leaders, as well as www.congress.gov/members/find-your-member.

January Updates: State Edition

Following are updates shared from submissions of the state public policy offices (sppos) in the ELCA Advocacy Network this month. Full list and map of sppos available.

CALIFORNIA | COLORADO  | FLORIDA | MINNESOTA | OHIO | PENNSYLVANIA | WASHINGTON | WISCONSIN |

 

California

Lutheran Office of Public Policy – California (LOPP-CA) – lutheranpublicpolicyca.org

Regina Banks, Director

Happy New Year from the Lutheran Office of Public Policy-California! The California legislature reconvened for the start of the 2023 session on January 4th. We will start to know more about proposed legislation and goals for this year once the governor’s budget is released soon. 

Looking ahead: LOPP-CA’s weekly advocacy briefings are starting up again on February 8th and will continue throughout the legislative session on Wednesdays at 12 pm Pacific Time on Zoom. Feel free to join us! Find out more on our website: https://lutheranpublicpolicyca.org/advocacy-in-quarantine-2 

 

Colorado

Lutheran Advocacy Ministry Colorado (LAM-CO) – lam-co.org

Peter Severson, Director

LEGISLATIVE SESSION KICKS OFF: The Colorado General Assembly returned to legislating action on Monday, January 9. Lutheran Advocacy joined partners in human needs and social services sectors for a kickoff luncheon at First Baptist Church of Denver to discuss the budget and fiscal forecast for the upcoming session, featuring the experts from the Colorado Fiscal Institute. The state of Colorado is expected to continue to experience historically high revenue for several years, and we look forward to advocating for equitable, human needs-centered legislation that makes the best use of the opportunities ahead. 

 

COLORADO LUTHERAN DAY AT THE CAPITOL: Mark your calendars! Colorado Lutheran Day at the Capitol will take place on Thursday, February 16, from 8:00am to 1:00pm. The event will kick off with breakfast at St. Paul Lutheran Church, 1600 Grant Street, in downtown Denver, just a few blocks from the Capitol, followed by a morning of advocating with legislators in person. Breakfast and lunch are included! Registration opens soon: check https://www.rmselca.org/co-lutheran-day-at-the-capitol for more information. 

 

Florida

Florida Council of Churches – floridachurches.org

The Rev. Russell L. Meyer, Executive Director

“I Desire Mercy” is the 2023 Florida Advocacy Days theme with Florida-Bahamas Synod Bishop Pedro Suarez for synod clergy and laity in Tallahassee on February 14-15. Participants are asked to arrive in the afternoon for training on February 14 followed by a dinner. Visits with legislators will be held the next morning. More information is forthcoming at floridachurches.org/idesiremercy. Please make this your date with the Florida you love!
 

Florida has become an expensive state to live in (read more). Many moved here for the good weather and low cost of living. The state coffers are flush with money, yet the burden are high on local taxes and fees. Wages don’t match increases in rent, food, and fuel costs for many. Our schools are pinched, creation is under great strain, and divisiveness is apparent.  

Jesus teaches that God desires mercy.  Faith communities have been feeding and clothing and counseling Floridians without question. We know human pain. We have stories to share. These stories are God’s tools for bringing new opportunities to life. Our legislators need to hear our voices speak of the calling for mercy. Your voice belongs in the legislature! 

 

Minnesota

Lutheran Advocacy – Minnesota (LA-MN) – lutheranadvocacymn.org

Tammy Walhof, Director

Affordable Housing: The Homes for All Coalition has a list of 35 issues. Lutheran Advocacy-MN will focus on… 

  1. Sacred Communities (Communities of tiny homes on premises of places of worship with formerly homeless households and “missioner” households): Change zoning laws to allow houses under 400 square feet. 
  2. Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing (NOAH): Provide significant annual funding for acquisition and rehab. 
  3. Capital Requests for Production & Rehab Funding: 
    1. $500M for Housing Infrastructure Bonds; 
    2. $250M for General Obligation Bonds for publicly owned housing rehab; 
    3. $250M cash for homeownership, community land trusts, and manufactured home park infrastructure; 
    4. $200M for emergency shelter capital. 
  4. Down Payment Assistance: Create a first-generation down payment assistance program targeted to BIPOC homebuyers.  
  5. Housing Support Income Modifications: Reform calculations to ensure those receiving SSI, RSDI, veterans benefits, tribal payments and lived experience stipends can to retain more of their personal income.  
  6. Pre-Eviction Notice & Eviction Expungement: Mandate a landlord-provided 14-day pre-eviction notice, and make reforms including a requirement that evictions 3 years or older be removed from a renter’s record.  
  7. Source of Income Protection: Amend the Minnesota Human Rights Act to clarify that housing discrimination based on a person’s source of income is illegal. 
  8. Lead-Free Homes: Create a fund for small grants to do lead-remediation in low-income rental homes. 

