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Summer Edition: UN and State Updates

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

Find a map and full list of ELCA affiliated SPPOs using our state office map. 

U.N. | Delaware | Minnesota | Ohio | Pennsylvania | Texas | Virginia | Washington | Wisconsin


Lutheran Office for World Community, United Nations, New York, N.Y. –Dennis Frado, Director

The Generation Equality Forum concluded with concrete commitments to advance parity by 2026: The Generation Equality Forum took place in Paris from 30 June to 2 July 2021. The Forum was co-hosted by France and Mexico and convened by UN Women, in partnership with civil society and youth representatives. Nearly 50,000 people participated in a mainly virtual format to take stock and rapidly accelerate progress towards gender equality, as outlined in the landmark 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Close to $40 billion was pledged in new investments from governments, the private sector, civil society and others to help fund a new global five-year action plan to accelerate gender parity by 2026. The Forum launched a Global Acceleration Plan for Gender Equality designed by six Action Coalitions, as well as a Compact on Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action. New gender equality initiatives focused on health, sports, culture, and education was also announced. UN Women will oversee the implementation of the 5-year action plan and the commitments made. 

As Lutherans, we had delegates actively participate virtually, and joined over 30 global and regional faith actors in a joint communique that we turned into a video message. In addition, the Lutheran World Federation made commitments to the Action Coalition on Gender-Based Violence and pledged to accelerate efforts to prevent and respond to gender-based violence in church and society. LOWC’s Christine Mangale and LWF’s Sikhonzile Ndlovu led the Lutheran engagement and delegation to the Forum.

Upper left: moderator Janet Mbugua – Kenyan media personality, author and founder of Inua Dada Foundation; upper right: Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka – Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women; lower: Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations. 


Israel-Palestine concerns conveyed to Biden Administration officials: 
In June LOWC Director Dennis Frado was able to attend two conference calls organized by Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) with Biden Administration officials at the White House and with the US Agency for International Development. As these were among the first meetings with the Administration on Israeli-Palestine issues, the CMEP representatives took the occasions to raise a number of matters that had been communicated by their heads of churches and organization in March. Particular attention was drawn to the need for US bilateral assistance to the West Bank and Gaza to be re-started and increased, especially given the additional humanitarian needs in Gaza because of the intensified conflict between Israel and Hamas in May. Appreciation was expressed for the Administration’s efforts to support the recent truce but called on the White House to be more active and vocal in urging Israel to halt home demolitions, seizure of Palestinian homes and land and settler violence against Palestinians. 


Delaware Lutheran Office for Public Policy – Gordon Simmons, Director 

The Delaware Lutheran Office for Public Policy supported four bills this year, and three have now passed: 

1. The Legislature voted to make “Opportunity Grants” permanent, funneling up to $60 a year (statewide) to public schools with high percentages of low-income students and students learning English.

2. The Renewable Energy Goal for the state was increased from 25percentby 2025 to 40 percent by 2035. 

3. The minimum wage was increased to $15 per hour (in increments) by 2025. 

The fourth bill, which will likely be take up next year in the second year of the state’s legislative session, will require registration (and training) before the purchase of firearms. The bill has passed the State Senate but has yet to be taken up by the House. 

We held our annual “Day at the Capitol” virtually this year. 


Lutheran Advocacy – Minnesota (LAMN)– Tammy Walhof, Director 

Special Session: Negotiations on the 13 spending bills continued through all three weeks of special session. Hideously long “debates” dominated in the House as a handful of House minority members filibustered several bills. Although all budget bills were passed, the legislature came within hours of not finishing before the new fiscal year.  

Clean Energy: The Commerce/Energy bill included the longest “debate” at roughly 25 hours. It passed 70-60 in the House and 60-5 in the Senate. 

  • Included: agriculture weather study (changes impacting farmers); solar for schools/community colleges; pilot project covering old landfills (brownfields) with solar farms (brightfields); North Minneapolis training center (renewable energy jobs); Energy Transition Office. (Separate ECO bill for energy efficiency passed during regular session). 
  • Defeated: Coal power protection, natural gas usage decrease prevention; reduction of current renewable energy requirements, although we’ve already surpassed those levels). 
  • Not Included: bold comprehensive solutions to address the scope of the climate crisis; resilience/adaptation tools. 
  • We rejoice in what passed, breathe easier knowing we helped defeat rollbacks, and recognize that we have an important role addressing fears about clean energy and climate change denial.   

Housing and Homeless: The most contentious part of the Housing bill was an off-ramp for the eviction moratorium, but Housing passed 72-59 in the House and 66-0 in the Senate. Shelter and homeless services are part of Health & Human Services (HHS), which passed 69-56 in the House and 62-4 in the Senate. 

  • Off-Ramp timetable:  
    • July 1 – Evictions allowed for reasons other than non-payment  
    • August – Leases end for COVID non-payment if not eligible for assistance  
    • October – 15-day eviction notices for non-payment unless assistance application submitted. Despite reasonable off-ramp, we expect dramatic increases in homelessness. 
  • Other Housing: $10 million one-time funding for Challenge Fund, Manufactured Home Park Infrastructure program, workforce homeownership, Homeownership Assistance Fund, Local Housing Trust Fund in matching grants, Shelter Provider Task Force examining failings in shelter system, and $100 million in Housing Infrastructure Bonds. 
  • Shelter (HHS): Underfunded Emergency Services Program dramatically increased for staffing, transportation, childcare, mental/behavioral health care; Housing Support Program providing $50 per month increase and program changes; and a new fund for the Shelter Capitol program 
  • These are big wins and reasons to celebrate. We know getting so many action alerts on the Eviction Moratorium Off-Ramp was tiring, but your action mattered! 
  • COVID-19 pandemic intensified need in an area already in crisis. We will continue to need churches to make housing a focus.


Hunger Network in Ohio – Nick Bates, Director 

The Budget crosses the finish line: Many THANK YOUsto our network for their budget advocacy here in Ohio. In January, we set out to stop tax cuts, improve a school funding formula, and address housing and hunger here in Ohio. Here is a quick rundown: 

  • School Funding Formula: The legislature, in the final hours agreed to the school funding formula known as ‘the Fair School Funding Plan’ or also known as “Cupp-Patterson” or “HB 1”. This will improve the equity of the distribution of state dollars for years to come. However, the formula, when its run says Ohio should be investing about $2 billion more into our students than we are. The advocacy continues! 
  • SB 17: In the 11th hour, the Senate inserted these harmful provisions into the budget, but through the advocacy of many individuals and organizations, we were able to have them removed in the final hour before passage. A special thanks goes out to Finance Committee Chair, Rep. Scott Oelslager for his understanding that these provisions would take food off the table of hungry Ohioans.  
  • Housing: Some additional dollars were added to support some housing options for Ohioans and dangerous amendments were removed that would have made it more difficult to offer affordable housing in Ohio.  
  • Massive tax cut for the wealthy: The reason we did not see more money put into our schools and affordable housing efforts is simple – tax cuts for the wealthiest 1% who will receive a 16.8% income tax cut. The poorest Ohioans will receive nothing, and others will about $40 a year from a 3% income tax cut. These billions of dollars could have improved Ohio dramatically.  

Join us on July 19th at 3:30 pm as we discuss the budget with the Ohio Council of Churches. Register. 


Lutheran Advocacy Ministry- Pennsylvania (LAMPa) – Tracey DePasquale, Director 

As the General Assembly recessed in late June, LAMPa celebrated a $3 million increase in the state’s major anti-hunger programs and an extra $300 million in basic education funding, $100 million of which is targeted to the poorest schools.  

“Our hunger advocates did a tremendous job in sharing stories of the need they continue to see and convincing the legislature that we could not go back to pre-pandemic funding levels,” said LAMPa Director Tracey DePasquale.

LAMPa also advocated for accelerating the process of closing one of the largest school funding equity gaps in the country through LevelUp PA, which garnered bipartisan support to win passage as part of an historic $416 million increase in public education funding.  

Although supportive of bipartisan elections reforms sought by county officials, LAMPa applauded the governor’s veto of legislation that included those reforms but imposed other measures that would have created barriers to voting and undone reforms passed in 2019. LAMPa co-hosted a webinar on the legislation in early June. 

Also in June, Hunger Advocacy Fellow Larry Herrold participated in a virtual advocacy day with partners seeking a path to 100% renewable energy and attended the Upper Susquehanna Synod Assembly after having assembled kits for the 200 voting members. The kits included letters to legislators asking for increases to the Pa. Agricultural Surplus System and the State Food Purchase Program, as well as information about advocating with LAMPa. He delivered completed letters to lawmakers in time for the passage of the state budget.  

Herrold traveled to Gettysburg to conduct research on Lincoln Cemetery, an African American cemetery in use since the Civil War. This research is part of LAMPa’s ongoing focus on the land that connects us 

Both Herrold and DePasquale attended a meeting of the Upper Susquehanna Synod Advocacy Team in July. DePasquale spoke at a Capitol press conference on health care as a factor in hunger and poverty as legislation was reintroduced regarding surprise medical bills and prescription drug prices. 

As Herrold’s fellowship concludes, he is working to finish long-term projects, including the organization of digitally photographed archival material and the refinement of databases of new and existing advocates and service ministries.  

In August, Herrold will help lead an in-person “MinistryLab” along with Lutheran Disaster Response and creation-justice advocates in Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod. The lab aims to engage young adults in the ministry of the ELCA. Both Herrold and DePasquale are working with Lutherans Restoring Creation to build or strengthen green teams in every synod as they prepare for the Season of Creation and the launch of ELCA advocacy priorities on climate, just transition, and sustainable agriculture. 


Texas Impact – Scott Atnip, Outreach Director 

The Texas Legislature is being called back in for a 30-day called special session beginning July 8 to address several “extraordinary items,” most notably bills that would suppress the votes of Texas voters. 

Texas Impact is sponsoring a “Let My People Vote” campaign featuring a liturgical guide for local congregations and a rally at the Capitol July 19 in partnership with the League of Women Voters, the NAACP, and La Voz de la Comunidad (LULAC). Bishop Sue Briner, ELCA Southwestern Texas Synod, will be a featured speaker. 

Texas Impact is mobilizing Texans of faith through the Rapid Response members, Legislative Engagement Groups and the Weekly Witness program.  


Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy – Kim Bobo, Executive Director 

On July 1, the new bills on which VICPP led the advocacy became law. The death penalty was abolished, thus saving the lives of two men on death row. Virginia became the first state in the south to abolish the death penalty. A new healthcare benefit was added providing prenatal care to 9000 undocumented women. VICPP is now working to get the word out in immigrant communities about this new benefit. Approximately 30,000 home healthcare workers now have access to paid sick days. In next year’s General Assembly (beginning in January), VICPP hopes Virginia will adopt a broader paid sick day standard so that all Virginia workers will have access to five paid sick days a year. 

On August 2, the General Assembly will reconvene for a special session to consider how best to use the federal dollars coming to Virginia from the American Rescue Plan Act. VICPP will be partnering with other low-income family advocates to push for uses that focus on helping the most vulnerable in the commonwealth. To join this effort, make sure you are on VICPP’s email action list. Sign-up at Also, if your congregation does not have a congregational liaison who works with VICPP, recruit someone for this important role and connect with 


Faith Action Network – Paul Benz and Elise DeGooyer, Co-Directors 

Faithful Vaccines: Eleven faith leaders from across Washington State participated in a joint effort to encourage people of faith to get vaccinated against COVID-19. We are excited to share their work both in this video – Faith Leaders Speak: Don’t Hesitate – Vaccinate! – as well as individual videos on our Vaccine Toolkit, in English and Spanish. We wish our partners across the country success in getting their communities vaccinated as well since our health outcomes are tied to one another.

FAN is Hiring! As Faith Action Network celebrates our tenth birthday this year, we continue to move faithfully forward as Co-Director, Rev. Paul Benz, retires at the end of 2021 and current Co-Director, Elise DeGooyer, becomes FAN’s Executive Director. FAN’s public policy work, led by Paul these past 10 years, will continue under the leadership of a Policy Engagement Director. If you know good candidates in Washington State, please send them our job description!

Statewide Policy: We are in the interim period after the legislative session ended this spring, but there is still work to be done in implementing bills that have passed. FAN is partnering with Earth Ministry to encourage Governor Inslee to sign an executive order for Clean Cars by 2030, a bill that had passed the legislature with broad community support which Governor Inslee partially vetoed. We are hoping to move this legislation forward to stay on-track with the Governor’s and the President’s climate goals as well as the Paris Climate Accord.

Congressional Policy: We are encouraging advocates to urge their House members to ask leadership to bring the HR 40 Reparations bill up for a vote. FAN cosponsored the Roadmap to Freedom legislation to pave a just and compassionate way forward for immigration reform, and we have requested a meeting with Senators Murray and Cantwell to discuss this. We continue to monitor the Justice in Policing Act to make sure it includes the elimination of qualified immunity. 


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

Juvenile Justice: Hunger Advocacy Fellow Kyle Minden led a full Raise the Age coalition meeting and a small group to discuss creating a steering committee to speak for the coalition. We are now in the phase of strategizing long-term educational goals because returning 17-year-old youth to the juvenile justice system did not make it into the Wisconsin State Budget. 

Advocacy Trainings: The director gave a Zoom consultation on building an advocacy ministry to leaders of a congregation in the East Central Synod. 

Youth: In the Greater Milwaukee Synod, we led a training on the basics about advocacy to youth as part of their congregation’s at-home mission trip, connecting their visits to places such as food pantries, with advocacy.  

Advocacy Training with youth at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church, Wauwatosa: We also held our second meeting with a handful of leaders from around the state to discuss possible future advocacy events for youth. We have had contact with representatives from all six synods that LOPPW works with. 

Care for God’s Creation: LOPPW’s director is part of the Wisconsin Climate Table leadership team again. 

Immigration: Staff gave a blessing to a group marching for Dreamers and a return to fairness in obtaining Wisconsin drivers licenses and met the marchers at the end of the march. 

LOPPW Council: We welcome new Council Member Kristi Jones, healthcare professional and member of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Madison as a new council representative of the South-Central Synod. 

August recess opportunity

U.S. representatives regularly return to their home districts to stay engaged with their constituents. Traditionally, August Recess is one such time – and while everyone needs some rest and relaxation, lawmakers are likely busy during this period with Town Halls, arranged meetings, and other contact points that give you a window to raise your experiences and policy concerns while they are local.

Our ELCA advocacy staff here on some current events that intersect with federal policy and priorities this year based upon the ELCA’s social teaching documents and the experiences of its congregations, ministries and partners to end world hunger and stand up for policies that create opportunities to overcome poverty, promote peace and dignity, preserve God’s creation, and promote racial and gender justice.

Bring your own questions to policy makers or raise the ones here.


