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August recess opportunity

Congress traditionally takes a recess during the month of August, allowing lawmakers time to return to their home states and congressional districts to connect with constituents. That may look a bit different this year, but the month still holds meaningful potential for local advocates to advance relationships and engage with elected officials, ask questions and share concerns.  

New to help you connect with lawmakers in 2020 is a Virtual Visits resource with tips on how to utilize digital communications options more widely in use this year. Our August Recess Guide also contains ideas for communicating with your elected officials and candidates indistrict this month. 

Here are some timely questions and talking points based upon ELCA Advocacy priorities. 


“Because of sin we fall short of these obligations in this world, but we live in light of God’s promised future that ultimately there will be no hunger and injustice. This promise makes us restless with less than what God intends for the world.” – from ELCA social statement  Sufficient Sustainable Livelihood for All 


As impacts of the coronavirus pandemic cascade, ministry demands expand and more workers are left without employment. Our role to care for our community and each other is more valuable than ever. Hunger and lack of access to healthy and nutritious food are devasting and can also make communities even more vulnerable to COVID-19. 

With unemployment at a record high and schools closed, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) needs to be expanded so that individuals and households can get enough to eat. This includes increasing SNAP benefits by 15%, increasing the minimum monthly SNAP benefit from $16 to $30 and suspending all administrative SNAP rule changes indefinitely, during this time of economic distress and long-term recovery.   


  • What exactly do you support in additional federal response for the U.S. to stop the virus and the health and economic disparities that are so present in our communities? 
  • Will you support a temporary increase in SNAP benefits to provide food to hungry people? 



As persons called to love one another as God has loved us, we therefore proclaim our commitment to speak with one voice against racism and white supremacy. We stand with those who are targets of racist ideologies and actions. With them, we demand and will advocate for a more just, loving, and peaceful world where the gifts of all people are appreciated, and the lives of all people are treasured. – From ELCA social policy resolution “Condemnation of White Supremacy and Racist Rhetoric 


The discrimination and violence experienced by black and brown Americans at the hands of law enforcement is again at the forefront of our nation’s awareness and concern We need Congress to advance meaningful legislation to protect Black communities from the systemic perils of over-policing, police brutality, misconduct, and harassment, and end the impunity with which officers operate in taking the lives of Black people. Congress must act with bipartisan urgency toward a just society that treasures the lives of all, including changes in policing policy and practices. 

Eight legislative measures “to ensure that police officers live up to their oath to protect and serve” were identified by over 400 organizations including the ELCA in a June 1 letter to congressional leaders. There are federal actions that could have impact. 


  • What are you hearing from constituents about the need for policing reform?  
  • What policing reform policies do you support and why?  


THIS MOMENT IN TIME: Housing and Homelessness 

God’s love in Jesus Christ does, however, move us to care for homeless people as God cares for all. Christians who have shelter are called to care, called to walk with homeless people in their struggle for a more fulfilling life and for adequate, affordable, and sustainable housing.” – From ELCA social message “Homelessness: A Renewal of Commitment 


The COVID-19 pandemic and its economic repercussions has exacerbated many inequalities in our communities, including access to housing, the risk of eviction and homelessness. Many houses of worship and religious service agencies are involved in sheltering and lifting up our neighbors without homes and would like to see greater investment in and focus on affordable housing.  

Exorbitant housing costs have been a growing crisis long before the pandemic, with nearly 71% of extremely low-income renters paying over half their incomes on housing needs. Black and brown individuals are more likely to be renters or at risk of housing insecurity than their white counterparts, making an equitable housing response a significant matter of racial justice as well. Skyrocketing housing costs force many to decide between paying for food or settling their other bills, leaving many with the constant threat of eviction and losing their home. 


  • With enough resolve, we have the means to end homelessness and close racial housing divisions in our communities. As a national leader, how will you work to make access to housing programs a top priority in Congress and in our national responses to crisis? 