Creation Care:  

  1. Infrastructure Funding Matches: Funding to take advantage of federal funds available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure legislation.  
  2. Climate/Clean Energy: Reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase clean energy through stand-alone legislation or portions of other bills, including the 100% Bills.  
  3. Energy Transition: Increase the role and funding of the Minnesota Energy Transition Office to support both community and worker transition from fossil fuels. 

 

Ohio

Hunger Network Ohio (HNO) – hungernetwork.org

Deacon Nick Bates, Director

The Hunger Network will focus the next six months on the Ohio Capital Budget. We are offering a budget training and conversation on Thursday, January 26th at both 12pm and 7pm to discuss priorities, historical context and hot issues for this year’s budget debate. REGISTER HERE FOR THIS EVENT!  

In the budget we plan to prioritize: 

  1. Support for food pantries and affordable housing: We will work in partnership and coalition to make sure we continue to increase investments into housing and food security in Ohio.  
  2. Hunger Free Schools Ohio: During the pandemic we saw that universal school meals worked. We encourage the Ohio General Assembly to expand free meals again to all of Ohio’s public schools.  
  3. Inflation assistance through targeted tax credits: The federal child tax credit in 2021 reduced childhood hunger in Ohio. Ohio should adopt a refundable Earned Income Tax Credit EITC or a Child Tax Credit to help families respond to higher prices at the grocery store and gas pump.  
  4. Guarantee equity and adequacy in our schools: Two years ago, the General Assembly agreed to a new school funding formula. It is time that we properly fund it so that all kids have the love and support they need to succeed.  
  5. Make Ohio the best place to raise a family: There are many steps we can take in Ohio to build up our great state that will reduce hunger and infant mortality, invest in our parks and waterways, and help families to succeed. Through Ohio’s budget we can change lives and strengthen our state. 

 

Pennsylvania

Lutheran Advocacy Ministry – Pennsylvania (LAMPa) lutheranadvocacypa.org

Tracey DePasquale, Director

Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania (LAMPa) advocates helped draw attention to the needs of our unsheltered neighbors as 2022 drew to a close, spreading approximately 1,000 blankets on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol on the nation’s Homeless Persons Memorial Day, also the longest night of the year.  The art installation was also an act of charity – enabling people across the country to donate handmade blankets that were later distributed to those experiencing or escaping homelessness.  Advocacy with and on behalf of unsheltered neighbors continues through ELCA Witness in Society, as ministries invite lawmakers to visit and learn about the factors underlying homelessness in their communities. 

LAMPa’s policy council will meet later this month to establish priorities for its policy agenda, a task made more challenging by the uncertainty in the General Assembly, with leadership in flux and a vow by the surprise Pennsylvania House Speaker that nothing will move until the House adopts an amendment reopening a window in the statute of limitations for cases of child sexual abuse 

LAMPa has begun a search for a full-time communications and advocacy engagement manager. Do you (or someone you know) have professional communications experience, a passion for justice and a call to serve God’s mission in the world — especially in the public square? Learn more here, including how to apply for this position within ELCA Witness in Society. 

 

Washington

Faith Action Network (FAN) – fanwa.org

Elise DeGooyer, Director

We have turned our attention toward the 2023 Washington State Legislative Session, which officially began Monday, January 9, 2023. We are proud to share our ambitious Legislative Agenda, shaped in collaboration with advocates who participate in Faith Action Network (FAN) meetings year-round, coalition partners, and FAN’s staff, Policy Committee, and Governing Board. There is momentum from the Governor’s office and legislators for making significant investments in affordable housing and preventing homelessness this session, and we are part of building momentum for universal school meals and an assault weapons ban. We will be adding fact sheets for the items on our legislative agenda and updating our bill tracker as legislation moves through the session.  