“In relation to those who are poor, Martin Luther’s insights into the meaning of the commandments against killing, stealing, and coveting are sobering. We violate ‘you shall not kill’ when we do not help and support others to meet their basic needs.” – From ELCA social statement Sufficient Sustainable Livelihood for All


Expanded provisions of the Child Tax Credit (CTC), authorized through our nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the American Rescue Plan Act, are answering prayer for many struggling to feed their families who know the ripple effect on challenges that s hungry children face. As researched by ELCA World Hunger, assisting families through these means has the potential to lift nearly half of children in the United States out of poverty, many of whom are from Black and Brown communities. Making the Child Tax Credit permanent will not only be one of the most effective ways to reach those  suffering while trying to meet basic human needs, and positively impact the health of  children as they learn and grow.


  • Because the Child Tax Credit (CTC) is so effective in lifting children out of poverty, would you support making current CTC rates permanent?

THIS MOMENT IN TIME: Housing and Homelessness

“People in our congregations who are homeless and potentially homeless remind us of the urgency of the situation. It is time to acknowledge with gratitude what people are doing, to confess that we have too often neglected homelessness, and to renew our commitment to act with justice and compassion.” – From ELCA social message “Homelessness: A Renewal of Commitment”


As lawmakers in Congress are currently working to pass the federal budget for the next fiscal year, annual public programs that help support those of us experiencing homelessness and take measures to increase access to long-term housing affordability must be strengthened. The negotiations come as many in the post-pandemic economy are struggling to remain stably housed, while the cost of buying or renting a home continue to climb nationwide.

Houses of worship are active in shelter ministries and are increasingly involved in affordable housing construction to meet the needs of our communities. Housing and homelessness issues gain little attention in the nation’s Capital and historically garner the smallest increases in the spending deals among other programs. It is therefore critical that faith advocates highlight the intersectional significance that housing plays in addressing poverty.

Find out your local affordable housing stats at for greater context when speaking with policy makers.


  1. No state in the U.S. has enough affordable housing for those of us in the greatest need. What steps are you taking to ensure greater affordability and access to housing here in our district? (Add your local statistics to emphasize the local situation.)
  2. This year, the cost of buying a home has reached historically high levels. What policies, if any, do you support that a) help increase home ownership and b) address the historic racial homeownership gaps still present in our communities?

THIS MOMENT IN TIME: Infrastructure and Climate Change

“Protection of species and their habitats, preservation of clean land and water, reduction of wastes, care of the land—these are priorities. But production of basic goods and services, equitable distribution, accessible markets, stabilization of population, quality education, full employment—these are priorities as well.” – From ELCA social statement, Caring for Creation


We regularly  hear of numerous challenges presented in the political atmosphere, but  with a recent glimmer of hope. President Biden and a group of  ____ senators reached an agreement on an historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (Framework). Details regarding implementation of the Framework are being negotiated, but the White House states that the Framework creates jobs, grows the economy, invests in clean transportation infrastructure, clean water infrastructure, universal broadband infrastructure and clean power infrastructure, and provides resilience to the changing climate by addressing coastline erosion. The Framework also addresses environmental justice initiatives such as remediation of legacy pollution and electrifying  buses in communities plagued by harmful emissions. In addition, the Framework proposes to build a national network of electric vehicle charging stations along highways and in rural and disadvantaged communities, and to eliminate the nation’s lead service lines and pipes for the delivery of  clean drinking water.

Tandem legislation to include climate provisions missing from  the bipartisan agreement is being advanced by congressional Democrats. It will likely include provisions incentivizing utilities to increase their renewable energy goals and to use clean energy tax credits to spur utilization, or potentially offer conditional block grants to states that achieve 100% clean energy on the power grid. Each of these options has the effect of establishing a clean energy standard by encouraging renewable energy deployment. This tandem legislation will  likely include a $300 billion tax cut for dealing with the environment.

Addressing climate change and growing the economy can be accomplished concurrently. Research from America Is All In, which includes the ELCA as a partner among U.S. communities, business and institutions committed to tackling climate change and taking climate action, touts the creation of 25 million good-paying jobs across every zip code in the United States. Job creation supporting Creation care is beneficial not only in sparking continued recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, but also to support communities that have borne the brunt of environmental and economic harms from fossil fuel pollution and climate change.


  1. What policies are you supporting that will leverage the need of well-paying job creation in our nation as well as investing in the talents of laborers that tackle climate concerns?
  2. Do you support efforts to move to 100% clean energy usage as one way to grow the economy in such a manner that no one is left behind, nor are communities  left stranded?


“Since threats to health do not respect national boundaries, nations and international organizations must cooperate in public health efforts.” – From the ELCA social statement Caring for Health: Our Shared Endeavor 


While United States recovery efforts are in full swing, there is no recovery in sight for many low- and middle-income countries. The U.S. has more COVID-19 vaccine stockpiles than it needs. Eighty-five percent of all COVID-19 vaccines have gone to high- and upper-middle income countries. While the U.S. has committed to donate 580 million doses in the next 12 months, it is estimated that the world needs 12 billion or more vaccines. With billions of people in desperate need, with  some countries having no access  COVID-19 vaccines, our country can and must do more to help fill this gap.


  1. Many people in low-and middle-income countries have limited to no access to COVID-19 vaccines. U.S. vaccine commitments fall short of what is needed. As a member of Congress, what are you doing, or plan to do, to help these countries access COVID-19 vaccines?

THIS MOMENT IN TIME: Reimagining U.S. Asylum and Immigration Policy

“Immigration, refugee, and asylum policies express who we are as a nation, influence the nation’s future character, and affect the lives of millions of people. We encourage our members, in light of our history and our ministry with newcomers, to join with other citizens in our democratic society to support just laws that serve the common good.” – From ELCA social message “Immigration”


The Biden Administration is beginning to lift Title 42, the March 2020 public health order that turned away most migrants who arrived at the southern border during the pandemic and is beginning to lay the framework for a safe asylum and regional migration process. The U.N High Commissioner for Refugees and many public health experts agree that protecting public health and protecting access to asylum are fully compatible. It is important that these plans surge resources, experience, and commitment to protecting the rights and dignity of children, families, and adults with the greatest need.

Ensuring access to asylum is a basic tenet of a humane migration system, along with ensuring due process, supporting a humane reception system that looks beyond unnecessary, costly, and inhumane detention, and quickly upgrading the systems to protect unaccompanied children. In addition to strengthening a humane migration system, we know that directing attention to factors driving migration and facilitating family reunification can more meaningfully address the reasons people flee their homes, reducing migration tensions. Congress can also support children and families in the U.S. succeed by passing a pathway to earn citizenship.


  1. With many countries still exercising protocols that severely restrict asylum access, especially for LGBTQIA+, Indigenous and Black migrants, how are you making sure the U.S. is honoring international laws and standards in our asylum policy and supporting legislation and federal funding that makes our humanitarian reception system safer, more humane, and more accessible for those seeking protection?
  2. Refugee and asylum applications are backlogged despite the increase in migration to the U.S. due to threats of violence or discrimination. How will you support changes to asylum policy that address the root causes of migration?
  3. How are you supporting legislation and federal funding for programs that create clearer pathways for migrants to obtain legal status or US citizenship?

THIS MOMENT IN TIME: Tribal/U.S. Government relations

“In the name of the God who creates every human being out of love, this church teaches human dignity is God’s gift to every person and that the commitment to universal rights protects that dignity.” – From ELCA social message, “Human Rights”


Boarding schools are not from the distant past. There are people alive today who are victims of these institutions and of the laws requiring the removal of Native children from their communities. Across the U.S. and Canada, recent discoveries of the remains of Native children at boarding school sites expose dramatically the awful conditions that can be described as cultural decimation and genocide.

Reckoning with under-acknowledged realities in tribal and U.S. government relations is surfacing. Cultural protection of Native sacred sites and natural resource protections are part of ongoing conversations through the lens of racial justice and reconciliation of past and current ills.

A bill called the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policy Act will be reintroduced soon. The legislation as summarized by the Harvard Law Review looks at “policy of the Federal Government under which more than 100,000 American Indian and Alaska Native children were forcibly removed from their family homes and placed in any of 460 Bureau of Indian Affairs-operated schools, including 367 Indian boarding schools, at which assimilation and ‘civilization’ practices were inflicted on those children as part of the assimilation efforts of the Federal Government, advancing eradication of indigenous peoples’ cultures in the United States.”

A map showing the location of Indian Boarding Schools throughout the United States can tell you more about your area.


  1. Do you know about our state’s history regarding the presence and legacy of boarding/residential schools for American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN)?
  2. Because of recent discoveries of the remains of American Indian children who died due to forced removal from their families and life at the boarding schools, more people have been made aware of this dark and tragic chapter in our history. What support do you intend to provide for the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policy Act?
  3. An influential figure in Indian education during his time, Col. Richard Henry Pratt, advanced the motto: “Kill the Indian, save the man.” Facing the damage caused by such annihilating assimilationist thinking, how do you intend to support legal protections for Native American cultural heritage, practices and religion?

Please let us know how it goes using the In-District Activity Form and as appropriate consider thanking that policy maker publicly on social media for the conversation and their public service.

For more pointers, see our August Recess Guide as well as Virtual Visits for ideas on contacting your lawmaker year-round.

June Update: UN and State Edition

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

Find a map and full list of ELCA affiliated SPPOs using our state office map.

U.N. | Colorado | Kansas Minnesota | Pennsylvania | Texas | Washington | Wisconsin


Lutheran Office for World Community, United Nations, New York, N.Y. –Dennis Frado, Director

International Dialogue on Migration: Christine Mangale, LOWC Program Director, attended virtually the first International Dialogue on Migration (IDM) session of 2021 from 25 – 27 May 2021. Speakers included H.E. Volkan Bozkir, the President of the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly; H.E. Amina J. Mohammed, the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, H.E António Vitorino, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Director General, H.E. Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, the Prime Minister of Fiji; H.E. Nasser Bourita, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the African Cooperation and Moroccans Living Abroad of the Kingdom of Morocco; Ms. Runa Kahn, the Founder and Executive Director of the Friendship NGO, and several other government, experts, and practitioners.

The focus theme was “Accelerating integrated action on sustainable development: migration, the environment and climate change.” The theme was building on the 2008 and 2011 IDM meetings. This year, the discussions explored the links between the focus theme and issues such as COVID-19 and the humanitarian, development, and peace nexus. Actions were emphasized to mitigate the impacts of climate and environmental change and to implement several global frameworks, such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

The IDM session also aimed to contribute and galvanize momentum towards the 26th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP26) that will take place in Glasgow in November 2021, as well as preparations for the 2022 International Migration Review Forum (IMRF).

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: During May, LOWC Director Dennis Frado focused largely on the building tensions between Israel and Palestinians. On the 5th, Frado joined other representatives of member organizations of Churches for Middle East Peace in a meeting with State Department officials to discuss the developing situation. Working alongside Peace Not Walls staff colleagues, a special action alert was issued on May 11th which urged ELCA members to ask President Biden to tell Israel it must halt the illegal removal of East Jerusalem families from their homes which was originally scheduled for early May, and to affirm that Israel must respect the Status Quo agreement and holy sites in Jerusalem.


Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-Colorado – Peter Severson, Director

Legislature Concludes: The Colorado General Assembly has come to the end of its 2021 legislative session. We advocated for major changes to Colorado’s tax code, renter’s rights, agricultural worker rights, environmental issues and more. Some of the major victories this session:

  • The Tax Fairness for Coloradans package (House Bills 1311 and 1312) passed both chambers. This is the first major tax reform adopted by the legislature in a long time, closing tax loopholes for corporations and the wealthy while permanently investing the savings into funding the state Child Tax Credit and expanding the state Earned Income Tax Credit.
  • The Agricultural Workers’ Rights Bill (Senate Bill 087) will finally entitle agricultural workers to the protections of the Colorado Labor Peace Act, including overtime pay, rest breaks, and more.
  • The Colorado Office of Financial Empowerment will be created by Senate Bill 148, a measure to extend practical tools and resources to communities that have historically lacked access to mainstream (and non-predatory) credit and banking services.
  • Rights in residential lease agreements will be expanded by Senate Bill 173. The mismatched timelines between rental assistance and eviction have led to further housing inequities, and the bill will attempt to rebalance the scales to help renters remain housed and landlords remain solvent.

Check out for our 2021 session recap later this month!

Director’s Sabbatical: LAM-CO Director Peter Severson will be on sabbatical until late September. During the summer, members of the LAM-CO Policy Committee will keep our network informed of opportunities for action, organizing, and education via social media and our synodical communication network.


Rabbi Moti Rieber, Executive Director- Kansas Interfaith Action

The Kansas legislative session ended with the so-called veto session in early May. This was a very challenging year, with a newly strengthened conservative majority determined to enact some of its long-held priorities, as well as challenging the Democratic governor at every turn – especially in regard to pandemic-related emergency powers.

We had hoped that we might see movement on criminal justice reform this year, with two commissions (a bipartisan criminal justice commission and a governor’s task force on police reform) putting forward over a dozen bills. In the end, only one of these bills even had a hearing.

KIFA opposed a bill that would criminalize protest at fossil fuel facilities, including pipelines. This was part of a national effort by the fossil fuel industry to preempt protests such as the one currently taking place against Line 3 in Minnesota. We were able to garner some national media attention, as well as the involvement of the Native tribes in Kansas. The bill was significantly watered down in committee — for one thing, organizations, including churches, that help arrange or facilitate protests will not be liable to conspiracy prosecutions — but it passed.

We worked to sustain four vetoes issued by Governor Kelly: on another tax cut primarily benefiting corporations and upper-income people; on a bill that limits advanced voting; on a bill lowering the age for the conceal carry of handguns to 18; and on a bill that would ban trans girls from participating in girls’ sports on the high school and college levels.  In the end the only veto that was sustained was the trans athlete bill; the rest were overridden.


Lutheran Advocacy – Minnesota (LAMN) Tammy Walhof, Director

Legislative Session: The official legislative session ended with very little agreement and little accomplished, but not for lack of advocacy and prayer by Lutherans and our partners.

Budget Levels: On the last official day of session, Senate Majority Leader Gazelka, House Speaker Hortman and Governor Walz finally announced an agreement on overarching budget and committee area budget targets. Without time for nitty-gritty negotiations on program specifics, both chambers adjourned in anticipation of a special session.

Special Session: The Special Session starts Monday, June 14. As of now, budget specifics and policy language are still not settled for 12 of 13 budget bills.

Clean Energy: Some small energy programs will likely move forward, but several good parts of both House and Senate Energy bills will not be included due to resistance by some senators – especially for clean transportation. Thankfully, proposals to take us backwards on electric emissions will also not likely be included.

Housing: Good news! Between drafts of this update, some funding for emergency shelters and services went from ridiculously low one-time funding to base funding. We hope this continues to be the case. However, an off-ramp for the rental eviction moratorium remains unresolved as one of the most contentious housing debates.

LA-MN Introductory Video: Have you checked out our 3-minute video yet? Please consider ways to use it in your congregation and share it widely to help us recruit others for advocacy action!


