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Creation Care Ambassadors and All of Us Together

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

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

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

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

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

May Updates: U.N. and State Edition

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




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

Christine Mangale, Director

  • LOWC engaged and monitored the “International Dialogue Migration 2023- Leveraging Human Mobility in Support of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) March 30-31. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda) marks the first-time migration has been fully recognized as a core development consideration by the international community. This dialogue will feed into the September SDG summit, which marks the halfway point of this 15-year mandated agenda. More information can be found here. A report has been prepared and can be shared upon request. 
  • LOWC hosted a small delegation of three individuals from the ELCA’s Indigenous ministries team and partners for the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples 17-28 April. . LOWC co-sponsored and participated in a side-event, “Between Neglect and Exploitation: The case of Indigenous Communities in the Peruvian Amazon,” that focused on indigenous people from Peru and contained statements of solidarity and common struggle from indigenous people from Africa.  Additionally, the ELCA co-hosted a second side-event with Anglicans looking at “The Church and Indigenous Boarding Schools: A Time of Reckoning and Looking to the Future.”  
  • LOWC also monitored the Finance for Development meetings at the UN from 17-20 April, which is the “ways and means” conversation for the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), We are in a discernment process with LWF to add depth to this area of advocacy especially as the SDGs approach their halfway point in September. 



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

Regina Banks, Director

It was great to connect with so many strong advocates at Pacifica Synod Assembly in Palm Desert, California on May 5-6. Thank you to everyone who stopped by and engaged with ELCA advocacy there.  


The Lutheran Office of Public Policy, California’s (LOPPCA) annual Lutheran Lobby Day took place on Wednesday, May 17th! Lutherans from across the state gathered to advocate for the following bills: 

  • SB 4 (Wiener)- Affordable housing development & zoning reform. This bill would streamline the process for religious organizations & nonprofit colleges to develop affordable housing on their property.  
  • AB 249 (Holden)- Clean drinking water in schools. This bill would increase testing & disclosure requirements of school drinking water lead levels. It would additionally allocate funding for testing filters & infrastructure improvements to reduce/eliminate lead in water.  
  • AB 660 (Irwin)- Food waste, food date labeling reform. This bill would require the use of uniform terms for food product date labels, i.e. removing ‘sell by’ dates and making ‘best by’ or ‘use by’ dates clearer for consumers. The goal is to help reduce food waste, which is a large problem not only for addressing hunger but also for methane emissions and climate change. 
  • AB 1534 (Irwin)- Methane emissions monitoring requirements. This bill would use remote sensing technology to better identify and then regulate methane emissions from landfills. 


Currently, all of these bills are in their respective house’s Appropriations Committees. LOPPCA is hopeful that they will advance to floor votes and proceed through the policy bill process in this legislative session. 



Lutheran Advocacy – Minnesota (LA-MN) –

Tammy Walhof, Director

Affordable Housing: The final negotiated Housing Omnibus bill passed with $1.07 billion/FY24-35 biennium. Included were programs addressing homelessness, rental assistance, rental-home preservation, manufactured-home coop purchase, first-time & workforce homeownership, lead-safe homes, and more. The Senate accepted the House’s seven-county metro area sales tax for ongoing housing funding (causing the loss of bipartisan Senate support), in exchange for lowering spending levels.

Lutheran Advocacy-MN focused on big-picture funding/investments, as the Homes for All 2023 Agenda was long and complicated. We are pleased so many Homes for All details were addressed, and that our big-picture advocacy helped secure bipartisan support for the original Senate bill! 

We’re also glad many (though not all) rental reforms we’ve supported over several years passed separately.

Sacred Tiny Home Communities:
Sacred Tiny Home bipartisan language remains in the final Labor Omnibus Bill. We anticipate passage soon by a close margin since other aspects of the Omnibus are controversial.  

We are delighted that some of our Minnesota ELCA synods passed resolutions in support of these Sacred Settlements, and committed to encouraging congregational engagement beyond solely legislative support/action.


Negotiations Continue: Other areas for which we’ve had action alerts continue to be in play in various negotiations. Among those are… 

  • Homeless Shelter and Homeless Youth Funding in Health & Human Services bill negotiations.
  • Inclusion of Next Generation Climate Act updates to reflect current science and emphasize the need for lowering harmful emissions across the spectrum in Energy & Climate negotiations.
  • Funding for the Minnesota Climate Innovation Finance Authority (MnCIFA) to smooth the clean energy transition from both the Energy & Climate and Jobs/Economic Development negotiations. 



Hunger Network Ohio (HNO) –

Deacon Nick Bates, Director

On May 11th, 2023, Hunger Network in Ohio in partnership with the Ohio Council of Churches and Dominican Sisters of Peace, held a Budget Advocacy Luncheon – Praying for Our Daily Bread. There were over 100 attendees present, representing over 28 organizations. Additionally, 20 legislators and their staff were present at the event. Speakers included Representative Jay Edwards (Ohio House Finance Chair), Representative Bride Rose Sweeney (Ranking Member of the Ohio Finance Committee), and Bishop Gregory V. Palmer of the West Ohio Conference, UMC. We’re grateful to have had the opportunity to co-host this impactful event, and to have made an impact to ensure that one day, everyone in Ohio will receive their daily bread. 




Lutheran Advocacy Ministry – Pennsylvania (LAMPa)

Tracey DePasquale, Director

Lutherans turned out in record numbers for the Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania (LAMPa) annual day of advocacy on April 27. More than 150 attendees participated in workshops on hunger, climate, clean water, housing insecurity,  LGBTQ+ policy and resources for the new study guide on civic life and faith, before traveling to the Capitol to advocate on hunger and housing priorities in the upcoming budget.

“The day was full of energy,” said LAMPa Director Tracey DePasquale. “It was wonderful to be gathered again after four years!”

The Rev. Dr.  Roger Willer, ELCA director of theological ethics in the Office of the Presiding Bishop, offered the keynote on Discipleship in a Democracy. “The response to the keynote and workshop on progress toward the new social statement gives us hope that these resources will spark good conversations and that our congregations will find the resulting statement useful in their witness and in their daily discipleship,” DePasquale said. 

Even the day’s worship was based on materials used in the study guide, making it a great sending for our work in the Capitol. Watch a recording here. 

Advocates from each synod were recognized as a way of lifting up their work and inspiring others. Read their stories. 