We recently hosted two virtual trainings sessions to prepare our network for the session, one previewing our legislative agenda and the other an Advocacy 101 refresher with tools for getting involved this session. You can view these recorded sessions on our YouTube Page. We are co-sponsoring and will be presenting at the annual Eastern Washington Legislative Conference in Spokane on Saturday, January 21. We especially look forward to gathering our statewide network in person in Olympia again for Interfaith Advocacy Day on Thursday, Feb 9. 

 

Wisconsin

Lutheran Office for Public Policy – Wisconsin (LOPPW) loppw.org

The Rev. Cindy Crane, Director

Wednesday Noon Live: We interviewed former Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin (LOPPW) ELCA Hunger Advocacy Fellow, Vicar Kelsey Johnson. Johnson discussed faith-based advocacy, her year in the Holy Land as a YAGM, and her continued advocacy for Palestinians. 

 

 

We enter 2023 looking forward to following through with plans we began in 2022, some that were initiated earlier. 

  • March 21 Advocacy Day: Hunger and our Environment. We are co-organizing this event with Faith in Place, an interfaith environmental organization, and accessing local experts to address specific line items in the Governor’s budget as the budget is analyzed by the joint finance committee. 
  • April 14 – 15 Youth Advocacy Gathering: LOPPW has been meeting with representatives from six synods since early in 2021. Our first in-person event for youth from Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan will be held in Madison. We will address specific social justice issues and talk about faith-based advocacy. 
  • Our Raise the Age Coalition, which was resurrected largely by our former Hunger Advocacy Fellow, Kyle Minden, is coming closer to influencing legislators to pass a bill to return 17-year-old youth to the youth justice system. We have key Republicans interested in championing the bill. 

LOPPW has a presence at the regular meetings of ELCA World Hunger leaders from around the state. We are discussing ways to educate people about the Farm Bill.  One of our members is involved with Bread for the World. We may organize one event in partnership with Bread while working with our D.C. office. 

Hard and holy work of depolarization

By Kayla Zopfi, ELCA Hunger Advocacy Fellow[about the author]

“When we talk to someone who shares the same Christian faith, but has a different set of political beliefs or convictions, it can be uncomfortable, or frustrating, and sometimes even scary. As members of the ELCA, we believe that we can have different political opinions but be of the same faith,” asserts Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton in her November 2, 2022 video addressing Christian Nationalism. 

Bringing people together because of, rather than despite, political differences has been a successful value nurtured in many congregations and synods, as well as by us as individuals. “It feels like progress is being made, like seeds are being planted,” said Marilyn Berberich, a leader with the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia, after trying Braver Angels tools that help facilitate depolarizing conversations. “It made me realize how much I assumed about others,” she reflected, which prompted her to volunteer as a “Red leader” in the parlance of the organization.  

As the United States continues to grapple with accelerating polarization, and the ELCA navigates being a multipartisan denomination, we can play a role in coming together to create spaces that center us in our common identity as followers of Christ, and build up our resistance to that which may divide us. 

Sharing stories based on important themes and experiences from within our faith communities, an ELCA Advocacy Cafe took on the question, “Can Talking Politics Be Healthy”. Silas Kulkarni, ELCA Director of Strategy and Advocacy and former Senior Fellow and Chief of Staff for the Braver Angels Debate and Public Discourse Program, brought together diverse presenters to help envision the role that every individual can play in the work of depolarization.  

“We need reconcilers,” stated the Rt. Rev. Mark Beckwith, Episcopal Diocese of Newark bishop, during Advocacy Cafe. Centered in Matthew 5, Bishop Beckwith said healthy conversations across divides are important “not to move people from one side to another, but to find common ground” and “honor the differences we have.

Local, faith-centered approaches to having healthy conversations across divides were described by participants. Some tools from Braver Angels include: 

 

“Many congregations already face enough friction in their life together without looking for more, particularly in the fraught arenas of public policy and politics,” wrote the Rev. Amy Reumann, Senior Director, ELCA Witness in Society, in The Forgotten Luther: Reclaiming the Social-Economic Dimension of the Reformation. “As the essays in this volume show, Luther lived and taught a living and lively faith that inspires and enables us to respond to God’s grace by moving us from our private lives into the public square for the well-being of our neighbor.” 

I’m drawn to the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi: “Lord make me an instrument of your peace.” Depolarization is hard and holy work. Consider joining, or even creating, these conversation spaces in your community. 

 


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.