Lutheran Advocacy Ministry- Pennsylvania (LAMPa) – Tracey DePasquale, Director

In May, LAMPa staff happily expanded in-person activities, including teaching at St. Matthias in Carlisle and visiting and planting at Lutheran Camping Corporation’s Wittel Farm as part of LAMPa’s ongoing rogation project. Director Tracey DePasquale made her first in-person legislative visits in the Capitol in over a year, meeting with House and Senate committee leaders to press for a plan to remedy the state’s inequitable school funding system.

Staff prepared materials for synod assemblies, including guidance to help congregations prevent but prepare for a possible surge in homelessness as the eviction moratorium ends. Hunger Advocacy Fellow Larry Herrold put his production skills to use as LAMPa partnered with Lutheran Disaster Response for a video describing how our ministries accompany disciples in “loving the land,” one of the three themes of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod’s gathering, and a second one for SWPA Synod’s assembly.

Further embracing the opportunities presented by virtual gathering, LAMPa hosted models of accompaniment ministry presentations by Bridge of Hope and Open Table, which is at the heart of advocacy. We rejoice in the follow-up engagement of congregations who want to see their service ministries move from transactional to transformational. LAMPa also hosted a webinar on the state of hunger programs and funding in the state as a basis for informed advocacy as we enter the final weeks of budget season.  Staff also participated in meetings of the Pennsylvania Council of Churches Commission for Public Witness, the Interfaith Justice Coalition, and the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition.


Texas Impact – Scott Atnip, Outreach Director

The 87th Texas Legislature adjourned Sine Die Monday, May 31 with drama that garnered national attention and expectations that the Governor will call a Special Session later this year.

Texas Impact resourced Texans of faith through three ongoing programs:

  • Weekly Witness: a podcast recorded during the legislative session in front of a webinar audience featuring a “topic of the week,” legislative update and action alert.
  • Rapid Response Team with 500+ members committed to making time-sensitive calls to representatives; and
  • Legislative Engagement Groups of members coordinating with other advocates in their legislative district to build intentional relationships with representatives and their offices. Texas Impact staff held weekly briefings for LEG members during the legislative session.

The Texas Impact network prioritized legislation in the following five categories:

  • Health Coverage
  • Voting Rights
  • Climate Justice
  • LGBT Equality
  • Criminal Justice Reform/George Floyd Act

The Legislative Wrap-Up will be available soon; following the veto period, it will be featured in June/July Weekly Witness episodes.

In addition to preparing for a possible special session on voting rights, energy, and other issues, Texas Impact staff will spend the summer speaking with congregations and groups about the 87th Texas Legislature and organizing regional events to recruit and strengthen Legislative Engagement Groups. We are also excited to partner to recruit a new ELCA Hunger Advocacy Fellow! Apply here.


Faith Action Network – Paul Benz and Elise DeGooyer, Co-Directors

Celebrating FAN’s 10th Birthday! Since June 11, 2011, Faith Action Network has grown from an infant born after long labor to a still-growing, multifaith body of communities and individuals – Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh, Quaker, and Unitarian – from Pullman to Port Angeles. Together we have successfully advocated for public policy that upholds justice and compassion and lived into our calling to be “a partnership for the common good.” We are thankful to our 160 faith communities, many coalition partners, and thousands of advocates who have grown and sustained our work!

Spring Summits: FAN hosted two Spring Summits – one in May and one in June, to connect with our advocates across the state, celebrate legislative wins from the past session, and hear what issues FAN should focus on throughout the year. We were joined virtually by 150 advocates who met in breakout groups by region and issue topic. We look forward to connecting advocates with their legislators during the interim this summer to move our discussion into action!

Post-Legislative Session: Now that so many bills have passed in the virtual Washington State legislative session, the important work of implementing those bills begins. FAN is particularly involved in the implementation of the Voting Rights Restoration bill for people coming out of prison, and the many police reform bills we worked to pass with the Washington Coalition for Police Accountability. Our Economic Justice Work Group is also engaging our network with the bipartisan legislative Tax Structure Work Group to chart a path forward to improve the state’s regressive tax code.


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

The Wisconsin State Budget: The State Legislature is in the process of finalizing the budget. It is unclear whether the governor will entirely or partially veto it. We expect some of our priorities that will likely to be left out of the budget to return in separate bills. Also, the director has been in dialogue with Senator Baldwin’s office about possible federal actions to help individuals in states that have refused federal dollars for Medicaid (BadgerCare).

Care for God’s Creation: The director consulted with a new faith group that has started a care for God’s creation group in Milwaukee and invited them to join the Wisconsin Climate Table. She has also committed to returning to the leadership team of the Table for one year.

Advocacy Training: LOPPW led a virtual presentation to the lay school of ministry in the East Central Synod.

Youth: We organized our second meeting to begin planning for high school youth advocacy events. Members from all six synods have shown interest.

Raise the Age (Juvenile Justice): Kyle Minden has continued taking the main lead in our coalition to return 17-year-old youth to the juvenile system. Together with the Wisconsin Catholic Conference and three other organizations we met with the Senator who is the lead in writing a bill that will approach what we are advocating for.

Immigration: Minden helped organize a second presentation on immigration with the South-Central Synod Immigration Task Force. AMMPARO’s Mary Campbell was the presenter.

May Update: UN and State Edition

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

Find a map and full list of ELCA affiliated SPPOs using our state office map.

U.N. | California | Colorado | Minnesota | PennsylvaniaWashington | Wisconsin


Lutheran Office for World Community, United Nations, New York, N.Y. –Dennis Frado, Director

LOWC Program Director Christine Mangale comments on the recently concluded session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women: LOWC Program Director Christine Mangale was interviewed recently by Lutheran World Information about the 65th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. Commenting on the need to continue to hold governments accountable for their Agreed Conclusions, Mangale said, “The focus now is national level monitoring and engaging with governments by continuing to knock on their doors. As long as we keep asking questions, they know we are following up, but otherwise the work just gets swept under the rug.” The largely virtual (due to COVID-19) meeting excluded on-site participation by non-governmental society groups, including the churches. In normal years, Lutheran World Federation delegates are physically present. “Usually we meet with them, we sit down and ask them to push for particular issues,” Mangale reflects. LWF seeks to “shape global policies that impact us at national and local level,” but “How do we make sure our voice is heard in this huge virtual gathering of more than 10.000 people?” On the plus side, this year there were 70 participants attending online events while the usual size of the delegation is about 30. The CSW experience is part of a larger empowerment effort by the LWF. Mangale says “Women are the pillars of our congregations, so this is where the work comes to life through storytelling and sharing of experiences. Women can address leadership obstacles in their communities, they can engage local councilors, run for posts as village elders or members of parliament and feel part of the process for change.”

Briefing from leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Central African Republic: In late April LOWC Director, Dennis Frado, was privileged to be briefed by the President and Vice-President of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Central African Republic (CAR) on recent developments in their country. In a meeting facilitated by ELCA Regional Representatives Anne and Willie Langdji, the Rev. Joseph Ngoe, President and the Rev. Rachel Doumbaye, Vice-President, spoke of the high level of insecurity in parts of the CAR, especially around Bouar, the capital of Nana-Mambéré Prefecture, where the church headquarters is located. The population of CAR continues to be plagued by attacks from various armed groups which have created a very dangerous and unstable security situation, despite efforts by the weak national army and United Nations peacekeepers to maintain order. The briefing will help LOWC better advocate for the people of CAR with various UN entities, including the Security Council.

Photo credit: Anne Langdji, ELCA Regional Representative, Cameroon.

Bolivian Church President speaks on Christian identity and indigeneity: On April 22, Bolivian Lutheran Church President, the Rev. German Loayza, participated in a virtual parallel event in conjunction with the 20th Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The event, “Identity at the intersection of Indigeneity and Christianity: An indigenous dilemma,” was organized by the Anglican Communion Office at the United Nations and co-sponsored by The Lutheran World Federation, The Episcopal Church, The United Methodist Church-General Board of Church and Society and the World Council of Churches. The event was moderated by Archbishop Mark Macdonald, National Indigenous Anglican Archbishop, Anglican Church of Canada and featured other participants: the Rev. Dr. Bradley Hauff from the Oglala Sioux nation (South Dakota, USA), the Rev. Dr. Hirini Kaa, Photo credit: Lynnaia Main, The Episcopal Church Kaiārahithe, a member of the Maori of Aotearoa (New Zealand), Ms. Victoria Tauli Corpuz, a member of the Kankana-ey Igorot people (The Philippines) and former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples and the Rev. Dr. Seforosa Carroll, a member of the indigenous Rotuman people (Fiji).

Photo credit: Lynnaia Main, The Episcopal Church


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

Lobby Day: On May 19th, Lutherans and other Californians met on Zoom to pray, learn, and hear from the Rev. Cornell William Brooks, as well as meet with our state legislators to advocate for bills that will meet needs at the intersection of food & farming and racial justice, including AB221 (Emergency Food for All) and SB464 (Food for All).

Ecumenical Advocacy Days (EAD): This year’s virtual EAD centered Climate Justice. After three days of worship and workshops, 19 Californians representing several organizations and faith communities met with Senator Feinstein (D-CA)’s office to advocate for climate justice-oriented infrastructure and energy legislation and funding for countries and communities most impacted by climate change.

Advocacy in Quarantine: In response to COVID-19, LOPP-CA hosts briefings on state and federal legislative priorities, including a quick advocacy activity, every Wednesday at noon. One of our recent priorities is working for undocumented and mixed status California families to receive support and aid from which they are currently excluded, despite being important members of our communities.

Budget Advocacy Guide: Linked here is a budget advocacy guide from LOPP-CA. Soon we will be giving attention to the state budget and meeting with the governor’s staff and legislative staff to express our priorities and values for the state’s budget decisions.

Green California: Green California “is a network of more than one hundred organizations with a common environmental, health, and justice agenda,” including LOPP-CA. Two bills we are currently following that would expand Californians’ access to water are SB222 (Low Income Water Rate Assistance) and SB223 (Water Shut-off Protections), with both currently in Senate Appropriations.


Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-Colorado – Peter Severson, Director

Our legislative session is three-fourths complete! Lutheran Advocacy has been participating with partners in advancing important bills on our agenda. Our latest bill sheet can be found online.

Our priorities this session have been focused on renters’ protections, environmental justice, immigration, criminal justice reform, agricultural workers’ rights, and tax bills to reduce poverty.

The Lutheran Advocacy Digital Summit was held on Thursday, May 13. More info here:

Happy May Day from Lutheran Advocacy & the Rocky Mountain Synod Bishop’s Office!


Lutheran Advocacy – Minnesota (LAMN) Tammy Walhof, Director

Legislative Session: Legislative session is almost over! House and Senate passed their respective budget bills and are now negotiating differences. Some analysts are speculating that decisions could move into special session, since differences are vast in some areas. (Last year there was a special session every month through the end of the year due to emergency declaration extensions, but many legislative decisions remained unresolved for months). This year, the two-year budget, made up of the issue area budget bills, must pass before the new fiscal year starts on July 1, or the government shuts down.

Bishop Letter: Lutheran Advocacy-MN prepared a letter signed onto by all six Minnesota bishops to advance our concerns with legislators on 1) clean energy and climate, and 2) rental evictions. Letter Link

Current Action: Call your senator on the issues in the bishop letter. Share that you are Lutheran. Mention your congregation’s involvement in clean energy/climate issues and/or affordable housing. Reference the bishop letter they have received and urge your senator to talk to their leaders about the important issues in the letter (borrow talking points from the letter). Share why you care, too! Link to find your MN State senator.

Introductory Video: We have a new video that introduces Lutheran Advocacy-Minnesota. It is only three minutes long and could have a variety of uses in your church and synod: Worship Service, Adult Forum, Offering, Church Committee Meetings, WELCA Group, Synod Assembly, Conference Meetings, etc. Please share the video and help us recruit others for advocacy action! Video Link


Lutheran Advocacy Ministry- Pennsylvania (LAMPa) – Tracey DePasquale, Director

In April, LAMPa staff participated in United Lutheran Seminary’s Spring Convocation on the theme “Theology of Gathering.” The convocation, beginning with worship, kicked off rogation events to be held in each synod throughout the growing season. Soil, stories pictures and prayers were gathered from each synod and campus. The prayers were woven together to be shared by all, as we pray for one another, the land, those who tend it and all who depend upon the fruits of their labor. As we pray for one another, we also act with opportunities for related advocacy to be shared throughout the season. LAMPa is grateful to our partners at ULS for the opportunity to collaborate and for developing the litany and rogation liturgy to be shared.

LAMPa’s Hunger Advocacy Fellow, Larry Herrold, worked to finalize advocacy and educational material and took a leading role in planning Upper Susquehanna Synod’s rogation service. He also attended Ecumenical Advocacy Days, joining Pennsylvania colleagues in virtual visits with members of Congress. He also participated in Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light’s Earth Day Interfaith Prayer Vigil on April 22, leading a small group in prayer and assisting in the planting of the first of 100 trees which will form a riparian buffer zone in Lewisburg, Upper Susquehanna Synod.

LAMPa staff also developed hunger advocacy materials to be delivered to the 200 participants of Upper Susquehanna’s Synod Assembly. LAMPa Director Tracey DePasquale taught virtual classes in two SEPA congregations and one SWPA Synod congregation.


Faith Action Network – Paul Benz and Elise DeGooyer, Co-Directors

In April we finished an amazing and unique legislative session! Amazing in the significant social change bills passed, such as Capital Gains (SB 5096) which will now fund the new Fare Start childcare program enacted this session, the Clean Fuels Standard bill (HB 1091) that will help our state reduce carbon emissions, and the largest cash grant increase for the TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) program ever (15%=$52.2M) in the 2021-23 biennial budget. Significantly, the focus on racial equity this session was unprecedented – from the number of people of color lobbying and testifying, to the bills being introduced and passed, and the number of legislators of color – now over 20. Please see our 2021 Legislative Successes for all of the bills we are celebrating!

This year was also unique in that the entire session was remote! Most of the 147 legislators did not go to Olympia, with 10-20 on the floor in each chamber for votes and debates. Co-Director Paul Benz, serving as FAN lobbyist, only traveled there one time. This remote session in many ways made citizen engagement much easier by being able to sign in pro or con on bills and testify from your own home, even if it was for only 60 seconds! Senate Democratic leadership stated that 67,728 people participated in the legislative process – up from 14,000 last session. What held true, as stated before the session began, was that there would be fewer bills because of the remote session. As a result, 335 bills passed this session – the lowest number since 1983.

We are grateful for all the advocates who helped bend the arc of the universe in Washington state more towards justice.


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

Wednesday Noon Live and Human Trafficking: We interviewed Attorney Jan Miyasaki, Executive Director of Respect Madison. “We need to make sure that the anti-human trafficking movement intersects with the social and economic justice movement and the mass incarceration movement,” said Miyasaki.