Concern for the well-being of others lies at the very heart of Christian faith. Christians have a variety of social identifications through their nation of origin, race, ethnicity or political affiliation, but all Christians have a common identity as children of a loving creator…” – From ELCA social message “Human Rights 


In June, the Administration issued a new rule that would severely restrict access to asylum to the U.S. In addition, the Administration is also in the middle of litigation to keep asylum-seeking mothers in detention. We know community-based alternatives to detention is humane and keep everyone’s health as a top priority and that making efforts to address the issues that force many to flee is a better long-term strategy. All of these efforts are putting the wellbeing of people seeking protection at risk. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees reported that a blanket measure to restrict asylum seekers and refugees on the basis of public health does not meet international standards and many public health experts also report that there is no public health rationale for effectively ending asylum. Welcoming people seeking safety in our country is faithful work for me and my community. 


  • As a member of an influential member of our leadership, how are you making sure the U.S. is honoring international laws and standards in our asylum policy? 
  • How are you supporting legislation that makes our asylum system both safer and more accessible for those seeking protection? 
  • How are you ensuring that families are not kept in detention or separated in the process of seeking safety in the U.S.?  


THIS MOMENT IN TIME: International Aid 

“Healing is restoration of wholeness and unity of body, mind, and spirit. Healing addresses the suffering caused by the disruption of relationships with God, with our neighbors, and with ourselves.” Lutherans can “inform themselves of global health concerns and support global ministries of health.” – from the ELCA social statement Caring for Health: Our Shared Endeavor 


The U.S. has a rich history of providing humanitarian and development assistance to countries that are 

experiencing humanitarian emergencies and extreme poverty. For example, through these programs the U.S. government is able to provide treatment for HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, address issues of food insecurity and malnutrition, and provide care for mothers and children. Millions of lives have been saved over the years because of U.S. support. But we cannot stop here now. This work must continue, especially because more people need assistance due to global instability and ever-increasing humanitarian crises. 

The International Affairs budget constitutes just one percent of the federal budget. With so many diverse and complex challenges, we must protect and sustain our development and humanitarian programs to avoid more costly interventions in the future.  

We know that even short bouts of hunger and malnutrition in the critical 1,000 days between a woman’s pregnancy and her child’s second birthday can lead to needless death and can have devastating lifelong consequences for children who survive – reducing their overall health, learning ability and earning potential. 


  • How important do you think it is to provide foreign assistance to low-income countries? 
  • What would you do to address global health challenges such as Ebola, TB, HIV/AIDS and malaria? 


THIS MOMENT IN TIME: Interconnectivity and inequality when promoting next steps 

We will examine how environmental damage is influenced by racism, sexism, and classism, and how the environmental crisis in turn exacerbates racial, gender, and class discrimination.” – From ELCA social statement  Caring for Creation 


The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the weaknesses in the U.S. economic, health, and food systems. People of color and people with low wealth are more likely to contract COVID-19, with the death rate among the American Black population being greater than any other ethnic group within the United States. Though not conclusive, a recent American University study appears to make a connection between air pollution and increased rates of COVID-19. People of color are more likely to live in areas where air, water and soil pollutions are more prevalent. The CDC states: “Long-standing systemic health and social inequities have put many people from racial and ethnic minority groups at increased risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19.” 

The interconnectivity of race, environment, economic, health and food are particularly glaring currently. Numerous bills have been introduced separately in Congress including the most recent Economic Justice Act whose summary states: “Federal underinvestment in communities of color has created systemic disparities that cross nearly every sector…” 


  • How does Congress come together in a bipartisan manner in these most challenging times to make concrete steps to pass bipartisan legislation to begin to address the injustices that have been perpetrated against people of color?  
  • What actions do you need to see from constituents to make this a priority at the highest level?  


Reach out to your ELCA state public policy offices in more than 19 states or to the ELCA Advocacy national office at We are available to answer your questions and aid you in the process. Please send an In-district Activity Form if you meet with policy makers locally to help us build upon and strengthen one another’s efforts. 

Your question can spark an important conversation and provides an opportunity to hold your elected official publicly accountable. Thank you for your advocacy in service to your neighbor! 


February Update: Advocacy Connections

from the ELCA Advocacy office in Washington, D.C. – the Rev. Amy E. Reumann, director



TRAVEL BAN EXTENDED:  On Jan. 31, 2020, the Trump administration announced an expansion of the January 2017 travel ban to include more countries in Africa and Asia. Under the new policy, citizens from Nigeria, Eritrea, Myanmar and Kyrgyzstan will be barred from applying for visas to immigrate to the United States. The National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants (NO BAN) Act would address this executive action and assist those of us escaping perilous or life-threatening situations. Support for the NOBAN Act can be facilitated in a current Action Alert.