December Updates: U.N. and State Edition

Following are updates shared from submissions of the Lutheran Office for World Community and state public policy offices (sppos) in the ELCA Advocacy Network this month. Full list and map of sppos available.

 

U.N. | CALIFORNIA | COLORADO  | NEW MEXICO | OHIO | PENNSYLVANIA | WASHINGTON | WISCONSIN |

 

Lutheran Office for World Community (LOWC), United Nations, New York, N.Y. – ELCA.org/lowc

Christine Mangale, Director

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.
  • On Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022, an interfaith World AIDS Day service was held under the theme: “The impact of HIV among the marginalized within the marginalized.” Planning partners of the service included leadership from the U.S. Faith & AIDS Coalition, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, HIV Vaccine Trials Network, and the Lutheran Office for World Community.
  • Ensuring that all people living with HIV have access to HIV treatment, testing and prevention services must continue to be the focus of our HIV and AIDS ministries both in the U.S. and abroad. We encourage Lutherans everywhere to support efforts by governments, churches and other partners to provide resources towards testing, treatment, care and prevention services.
  • We call upon President Biden and Congress to increase funding to PEPFAR; the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; and domestic programs that provide preventive care and treatment in the United States. We also urge U.N. member states to reform laws, policies and practices to tackle the stigma and exclusion faced by people living with HIV and by key and marginalized populations, and to support the proposed target of ending the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria as articulated in the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

 

California

Lutheran Office of Public Policy – California (LOPP-CA) – lutheranpublicpolicyca.org

Regina Banks, Director

With the start of December, new and returning California legislators were in Sacramento on December 5th to be sworn in. This new legislature is the most diverse in California history, seeing record numbers of women and LGBTQIA+ people elected. Of note, a few races remain too close to call, and the deadline to certify results is not until December 16th.  

Additionally, a special session in the legislature was opened to discuss a proposal headed by Governor Newsom that would place a cap on the profit margin of oil companies and fine  companies that exceed the limit. The stated goal of this proposal is to prevent price-gouging by oil companies, as California has seen vastly higher gasoline prices for consumers than other states. More details have yet to be flushed out in this proposal, however, including whether any fines will be considered a tax and whether California residents will receive any compensation from such fines.  

For a look at the California ballot proposition results from the midterm elections, and to compare the results to what our Policy Council recommended, check out our updated voter guide here.

 

Colorado

Lutheran Advocacy Ministry Colorado (LAM-CO) – lam-co.org

Peter Severson, Director

PREPARING FOR SESSION: The Colorado General Assembly will return on Monday, January 9, 2023. Policy advocates across the state are preparing for the beginning of session, which may feature significant bills to address housing supply, the cost of living, disaster preparedness, gun violence, and other critical issues facing Colorado. Lutheran Advocacy will be there from opening gavel to close, and we invite you to join us in lifting our voices for the sake of critical issues affecting our neighbors. Learn more at www.lam-co.org 

 

New Mexico

Lutheran Advocacy Ministry New Mexico (LAM-NM) – lutheranadvocacynm.org

Kurt Rager, Director

A long-standing annual event for Lutheran Advocacy Ministry – New Mexico(LAM-NM) has been its annual Fall Advocacy Conference. The event is highlighted by keynote speakers connected to key policy areas focused on by LAM-NM, and offers various workshops on topics such as how to advocate on priority issues with state legislators. The Covid pandemic caused a two-year pause for the conference. Naturally, there was much enthusiasm when the decision was made to hold a hybrid  event in November this year.    

Advocates from across New Mexico gathered in-person at All Saints Lutheran Church, Albuquerque, as well as online on November 19th. In attendance were not only ELCA congregations but also, in a reflection of historically strong ecumenical participation and support, participants included Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Catholics, Methodists, Mennonites and more. Alongside keynote speakers and workshops, the day-long event included small and large group discussions, and of course–the key to success at Lutheran events–coffee, snacks and a meal!  