The State Budget: These are our LOPPW State Budget Priorities 2021-23, which we encouraged people to advocate on. We also testified at the virtual Joint Finance Committee (JFC) public hearing and continued our involvement with the Better Choices Coalition. The JFC decided on a long list of close to 400 items to remove, including many of our priorities. Some of the items removed from the budget could return as separate bills. We are confident that a version of Raise the Age (juvenile justice) will return, per our conversations with two legislative offices and others from our Raise the Age coalition that Kyle manages. Our climate coalition agreed to revisit our advocacy after the final budget is approved and we speak to legislators about which deleted items from the budget could return as separate bills.

Advocating on a County Level: Clergy contacted LOPPW concerned about Trempealeau County considering a resolution to become a 2nd Amendment Sanctuary. Gun Control is not one of our priorities but we offered suggestions on how to organize and advocate on a county level: Advocating to Cty. Supervisors (Trempealeau Cty). We had also created another resource for advocating on a county level several months ago.

April Update: UN and State Edition

Following are updates shared from submissions of the Lutheran Office for World Community and state public policy offices.
Find a map and full list of ELCA affiliated SPPOs using our 
state office map.

U.N. | Colorado | Minnesota | Pennsylvania | TexasWashington | Wisconsin


Lutheran Office for World Community, United Nations, New York, N.Y. –Dennis Frado, Director

Holy Land Bishop Azar discusses inequitable COVID-19 vaccine availability in the Occupied Palestinian Territory: Bishop Ibrahim Azar of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land shared a video message recently about the inequitable vaccine distribution situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a briefing on March 25 to the UN Security Council, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process said “COVID-19 continues to have a devastating effect on Palestinians. In addition to the brutal impact on public health, the recurrent lockdowns, school closures, and reduction of commercial activity have severely undermined living conditions.” He added, “Support to the Palestinian COVID-19 response should be significantly enhanced to ensure that Palestinians throughout the OPT receive a fair and timely share of the distribution of vaccines.”  Peace Not Walls has appealed for advocacy with Members of Congress to call upon the Biden administration to urge the Israeli government to ensure free and equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines based on its obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Promoting Gender Justice at UN CSW65: The United Nations’ sixty-fifth session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) took place from 15-26 March 2021. The priority theme was women’s full and effective participation and decision making in public life.  This was the first-ever the session of the Commission held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to UN Women reporting, speakers included a Prime Minister, 3 Vice-Presidents and 93 ministers. Nearly 70 ministers represented their countries in the ministerial round tables. Vice President Kamala Harris delivered the US official remarks to CSW65.

The Lutheran World Federation, including the ELCA, participated in the two-week event with a delegation of over seventy members from more than 30 countries. They joined more than 10,000 other civil society members online to advocate on the priority theme as well as call for an end to gender-based violence (GBV). LOWC coordinates the presence of Lutherans at CSW.

In addition to attending the official sessions, Lutherans organized and as co-sponsored panel events with ecumenical and interfaith partners, namely, Women of Power: Leading Together for a Better Future, Challenge and Change a Social Norm: Sexual and Gender Based Violence, Masculinities, and Leadership, and Faith Forward – Women Brokering Peace in Conflict & Crisis, Girls on Fire part I & part II: An Intergenerational conversation and call to action to end GBV. We also co-sponsored a side event, “In search of a Round Table: Gender, Religion & Decision-making in Public Life”. Lutherans joined Ecumenical Women at the UN orientation day and led one daily morning worship service.

CSW65 ended with the adoption of Agreed Conclusions which contain good recommendations for countries to implement. However, there was opposition and push back by few countries that objected to terms such as gender, sexual and reproductive health and rights, among others. Discussions on gender equality and women’s empowerment continue through the next important forum – the Generation Equality Forum, convened by UN Women and co-hosted by the Governments of Mexico and France.

Impact of financial and economic sanctions on humanitarian assistance and its delivery: The ELCA recently signed on to a letter to President Biden asking him to consider the effects of sanctions on humanitarian assistance and its delivery as part of a review of existing United States and multilateral financial and economic sanctions.  The groups which joined the letter said they “have long considered a review of the impact of sanctions on the global pandemic response and humanitarian situations overdue.”  They said that “existing sanctions exemptions for humanitarian work are ‘wholly inadequate’ and that current regulations fail to “provide the necessary reassurances to financial institutions that working with humanitarian actors is safe and lawful.” They asked the President “to take immediate emergency measures and consider long-term measures as well, that would allow the peoples of sanctioned countries and locations to respond to the devastating human and economic fallout of COVID-19.”


Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-Colorado – Peter Severson, Director

The Colorado Legislature continues their session, and LAM-CO has been participating with partners in advancing important bills on our agenda. Our latest bill sheet can be found online.

Housing: We are working on three bills to enhance renters’ protections, balance responsibility between renters and landlords, cap late fees, and allow local governments to promote affordable housing.

Environment: We support bills to prohibit single-use plastic products & reduce waste and to enhance the power of the Air Quality Control Commission.

Immigration: The Immigration Legal Defense Fund would be created by HB 1194, supporting nonprofits who help provide representation to immigrants undergoing legal proceedings.

Criminal Justice: We support a bill to promote record sealing and another to largely end cash bail in Colorado while increasing the use of summonses versus arrest warrants.

Hunger: Part of a just food system is protections for the workers who grow, harvest, and process food, and so we support SB 087 to add agricultural workers to standard labor protections already on the books in Colorado, enhancing rights to rest breaks, overtime, and other benefits.


Lutheran Advocacy – Minnesota (LAMN) Tammy Walhof, Director

The legislative session is down to the final five weeks – unless we end up with special sessions each month like last year. The budget omnibus bills were introduced and marked up the week after Easter.

Clean Energy: We have been working to prevent garbage incineration from being re-classified as clean energy, but opponents to renewable energy focused most of their committee amendments on labeling wind and solar as dirty energy. Thankfully, those amendments failed in the House Energy Committee, but it will be much harder in the next few weeks to prevent legislation damaging to a transition to renewables and a clean energy economy. The current House Energy committee bill could move our state in very positive directions if the Senate could be moved to adopt it. That is unlikely this year, but as people of faith we believe transformations can happen.

Affordable Housing: We remain hopeful that our efforts for more housing stock, and eviction prevention (related to pandemic economic hardship) will make progress. Several Action Alerts have helped to bolster bipartisan support, but Senate leadership is not yet on board. Much more action will be needed in the next few weeks, so continue to watch for alerts and talking points.

Partisan Divisions: Extreme partisanship continues to be the biggest obstacle at the legislature. While various house and senate members are attempting to find paths to work together, some party leaders keep looking for ways to exacerbate differences. Without changes in these partisan attitudes and divisions, Minnesota’s legislature runs of the risk of becoming increasing dysfunctional and ineffective.


Lutheran Advocacy Ministry- Pennsylvania (LAMPa) – Tracey DePasquale, Director

LAMPa staff are preparing a statewide marking of rogation in coordination with United Lutheran Seminary’s spring convocation, around the theme “Theology of Gathering.” Staff have been gathering soil samples from Pennsylvania’s seven synods, as well as both seminary campuses. These soils are accompanied by photographs of their origins, stories, and prayer requests. We will be helping to facilitate rogation and eco-justice services throughout the spring and equipping Lutherans to advocate on the behalf of creation, for those who “tend the garden,” and for all who depend upon the fruits of their labor.

Hunger Advocacy Fellow Larry Herrold continues developing our database of service and justice-related ministries. His work has connected congregational volunteers to a new Senior Express food box delivery system that takes the nutritional assistance for which we advocate the last mile – getting it safely into the hands of seniors.

LAMPa advocates are reaching out to their lawmakers to urge an increase in the state’s hunger funding.

Director Tracey DePasquale participated in the quarterly state Emergency Food Assistance Advisory Meeting, attended meetings of the state emergency feeding and sheltering task forces and worked with the SWPA Synod hunger team to plan their fall event.

DePasquale and seminarian Margaret Folkemer-Leonard met with representatives of Open Table in preparation for equipping congregations in various models for accompaniment that will deepen their advocacy. Folkemer-Leonard attended the first meeting of advocates around language-access policies and continues to lead weekly compline with a focus on justice.


Texas Impact – Scott Atnip, Outreach Director

The Texas Legislature convened their biennial Legislative Session in January, and Texas Impact immediately began resourcing Texans of faith to engage in the process.

In March, Texas Impact hosted the second annual Texas Interfaith Advocacy Days March 6-9, the largest interfaith advocacy gathering in the state This year, the conference was online and highlighted speakers and advocacy opportunities related to three priority areas: Health Insurance, Climate Resilience, and Elections. The 200 event participants met with over 30 legislative offices to discuss priority issues.

Texas Impact also released three sign-on letters for Texans of faith:

Texas Impact continues to recruit Rapid Response Team members to make time-sensitive calls and Legislative Engagement Group members who commit to meeting and partnering with other advocates in their Texas House district to plan and prepare for monthly meetings with their representative and/or staff.

The Weekly Witness podcast during the Legislative Session features a Texas faith leader providing a “Weekly Word,” a guest advocate discussing the “issue of the week” and Texas Impact staff providing a legislative update and action alert. The March 15 episode featured ELCA pastor, Rev. Jessica Cain from Living Word Lutheran in Buda.

In addition, Texas Impact staff have been invited to present to several congregational events as they increase capacity for online programming. Texans of faith are mobilizing in exciting ways to participate with their representatives during this important season of democracy.


Faith Action Network – Paul Benz and Elise DeGooyer, Co-Directors

Legislative Successes: The 2021 WA Legislative session has just passed the cutoff date for bills to be voted out of the opposite chamber and onto the Governor’s desk. We are excited that so many important bills are moving forward from FAN’s legislative agenda, including:

  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • Emergency cash and food assistance
  • Equity and funding for community and technical colleges
  • Prohibiting certain police tactics
  • Decertification and licensing standards for police officers and Criminal Justice Training Commission reforms
  • Eviction reform
  • Just Cause Eviction law
  • Clean Fuel Standards
  • Voting Rights Restoration for people exiting prison
  • Post-secondary education in prisons
  • Removing the exemption in the Office of Civil and Legal Aid for undocumented workers
  • Banning private prisons
  • Banning Native American mascots
  • Juneteenth paid holiday
  • Establishing the Universal Health Care Commission

2021 Spring Summits: Each Spring, FAN hosts Summit meetings around WA State to gather faith communities in our networks. We reflect on the past legislative session, strategize on upcoming local actions, and discuss the issue topics that matter most to our advocates. This year we are hosting two virtual Summits – one in May and one in June. We look forward to connecting across the state and envisioning the year ahead!


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

Wednesday Noon Live & Juvenile Justice: We discussed our budget priorities with a focus on returning 17-year-old youth to the juvenile justice system. Ramiah Whiteside, who was directly impacted by being tried and sentenced in an adult court offered his personal testimony. We also interviewed Hunger Advocacy Fellow Kyle Minden, who is leading efforts on Raise the Age. View the program here.

Kyle was also a part of a Justice for Emerging Adults Panel, sponsored by Race to   EquityLOPPW, and Youth Justice Milwaukee.

Care for God’s Creation: Our Faith Advocacy for Climate Justice event on March 18th drew 88 participants. Most people stayed for our post event with the Wisconsin 7, who fasted for climate justice for 22 days. Our planning group included ELCA members from each of our six synods and three interfaith groups. The focus was on preparing to advocate on the Wisconsin State Budget with an advocacy action included in during the event.

Event Video:

Event News Coverage:

Immigration: LOPPW co-sponsored and event with the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin – Standing with our Neighbors – Conversations on Immigration with Immigration Attorney Erin Barbato.

Hunger: LOPPW is part of the Better Choices Coalition examining issues related to hunger in the Governor’s Budget and strategizing responses.

Human Trafficking: LOPPW has been meeting regularly with the Wisconsin Human Trafficking Consortium and its legislative subcommittee preparing to advocate on the Governor’s Budget and upcoming bills.

March Update: UN and State Edition

Following are updates shared from submissions of the Lutheran Office for World Community and state public policy offices.
As the new year begins, these state public policy offices (SPPO) share their annual policy priorities. Find a map and full list of ELCA affiliated SPPOs using our state office map.
Learn more about Lutheran advocacy using our new resource, Advocacy 101 For Young Adults.

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


Lutheran Office for World Community, United Nations, New York, N.Y. –Dennis Frado, Director

Promoting Gender Justice at UN CSW65: A total of 72 delegates from all the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) regions will participate in the sixty-fifth session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW65) that will take place from 15 to 26 March 2021. The larger number reflects the fact that the session will be virtual due to COVID-19. The delegates consist of LWF Gender Justice and Women’s Empowerment regional coordinators, staff of LWF World Service country programs, and representatives of ELCA companion churches. Approximately two dozen of the attendees are from the ELCA.

Together with ecumenical and interfaith partners, LOWC staff drafted and submitted three joint statements (E/CN.6/2021/NGO/91, E/CN.6/2021/NGO/117 and E/CN.6/2021/NGO/147) based on the theme, as well as considering the gendered impact of COVID-19.

LWF has organized and co-sponsored five CSW related events. To influence the outcome document known as the agreed conclusions, LOWC staff have been engaging actively within the Faith in Beijing coalition convened by Side by Side.

Humanitarian Assistance to Palestinians: In the coming weeks, ELCA staff, including LOWC, will be encouraging synod bishops and other ELCA members to intensify their messaging to Congress in support of U.S. bilateral humanitarian assistance to the Occupied Palestinian Territory (East Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza). The assistance, though appropriated by Congress, was not disbursed by the previous Administration for several years. This funding had been an essential part of the annual operating budget of the LWF-owned Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem and its absence has resulted in substantial debt. The Biden Administration told the UN Security Council in late January that it wishes to “restore U.S. assistance programs that support economic development and humanitarian aid for the Palestinian people” and renew “U.S. relations with the Palestinian leadership and Palestinian people.” Congressional leaders are being asked to contact the Administration to release those funds as soon as possible.


Lutheran Advocacy Ministry Arizona, – Solveig Muus, Director

Lutheran Advocacy Ministry Arizona is currently tracking 37 bills of interest to people of faith in Arizona. In addition to the bills related to our specified policy priorities – Hunger and associated food security issues, Community-based Senior Support, and Fair and Equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines – we are watching movements on child and youth welfare, voting rights and redistricting, and education. We are encouraged to see that SB1176, a nutrition assistance bill to fund the Double Up Food Bucks Arizona program that essentially doubles the value of SNAP/EBT benefits at farmers markets, has a good chance of passing. This provides excellent support for healthy eating and local farmers!

LAMA also co-sponsored a second Advocacy 101 training workshop alongside Arizona Faith Network and Bread for the World to encourage people of faith to participate in their state government by expressing their views online using Arizona’s Request to Speak (RTS) system about the bills they care about.