In a statement on the expanded travel ban, the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton writes, “As Lutherans, these actions should concern us. Through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, God has set us free from ourselves to serve our neighbor. This expanded policy separates families from loved ones already here. Further, it prevents people — especially those escaping perilous or life-threatening situations in several of these nations — from coming to safety in the U.S. It does not enhance our safety or reflect our vocation as Christians.”


GIRLS’ EDUCATION:  On Jan. 28, the House of Representatives passed the Keeping Girls in School Act, a bill that seeks to strengthen U.S. international programs by reducing education barriers faced by millions of girls around the world. The bill calls on continued U.S. government and private investments to ensure quality and equitable education, promotes girls’ empowerment and streamlines existing programs.

Hundreds of ELCA Advocacy network members used an Action Alert in support of this legislation to send over 1,000 messages to members of Congress. An identical bill in the Senate awaits committee action before it can be sent to the Senate floor for a vote.


DISASTER AID FOR PUERTO RICO: The House of Representatives passed legislation to provide an emergency aid package for Puerto Rico in the wake of ongoing earthquakes and aftershock damage to the island. Support for this emergency aid in the Senate is the subject of an Action Alert, which emphasizes the lowest-income families in the greatest distress and the pressing need for authorizing proactive disaster policies for the greater United States.

The new package comes as the Trump administration recently released half of the blocked allocated assistance to help Puerto Ricans recovering from severe storms such as Hurricane Maria who now face additional devastation across the region. Two years after the 2017 hurricanes, more than 30,000 households are still waiting for assistance to have their homes repaired and/or rebuilt. Recent earthquakes have only accentuated the devastation many have experienced. Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding is desperately needed to assist survivors with building materials, furniture and labor so that they can rebuild their lives and homes.


FAIR HOUSING RULE: In January the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) proposed a new rule that would weaken oversight and national data on fair-housing initiatives in low-income communities of color. Under the new proposal, the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule would be rendered almost completely ineffectual. Before March 16, use the Action Alert to make a public comment discouraging implementation of the change.

AFFH was first designed to help localities promote diversity and inclusivity under the 1968 Fair Housing Act and take proactive steps to reverse the effects of housing segregation. ELCA World Hunger recently shared a blog outlining the effects of altering the AFFH rule and explaining how discrimination in housing is an intersectional moral issue that affects multiple aspects of our lives.


ELCA PARTNER WITH 2020 CENSUS:  The ELCA is an official partner of the 2020 Census as we work toward a just world where all are fed and further our commitment to greater justice in public policy and the electoral process. More than $675 billion in federal funds, grants and support to states, counties and communities is based on census data. An accurate count determines electoral maps and ensures that resources more justly go where they are needed most, including to vital programs that combat poverty and hunger and support people in need.

Posters are available from to help ELCA congregations encourage participation, particularly among hard-to-count populations such as people residing in rural areas, young children, LGBTQIA people, people experiencing homelessness, indigenous people, people who do not speak English, and racial and ethnic minorities. National Census Day is April 1, 2020, at which time all homes should have been invited to complete the census. For your neighbor and yourself — encourage your community to be counted!


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


Responding to our sorrow with action

UPDATE 7/12/2019 – Our communities are bracing for nationwide raids by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to begin on Sunday. Planned raids are reported to focus on 10 major cities where the Department of Justice has sped up immigration cases for thousands of recent arrivals.

Mindful of the biblical call and our strong Lutheran history of welcoming the stranger, our faith community strives to love our neighbors as ourselves. Since original posting, additional ways to respond include:

    • ELCA AMMPARO is collecting signatures on a letter addressed to Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan. It opens: “We are faith leaders from all across the country who are deeply troubled by the implementation of inhumane border policy by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Today, we call on you to respect asylum law and protect the rights of asylum seekers and children.” Read the letter in full and consider adding your name as a faith community member (clergy or lay), from Facebook.
    • ELCA partner Church World Service offers the #SacredResistance network for houses of worship that are willing to resist the raids on the local level through rapid response, creating safe spaces to accompany partner organizations in deportation defense, accompany undocumented community members through public facing safe spaces that can provide shelter, food, clothing, legal service and assistance in family reunification when possible. More information online.