As we continue to learn and adapt our advocacy ministry during a global pandemic, a primary focus of LAM-NM is to continue to nurture and grow its congregation-based advocacy network, as well as extend it to our on-going advocacy partnership with the New Mexico Conference of Churches. Lilly Irvin-Vitella, a highly respected advocate, organizer, and consultant, led participants through two interactive experiences focused on building grassroots advocacy groups in congregations and on how to successfully hold conversations on topics that often become divisive. Sherry Hooper, who leads the primary food bank covering northern NM, shared with participants a proposal to end hunger by addressing poverty in the city of Santa Fe that could be used as a state-wide model. Finally, Denali Wilson, an attorney with the ACLU, focused participant’s attention on juveniles convicted of murder and serving life sentences in NM and on the move to remove the mandatory life sentence without a parole hearing option from judges during sentencing. LAM-NM will lead the faith community’s advocacy during the upcoming legislative session that begins in January 2024.    

 

Ohio

Hunger Network Ohio (HNO) – hungernetwork.org

Deacon Nick Bates, Director

On November 29th, 30 faith leaders from across Ohio gathered at Trinity Episcopal Church in Columbus, across from the Ohio Statehouse, to begin Advocacy in Advent. During a season of hope and anticipation, we prepared and sent advocates to two dozen legislative meetings to discuss important issues including: 

– Investments needed in affordable housing ($308 million) and Ohio’s foodbanks ($90 million) 

– Criminal Justice transformation (SB 288 passed the Senate with a 27-2 vote later that week!)  

– Protecting LGBTQIA+ youth’s access to mental and physical healthcare. (HB 454 was removed from the legislative agenda because of a strong push from community advocates! However, further discriminatory measures are still being considered against trans and non-binary youth. Our director wrote a letter to the editor of the Columbus Dispatch on this issue that can be found here.) 

                

 

We are also pleased to welcome Jillian Russell to the Hunger Network as our ELCA Hunger Advocacy Fellow!  Russell comes to us from the Northwest Ohio Synod and is a recent graduate of Capital University. We look forward to working closely with her over the next year to strengthen our advocacy here in Ohio! 

 

Pennsylvania

Lutheran Advocacy Ministry – Pennsylvania (LAMPa) lutheranadvocacypa.org

Tracey DePasquale, Director

The Rev. Matthew Best, LAMPa chair; LAMPa Director Tracey DePasquale, the Rev. Schaunel Steinnagel and the Rev. Violet Little, co-pastors at The Welcome Church, lifted up the voice of unsheltered neighbors at the PA Homes Within Reach Conference.

LAMPa wrapped up 2022 with a focus on housing and homelessness as hundreds of thousands of Americans face winter without a  safe and reliable place to call home. 

Staff and Policy Council members continued outreach to fellow Lutherans across the country and the Commonwealth in support of the Homeless Remembrance Blanket Project on Dec. 21 in Washington, D.C. The project, which features blankets from every state spread on the lawn of the Capital in remembrance of those who died unsheltered in the United States in 2022, was inspired by a similar event in Carlisle, Lower Susquehanna Synod, led by the Rev. Matthew Best, LAMPa’s Policy Council Chair.   

The Housing Alliance of PA recognized the Rev. Violet Little with the Frontline Leader Award. The ministry of The Welcome Church is supported by ELCA World Hunger.

Lutherans and others have been busy quilting, crocheting, and knitting blankets for the art installation and press event. Approximately 1,000 blankets are expected to arrive from each state in the country and be distributed afterward to those in need. LAMPa is assisting ministries with unsheltered neighbors to connect with ELCA Witness in Society to host a site visit with members of Congress as a follow up to the event. Email us to learn more. 

One of those sites will be The Welcome Church, whose founder, the Rev. Violet Little, was recognized with the Frontline Leader Award at the state’s Homes Within Reach Conference. More than 800 attended the conference, hosted by the Housing Alliance of PA, of which LAMPa is a member. The award recognizes those whose work inspires and uplifts and puts the needs of those they serve front and center. Learn more. 

 

 

Washington

Faith Action Network (FAN) – fanwa.org

Elise DeGooyer, Director

This past month, Faith Action Network(FAN) hosted its first Annual Hybrid Dinner celebrating together the theme, Pathways to Solidarity. We experienced so much solidarity as we helped keep FAN moving forward into a new year of advocacy and organizing for justice. The Northwest African American Museum Cultural Ensemble/ACE gospel choir added incredible harmonies and a joyful noise. FAN Board Member Aneelah Afzali of MAPS(Muslim Association of Puget Sound)-AMEN raised the energy in the room with her passion for solidarity as faith in action! You can still enjoy the program archived on our YouTube page (program begins at the 30 minute mark), and view  select photos from the evening on our Facebook page. 