Lutheran Advocacy Ministry Arizona celebrated its first birthday in February. The LAMA Policy Council recently met to review this inaugural year’s successes and gains as well as its opportunities for improvement. The Council is deeply grateful for the support and mentoring of the ELCA’s state public policy offices, for the partnership of Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest, and for the many ministry partners who do the work of advocacy both nationally and in Arizona. Each partner has generously shared their passion and their experience with LAMA. It has been a very positive and productive first year, thanks be to God.


Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-Colorado – Peter Severson, Director

Legislature Resumes: The Colorado General Assembly returned to session on February 16 after an extended recess to allow legislators to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The session is scheduled to proceed for its usual 120 days, ending on June 11.

Housing Bills: Lutheran Advocacy is joining the Renters’ Roundtable to support several housing-related bills in this session. These include:

  • House Bill 1117, a measure to permit local governments to adopt inclusionary zoning ordinances to promote the construction of housing developments for low-income earners.
  • House Bill 1121, a measure to introduce parity between the eviction and rent-relief timelines for renters facing eviction, and to extend notice periods for tenants regarding rent increases and eviction summonses.

Other Priorities: We have adopted support positions on a number of other bills already this session and are gearing up to send out Action Alerts for timely hearings.

Petitions & Letters: Lutheran Advocacy signed a letter urging Gov. Jared Polis to prioritize providers of homelessness-related services in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. We also are actively encouraging the Joint Budget Committee to prioritize restoring the funding for application assistance for people seeking Social Security Disability Insurance.

New Mexico

Lutheran Advocacy Ministry- New Mexico – Kurt Rager, Director

1st Session of the 55th Legislature races towards the finish. The New Mexico Legislature’s current 60-day session will come to an end on March 20. The last half of the session is characterized by days that start early and often don’t end until close to or after midnight, including weekends. Though down significantly from previous 60-day sessions, over 800 bills have been introduced. Lutheran Advocacy Ministry – New Mexico (LAM-NM) has been tracking just under 90 bills, actively speaking in support or opposition to many.

LAM-NM Advocacy Agenda legislation highlights:

  • Affordable Housing & Homelessness – Support for legislation that would support and assist landlords, tenants, and mortgage holders impacted by the current pandemic and that help mitigate the looming eviction crisis.
  • Family-Sustaining Income – Support for tapping the state’s $22 billion Permanent Fund for increased early childhood education, for capping short-term “store-front” installment loans at 36%, for utility relief and disconnection protection, and the protection of low-income New Mexicans from debt collections due to unpaid healthcare bills.
  • Healthcare – Support for emergency healthcare services and other health-related benefits for non-citizens, for the creation of a Healthcare Affordability Fund that would help offset the cost of health insurance for low-income New Mexicans, for the creation of Prescription Drug Affordability Board, and for legislation that would help identify those uninsured and connect them to free or low-cost health insurance plans.
  • Hunger – Support for additional emergency funding for New Mexico food banks, for studying college student hunger, and for the Food, Hunger, & Farm Act and the Healthy Food Financing Act, both of which would focus on identifying and addressing root causes of hunger in New Mexico.
  • Tax Policy – Support for legislation that would update the Low-Income Comprehensive Tax Rebate program, increases for and expansion of eligibility for the Working Families Tax Credit, for changes to tax policy, that would return progressivity to New Mexico’s tax structure.
  • Criminal Justice – Support for ending the use and operation of private detention facilities, for repealing the cancelation of voter registration for felons after release, for decreasing the overuse of fines and fees in the criminal justice system, and for ending the revocation of driver’s licenses as a penalty.


Hunger Network in Ohio – Nick Bates, Director

HNO was pleased to join over 50 other individuals in offering testimony last month against SB 17. This proposal will hurt those who are in poverty and increase hunger across Ohio. It will add photo ID’s to SNAP cards – causing confusion in the check-out line – add additional bureaucracy for counties and families in processing Medicaid and SNAP, punish workers for earning more money, and it will do nothing to reduce the unemployment identity theft that has hit Ohioans hard! Faith leaders across Ohio continue to push against this bill. Please write your Senator today and say NO to SB 17! 

Bishop Eaton to Preach at Ohio Advocacy Day on March 23: Budgets are Moral Documents. The Hunger Network is collaborating with the Ohio Council of Churches for a virtual advocacy day on March 23rd at 9:00am. We are pleased to welcome Bishop Eaton to our convening at 9am. This advocacy day will focus on our key priorities: Hunger, Housing, and Educational equity. Governor DeWine’s budget is still being reviewed in the Ohio House and will move over the Senate shortly. Sadly, this budget is a very ordinary budget while Ohio faces extraordinary needs. During our advocacy day, we will encourage Ohio’s legislators to have a bold vision for the future and craft a budget that will get us there! REGISTER HERE FOR ADVOCACY DAY!!!


Lutheran Advocacy Ministry- Pennsylvania (LAMPa) – Tracey DePasquale, Director

In February, LAMPa advocates celebrated and thanked lawmakers for the unanimous passage of emergency COVID relief as Act 1 of the new legislative session. On Feb.  5, Gov. Tom Wolf signed the law, directing more than $900 million in federal pandemic aid to struggling businesses, private schools, landlords and tenants unable to meet rent or utility bills because of economic downturn related to the failure to stop the spread of the disease.  Advocates had pressed for months to alleviate the suffering and anxiety in their communities. LAMPa urged the Public Utility Commission to extend the moratorium on shutoffs for low-income customers.

Hunger Advocacy Fellow Larry Herrold and Seminarian Margaret Folkemer-Leonard began organizing a statewide Rogation observance, gathering soil, stories, prayers, and pictures from sites across all seven synods and the two campuses of United Lutheran Seminary. Lutherans will be praying and acting for one another and their communities across divides of geography, ethnicity, age, race, ideology, wealth, immigration status and more in conjunction with the ULS convocation around “The Theology of Gathering.” LAMPa will resource disciples for advocacy related to hunger, farming, environmental justice, and other concerns lifted in their prayers.

LAMPa hosted a Worship and Wonder Wednesday as part of a justice-related series in Lower Susquehanna Synod. Airing at the start of Lent and tied to the UN World Day of Social Justice, the panel discussion focused on our baptismal call to labor for justice, reflecting on wilderness and what it means to be a disciple in this democracy.


Texas Impact – Scott Atnip, Outreach Director

The Texas Legislature convened their biennial Legislative Session in January, and Texas Impact immediately began resourcing Texans of faith to engage in the process.

Texas Impact staff spent the month of February surviving the winter apocalypse and power grid failure while also preparing for the Texas Interfaith Advocacy Days- the largest interfaith advocacy gathering in the state, March 6-9. This year, the conference moved online and will highlight speakers and advocacy opportunities related to three priority areas: Health Insurance, Climate Resilience, and Elections.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, online engagement will be more important than ever, and we continue to promote online content. This month, we partnered with Texas State Senator Nathan Johnson for a creative ten minute video explaining the importance of Medicaid Expansion in Texas.

Texas Impact continues to recruit Rapid Response Team members to make time-sensitive calls and Legislative Engagement Group members who commit to meeting and partnering with other advocates in their Texas House district to plan and prepare for monthly meetings with their representative and/or staff.

During the Legislative Session, the Weekly Witness podcast features a Texas faith leader to provide a “Weekly Word,” a guest advocate discussing the “issue of the week,” and Texas Impact staff providing a legislative update and action alert. For the second month in a row, February episodes had record numbers of listeners during the live Zoom recording and in downloads for the month.

In addition, our staff have been invited to present to a number of congregational events as they increase capacity for online programming. Texans of faith are mobilizing in exciting ways to participate with their representatives during this important season of democracy.


Faith Action Network – Paul Benz and Elise DeGooyer, Co-Directors

2021 Advocacy Days: FAN hosted three virtual Advocacy days with two pre-session trainings in January and February in Eastern WA, Olympia, and Central WA. At each event, we gathered inspiration from faith leaders and legislators on the importance of advocacy and putting our words into action, we broke out into groups by issue topic, and in Olympia we scheduled over 110 meetings with legislators by district! Between the three events, we had over 400 advocates attend who were eager to make progressive change in the legislative session and in their local areas. We missed seeing everyone in-person, but we were just as powerful behind our screens!

Legislative Successes: The 2021 WA Legislative session has just passed the cutoff date for bills to be voted out of their house of origin and onto the next chamber. We are excited that so many important bills are moving forward from FAN’s legislative agenda, including:

  • Economic Justice and the Biennial Budget: A tax on Capital Gains, lifting restrictions for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), greater equity and access to Community and Technical Colleges, emergency cash and food assistance during COVID, funding the Working Families Tax Credit, free and reduced lunches for all grades.
  • Policing and Criminal Justice reforms: de-escalation training and use of deadly force as a last resort, establishing an Office for Independent Investigations of police officers, prohibiting unnecessary police tactics, decertification and Criminal Justice Training Commission reforms, removing Driving While License Suspended (DWLS-3) as a criminal offense.
  • Housing and Homelessness: Eviction reform, Just Cause eviction reform.
  • Climate Justice: Clean Fuels Standards, the Healthy Environment for All (HEAL) Act
  • Immigrant, Civil, and Human Rights: Voting Rights Restoration for those with felony convictions, removing an exemption for undocumented workers in the Office of Civil & Legal Aid, prohibiting private prisons, prohibiting use of Native American mascots, establishing a paid Juneteenth holiday.
  • Health Care: Establishing a Universal Health Care Commission, creating public health districts.


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

Wednesday Noon Live: We received updates on lawmakers’ efforts to limit voting rights, discussed national news, and held a special interview with Ruth Ivory-Moore, ELCA Director of Environmental and Corporate Responsibility.

Care for God’s Creation: LOPPW continued planning for Faith Advocacy for Climate Justice event on March 18, at which time video testimonies on climate change were collected from our coalition members. Cindy spoke at two press conferences in Kenosha to support efforts of an ELCA pastor and six others in their fast for climate justice. She also advised the WI 7 on State Budget priorities. Both staff also helped plan a press conference and rally in Madison.

Trainings (Advocacy & Anti-sex trafficking): Kyle led a workshop on talking to youth about advocacy at a synod clergy conference gathering in the NWSW while Cindy led advocacy trainings- one at a Northwest Synod of Wisconsin-wide event, and another on anti-sex trafficking to a class at Edgewood College.

Immigration: Kyle is helping the SCSW organize Standing with our Neighbors on immigration reform.  The virtual event, taking place March 23 at 7:00 PM, is open to all.

Hunger: LOPPW is part of the Better Choices Coalition examining issues related to hunger in the Governor’s Budget and strategizing responses.

Criminal Justice: Kyle was part of the planning group for “Justice for Emerging Adults – Great Lakes Region: How does Wisconsin Compare,” even helping to facilitate the workshop.




Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes speaking after
Bishop Joy Mortensen-Wiebe led us in an
opening prayer in front of the Capitol.



February Update: UN and State Edition

Following are updates shared from submissions of the Lutheran Office for World Community and state public policy offices.
As the new year begins, these state public policy offices (SPPO) share their annual policy priorities. Find a map and full list of ELCA affiliated SPPOs using our state office map.
Learn more about Lutheran advocacy using our new resource, Advocacy 101 For Young Adults 

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


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

Changed US policy approach to Israel-Palestine outlined at UN Security Council: At the January monthly discussion of the Israel-Palestinian conflict in the UN Security Council, Acting U.S. Representative Richard Mills outlined how the Biden Administration plans to address the issues.

Ambassador Mills reiterated earlier US policy of support for a “mutually agreed two-state solution, one in which Israel lives in peace and security alongside a viable Palestinian state.” He said that approach “remains the best way to ensure Israel’s future as a democratic and Jewish state, while upholding the Palestinian people’s legitimate aspirations for a state of their own and to live with dignity and security.”

“President Biden has been clear in his intent to restore U.S. assistance programs that support economic development and humanitarian aid for the Palestinian people and to take steps to re-open diplomatic missions that were closed by the last U.S. administration,” Mills added.


Lutheran Advocacy Ministry Arizona, – Solveig Muus, Director

In January, the LAMA policy council identified its legislative policy priorities for Arizona in 2021, the Fifty-fifth Legislature, First Regular Session as below:

  1. Hunger and associated food security issues
  2. Community-based senior support
  3. Fair and Equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines

LAMA is currently tracking 65 bills that were introduced in January, bills the policy council believes are of interest to people of faith in Arizona. Between the two houses, there are 17 bills on child and youth welfare, 12 on housing and homeless issues, 10 related to civil rights, eight on food security, seven on voting, seven on health care, six on issues of concern to vulnerable adults, etc. In addition to the bills related to our specified policy priorities, we also are watching movements on voting rights, redistricting, vaccine hesitancy and more.

Together with its partner, Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest (LSS-SW), LAMA sponsored Advocacy 101, and is collaborating with Arizona Faith Network and Bread for the World on a second training session in February. This virtual workshop educates participants on the Arizona Legislature and introduces them to Arizona’s Request To Speak (RTS) bill-tracking system. LAMA’s plans to continue encouraging Arizona Lutherans to sign up for RTS, as it is a super-easy, free way to weigh in and be heard on a bill from the comfort of your home. Or… when times are better, to speak in person at the legislature.


Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-Colorado – Peter Severson, Director

Legislature gavels in, recesses: The Colorado General Assembly officially gaveled in their 2021 legislative session on Wednesday, January 13th. Two days later, they went into recess until at least February 16th. As the pandemic continues, legislators will allow the peak of the post-holiday season to hopefully recede before convening to take up the work of the people.

Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-Colorado will be advocating for bills related to housing, tax credits, and support for people interacting with the criminal justice system, in addition to any follow-on work from ballot measures that passed in November 2020, such as paid family leave.Blessing of the session: Lutheran Advocacy, along with several ecumenical and interfaith cosponsors comprising the Faithful Thursdays team, will be hosting a “Blessing of the Session” on Thursday, February 18 at 12 PM MT. Everyone is welcome at this online blessing! Please register in advance at


Florida Faith Advocacy Office, Florida Council of Churches – Russell L. Meyer, Executive Director

The Florida legislature is in its committee weeks leading up to the opening of the 60-day legislative session beginning March 2. The governor’s top priority is HB1/SB484. Known as the anti-peaceful protest bill, it ‘felonizes’ those who act violently while exercising their First Amendment right to assemble and present grievances and increases existing penalties for related offenses. The governor proposed the legislation last fall to contain overwhelming peaceful protests for racial justice, but now claims it is needed because of the Jan. 6 insurrection. Considered unconstitutional and unnecessary, the impact of the bill falls heaviest on Black and Latinx Floridians seeking civil rights. Although advanced by party line vote, privately many lawmakers say they would rather focus on addressing the pandemic and the economy. Encourage legislators to protect civil liberties and pursue real solutions to actual problems.