ORIGINAL POST 6/28/2019 – Recent news stories of appalling conditions at immigrant detention centers and of deep human sorrow on our country’s southern border have many of us desperate to be part of change.

Lutherans have a deep-rooted history in refugee and immigrant issues. One of every six Lutherans in the world was a refugee or displaced person after WWII. The God-given dignity in all people and value of family unity have been cornerstones of ELCA faith-based advocacy, and we understand that many immigrants, as well as their families, are both afraid and confused by recent developments. Daily experience of ministries, Lutheran organizations and members “keep before us – so that we do not forget – the grim realities many immigrants face and the strength of character and resourcefulness newcomers demonstrate,” notes the ELCA social message, “Immigration.”


At the meeting point of our knowledge and values, here are some ways Lutherans have acted and can continue to respond.

  • JOINT STATEMENT – Ecumenical and inter-religious partners joined the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, ELCA presiding bishop, in a joint statement addressing concerns over the well-being of children who cross the U.S. border seeking safety from danger and threats in their home countries (6/6/19). Read at .
  • LETTER TO ELCA COMMUNITY – Earlier, Bishop Eaton wrote to our ELCA community (5/28/19). Read at . In part, it said:

“We follow a Lord who instructed, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs’ (Matthew 19:14). As we continue to serve and love our neighbor, we pray for the well-being of children and families in detention, and we urge the presidential administration to seek alternatives to the detention of children.”

  • AMMPARO – Ministry through the ELCA Accompanying Migrant Minors with Protection, Advocacy, Representation and Opportunities (AMMPARO) strategy is present in countries of origin, transit, and the U.S. with our neighbors in Central America. Actions include presence of pro bono lawyers who provide services and monitor detention center visits, and resourcing people in their countries of origin with proven programs that result in fewer choosing to take a difficult migration journey. Consider a gift to ELCA AMMPARO. Donate to this ministry from

In the ELCA Advocacy Action Center, Action Alerts are available for you to customize with your message to your member of Congress. Begin from the following.

  • Take action to secure funding for humane and just immigration system” – Use your voice as funding decisions are made.
  • UPDATE 7/12/2019 – Comment period has closed. “Protect the housing rights of mixed-immigration status families” – In a tight timeline before July 2, consider using this Action Alert facilitating public comment to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), on a proposed rulemaking that would prohibit mixed-immigration status families from living in federal affordable housing programs.
  • Other ways to urge U.S. immigration enforcement policy to recognize human dignity, uphold human rights, ensure the safety and well-being, and treat all individuals and families fairly and with respect, are to:
    • Call your Member of Congress at (202) 224-3121 to connect with your two Senators and one Representative. Find our who represents you from .
    • Tweet, and tag @DHSgov and @POTUS or other official.

Additionally, congregations and individuals may want to take further steps.

  • WELCOMING CONGREGATION – Consider becoming a Welcoming Congregation in the ELCA AMMPARO network, making a commitment to spiritually and pastorally accompany migrants in our community congregation; physically accompany migrants as needed to medical, legal and pastoral resources; pray for the children and families; and prayerfully consider participation in ELCA advocacy.
  • GUARDIAN ANGEL PROGRAM – Consider participating in the Guardian Angel Program of ELCA AMMPARO, providing spiritual and physical accompaniment of unaccompanied migrant children and families through their immigration court process. More at .
  • CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY – Check your investments. Private companies are managing the detention of children.
    • The ELCA Private Prison Screen “recommends no investment in private, for-profit prisons including firms involved in prison privatization of the criminal justice system.”
  • KNOW YOUR RIGHTS – Share “Know Your Rights” information, providing critical facts about legal rights during encounters with law enforcement.
    • Cards give quick tips and can be printed in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Hmong, Korean, Spanish and Vietnamese from .
    • In Spanish and English, resources about rights at home, in public, and in the workplace are available from .
  • FIRST STEPS GUIDE – In English and Spanish, the First Steps Guide from Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS) helps refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants navigate the complex system of laws, agencies, and public and private systems they must master by providing important information on legal rights, responsibilities, and eligibility for services and benefits such as healthcare and education, according to immigration status.
  • SANCTUARY MOVEMENT – The Sanctuary Movement is a growing movement of immigrant and faith communities in the current political climate. “Sanctuary: A Discernment Guide for Congregations” from the Presbyterian Church USA may facilitate discussion of this possible involvement in your congregation.
  • SHARE STORIES AND PRACTICE ACCOMPANIMENT – Create opportunities to gather and hear the stories of immigrants and migrants in your congregation and community and respond to their requests for partnership and solidarity.