DePasquale has also been busy with legislative visits on environmental justice, participating in SEPA Synod Assembly, a consult with Lutheran Disaster Response, and a conference on science-based targets for faith-based organizations sponsored by World Resources Institute and Georgetown University.   



Faith Action Network (FAN) –

Elise DeGooyer, Director

We have good news to share as the 2023 Washington State Legislative Session adjourned on April 23. We are celebrating some victories and historic milestones for the people of our state: 

  • Our hunger and safety net bills were among the first to pass and be signed by the Governor this session—adding $28M for emergency food and nutrition services, school meals for 90,000 more K-12 students, and basic needs supports for college students. Investments were made to expand affordable housing. 
  • We especially celebrate the removal of the death penalty from state law, following decades of work and after it was deemed unconstitutional by the State Supreme Court. 
  • In a year where we have grieved multiple mass shootings, our state took steps to limit assault weapons, add comprehensive background checks, and hold the gun manufacturers accountable for controls. 
  • The legislature also protected reproductive choice and gender-affirming care in Washington with several bills this session. You can find our full listing of wins and analysis on our website under Legislative Agenda. 

Wash. Governor Jay Inslee signing the Death Penalty Bill with elected officials and advocates

And there is more work to do! The governor called a special session to begin on May 16 to address an impasse over an expiring law about drug possession penalties. Our coalitions’ economic justice bills to fix the state’s regressive tax system—the Wealth Tax, Guaranteed Basic Income, and Future Fund—did not move this session, but important conversations were begun. Renter protection bills to prevent homelessness also did not pass. 



Lutheran Office for Public Policy – Wisconsin (LOPPW)

The Rev. Cindy Crane, Director

Youth Advocacy Retreat 

Thirty youth from all six synods and several adults showed up for a weekend in April to be part of our first Youth Advocacy Retreat.   

Our organizers included Deacon Laura Ramlow Synod Minister – Communication, Faith Formation, Malawi (Northwest Wisconsin Synod);, Rev. Jenn Pockat, Associate to the Bishop, Director for Communications and Community (East Central Synod of Wisconsin); Rev. Marie Leafblad, Associate to the Bishop for Leadership Support (South-Central Synod of Wisconsin);, Rev. Cindy Crane (LOPPW director);, Ms. Stefanie Ehle, Synod Youth Ministries Coordinator (Northern Great Lakes Synod);, and Ms. Gretchen Haugse, Youth and Sunday School Ministries, St. Matthew’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Milwaukee (Greater Milwaukee Synod). 


Additional Recent Events 

Women of the ELCA: The Lutheran Office of Public Policy in Wisconsin (LOPPW) had a presence and spoke briefly at the La Crosse Area Synod Women of the ELCA Convention, which focused on faith and citizenship. Rev. Joanne Richmond of Our Savior’s Lutheran, La Crosse, Wisc., gave an excellent presentation.   

East Central Synod of Wisconsin Lay School: LOPPW’s director led a class on the ELCA social statements for the East Central Synod of Wisconsin Lay School of Ministry, coordinated by Rev. Mark Ziemer. LOPPW will lead one more class on Luther and social justice in May. 


State Budget 

LOPPW submitted these comments to the Joint Finance Committee:  2023 Joint Finance Committee Requests   

May Update: Advocacy Connections

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

Partial expanded content from Advocacy Connections: May 2023



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

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


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


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


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


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


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April Update: Advocacy Connections

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

Partial expanded content from Advocacy Connections: April 2023



UN WATER CONFERENCE: “It has been 46 years since the last time the United Nations gathered on the issue of water,” said Christine Moffett, ELCA Environment Policy Contractor, who took part in the event along with ELCA World Hunger staff by coordination of the Lutheran Office for World Community. Held in New York from March 22-24, ELCA staff engaged with the United Nation Member States on their contributions to increasing access to the human right to water. “It was so important for ELCA and LWF advocates to be present at this long overdue conversation because while we may or may not share nationalities, political principles or religious convictions, we do share the water that we drink – water that we more notably ought to share more equitably,” said Moffett.

In other news, the Climate Change 2023: Synthesis Report was released on March 20 by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It is the final issue of an eight-year scientific assessment on the state of climate change. While the future painted from this report is bleak, the IPCC did lay out some clear, readily available paths forward for greenhouse gas reduction, carbon removal and increased resilience. This report and its recommendations can be used as a guide for policymakers to make changes in order to avoid the worst effects of climate change. Our new ELCA social message “Earth’s Climate Crisis” speaks to the need for us all to take action in this moment of Kairos.


COMMENTS ADD UP AGAINST ASYLUM RULE: The comment period for the proposed rule “Circumvention of Lawful Pathways” closed on March 27 with over 30,000 public comments from across the country! Some ELCA AMMPARO congregations even organized writing groups, helping ensure that a diversity of Lutheran voices were counted.

Through the proposed rule, the administration seeks to impose a “presumption of asylum ineligibility” for asylum seekers unless they received parole prior to arrival, presented themselves at a port of entry at a pre-scheduled time and place, or sought protection and were denied protection in a country en route to the United States. ELCA advocacy staff shared educational resources, like this video featuring the CEO of Lutheran Social Services of the National Capitol Area, to equip advocates to submit comments opposing the proposed rule. The ELCA’s public comment expresses the historic position of the church and draws from direct experience accompanying migrant children and families, particularly in the Americas that is made possible through ecumenical and NGO partners. The administration has several weeks to respond to all unique comments, but advocates still hope the rule will be withdrawn before May 11.


GLOBAL FRAGILITY ACT: The Biden-Harris administration has released implementation plans required in the Global Fragility Act (GFA), a bill supported by the ELCA that was signed into law in 2019. According to the World Bank, more than 80 percent of humanitarian needs are driven by conflicts, posing great challenges. This landmark legislation improves U.S. government capacity to prevent and/or mitigate conflicts around the world. The 10-year plans focus on four priority countries (Haiti, Libya, Mozambique, and Papua New Guinea) and a grouping of Coastal West African countries (Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Togo, Guinea, and Ghana). The Department of State will lead implementation of these plans, but other federal agencies like the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Department of Defense and Department of Treasury have different roles as well.

While the GFA authorizes $200 million annually to support conflict prevention programs and activities in priority countries, Congress still needs to appropriate these funds in every budget cycle. Witness in Society advocacy staff will continue to advocate for appropriations of these funds as part of foreign assistance budget work.