FAN also recently welcomed in a new part-time Spokane organizer, Jeff Debray. Jeff played a major part in orchestrating our Spokane location for our annual dinner. Jeff brings his political organizing skills to the legislative session that will begin on January 10, 2023.  

We are now preparing for the 2023 legislative session. We will be finalizing our priorities this month. We also will be hosting two legislative training sessions in January, as well and two advocacy days, one in Spokane and one in Olympia, to put our Faith into Action. 

 

Wisconsin

Lutheran Office for Public Policy – Wisconsin (LOPPW) loppw.org

The Rev. Cindy Crane, Director

ANNUAL LOPPW POLICY COUNCIL MEETING: We explored the possibility of continuing our current priorities:  hunger, care for God’s creation, anti-sex trafficking, immigration, and youth justice, with the possibility of expanding one of our priorities. We also decided that the council will, in our education and resource-building, emphasize one priority at a time each year. We decided to focus on care for God’s creation in 2023. 

WEDNESDAY NOON LIVE: Our co-host, Rev. Andy Twiton, sought out connections with young adults who are doing faith-based social justice work as part of their career or as volunteers. He was directed to Rachel Wyffels, former hunger advocacy fellow for Lutheran Advocacy Minnesota. Rachel discussed her work with Abide and offered keen insight into what a number of young adults are passionate about in their advocacy and voting. We will invite former LOPPW hunger advocacy fellow, Kelsey Johnson, next month. 

RETURNING 17 YEAR-OLDS TO THE YOUTH JUSTICE SYSTEM: Our coalition received good news about two Republican legislators who were willing to champion this bill. We are strategizing how to build public support when the bill comes out. Recently, Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin(LOPPW) director, the Rev. Cindy Crane, led a new workshop on this issue for the first time!

CARE FOR GOD’S CREATION & HUNGER:  LOPPW and Faith in Place have a location for our spring advocacy day and will soon make an announcement with details.  

YOUTH: Our team of representatives from six synods are almost settled on an exact location for our April youth advocacy gathering.   

Hunger Advocacy Fellows Loaded with Skills and Opportunities

The year spent with ELCA Hunger Advocacy Fellows enhances our work and ministry at the D.C. and state public policy offices in the ELCA-affiliated network where they are located and enriches their future encounters with a year spent loaded with opportunity, networking, discernment and engagement.  

In the 2022-23 cycle, three leaders are placed through funding of ELCA World Hunger in California, Ohio and Washington, D.C. where they’ve expressed eagerness to connect, learn and grow as they help work for a world where all are fed. 

 

Savannah Jorgensen (she/her):

Savannah Jorgensen is currently serving with the Lutheran Office of Public Policy – California. Before joining the ELCA, Jorgensen received her master’s degree in Atmospheric Sciences from Texas A&M University. She also holds her bachelor’s degree in Meteorology from Valparaiso University.  

With these education foundations, this Fellow has a passionate interest in environmental justice and climate change policy, so she is very excited to work in advocacy in Sacramento. In her free time, Jorgensen enjoys singing, spending time outdoors, and relaxing with her cat. 

 

Jillian Russell (she/her):

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. While in her undergraduate program, she focused her education surrounding the intersection of religion and agriculture and on how religious groups can engage members in new and exciting ways and advocate for one another. This encouraged Russell to find a passion in outdoor ministry where she served two summers at both Agape Kure Beach Ministries and Rainbow Trail Lutheran Camp.  

Currently, Russell serves on the synod council of the ELCA Northwestern Ohio Synod. As an ELCA Hunger Advocacy Fellow, she hopes to continue her work in building connections between people of different faiths, traditions, and backgrounds while also advocating for state and local issues surrounding these topics.  

 

Kayla Zopfi (she/they): 

Since August, Kayla Zopfi has been serving with D.C.-based advocacy staff on the ELCA Witness in Society team. Zopfi graduated from Concordia College, Moorhead, where they studied Religion, Political Science and Interfaith Studies. Through her coursework and involvement, Zopfi became interested in understanding how people’s core values affect the way they see and interact with their communities and the world around them, and found her passions for institutional reform and storytelling.   

Zopfi recently concluded a Lutheran Volunteer Corps year of service with the ELCA Minneapolis Area Synod, where she was the Communications and Administrative Associate. Outside of work, Zopfi loves podcasts and audiobooks, talking about the Enneagram and astrology, and building new connections!