SB48 consolidates voucher scholarships into an ongoing trust fund, automatically increases the number of scholarships annually, and includes them in the formula for funding public schools. Yet private and charter schools do not have to meet the standards of public schools.  Public school funding decreased 30% between 2008-2018, while tax revenue was diverted to voucher scholarships. Across the state, school districts have passed sales tax referendums to make up for cuts in state dollars. Florida needs to fund public schools fully so all students can thrive.

Florida spends over $3 billion per year to incarcerate nearly 100,000 inmates and is the only state without parole. Several reform bills are proposed.

New Mexico

Lutheran Advocacy Ministry- New Mexico – Kurt Rager, Director

1st Session of the 55th Legislature is underway: The New Mexico Legislature gathers in Santa Fe on the third Tuesday in January of each year.  The Legislature meets for 60-day sessions in odd-numbered years and 30 days in even-numbered years.  The Capital, known as the “Roundhouse” remains closed to the public with the session being conducted entirely online.

As the session continues to progress, legislators, citizens, lobbyists, and advocates have become more comfortable and adept at conducting business through Zoom, as is evident by the less frequent question, “Can you hear me?” Meeting virtually has major shortcomings, such as the lack of face-to-face advocacy, and yet advantages exist as well.  Citizens are participating from communities large and small, rural and urban, all across the state and virtual committee rooms allow for far great attendance.  Chairs of committees have consistently remarked that there are more participants in their virtual meeting room than could fit in their Capital meeting rooms.  Also, LAM-NM can be present and participate in more than one committee meeting at a time.

LAM-NM is equipping our Advocating Congregations and volunteer advocates by providing three training sessions on advocating virtually, and by holding Sunday afternoon mini-legislative updates where experienced volunteers are prepared for upcoming committee testimony.  Unable to meet in person, the annual half-day Issuing Briefing will be held virtually on February 25th, and the Bishop’s Luncheon has been postponed for 2021.


Hunger Network in Ohio – Nick Bates, Director

The Budget is here! The Governor introduced his budget proposal on February 1st. He introduced a very ordinary budget for extraordinary times. The budget maintains status quo funding for most programs and agencies.

  • Create a refundable Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): This will place money into the pockets of low- and middle-income workers – especially those who have had hours cut or lost their job during the pandemic.
  • Invest in the Ohio Housing Trust Fund: Our Housing Trust Fund invests into weatherization, homeless services, and affordable housing programs. As we look to build up healthy communities – we need safe, decent, and affordable housing.
  • Strengthen our food banks: With an estimated 40% increase to hunger in Ohio during the pandemic, we need to make sure our food banks can continue meeting the needs of hungry Ohioans by buying surplus produce from Ohio farmers.
  • Fix School Funding: No longer should a student’s zip code determine their educational opportunities. It is time to pass the bi-partisan agreements to fix school funding in Ohio.

STOP SB 17: The Hunger Network has joined with other advocates in opposition to SB17 which will hurt hungry Ohioans. This legislation will cause confusion in the checkout line for families using SNAP benefits and puts paperwork over people for Medicaid, SNAP, and other services. County offices will be overwhelmed with tracking requirements that will not benefit Ohio or hungry families.

Other upcoming Events:

– Prayers for Ohio elected officials March 4 @ 3pm
– Budget briefing Feb 18 @ 3pm
– Joint Council of Churches Advocacy Day, March 23 @ 9am


Lutheran Advocacy Ministry- Pennsylvania (LAMPa) – Tracey DePasquale, Director

Before the insurrection in the nation’s capital, Pennsylvania’s Capitol was the scene of turmoil that included the ouster of a presiding officer and refusal to seat a lawmaker at the start of a new session of the General Assembly, signaling heightened partisan tensions. Nonetheless, LAMPa advocates sought bipartisan support for relief for the most vulnerable – particularly related to rent, utilities, and food.

LAMPa said farewell but not goodbye to Program Director Lynn Fry, who began work with United Lutheran Seminary after three years of dedication to the ministry of advocacy.

Staff continued to archive more than four decades of LAMPa’s history, even as they and policy council members innovate for more nimble response to need and greater connection with the service of lay and rostered leaders for advocacy rooted in relationship.

Teaching/Serving the Wider Church: Hunger Advocacy Fellow Larry Herrold helped lead a presentation “Getting Started With ELCA Advocacy” for the ELCA World Hunger Leadership Gathering. His devotional “Identification Beyond Binaries” appeared as an ELCA Advocacy blog in January.

Director Tracey DePasquale participated in the second meeting of the task force developing the ELCA Social Statement on Government and Civic Engagement. She also participated in a panel discussion on advocacy in the ELCA for Dr. Cynthia Moe-Lobeda’s class on Faith-Rooted Social Transformation at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary.

DePasquale helped lead the Pennsylvania Prayer Service for Christian Unity and participated in the priority-setting meeting of the Penn. Council of Churches Commission for Public Witness on behalf of Pennsylvania’s ELCA synods.


Texas Impact – Scott Atnip, Outreach Director

The Texas Legislature convened their biennial Legislative Session in January, and Texas Impact immediately began resourcing Texans of faith to engage in the process.

The Interfaith Service of Public Witness, which featured ELCA Bishop Sue Briner among other Texas faith leaders, kicked off the session before concluding the month with the virtual four day United Methodist Women’s Legislative Event, with some Lutherans among the 400 attendees. The Legislative Event was a successful test-run for the virtual Texas Interfaith Advocacy Days scheduled for March 6-9.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, online engagement will be more important than ever. To help equip members and congregations, Texas Impact created a “Twitter for Advocacy” series and encouraged members to interact with their representatives online.

Texas Impact continues to recruit Rapid Response Team members to make time-sensitive calls and Legislative Engagement Group members who commit to meeting and partnering with other advocates in their Texas House district to plan and prepare for monthly meetings with their representative and/or staff.

The Weekly Witness podcast during the Legislative Session features a Texas faith leader providing a “Weekly Word,” a guest advocate discussing the “issue of the week” and Texas Impact staff providing a legislative update and action alert. January episodes had record numbers of listeners during the live Zoom recording and in downloads for the month.

In addition, Texas Impact staff have been invited to present at several congregational events as they increase capacity for online programming. Texans of faith are mobilizing in exciting ways to participate with their representatives during this important season of democracy.


Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy – Kim Bobo, Executive Director

January is a very busy month for the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy (VICPP) because it is the first month of the very short General Assembly, which normally lasts only 45 days in the short session. VICPP’s top legislative priorities have all made it through at least one legislative body and are moving through the second one in February. Bills that have proceeded out of at least one legislative body:

  • Abolition of the Death Penalty (passed both House and Senate)
  • Paid Sick Days for Essential Workers (passed House)
  • Minimum Wage for Farmworkers (passed House)
  • Environmental Justice Act (passed both House and Senate)
  • Water as a Human Right Resolution (passed House)
  • Transportation Equity Study (passed House)

In addition, we have been working on a budget amendment to get prenatal care for immigrant women.

VICPP normally holds an Advocacy Day in January.  This year it was a virtual advocacy week that drew 416 participants to four plenaries, 12 workshops, dozens of legislative visits and five prayer vigils around the Commonwealth.

Anyone in Virginia who wants to get more involved in advocating justice in the Commonwealth can sign-up at


Faith Action Network – Paul Benz and Elise DeGooyer, Co-Directors

Eastern Washington Legislative Conference: FAN hosted our virtual Eastern WA Legislative Conference on January 30 with over 165 people in attendance. We heard from Rev. Walter Kendricks, pastor of Morning Star Baptist Church in Spokane, how we can move “beyond words to do justice”, with a panel discussion and breakout groups following. Advocates then met in workshops by issue topic and heard an update from advocacy organizations about the 2021 legislative session. We finished the day with a virtual tabling fair. Thanks to our partners The Fig Tree, Catholic Charities, Earth Ministry, and the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia for helping make this a great virtual event!

Interfaith Governor’s Meeting: FAN hosted our annual interfaith meeting with the Governor on February 8, with 20 faith leaders from various traditions in attendance, including all three Synod ELCA Bishops! We discussed issues and bills related to COVID vaccinations, revenue, the Working Families Tax Credit, police reform, housing, the environment, and banning credit scoring in the insurance industry.

Upcoming Interfaith Advocacy Days: FAN is getting ready for our first virtual Olympia-focused Interfaith Advocacy Day on February 11. The structure of our program will be very similar to our in-person events, with opening statements by interfaith leaders and state legislators, a legislative overview, caucus meetings by legislative districts, and workshops on bills from our legislative agenda. Legislator appointments will happen on Thursday and Friday. We look forward to bringing the voices of over 200 advocates to the virtual halls of power!

In Central WA, we will gather on February 20 for Advocacy Day, Moving Past Crisis and Into Action, for a morning of legislative overview, a panel discussion on policies affecting immigrants, and breakout action groups on Poverty, Climate, Redistricting, Healthcare, and Immigration. We will emphasize collective actions we can take to move policies forward, both locally and at the state level.


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

Wednesday Noon Live: Updates on a resolution to eliminate Wisconsin’s mask mandate and its connections to FoodShare, and a Wisconsin COVID bill, plus an interview with Rev. Jonathan Barker, Kenosha, and his fasting for climate justice.

Care for God’s Creation: Our March 18th virtual advocacy event now has a keynote speaker, Lt. Governor Barnes.  Other speakers include Lutherans Restoring Creation Executive Director Phoebe Morad and Chief Meteorologist Bob Lindmeier. We will begin at 10 AM.  Length TBA.

Criminal Justice: Kyle has created a website for the Raise the Age Coalition.  He continues to lead the whole coalition and one of the workgroups, while participating in the other two workgroups he helped to organize.  He also has made individual contacts with key leaders from the Michigan Raise the Age Coalition that successfully helped to return 17-year-old youth to the juvenile justice system in their state.  Cindy is part of the legislative workgroup.

State Budget: Governor Evers will release his biennial state budget on Feb. 16.  LOPPW belongs to two coalitions that discern and strategize responses to the budget.

 LOPPW’s Priorities for 2021 include the following:  

  • Calling for an End to Hunger
  • Addressing the Crisis of Human Trafficking
  • Caring for God’s Creation
  • Supporting Immigration Reform
  • Calling for Criminal Justice Reform (focused on juvenile justice)

We view all our priorities through a lens of food and racial equity. We also continue to pay attention to voting issues via a statewide voting coalition.


January Update: UN and State Priorities Edition

Following are updates shared from submissions of the Lutheran Office for World Community and state public policy offices.
As the new year begins, these state public policy offices (SPPO) share their annual policy priorities. Find a map and full list of ELCA affiliated SPPOs using our state office map.
Learn more about Lutheran advocacy using our new resource, Advocacy 101 For Young Adults 

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


United Nations 

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

LOWC represents both the ELCA and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) at UN headquarters in New York. Advocacy through LOWC reflects the work of these bodies depending on whether the context is domestic or international.

United Nations Policy Priorities include:

  • Gender Justice– Accelerate the pace towards gender justice, tackle the pervasive gender inequalities and discrimination. Advocate with ecumenical and interfaith partners by urging member states to implement fully the Beijing Platform for Action and other relevant international agreements. Amplify faith perspectives in UN processes, as well as build more coordinated faith interventions for gender justice at the national level.
  • Migration– Utilizing a rights-based approach, continue advocating for the promotion and protection of all migrants and their human rights, in accordance with international human rights treaties and instruments. Monitor UN member states implementation, follow up and review of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.
  • Humanitarian issues– Advocate for policies that promote and protect humanitarian response efforts by companion churches and organizations, such as the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), through discussions and written messages, when appropriate. Special attention will be given, in conversations with the Security Council member states, to “forgotten crises”. Contact will be maintained with ELCA and LWF staff as well as the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and its associated agencies. Advocacy collaboration will take place with ecumenical, inter-faith and other like-minded partners.
  • Sustainable Development– Monitor efforts by all relevant UN agencies (including the annual High-Level Political Forum) to achieve Agenda 21 (the Sustainable Development Goals – SDGs) and keep ELCA and LWF colleagues informed about meetings and other advocacy opportunities.
  • Human Rights– Advocate for the promotion and protection of human rights in country specific situations as well as with treaty bodies in coordination with LWF staff. Monitor and participate as feasible in the work of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
  • HIV/AIDS– Continue engaging with faith leaders and communities within the Interfaith platform working towards joint actions for access to prevention, testing and treatment services. Advocate and urge member states to address challenges hindering comprehensive responses to HIV in order to achieve the agenda 2030 HIV-related targets.
  • Racial Justice– Continue to advocate for racial justice in UN forums. A planned contribution will be in response to the recent Human Rights Council resolution on policing and racism. Continue to lift up the activities of the UN Working Group on People of African Descent, including the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade (March 25) and the first International Day for People of African Descent (August 31).


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

Issue Priorities for 2021:

  • COVID-19 Response and Recovery. The coronavirus and the serious illness it causes have jumped to the fore to impact nearly every aspect of our lives, including state and counties’ Operations, budgeting, workforce, human services, behavioral health, public safety and economic development were all impacted. In 2020, LOPP-CA helped secure important federal CARES Act funding,  millions of dollars in state Realignment Backfill funding, and a number of options regarding workforce operations, including increased Mental Health Services Act expenditure authority and extensions for counties. LOPP-CA maintained close engagement with Governor Newsom and his Health and Human Services Agency on the state’s reopening plans, the availability of testing, health equity, and a host of other COVID-19 related issues. As the health crisis continues, we will remain available to respond.
  • Affordable Housing. The affordability and availability of housing continues to be at crisis levels in California. The housing issue is not only a crisis in its own right, it’s also a main driver of California’s homelessness emergency. LOPP-CA will advocate for funding for affordable housing, including new state funding for construction of homes affordable to households at all income levels. We will continue to focus on implementation of recent housing legislation, including allocation of approved bonds, as well as full implementation of new homelessness programs.
  • Extend the CalEITC and Young Child Tax Credit to immigrant families and communities. These tax credits for families earning low wages are proven to increase economic security in households, help families pay for basic needs such as housing and food, and allow more people to share in the economic prosperity that they help create


Peter Severson, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-Colorado 

Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-Colorado has adopted the following policy goals for its 2021 Advocacy Agenda:

  • Ending Hunger: improving SNAP usage rates, encouraging greater participation in nutrition programs for children, and collaborating with allied organizations
  • Poverty Reduction: supporting implementation work around paid family and medical leave (passed by voters in November as Proposition 118), protecting access to federal programs, and supporting efforts to make the Taxpayer Bill of Rights more equitable
  • Access to Housing: expanding and protecting housing options for low-income households (particularly renters) and extending eviction protections during the pandemic, and ensuring robust services and support for people experiencing homelessness
  • Criminal Justice Reform: working on sentence commutation and automatic record sealing efforts and advocating for increased community emergency responses from mental health professionals
  • Public Health: protecting health care access as a human right and public good, supporting public safety efforts to reduce firearm-involved deaths, promoting opioid addiction care and treatment, and addressing the ongoing mental health impacts of the pandemic (including anxiety, depression, stress, and suicidal ideation)
  • Migrants and Refugees: supporting broader ELCA efforts around sanctuary, asylum/refugee and immigration policies in collaboration with Lutheran service agencies
  • Caring for Our Environment: addressing the root causes of the climate crisis, supporting incentive-building programs around renewable infrastructure, and addressing the economic implications of transitioning communities away from extractive energy jobs


Rabbi Moti Rieber, Executive Director- Kansas Interfaith Action

Kansas Interfaith Action (KIFA) is a statewide, faith-based issue advocacy organization that puts faith into action on a variety of racial, economic, and climate justice issues. We are a state public policy office of the Central States Synod of the ELCA. KIFA’s 2021 legislative priorities include:

  • COVID-19 relief. People who are suffering from the effects of the pandemic and recession must be protected. In particularly we want to prevent an explosion of homelessness by preventing eviction. The moratorium on utility shut-offs should continue, and in both cases any repayment arrangements should be generous.
  • Payday loan reform. KIFA is part of a statewide coalition introducing bipartisan legislation to ease the conditions of short-term, high-interest loans to make them less onerous while protecting the accessibility of short-term credit.
  • Medicaid Expansion would help about 165,000 (mostly) working Kansans access affordable healthcare. It would bring millions of dollars in tax money back to the state and help keep rural hospitals open.
  • Build economic security for working families through equitable tax and budget policies; improving access to vital family and work support programs; and raising the minimum wage.
  • Criminal justice reform. Kansas’s state prisons are overcrowded, with significant racial disparities in enforcement and sentencing. Ways to address these issues include changing the sentencing structure to incorporate treatment, sentencing discretion, elimination of mandatory minimums, restorative justice principles, a focus on reentry, and a focus on decarceration – significantly lowering Kansas’ state prison population through commutations, pardons, and clemency.
  • Development of a state energy plan with a goal of equitably decarbonizing our economy by 2050.