FAIR HOUSING: Last month, the ELCA Witness in Society office issued an Action Alert in support of the proposed Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule. As of March 28, Lutherans had submitted over 20 percent of all public comments on the administrative proposal! As mentioned in previous updates, if enacted the proposed rule would help the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) overcome patterns of segregation, promote fair housing choice, and foster inclusive communities free from discrimination.


FAITH ORGANIZATIONS OPPOSE FAMILY DETENTION:  Credible news surfaced this month that family detention might be reinstated. “Families do not need to be detained” reads a letter the ELCA joined with 130+ faith orgs opposing the return. Over 100+ House members, nearly a quarter of the U.S. Senate, the American Academy of Pediatrics among others, called on the administration to abandon any plans to detain families. Reuters on April 18 reported that the Biden administration is not planning “at this time” to restart family immigration detention, signaling the contentious practice to more quickly deport families is on hold.


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April Updates: U.N. and State Edition

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




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

Christine Mangale, Director

From March 6-17, 2023, LOWC hosted 30 Lutheran Delegates who attended the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York. The delegation represented Lutherans from Africa, Asia, Middle East, Latin America and North America. They were Lutheran Clergy, lay leadership, staff, issue experts, and youth and young people from throughout the global church. The theme for this year focused on “Innovation and Technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.” Our official statement to the Commission on the Status of Women in its 67th session is located here. 

Lutheran delegates attended the CSW 67 both in-person and online (virtually) ensuring that the voices of faith-based organizations and communities were clearly represented in the Agreed Conclusions. Additionally, young delegates, including young Lutheran delegates from the ELCA Hunger Fellows program and the International Leaders Program took center stage at the commission. This is the first year that the CSW has included a youth session specifically for young people to engage with the theme of using technological innovation to promote gender justice and women’s empowerment. 

The commission closed with Agreed Conclusions at 3:00 AM on March 18th. LWF and LOWC staff will circulate analysis and next-steps from our official delegation over the coming weeks and will circulate our reporting when it is complete 

Our flagship event was entitled, Harnessing digital technologies to end sexual and gender-based violence Friday March 10, 2023. Event sponsored by Lutheran World Federation. Professor Antje Jackelén, archbishop emerita of the Church of Sweden, provided the session opened with greetings from the LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr. Anne Burghardt. Both interventions offered contextual grounding for the discussion. The session moved to a panel discussion moderated by ELCA Hunger Fellow Kayla Zopfi. The panel was made up of Rev. Dr. Debora Sinaga (Indonesia), Ameera Khamees (LWF Jordan), Miriam Alum (LWF Uganda) and Laura Gonzalez (LWF Columbia). Lutheran Pastor and Executive Director of Sonke Gender Justice, Rev. Bafana Khumalo (South Africa)** 

Next year in March 2024, CSW 68 will focus on issues of Gender and Development Finance. Planning for our engagement in this important conference is beginning now. 


For the first time in 46 years the UN hosted a “UN Water Conference.” Held in New York from March 22-24th 2023, LOWC hosted a delegation from ELCA World Hunger and ELCA Advocacy as they engaged the United Nation Member States on their contributions to increasing access to the human right to water. The Lutheran Delegation presented during two official side-events:  

  • United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) Interfaith networking event ahead of the UN Water Conference 2023 on Thursday, 16 March 2023. Dr. Ryan Cumming, interim Director of World Hunger presented on behalf of the ELCA and LWF. Interventions issued to this event are available here. 
  • Faith Community is a Blue Community” held on March 22nd, 2023. The World Council of Churches – Ecumenical Water Network and partner organizations, International Partnership on Religion and Development (PARD), Lutheran World Federation, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and World Evangelical Alliance hosted an official hybrid side event. Further details, including a recording of the side-event can be found here. Christine Moffett, interim Environmental Policy Program Director spoke for our Lutheran Community. 



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

Regina Banks, Director

On Sunday, March 19, LOPP-CA the Lutheran Office of Public Policy – California joined other advocates in celebrating the end of the ICE contract at Yuba County Jail. The day included a musical performance by Japanese artists and a variety of testimonies by organizations that were a part of achieving the ending of the ICE contract, as well as from former incarcerated people at the facility. The rain couldn’t keep folks away from celebrating this advocacy success and looking ahead at the work yet to come for immigrant justice.

Registration remains open and active for our Lutheran Lobby Day on May 17th! Come join us for a full day of training, legislative meetings, and fellowship. Register here: 



Lutheran Advocacy Ministry Colorado (LAM-CO) –

Peter Severson, Director

Urban Servant Corps volunteers with Sen. Robert Rodriguez (left) and LAM-CO Director Peter Severson (right) at the dais of the Colorado State Senate chamber.

LEGISLATIVE SESSION CONTINUES: The Colorado General Assembly has moved into consideration of the budget for the next fiscal year. In the past several weeks, the Assembly has taken the unusual step of meeting on the weekends to address bills that have generated significant debate and controversy. Ultimately, gun safety bills that raise the minimum eligible age of purchase, extend waiting periods, and expand Colorado’s ERPO (Extreme Risk Protection Order, or “Red Flag”) law have passed both chambers after lengthy delays. 

Among the bills LAM-CO is actively working on, our Medical Debt Credit Reporting bill has passed both chambers with amendments. While the compromise bill is less ambitious than our original proposal, we still look forward to these substantial protections being signed into law by the Governor. Our bill to allow local decision-making on rent stabilization policies has passed the House, as has our bill creating just cause requirements for tenant eviction. 

URBAN SERVANT CORPS AT THE CAPITOL: The volunteers with Urban Servant Corps, a service year program which invites volunteers into simple living and intentional community in Denver, joined Lutheran Advocacy for a day at the state Capitol in March. Representative Andy Boesenecker and Senator Robert Rodriguez both greeted the volunteers and spoke about their paths to public service, while also hearing from the volunteers about their experience serving at organizations in Denver. 


Kansas Interfaith Action (KIFA) –

Rabbi Moti Rieber, Executive Director

The Kansas legislature concluded its main session last Thursday with a marathon session that lasted into the wee hours. Bills were bundled together, and policy that hadn’t been passed by either chamber was included in a demonstration of how broken the legislative process has become.  

Public Education – Vouchers: A plan that would give families within 250% of the FPL up to $5000 toward private or parochial education narrowly passed the House but was defeated in the Senate. We expect this to come back during veto session.  