We hold in prayer the many migrants imperiled and struggling. We also pray for those on the forefront including ELCA congregations in U.S. border communities who are providing spiritual and physical sustenance, as well as border patrol officers, resettlement staff and many others charged with implementing our nation’s policies compassionately. During Sunday worship, in personal devotions, or by hosting a prayer service with faith partners to generate awareness within your local community, here are some resources as we turn to God for wisdom and strength.

From the ELCA social message on “Immigration,” incorporating affirmations from the social statements For Peace in God’s World and Freed in Christ: Race, Ethnicity, and Culture.

Shutdown stalemate causes increasing difficulties

Our values are tangibly expressed when elected policy makers create laws and programs that support and protect vulnerable people in all our communities in times of great need. The current government shutdown is an impediment. Vital domestic programs that ensure food, housing, health, safety and more are stalemated. Global initiatives that bring sustenance and hope are interrupted. Civil servants across our land and low wage federal contractors who strive daily to carry out the work of our government are experiencing increasing strain as the shutdown elongates.

Federal programs that provide vital housing
assistance to low income families, seniors and
others are facing challenges the longer the
government shutdown continues. Visit this
interactive map published by the National
Low Income Housing Coalition, in which
ELCA Advocacy is a participating member,
to see how your state is effected.

God calls us to care and to act. See the Action Alert for suggested action to help move our nation beyond the current impasse.

Congress and the president should reopen government. The hard work of fixing the immigration system in the United States by ensuring a pathway to citizenship for members of our community without legal status in the United States and by supporting research-based border policy should follow.

Our opportunities to be heard are limited during this shutdown period. Currently the White House call center is closed. Tips to leave a voice message with your Senators and Representatives urging them to reopen government can be found in the Action Alert: “End the government shutdown.”

Wed. Sept. 26 – National Call-in Rejecting Family Separation and Detention

Approximately 200 children who were separated from their parents at the border have still not been reunified with their parents. Additionally, the zero-tolerance policy that seeks to criminally prosecute all people arriving at the border continues, and there are efforts to expand the detention of children and their parents. As we face continuous policy changes that harm children and families seeking protection in the U.S., Congress has an important role to play in allocating funds for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Join the Interfaith Immigration Coalition (IIC) and hundreds of people of faith in a national call-in day, Wednesday, September 26th to ask your Member of Congress to reject family separation and detention and champion alternatives that honor the human dignity of all.

Family detention is inhumane and unnecessary. Community-based alternatives, such as the Family Case Management Program (FCMP), are humane, cost-effective and successful in ensuring families continue their immigration cases. Families that used the FCMP had a 99% compliance rate in continuing their immigration process. In addition, while family detention costs $319.37 per person per day, the FCMP costs $36 per day per family. Beyond punishing children and parents who have already been through a difficult journey to arrive in the U.S., there is no reason to continue to spend our tax dollars expanding detention.

You can act today by joining IIC’s Call-in day rejecting family separation and detention.

  1. Call your Members of Congress.​ Dial the IIC line (866) 940-2439 three times to be connected to your 2 Senators and 1 Representative. You can use this sample script for guidance, although your own story can also be influential:

“I am your constituent from [CITY/TOWN], and [as a person of faith] I urge my Senator/Representative to reduce funding for immigration detention, deportation, and border militarization. Enforcement alone without underlying reform is causing harm in my community and tearing families apart.

“I also urge my Senator/Representative to reject family detention. Detaining children with their parents is not a solution to family separation. Rather than detention, Congress and the administration should use and invest in community-based alternatives to detention such as the Family Case Management Program. The administration must end ‘zero-tolerance’ criminal prosecution of families and asylum seekers for crossing the border, and immediately reunify families already separated. My community welcomes and values immigrants, and we urge you to do the same.”

  1. Share on Social Media: ​Share the same message with your Senators & Representatives on social media.

Go to the Interfaith Immigration Coalition’s Summary Sheet to learn about more actions you can take to support children and families seeking protection.