KIFA’s advocacy priorities can be found here.


Tammy Walhof, Director- Lutheran Advocacy – Minnesota (LAMN)

Issue Priorities for 2021:

COVID/Health Pandemic Aid & Recovery: The Pandemic exacerbates existing disparities as Black, Indigenous, other people of color, and low-income people are made more vulnerable to health and economic impacts. The pandemic also impacts mental health as cases rise and isolation continues.

LAMN is working to address ongoing impacts of the pandemic through policy work in:

  1. Housing: Emergency Housing Assistance, eviction/foreclosures, shelter capacity
  2. Mental Health: Accessibility to mental health services
  3. Anti-Hunger Programs: Broader & deeper access to nutrition programs
  4. Economic Recovery: Emphasis on income equity and job creation within renewable energy

Affordable Housing: Minnesota faces a severe housing crisis, worsened by the pandemic. The availability of housing, especially affordable housing, is decreasing as bars to low-income homeownership like low income and discrimination increase.

Alongside Homes for All Coalition, our agenda emphasizes the following areas:

  1. Bonding for more housing stock
  2. Several Policy Areas/Reforms (eviction reforms, manufactured home parks opportunities for resident community/nonprofit purchase, discrimination, and more)
  3. Funding, especially for areas of emergency need

Climate Crisis & Clean Energy: A significant rise in climate-related disasters, human displacement, and the risk of future pandemics call for finding new ways to adapt and build resilience. Transition to a Clean Energy Economy has been speeding up. Many new jobs are being created in renewable energy industries. Fossil fuel industry workers need new, just employment.

LAMN is working with the Minnesota Environmental Partnership, the 100 Percent Campaign, and other partners/coalitions to:

  1. Increase Minnesota’s Renewable Energy Standard
  2. Require clean energy options to be considered before other energy options
  3. Ensure a just, equitable transition to renewables for workers and communities
  4. (Still under consideration) Improve soil health and carbon sequestration through regenerative agriculture

New Mexico

Kurt Rager, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry- New Mexico

Dynamic advocacy during the on-going public health emergency:

Since the onset of the pandemic health emergency, state-level advocacy in New Mexico has lived a theme important to the Rocky Mountain Synod, that of “church becoming.”  Lutheran Advocacy Ministry – New Mexico (LAM-NM) has repositioned its advocacy awareness and education, congregation outreach, coalition partnerships, and legislative engagement to the variety of virtual formats that so quickly have become our nation’s normal routine.  Since the start of the pandemic, the New Mexico State Legislature has held two special sessions during which the capital was closed to the public and most legislators participated from home or office locations via Zoom.  New Mexico’s 60-day session, which begins in January will be conducted entirely online and LAM-NM will continue to adapt and find new ways to achieve our advocacy goals in this ever-changing climate.

Since our ministry’s start over 35 years ago, the LAM-NM Policy Committee has helped set our legislative and policy priorities.  Due to the significant and on-going presence of hunger and poverty in New Mexico, LAM-NM continues to focus our work primarily on public policies and programs that can have a positive impact on the realities faced by so many.  At its 2020 fall meeting, the committee affirmed six priority issue areas on which our 2021 Advocacy Agenda will focus:

  • Affordable Housing and Homelessness
  • Family-Sustaining Income
  • Hunger
  • Health Care
  • Tax Policy
  • Criminal Justice

LAM-NM anticipates adding to the agenda as opportunities arise, particularly in the areas of redistricting, election reform, and racial equity legislation.


Tracey DePasquale, Director- Lutheran Advocacy Ministry- Pennsylvania (LAMPa)

LAMPa’s 2021 Advocacy Priorities include:

  • Ending hunger and poverty and addressing their root causes remain top priorities for Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania (LAMPa) in 2021. Directing COVID aid to the most vulnerable, preventing homelessness, promoting just and sustainable economic development and achieving equitable education funding are also highlights of the issues agenda approved by LAMPa’s policy council in December. Read more here.
  • As the year drew to a close, Lutheran climate advocates testified in support of Pennsylvania’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Read some of their stories here, including that of the Rev. Paul Metzloff of Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod, who testified on behalf of LAMPa.


Paul Benz and Elise DeGooyer, Faith Action Network

WA State Legislative Session: The 2021 legislative session began on January 11 and goes through April 25. Due to COVID-19, most of the work this year will be virtual, and FAN will continue to advocate strongly for justice-centered bills that support the well-being of our communities and equity for all. The six main areas of our 2021 Legislative Agenda are:

  • Advocating for a Biennial Budget that Reflects Our Values as a State
  • Reforming our Policing & Criminal Justice Systems
  • Creating Housing Opportunities & Preventing Homelessness
  • Addressing Climate Change
  • Protecting Immigrants, Civil & Human Rights for All
  • Ensuring Healthcare & Mental Health Access

You can find our full agenda at We also have a page of Issue Fact Sheets with more information on each bill: and a Bill Tracker so advocates can keep up with the progress of bills during the session:

Interfaith Advocacy Days: FAN hosts three Advocacy Days each year. The Eastern WA Legislative Conference “Beyond Words: Doing Justice” will be on Saturday, January 30 and includes a keynote by Rev. Walter Kendricks, a response panel, workshops, and legislative updates. Our annual Interfaith Advocacy Day focused on Olympia is on February 11 and will include information sessions, greetings from elected officials, workshops on bills on our agenda, and legislative district caucuses with legislator appointments on Thursday and Friday. In Central WA, we will gather on February 20 for Advocacy Day, “Moving Past Crisis and Into Action” for a morning of legislative overview, a panel discussion on policies affecting immigrants, and breakout action groups on Poverty, Climate, Voting Rights, Healthcare, and Immigration. We will emphasize collective actions we can take to move the policies forward, both locally and at the state level.


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

LOPPW’s 2021 Advocacy Priorities:

Care for God’s Creation: Wisconsin Faith Coalition for Climate Justice is the name our coalition decided upon. LOPPW organized the group to address climate and water issues in the next State Budget. Our virtual advocacy event will be held on March 18, and we will organize actions leading up to and following the event.

Criminal Justice: Kyle, our hunger advocacy fellow, has worked with Kids Forward to continue leading coalition meetings to advocate returning 17-year-old youth to the juvenile justice system. This is a coalition initiated by LOPPW. Kyle has helped to organize three work groups to meet outside of coalition meetings.

Health: Advocated for the State Legislature to create a plan to address the pandemic. We signed on to a letter initiated by the Wisconsin Catholic Conference to request that clergy be moved up as a priority group to receive vaccinations.

Anti-Racism: Made a National Council of Churches letter Bishop Eaton signed on to requesting the removal of President Trump from office known. We also sent the NCC petition requesting the president’s removal to our listserv.

Wisconsin State Budget and LOPPW’s Priorities:

  • LOPPW is working with two coalitions focused on the Wisconsin State Budget. One focuses mainly on hunger, poverty, and immigration issues, and the other on additional issues. We are also working with the Wisconsin Anti-human Trafficking Consortium to strategize addressing budget items and separate proposed legislation.

December Update: UN and State Edition

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

U.N. | California | Colorado | Florida | Minnesota | Pennsylvania | Washington | Wisconsin

United Nations 

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

16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence: Every year, the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence begin on 25 November – on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and concludes on December 10 – International Human Rights Day. This year, the 2020 UNiTE Campaign Theme is: “Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!”. 

LWF’s global communion of 148 churches, representing over 77 million Christians in 99 countries, is joining the UN, Member States, civil society activists and faith-based partners during these 16 Days of Activism to raise awareness and call for action for an end to Gender-Based Violence. It is clear that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated gender inequality and exposed other forms of discrimination and violation of women and girls’ human rights. LOWC’s Program Director has helped organize, together with faith partners, several events including panels on the Shadow Pandemic: Faith actors preventing, responding, and advocating to end gender-based Violence, and A Faith Imperative for Human Rights.

United Nations has released $25 million to UNFPA and UN Women to fund women-led projects fighting gender-based violence. Read UN Women’s call to action to respond to the surge of violence against women and girls. UNFPA has launched its first Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) data dashboard, a helpful resource for prevention and responses efforts. 

We must not stay silent. Here are few examples of what you can do:

  • Support services for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence
  • Watch the LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr. Martin Junge about the importance of working to end Gender-Based Violence in our churches and in our societies
  • Hold a prayer service. See our suggested worship resources here and here.
  • Sign up online for our joint panel discussions on advocacy, theology, human rights, gender justice, engaging men and community responses. See Side by Side – Faith movement for gender justice events here and Ecumenical Women at the UN 16 Days blogs.
  • Make the Thursdays In Black pledge 

International Migration – An On-going Concern: International migration remains a topic of on-going concern at the United Nations. People continue to be on the move, some driven by climate change or political upheaval, some because they wish or see an opportunity for a better life. These then remain as topics for discussion in various UN fora. A recent overview of many of the issues is contained in the first biennial report, launched on December 1, of UN Secretary-General António Guterres on implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. He noted: “The Compact reflects a growing global understanding of the great benefits of human mobility. But it also recognizes that, if poorly managed, migration can generate huge challenges, from a tragic loss of life to rights abuses and social tensions. COVID-19 has heightened those challenges and had negative effects on more than 2.7 million migrants, particularly on women and girls.” 

He concluded with several recommendations: “First and foremost, we must embrace the spirit of collaboration. No country can address migration alone. Second, the pandemic has highlighted the value of migrant labor,” observing that many of those providing essential health and care services are migrant women. “Third, we must address discrimination and foster social inclusion and cohesion between host communities and migrants. Migrants should not be stigmatized or denied access to medical treatment and other public services. We must strengthen the immunity of our societies against the virus of hate.” Earlier this year, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants issued a “report on ending immigration detention of children and seeking adequate reception and care for them.” The report took up a wide variety of situations, including that in the United States, and was discussed in mid-October in the Third Committee of the General Assembly. Another key, unresolved issue related to climate-induced migration is its relationship to international peace and security and, thus, the purview of the Security Council. Small Island states, such as the Marshall Islands, have noted the irony of the Council’s involvement in approving the admission of Member States while being unwilling to take up the security and other risks to their very existence. 

On December 18, several nongovernmental organizations — with whom LOWC has been collaborating in a civil society action committee on migration – will host an online event “International Migrants Day: Global Celebration of Our Rights and Our Struggle for Justice” to discuss key migration issues including wage theft, detention and climate justice and mobility. 


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

Tracking Legislators: The office in California has begun work on tracking legislators and their staff, in connection with various coalitions, for the purpose of keeping lawmakers accountable. LOPP-CA is helping organizations keep track of changes in seats after California’s November election, as well as mapping the political landscape for an upcoming 2021 advocacy year. 

Post-election Coalition moments: LOPP-CA is doing meaningful work with their partner coalitions; alongside California’s Food and Farming Network, the office is in conversation to set strategy for next years advocacy, as well as continuing the commitment of racial justice within food advocacy. The Building the California Dream Alliance, of which LOPP is a member, is also having strategy meetings for the coming year, as well as creating new tools to communicate with legislators who have been hard to reach during the COVID-19 pandemic. 


Peter Severson, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-Colorado 

Election Results: Coloradans voted on 11 statewide ballot measures in November. Lutheran Advocacy took a position on six of these measures. All three of the ones we supported were passed on November 3! 

  •       Proposition 118will create a paid family and medical leave program. After many years of supporting creative but unsuccessful legislative efforts, we are thrilled that voters made it abundantly clear that Coloradans want paid leave. The measure passed with 57% Yes. 
  •       Amendment Bwill repeal the Gallagher Amendment, a provision dating to the early 1980s which fixed the ratio of residential and commercial property tax revenue. The net effect in the last decade was ratcheting down residential property tax revenues every year, meaning less revenue for schools, libraries, parks, fire and water services, and other needs. 
  •       Proposition 113approved the National Popular Vote Compact. Coloradans support a presidential election system that will bypass the outdated, inequitable Electoral College in favor of a popular vote. 

In addition, three measures we opposed also passed, including a flat tax cut that will benefit median taxpayers in a small way but will enrich the wealthiest taxpayers significantly, requiring $160 million in budget cuts in 2021. We anticipate continuing to advocate on these issues in the coming session. 

Special Session: A special legislative session took place from November 30 through December 2, supporting small business, arts organizations, renters, the unemployed, and other groups needing immediate support in the wake of federal inaction. 

Policy Agenda Passed: The Policy Committee of Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-Colorado passed our 2021 agenda on November 13. Find out more at 


Russell Meyer, Florida Faith Advocacy Office 

The Florida Faith Advocacy Office of the Florida Council of Churches (FCC) will hold its online assembly on Jan. 7, 2021. See 

The assembly will bring together mainline, Black, and Latinx church leaders to develop a jubilee movement in the state capitol. The FCC along with local partners has trained 40+ community leaders in World Café hosting in St. Petersburg as part of an initiative to reimagine civic engagement. Logistic support for Black Lives movement is ongoing, with a current focus on the death of a Black vet while in custody of the Brevard sheriff. Along with many partners, we are questioning proposed anti-protesting legislation which brings back the horrors of the Black Codes. We urge health protocols, wearing of masks, and the necessity of a statewide response to pandemic. In pressing for a second COVID-19 relief package. We also seek robust support for international humanitarian assistance. The successes of ending poverty that kills have been reversed under the pandemic. The world needs a big American heart now. We have the resources for helping hurting people both here and abroad. Faith leaders need to say this clearly and publicly. It is the high calling of our spiritual work. The Florida legislature takes up its pre-assembly work in mid-January, for the March-May session. A new alert system will be rolled out in 2021 to keep advocates advised of where their voices are most required.  