LGBTQ+ issues – This session has seen a spate of bills targeting transgender individuals, particularly children. The governor’s veto of HB 2238 (the bill banning trans girls from girls’ sports) was overridden and now becomes law. SB 180 (“the women’s bill of rights”) was passed. SB 26 (a ban on gender-affirming care for minors) – which we had previously been told was dead in the House – became suddenly less dead. We expect 180 and 26 to be vetoed, and we will work to sustain the vetoes.  

SNAP – A bill to impose work or training requirements on “Abods” between 50-59 was passed and is on the way to the governor. Another bill to make SNAP dependent on being current with child support failed in the Senate, and a bill to criminalize homeless encampments didn’t get out of committee.  

Flat Tax – As in other red states, a high priority has been moving from a graduated income tax to a flat rate – a repudiation of over 100 years of the progressive income tax. In the conference committee, parts of the bill that benefit high-income Kansans got better, while the components that would benefit low- and middle-income Kansans were watered down. We are urging a veto.  

Vaccine Requirements – A bill cobbled together in conference committee that would expand exemptions from childhood immunizations (among other dangerous policies) based on a because-I-said-so philosophical objection failed on the Senate floor (at 3AM Friday morning).  

Elections – SB 209 would eliminate the three-day grace period for return of mail ballots, but it did not pass by a veto-proof majority.   

There will now be a two-week break while the governor decides which of these bills to veto. The legislature will return on April 24, and they will have to pass education funding, which they haven’t done. 


Lutheran Advocacy – Minnesota (LA-MN) –

Tammy Walhof, Director

Legislative Session: This session continues to move at a dizzying speed with an unprecedented number of bills moving forward from committees to floor action. 

Sacred Tiny Home Communities: The bill was included in the Senate Labor Committee Omnibus and the House Labor & Commerce Omnibus bill. We continue to work that 

  1. The bill remains in the Omnibus bills, 
  1. The Municipal “Opt Out” favored by the League of Cities NOT be included, and 
  1. The “Intentional Neighbor” participant provision remain at 33-40%. (Attempts to make it 25% “to house more people experiencing homelessness” goes against research for healthy stable communities). 

Lutheran Advocacy, Minnesota Director, Tammy Walhof, testifying.

Next Generation Climate Act: This bill updating our state’s greenhouse gas emissions targets to align with current climate science, is included in the House Climate Omnibus, but not the Senate Omnibus. Although 100% Clean Energy by 2040 has passed, benchmarks are needed for all sectors of the economy. The electrical sector is making strides in reducing harmful emissions, but other areas are increasing emissions. 

Spending Targets: House and Senate leaders along with Gov. Walz released budget targets for Omnibus Spending Bills March 21, much earlier than the usual May time-frame. 

  • Housing Target: Affordable Housing has been allotted $1 billion. A large portion is one-time spending from surplus. With money allocated to other committees, housing-related needs could get as much as $1.4 billion. 
  • Clean Energy/Climate Target: Spending for a number of different bills is included in the targets, including solar on schools, incentives for electrification, and more. 


New Mexico

Lutheran Advocacy Ministry New Mexico (LAM-NM) –

Kurt Rager, Director

Legislative Issue Briefing and Bishop’s Luncheon Returns 

After a two-year pause caused by the Covid pandemic, the annual in-person Legislative Issue Briefing and Bishop’s Luncheon returned as focal-point for the New Mexico Legislative Session.  

Legislative Issue Briefing: The morning began with Lutheran Advocacy Ministry – New Mexico (LAM-NM) supporters from across the state gathering at Bethlehem Lutheran (ELCA) in Santa Fe for an update on legislative issues and key bills being supported by LAM-NM during the session.  Featured speakers addressed New Mexico’s abundance of revenue anticipated for FY24 and competing interests, tax reform, proposals to modernize the state’s legislature, legislation related to homelessness and lack of affordable housing in NM, and to a group of criminal justice reform bills being considered.  LAM-NM works in strong partnership with the organizations represented by the speakers, including, New Mexico Voices for Children, New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness, and ACLU – New Mexico.  Participants were centered by a Bible study that began the day, led by Rev. Paul Schick. 

Bishop’s Luncheon: Following the conclusion of the Issue Briefing, participants moved to the historic La Fonda Hotel for the Bishop’s Luncheon, hosted by Bishop Jim Gonia of the Rocky Mountain Synod.  During the meal, Legislator of the Year awards were presented to four legislators. From both the Senate and the House, these legislators were lead sponsors on priority legislation of LAM-NM over the last two legislative sessions.  Legislation chosen included bills that capped store-front, short-term loans, at 36%, legislation that provides significant annual funding to the New Mexico Housing Trust Fund, and a constitutional amendment, overwhelmingly passed by voters, that taps the state’s massive Land Grant Permanent Fund of an additional 1.25%, much of which will go to support a robust expansion of Early Childhood care throughout the state.  In addition, the annual John and Chris Haaland Advocacy Award was presented to St. Andrew Presbyterian Church of Albuquerque, for their long-sustained advocacy on local and state issues that are priorities for LAM-NM.  

The entire day was well-received by all who attended. Attendees included members of Lutheran, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Methodist, United Church of Christ, Unitarian, Catholic, and Mennonite congregations throughout New Mexico.   


Hunger Network Ohio (HNO) –

Deacon Nick Bates, Director

2023 Budget Advocacy Day
On March 28th, the Hunger Network in Ohio held our Budget Advocacy Day where we invited faith leaders to lobby at the Ohio Statehouse. We had over 40 Faith leaders join us and attend 23 legislative meetings with their representatives and senators. Our main focuses on the day included Hunger-Free Schools, Increasing SNAP Benefits for Seniors, and Increasing Food Bank Funding. We had an amazing time with this group of strong advocates who were able to show up and speak up for our communities. 

Finance Committee Testimony:
Also on March 28th, Hunger Network’s Director, Nick Bates testified in front of the House Finance Committee. To read his testimony, click here! 

Upcoming Event:
Praying for our Daily Bread: Luncheon at Ohio Statehouse
May 11th, from 11am – 1pm at the Ohio Statehouse Atrium 

Join faith leaders, legislators, and advocates to discuss hunger in Ohio and what can be done to address it.  We will hear from Bishop Gregory V. Palmer of the West Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church, and legislative leaders about Ohio’s budget and efforts to reduce hunger in Ohio. 



Lutheran Advocacy Ministry – Pennsylvania (LAMPa)

Tracey DePasquale, Director

Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania(LAMPa) is busy preparing for our first in-person Lutheran Day in the Capitol since 2019.  The Rev. Dr. Roger Willer will keynote as we focus on a theme of Discipleship in a Democracy and progress on the new social statement. The day will feature workshops on hunger, housing, climate and clean water advocacy as well as building bridges for depolarization. We will celebrate advocates from every synod and make legislative visits to advocate on hunger and housing.  

LAMPa participated in the Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod’s Commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr.  as they honored his legacy with an ecumenical service of Holy Communion and a weekend focused the practice of nonviolence in their continuing efforts to build the Beloved Community in the Pittsburgh region with a priority on equitable housing. The weekend included a forum and panel discussion on state and federal housing advocacy priorities as well as the ELCA World Hunger housing resource, and an opportunity to visit ministries with unsheltered neighbors in the Pittsburgh region.  

LAMPa Director Tracey DePasquale participated in the Pennsylvania Emergency Food Assistance Advisory Council spring meeting, taught at Trinity Lutheran Church in Reading and accompanied allies and advocates from United Lutheran Seminary and Lower Susquehanna Synod to a rally at the Capitol for Education Equity as part of the Trans Day of Visibility.  


LAMPa is searching for a full-time communications and advocacy engagement manager.  Learn more.   


Texas Impact –

Scott Atnip, Outreach Director

The Texas Legislature in the middle of their 140 day biennial legislative session, and Texas Impact has mobilized Texans of faith, and specifically Lutheran leaders, to speak out on a wide range of issues.  

Bishop Michael Rinehart participated in a prayer vigil to support LGBTQ+ Texans testifying against a number of anti-trans bills in the House. Bishop Sue Briner testified against similar bills in the Senate and co-authored an op-ed with Episcopal Bishop Suffragan Kai Ryan. All three ELCA Bishops in Texas signed a letter opposing anti-immigrant legislation, including bills to deputize volunteers to deport migrants.  

Texans of faith participated in Texas Impact’s Annual Interfaith Advocacy Days.  Lutherans are participating in and providing leadership in Texas Impact legislative teams, Rapid Response Teams and Legislative Engagement Groups on a wide range of issues, from maternal health and reproductive justice to immigration, protecting the LGBTQ+ community, protecting public schools and more. Synod leaders and congregations are sharing weekly Action Alerts and calls to action.  

While most of the current focus is on the Texas Legislature, Texas Impact is funded to begin civic engagement work with Houston congregations, so planning is underway for a series of civic engagement programs and opportunities post-legislative session. 


Faith Action Network (FAN) –

Elise DeGooyer, Director

We are nearing the end of the 2023 Washington State Legislative Session, scheduled to conclude April 23. FAN-supported safety net protections were among the first bills to pass and move to the Governor’s desk to be signed, including one unanimous bipartisan bill Concerning Hunger Relief that will allot an extra $28M to emergency food and nutrition services to begin to address the “hunger cliff” people are experiencing as their pandemic SNAP benefits ended. In a year when the economic forecast wasn’t bright, we still await final passage of the expansion of School Meals for More Students (bill trimmed from universal school meals due to cost), as well as a Hunger Free College Campus bill 

FAN advocates and colleagues continued to bring their multi-issue concerns to their legislators this session.

We are awaiting passage of some technical fixes to the Working Families Tax Credit, which launched February 1 and over 150,000 low-income people have applied for the credit, which provides up to $1,200 cash. FAN is involved in outreach about this credit to faith communities in multiple languages. Our coalitions’ economic justice bills to fix Washington’s regressive tax system–like a Wealth Tax, Guaranteed Basic Income, and so-called “baby bonds”—did not move this session.  

Great news over Easter weekend that the Death Penalty would finally be removed from Washington state law, with the legislature passing the bill to remove it after the State Supreme Court’s declared it to be unconstitutional. In the wake of the tragic Tennessee and Kentucky shootings, the legislature passed FAN-supported bills to limit assault weapons, expand background checks and waiting periods, and hold the gun industry accountable to controls.  

Agreement on a two-year state budget is pending, with FAN advocating for Health Equity for Immigrants and housing/homelessness funding in the final budget. 


Lutheran Office for Public Policy – Wisconsin (LOPPW)

The Rev. Cindy Crane, Director

Wednesday Noon Live  We interviewed Faith in Place staff, Alexander Malchow, Wisconsin Policy Coordinator, and Jonathan “Cosmic” Jackson, Wisconsin Outreach Coordinator.  

2023 Interfaith Advocacy Day and the Wisconsin State Budget
We had an inspiring 2023 Interfaith Advocacy Day, organized by LOPPW and Faith in Place, with great speakers and an engaged group we helped prepare to make visits at the Capitol.  

Wisconsin State Budget Tool Kit:   Priorities related to energy efficiency, clean water, adaptation to climate change, youth justice, and driver licenses for undocumented Wisconsinites.  The kit lists dates for public hearings and links for submitting your comments on the budget:  Budget Talking Points & Public Hearings 


We made final plans for our April Youth Advocacy Retreat with leaders from synods around Wisconsin and the UP.

Speak and Act for Trans Lives

This post, “Dear ELCA, We Must Speak and Act for Trans Lives,” is reprinted in full by permission of the author, originally posted to the author’s blog on March 27, 2023.


By Jamie Bruesehoff [about the author]

During this week leading up to Transgender Day of Visibility as legislative attacks terrorize the LGBTQ+ community with many targeting transgender young people, consider our call as a church and how we might live that call out in proclamation and action for the sake of our siblings. This post is specifically directed at my siblings in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) although the action steps apply to all.

My daughter, Rebekah Bruesehoff, with her dad an ELCA pastor at the New Jersey State House. She was 10 years old then. She is now 16 years old. Trans lives continue to be under attack.

People of faith continue to do the most significant harm to the LGBTQ+ community, personally and politically. People of faith must loudly and boldly speak and act against it.

I have watched as parents, lay leaders, deacons and pastors, and bishops mobilize in action against these sinful attacks on the LGBTQ+ community, especially our transgender and nonbinary siblings. Public posts, sermons, email campaigns, being present at protests, and testifying in the legislature and more.