Email for more information.  


Tammy Walhof, Lutheran Advocacy – Minnesota

Legislative Session 2021: Along with our partners, we have been considering, debating, and deciding on priority issues for the 2021 session. The LA-MN Policy Council will be meeting soon to determine our foci amid many needs. 

Election 2020: The balance in the legislature has not changed dramatically. The most important change is that the balance of power between the political parties is even tighter than it was before the election. To accomplish our agenda, we need our advocates to build strong relationships with their legislators, especially in Greater Minnesota. While many relationships already exist, remote legislative work means legislators are less accessible in St. Paul.

COVID-19 Housing Relief: Minnesota cannot wait for Congress and the Federal Government to act. It was hoped that a package could be negotiated and ready by early December. Unfortunately, some leaders are calling for narrow business relief, but are not addressing other relief. 

If housing aid is not passed, Minnesota will soon face a grave housing crisis! Hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans are behind on rent and mortgages. Without aid, we could have a housing crisis worse than the 2008 crash. This would cause unprecedented homelessness and even deeper affordable housing issues than we have already faced for more than a decade. 

Businesses will not recover if people are struggling with basic housing and food stability. Our state economy will take much longer to recover from COVID-19 if families cannot meet their basic needs! Take Action Now! Find your MN State Senator & Representative and their contact info at


Tracey DePasquale, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry–Pennsylvania (LAMPa)

ELCAvotes: LAMPa staff encouraged and provided information for advocates to be trained and serve as nonpartisan poll monitors, as well as shared an ongoing social media presence on election day to be able to respond with information and assistance in cases of voter confusion or potential voter suppression.  Lutheran advocates joined demonstrations around the commonwealth to protect the vote count in the days following the election. LAMPa staff and volunteers had contacted election offices in all 67 counties, to assess their preparedness and identify opportunities for our congregations to help, particularly as polling sites or as poll workers and volunteers. LAMPa followed up after Nov. 3, thanking elections workers for their service under tremendous pressure. 

Civic Engagement: Discipleship in a Democracy:LAMPa Director Tracey DePasquale participated as a state policy office adviser in the first working session of the task force developing the new ELCA social statement. Earlier this year, LAMPa held an official listening session in the development of the newly adopted social message on the same topic. The development of the social statement will be a five-year process.

Addressing Homelessness, Looming Eviction Crisis: As the federal eviction moratorium deadline draws near LAMPa shared an alert and survey with congregations and constituents seeking their input. Congregations and groups providing sheltering programs were asked to respond to a survey lifting the voice of those facing or experiencing homelessness. LAMPa shared alerts seeking constituents’ voices to speak up for vulnerable neighbors as state  lawmakers finalized the budget for the remainder of the fiscal year. Advocates were asked to contact their state lawmakers to ask them to fix and fund a rental and mortgage assistance program to keep PA residents in their homes. Read more


Paul Benz and Elise DeGooyer, Faith Action Network

FAN’s 2021 State Legislative Agenda: With approval of our Governing Board, FAN announced our 2021 State Legislative Agenda. Our six main topics this year are Advocating for a Biennial Budget that Reflects Our Values as a State; Reforming our Policing and Criminal Justice Systems; Creating Housing Opportunities and Preventing Homelessness; Addressing Climate Change; Protecting Immigrants, Civil and Human Rights for All; and Ensuring Health Care and Mental Health Access. See the full list of bills at We will be holding three virtual Advocacy Days in Olympia, Central WA, and Eastern WA as well as sharing weekly action items in our E-News as ways for advocates to use their voices in the 2021 legislative session.

Faith Leaders Speak on COVID Safety: ELCA Bishop Shelley Bryan Wee from the NW WA Synod shared an idea for faith leaders to make a COVID-19 safety video, similar to FAN’s Census video we made earlier this year. These trusted messengers remind us of the important role faith leaders and communities must play in keeping EVERYONE safe by wearing a mask, keeping distance, and ensuring COVID-19 is not passed on in our communities. See their video on YouTube:  

FAN Annual Dinner 2020: On November 15, FAN hosted our first virtual Annual Dinner fundraiser, “Rise Up Together,” and exceeded our goal of $130,000! Advocates met in local Zoom pre-parties, then joined us on YouTube for an evening of statewide calls to action, a look at the 2021 legislative session, a special appearance by our friend and matching donor Rick Steves, and beautiful music and poetry. Read our event recap at 


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

This month, LOPPW was busy preparing our advocacy priorities for the next legislative session while also rebuking our state’s inadequate response to the COVID-19 pandemic. On November 16th, LOPPW, in collaboration with our interfaith partners, hosted our “Faithful Action for a Healthy Wisconsin” event, a virtual rally urging lawmakers to take substantive action to protect frontline workers, take additional pandemic mitigation steps, and show support and solidarity for the religious and government leaders boldly trying to protect their communities. This event had hundreds of attendees and was picked up my numerous local news stations. We are using the momentum from this event to conduct virtual meetings with leadership in the State Legislature to push for additional action. 

Outside of COVID-19 advocacy, Kyle is helping kickstart work within our criminal justice and immigration reform priorities. He is working towards a coalition to raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction in Wisconsin and institute other reforms to the juvenile justice system. While the coalition is still in its infancy, he is confident that LOPPW can be a voice for juvenile justice reform in the future. Kyle is also starting advocacy efforts with our local synod immigration & refugee task forces to advocate locally for immigration reform to their county sheriffs.

As we approach the end of the year, Cindy will hopefully be able to provide a sturdier foundation for the above initiatives and build active coalitions and campaigns to address these important policy reforms. 

November Update: UN and State Edition

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

U.N.| California | Minnesota | Ohio | Pennsylvania | Washington | Wisconsin

United Nations

Dennis Frado, Lutheran Office for World Community, New York, N.Y.

Women’s Human Rights Advocacy Training: The Lutheran World Federation in collaboration with Church of Sweden, Finn Church Aid, Mission 21, the World Council of Churches and ACT Alliance is holding an advocacy training on women’s human rights (26 October – 13 November 2020). The training is usually held annually in person, and this year, due to COVID-19 it is being held virtually.

Topics covered include introduction to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), tools and opportunities for engaging in preparing for parallel (also known as “shadow”) reports to CEDAW, the intersection between human rights, faith and gender, Gender-Based Violence prevention and responses, the role of men and boys in gender justice advocacy among others. LOWC is involved in the planning and facilitation of some sessions during the training. A resource for faith-based organizations on affirming women’s human rights can be found here.

General Assembly’s Third Committee Has Dialogues with Human Rights Mandate Holders: As it has done for some years, the General Assembly’s Third Committee has been having dialogues in recent weeks with various persons holding human rights mandates from the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council. While LOWC has been monitoring quite a few of these discussions on topics such as racism and racial discrimination, advancement of women, rights of indigenous peoples, and internally displaced persons, it took special note of the discussion with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, Professor S. Michael Lynk.  His report this year reviewed the situation of human rights in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and in Gaza and focused on accountability related issues. Lynk also held a separate virtual discussion with the UN NGO Working Group on Israel-Palestine, of which LOWC is a member, as he has in previous years on this occasion.


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

Getting ready for the election: The Lutheran Office of Public Policy in California (LOPP-CA) has been working diligently to prepare for the upcoming election. The staff did work around building patience and an understanding of the process. In the weekly Advocacy in Quarantine meetings, LOPP-CA worked with constituents to talk through the timeliness of the election while holding space for further learning on the state’s Proposition.

Prop 16 Text Banking: LOPP-CA went forward this month in continuing to text bank with the Prop 16 coalition. The office has been reaching out to California voters through a texting platform called Thru Text in hopes of overturning the state-wide ban of affirmative action, something that has been in effect since 1996. There has been a committed group of parishioners and advocates meeting every Monday to push this outreach, and so far the office has reached more than 600,000 voters in the state.

Partnering with California Food and Farming Network: Continuing the office’s commitment to advocate for food and farming, LOPP-CA has begun working closely with the California Food and Farming Network (CFFN), a coalition of around 40 advocacy organizations such as food banks, legislative advocacy, farming service organizations, and partners from across both the food and farming sectors. The Network has begun its strategic process for the year 2021, centering racial justice and equity in their approach. LOPP-CA has joined CFFN for this visioning process, and has given financial contributions toward centering racial justice through committing funds to CFFN’s community Engagement process. Specifically, CFFN will be reaching out into communities of color, finding leaders and advocates within food sectors, and providing compensation for their expertise. This listening campaign will take the expertise learned and structure CFFN 2021 priorities.


Tammy Walhof, Lutheran Advocacy- Minnesota

State Legislative Elections: Although the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party lost some seats in the House, it retains control of the chamber. In the Senate, some flipped districts occurred, but the balance remains the same. Unfortunately, at least one of the Republicans that was ousted was one who was helpful to our housing agenda. All the main leaders from both parties and both chambers retain their positions.

Minnesota U.S. Elections: Rep. Colin Peterson was ousted from Minnesota’s 7th congressional district seat and replaced by former State Senator/Senate President Michelle Fischbach, who also served briefly as Lt. Governor when Tina Smith was appointed to the U.S. Senate. Representative Peterson served as the long-term chair of the Agriculture Committee, a committee Fischbach hopes to serve on as it also addresses nutrition issues.

Update on Special Session #5: A carefully negotiated $1.36 billion bill including bonding, supplemental appropriations, and “tax  relief” for farmers and small businesses was finally passed when House Minority Leader Daudt let his caucus vote their conscience. Freed by Daudt, many House Republicans joined the bipartisan bill. Thanks for your hard work on the housing pieces!

Included in the bill were

  • $100 million in Housing Infrastructure Bonds
  • $16 million in General Obligation Bonds for Public Housing
  • A large amount for transportation including roads and bridges, some public transportation, and electric vehicle charging infrastructure
  • Bonds for public facility projects, public safety, the University of Minnesota, and other various public works, including municipal water infrastructure & solar projects
  • $31 million in a supplemental appropriation (added to last year’s biennial budget)


Deacon Nick Bates, Hunger Network in Ohio

Hunger For Justice Conference: On November 9th the Hunger Network sponsored the Hunger for Justice Conference featuring theological reflection on the election and analysis of what is to come so that faith leaders across the state can identify opportunities for successful advocacy!

Visit for links to our plenary panel, theological reflection and musical reflection of what the election means to our communities


Tracey DePasquale, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry–Pennsylvania (LAMPa)

Shaping Hunger Policy in PA: LAMPa Director Tracey DePasquale participated in the quarterly meeting of the state’s Emergency Food Assistance Advisory Committee, where the state Department of Agriculture and charitable feeding organizations assessed the current response to emergency nutrition needs during COVID-19, mapped likely needs and set goals for meeting those needs in the upcoming state budget.

LAMPa Participates in Virtual Human Trafficking Rally: LAMPa participated in a Pennsylvania Anti-Human Trafficking Advocacy Work Group sponsored Advocacy Day lifting legislation that provides definitions and the offense of trafficking individuals; repealing provisions relating to patronizing a victim of sexual servitude; promoting prostitution and living off sexually exploited persons; commercial sexual exploitation; and providing for Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund.

Workshop presented at We Love: LAMPa Program Director Lynn Fry shared a workshop titled : Take a Stand: Advocacy & Equality in Pennsylvania at the second ELCA NEPA Synod We Love Event – Building Safer & More Welcoming Congregations for LGBTQ+ Youth and Families.

Equipping leaders and vital congregations for discipleship in a democracy: LAMPa continued to disseminate election information to congregations, synods, and leaders regarding election security, poll watching, and voter safety. DePasquale and ELCA Advocacy Director Amy Reumann presented to leaders in the NWPA Synod Bishop’s Convocation.

Responded to Legislative threats to Medicaid: LAMPa worked to successfully stop legislation that threatened Medicaid provisions and funding.

Advocacy and Faith Formation: DePasquale taught a virtual adult faith formation class at Holy Spirit, Emmaus, SEPA Synod.


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

Election Successes: WA state passed Referendum 90 for Safe and Healthy Youth, a bill the legislature passed in the 2020 session mandating sex education in our K-12 school system with age-appropriate stages. This referendum was supported by sexual assault and domestic violence advocates, as well as a broad coalition of faith leaders who signed this letter, in contrast to opposition from the “religious right.” FAN was very involved in the campaign to secure the 60% approval. We also secured funding for our Long-Term Care Trust Fund via constitutional amendment – among the first of such funds in the nation.

New Regional Organizers: We are excited to share that our organizing team is expanding! FAN is able to fulfill one of our dreams of having a stronger presence statewide by hiring part-time Regional Organizers in Western, Central, and Eastern Washington as well as two social work interns from the University of Washington. We look forward to building deeper relationships with our Network of Advocating Faith Communities (NAFCs) and local organizations statewide.


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

ELCAvotes: Wisconsin had a record turnout of voters! Since March, LOPPW placed major emphases on encouraging people to vote, especially absentee, and on countering misinformation. We often worked in coalition with ELCA partners and a statewide voting coalition. October efforts included interviewing a Wisconsin Elections Commission representative for Wednesday Noon Live and creating six Ballot Box FAQs videos, including one with an interview with the ACLU.

Care for God’s Creation: LOPPW’s statewide task force, so far with members from five synods, began planning a Care for God’s creation virtual advocacy day to coincide with an emerging new WI State Budget.

Trainings: LOPPW helped in organizing an advocacy webinar, co-hosted by ECSW WELCA. We also led discussions on voting and advocacy with adults and confirmands in LAS and in SCSW.

COVID-19: Participated in meeting with Lieutenant Governor on health mandates challenged by courts and possibly the legislature. I was then in dialogue with the bishops about drafting a statement, which can be found here. LOPPW also joined an interfaith group to organize an action to address the problem.

New Resource: Read our new resource, “Advocating Locally,” for information about engaging your community!

Criminal Justice: We’ve begun reviving efforts to return 17-year-olds to juvenile courts, led by our Hunger Advocacy Fellow, Kyle Minden.

Anti-Racism: We offered consultation to ECSW’s Global Missions Committee on integrating anti-racism efforts into their work. I invited Regina Banks to give a presentation at one of their meetings.

Immigration and Refugees:  We offered consultation to the SCSW Immigration Task Force and created a video to address decreasing number of refugees in U.S. for the national, “Lift the Torch of Welcome” vigil.