Thank you Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton for your statement

Thank you to Bishop Kevin Strickland (Southeastern Synod), Bishop Mike Rinehart (Texas – Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod), and Bishop Sue Briner (Southwestern Texas Synod) for showing up at state capitals and testifying and mobilizing your people to do the same. I’m certain these aren’t the only Bishops mobilizing, but these are the ones I’ve spoken with or heard from.

Thank you to ELCA Vice President Imran Siddiqui for repeatedly using your voice to lift up who we are as a church and to vocally support our transgender siblings and oppose discrimination.

Thank you to leaders and ministries like Pastor Dawn Bennett at the Table in Nashville and Technicolor Ministries in the Southwestern Texas ministries. I know so many others are doing this work on the ground; I am grateful for all of you.

I am deeply grateful for every single person, every statement, every act of advocacy. I am grateful for the way our church is looking to understand what a more faithful and just future looks like in the realm of our polity. And we need to do more. Right now.

Our transgender siblings are crying out for justice, they are begging for mercy and protection, for support, for people to care with their words and their actions. Our rostered leaders, our seminarians, families with transgender youth, and the transgender people in our pews need the church to show up at this moment. What are we going to do? There is a genocide happening. There is blood on the hands of those who do not act.



For this we can turn not only to recent statements from Bishop Elizabeth Eaton but to our social statement on Faith, Sexism, and Justice.

Faith, Sexism, and Justice: A Call To Action – English

Faith, Sexism, and Justice: A Call to Action – Spanish

In this social statement the ELCA commits itself to the following (among other things):.

  • Advocate for and support laws, policies, and practices that respect diverse bodies rather than discriminating against, objectifying, or devaluing them. (p. 60)

  • Advocate for and support medical research, health care delivery, and access to equitable and affordable health care services, including reproductive health care, that honor how bodies differ and eliminate discrimination due to sex (biological), gender, or sexual orientation. (p.62)

  • Advocate for and support portrayals in entertainment, media, and advertising that do not objectify or stereotype people but rather show all people as capable of the wide variety of human characteristics and roles. (p. 67)

And in implementation of those commitments, we resolve to:

1 – To urge members, congregations, synods, churchwide ministries, social ministry organizations, church-related institutions, ecumenical partners, and all people of good will to be guided by this statement’s convictions and commitments to resist and dismantle patriarchy and sexism, and to transform life in the church and in society; (p. 81)

2 – To call upon members of this church to pray, work, and advocate for justice for all those affected by sexism and patriarchy and to draw upon this statement in forming their judgments and actions in daily life; (p.81)

4 – To call upon all members of this church to reflect on how mass media (films, video games, etc.) and social media distort sex, gender, and sexuality and to address this problem in their own actions (especially their care for children); (p.81)

10 – To call upon this church’s advocacy and related ministries, such as ELCA Advocacy and ELCA World Hunger, to support and advocate for measures, policies, and laws consistent with this social statement and to give sustained attention to its convictions and commitments in the creation of programs and projects; (p. 82)

15 – To call upon rostered and lay congregational leaders, synodical and CWO staff, social ministry organizations, and faculty and staff at ELCA colleges, seminaries, and universities to renew their efforts to welcome, care for, and support the lives and gifts of LGBTQIA+ persons and to oppose discrimination against these persons so that they may live into the promise of gender justice envisioned in this social statement; (p.82)



It is clear what we believe as a church. In light of the above directives, we must advocate against: gender affirming healthcare bans, transgender athlete bans, curriculum and book bans, bathroom bans, bills disguised as parental rights efforts that jeopardize the health, safety, and humanity of LGBTQ+ young people.

So what do we do? We give of ourselves, our time, and our possessions for the sake of our siblings. The following action steps are by no means exhaustive. Honestly, they are a starting point. But may they be a jumping off point for you to commit time, money, and energy to the fight for transgender lives.

  • Find what’s happening in your state (ACLU leg tracker linked). You can google other resources. Here’s a look at healthcare bans that have been passed or introduced across the country.. 

    • Call your legislators. Tell them as a constituent and a person of faith, you oppose bills that discriminate against LGBTQ+ people.

    • Plan to show up to testify

  • Find what organizations are doing on the ground work related to what’s happening in your state. Google it. Ask on social media. 

    • Reach out to ask how you can best help in this moment. Listen to them and do what they tell you to do.

    • Plan to show up at public actions and protests as a person of faith.

    • Donate funds to them and encourage others to do the same.

  • Communicate what you’ve learned in both items above and the next steps with colleagues and congregation members.

    • Speak it from your pulpit.

    • Mobilize your people.

    • Share widely on social media.

  • Tell your story publicly. As a person of faith, as a Lutheran church leader, as a parent and a community member… I oppose discrimination against my transgender siblings of any kind, not in spite of my faith, but because of it. I support LGBTQ+ people. I support science. I support truth.

    • Write op-eds.

    • Speak to your neighbors.

    • Be bold, because your faith calls you to this.

  • Donate to local, state, and national organizations working for the full justice and safety of LGBTQ+ people, especially transgender and non-binary people. 

  • Donate to direct aid requests for families or individuals seeking safety, seeking healthcare, or otherwise in need.

Transgender and nonbinary people are called and claimed children of God. The church and the world is a better place because of them. And it is our responsibility as Christians to actively and relentlessly work for justice.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jamie Bruesehoff (she/they), a member of the ELCA Church Council, is an award-winning LGBTQ+ advocate, nationally known speaker, and mother of three, including a transgender child. Her family and work have been featured by media outlets and organizations around the world, including Disney, NPR, Good Morning America, USA Today, The Today Show, CBS News, Human Rights Campaign, The Trevor Project, and The GenderCool Project. With a master’s degree from The Lutheran Theological Seminary-Gettysburg and twenty years of experience working with youth and adults in and outside of the church, she strives to create a world where LGBTQ+ young people thrive. She lives in New Jersey with her spouse and children. Her upcoming book, Raising Kids Beyond the Binary: Celebrating God’s Transgender and Gender-Diverse Children, is available for pre-order wherever books are sold.

ELCA Farm Bill Listening Sessions


Select to view short video.

The U.S. Congress is working to draft a new, five-year Farm Bill. “You may already know Farm Bill reauthorization is underway,” says John Johnson, ELCA Program Director for Domestic Policy. This impacts all of us who eat, including those of us who struggle with hunger. Beyond our bellies, we’ll feel the impact of farm bill policy decisions through our vocations. “Many of you work on farms, in businesses, and help to feed hungry people not only in the United States but around the world,” he observes.


What Is the Farm Bill and Why Now?

The farm bill is legislation that is critical to addressing hunger in the United States and globally. It covers federal nutrition programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), environment, trade, foreign aid and rural development. The bill impacts the lives of Lutherans and their communities – among us are farmers and ranchers and Indigenous communities and global partners and low income Americans.

Congress is preparing to reauthorize the bill in 2023. Each reauthorization provides an opportunity to improve or expand programs that ensure access to fresh and healthy food while addressing root causes of hunger.


What Is a Listening Session?

ELCA farm bill listening sessions are virtual gatherings where ministry leaders, members of congregations, and those with valuable lived experiences gather our opinions and experiences informed by faith values on stewardship, justice and serving our neighbor. This input will equip one another and the many communities of this church for farm bill advocacy that reflects those values, including our ELCA Witness in Society advocacy staff. These viewpoints, opportunities, concerns and hopes for a future farm bill will inform ELCA advocacy and help shape the ultimate law that Congress passes.


When Are They Happening & How Can I Register?

At this time, four 1.5 hour listening sessions are scheduled in April and May 2023. Register for any, but each session will feature some discussion specific to the region of a particular time zone or demographic of constituents.


  • Enfoque nacional bilingüe (español/inglés)
    UPDATE: 5/18/23 – session cancelled | sesión cancelado
    Miércoles 24 de mayo – 18.00 horas MT (20.00 horas ET)
    Inscríbase –

    • El equipo de incidencia política federal de la ELCA desea solicitar la colaboración de diversos sectores de la ELCA que deseen participar en una sesión de sensibilización sobre la Ley Agrícola. Esta legislación es clave para abordar la problemática de la conservación y el hambre tanto en Estados Unidos como en el resto del mundo. Estas sesiones son reuniones virtuales en las que los líderes de los ministerios, los miembros de las congregaciones y aquellos con valiosas experiencias vividas proporcionarán información al equipo de Witness in Society en Washington, DC. Sus puntos de vista, iniciativas, inquietudes y esperanzas respecto a la futura ley agrícola servirán para informar nuestra incidencia y ayudarán a dar forma a la ley final que se apruebe en el Congreso. ¡Dialoguemos y actuemos junta/os!

Invite others using social posts from @ELCAadvocacy!

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • and Instagram



Current legislation is set to expire in September 2023, and our faithful action can impact reauthorization decisions. On Capitol Hill, our faith-centered perspectives will inform ELCA advocacy as we advance priorities toward a just world where all are fed. “We need your expertise, and we need your comments, hopes and dreams for how this Farm Bill can make a better world,” invites Johnson. Please be part of a Listening Session to Inform ELCA Farm Bill Advocacy.


Want to learn more?

March Updates: U.N. and State Edition

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




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

Christine Mangale, Director

  • Child Labor Statement: LOWC co-led the creation of the statement “A Call to Stop Stealing Children’s Lives” as part of the United Nation’s NGO Committee on Migration. Lutheran World Federation (LWF) has signed. The letter is a call to action to all UN Member States in an effort to raise the alarm and rally collaboration to put an immediate end to all forms of child labor. More information about the letter can be found here as well as sign-on link below 
  • UN Commission on Status of Women: From March 6-17, 2023, LOWC has hosted 30 Lutheran Delegates who are attending the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW67) in New York. The delegation includes representation from 12 countries (Columbia, Ethiopia, Finland, Indonesia, Jordan, Liberia, Mexico, Mozambique, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Uganda, UK, USA, Zimbabwe). They represent Lutheran clergy, lay leadership, staff and issue experts from Lutheran faith-based organizations and our partners. This year’s CSW67 priority theme is “Innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.”  
    • The group made an official statement to the Commission on the Status of Women in its 67th session. LOWC, together with LWF, planned hosting and co-hosting of eight high level events during the CSW67 including side-events, workshops and learning events, Lutheran worship and ecumenical and interfaith prayer gatherings. Additional event information is available from an ELCA Advocacy Blog post on CSW67. 
    • On March 10, 2023 LWF hosted the event, “Harnessing ICTs to End Sexual and Gender-Based Violence.”  
    • On March 9, 2023, LOWC co-hosted “A Phone of My Own: Sexual and Economic Empowerment in Times of Crisis”. Co-sponsors included Finland, Liberia, UNFPA, ACT Alliance, Act Church of Sweden, Bread for the World, Christian Aid, Dan Church Aid, Finn Church Aid, Lutheran World Federation, World Renew, Norwegian Church Aid, World Council of Churches, and World YWCA. Webcast can be accessed here when it is published. 



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

Regina Banks, Director

Budget negotiations are in full swing in California right now as organizations are dealing with the near $23 billion state shortfall projected for the 2023-24 fiscal year. The Lutheran Office of Public Policy in California(LOPP-CA) is working on a variety of issues with our coalitions covering child poverty, hunger, affordable housing, environmental justice, and more.  

Some key bills we’re supporting and tracking right now include AB 1128 (Santiago), which would remove age restrictions on a qualifying child for the Young Child Tax Credit, and AB 1498 (Gipson), which would create a minimum dollar amount available for the Earned Income Tax Credit. One environmental bill we’re following is the re-introduction of the Climate Corporate Leadership and Data Accountability Act, SB 253. 

Upcoming events: Join LOPP-CA in celebrating the end of the ICE contract at Yuba County Jail on Sunday, March 19th at 1 pm outside the Yuba Co. jailhouse! LOPP-CA is co-sponsoring the event and helping with some transportation costs for families of former detainees to attend the event from the San Jose and Bay Areas. Register at: 

Registration is also now open for our annual Lutheran Lobby Day! You’re invited to join us on Wednesday, May 17th from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm in Sacramento for a day of speakers, workshops, and legislative meetings on important state justice issues. Register here: 





Lutheran Advocacy Ministry Colorado (LAM-CO) –

Peter Severson, Director

SUCCESSFUL DAY AT THE CAPITOL: Lutheran advocates joined together for our annual Day at the Capitol event on February 16. Participants engaged with Rep. Andrew Boesenecker (Fort Collins), a former ELCA pastor, and an advocacy leader from the Colorado Center on Law & Policy before moving to the Capitol to lobby for House Bill 1126 (see more below). Thanks to all who came!   

LEGISLATIVE SESSION CONTINUES: The Colorado General Assembly has reached its halfway point of the session. Some of the important bills on the Lutheran Advocacy agenda are below: 

HB 23-1126 – Consumer Reports Not Include Medical Debt Information (Reps. Naquetta Ricks & Ron Weinberg) 

Prevents medical debt from appearing on credit reports, and prevents collection agencies from falsely asserting that medical debt will impact one’s credit score. 

HB 23-1008 – Food Accessibility (Rep. Mike Weissman) 

Transfers $1 million per year for the next 7 years to the Colorado Division of Prevention Services, directing the division to partner with a statewide nonprofit organization to provide healthy eating program incentives among Colorado’s low-income populations. One purpose of the program incentives is to increase access to fresh Colorado-grown produce among these populations.  

HB 23-1186 – Remote Participation in Residential Evictions (Reps. Mandy Lindsay & Iman Jodeh) 

For residential evictions filed in county court, the bill requires the court to allow either party or any witness to choose to appear in person or remotely at any proceedings. 

You can see all the bills we’re working on at


New Mexico

Lutheran Advocacy Ministry New Mexico (LAM-NM) –

Kurt Rager, Director

1st Session of the 56th Legislature races toward the finish. 

The New Mexico Legislature’s current 60-day session will come to an end at noon on March 18.  Almost 1,300 pieces of legislation have been introduced.  Lutheran Advocacy Ministry – New Mexico (LAM-NM) has been tracking 90-plus bills, actively speaking in support or opposition to those identified as priority legislation through our 2023 Advocacy Agenda.  

LAM-NM Advocacy Agenda legislation highlights:  

Affordable Housing & Homelessness Supporting legislation that would update landlord-tenant relations, for appropriations to the NM Housing Trust Fund, enabling it to greatly increase the building of low and affordable housing, and for funding of programs that can prevent and assist people experiencing homelessness.   

Family-Sustaining Income – Supporting legislation that updates monthly TANF payment amounts, work exemptions and barriers to access, and for new SNAP transitional support and senior cost-of-living support. 

Healthcare – Supporting legislation that would create Public Health and Climate Resiliency funds, that would create a Prescription Drug Affordability Board, that would increase Medicaid provider rate increases, legislation that supports rural healthcare options and staffing, and studying the feasibility of expanding Medicaid to all New Mexicans.  

Hunger – Supporting legislation that would provide for healthy universal breakfast and lunch meals at schools, and for full funding of the Food Initiative.  

Tax Policy – Supporting omnibus tax legislation that would revise personal income tax rates, reduce capital gains tax break, increase the state’s Child Tax Credit, cut the state’s GRT rate, and more.  

Criminal Justice – Supporting legislation that would eliminate the sentencing option of life without the possibility of parole for juveniles, would revise court fines and fees, and would prohibit private prisons from detaining asylum seekers. 



Lutheran Advocacy Ministry – Pennsylvania (LAMPa)

Tracey DePasquale, Director

LAMPa Director Tracey DePasquale joined Legislative Hunger Caucus leaders at a Capitol press conference about the looming hunger cliff

LAMPa Director Tracey DePasquale joined Legislative Hunger Caucus leaders at a Capitol press conference about the looming hunger cliff

With more than $200 million a month in federal emergency food assistance about to expire in Pennsylvania, advocates invited lawmakers to learn about the growing rate of food insecurity and urged them to increase state supports in the face of a looming hunger cliff. Lutheran ministries were well represented at the Legislative Lunch and Learn, hosted  by the Hunger Caucus and the Pa. Hunger Action Coalition 

Witness in Society staff delivered invitations from ELCA ministries with people experiencing homelessness to members of Congress

Witness in Society staff delivered invitations from ELCA ministries with people experiencing homelessness to members of Congress


Lutheran Advocacy Ministries in Pennsylvania(LAMPa) was on the road in February, marking a significant return to in-person events, starting with the delivery of quilt squares and site visit invitations to members of Congress from ELCA ministries in their districts with people experiencing homelessness. The invitations were a follow-up to the Homeless Remembrance Blanket Project held on the Capitol lawn in December. While in Washington, LAMPa Director Tracey DePasquale participated in the Blessed Tomorrow summit for a faith-community campaign to hit 2030 climate targets. 

Closer to home, DePasquale offered in-person presentations in Southwestern, Northeastern and Lower Susquehanna synods and attended the Pasa (Sustainable Agriculture) Conference. 

LAMPa and ecumenical partners offered ashes-to-go in the state Capitol for the first time since the pandemic

LAMPa and ecumenical partners offered ashes-to-go in the state Capitol for the first time since the pandemic

In another welcome return, LAMPa and ecumenical partners marked the start of Lent by offering ashes-to-go in the state Capitol for the first time since the start of the pandemic. 

LAMPa is looking forward to our first in-person Lutheran Day in the Capitol since 2019.  The Rev. Dr. Roger Willer will keynote as we focus on a theme of Discipleship in a Democracy and progress on the new social statement. 

LAMPa is searching for a full-time communications and advocacy engagement manager.  Learn more.   




Faith Action Network (FAN) –

Elise DeGooyer, Director

Trevor Sandison (center), longtime ELCA government relations volunteer for FAN, has put in long hours in Olympia this month!

Trevor Sandison (center), longtime ELCA government relations volunteer for FAN, has put in long hours in Olympia this month!

We passed the halfway point in the 2023 Washington State Legislative Session, scheduled to last until April 23. Faith Action Network(FAN)-supported safety net protections were the first bills to pass their houses of origin, including those addressing funding for food banks, free school meals for more children, and hunger-free campuses. Other bills on our agenda that we care greatly about are moving forward, providing fixes to the Working Families Tax Credit, increasing gun safety, and removing unconstitutional statues such as the death penalty from state law. Some bills we care about that would advance economic justice are not moving forward, like a Guaranteed Basic Income and Washington Future Fund. As we move toward April, legislators will also need to come to agreement on a two-year state budget. The hybrid session has allowed for committee testimony both in-person and virtually, enabling advocates to sign in Pro or Con on bills and provide written testimony—all positive outcomes of two years of online sessions. 

FAN-supported gun responsibility bills were debated for many hours on the House floor before passage: One bill will require a comprehensive background check, safety training, and a 10-day waiting period to purchase a firearm in Washington. Another bill would ban the sale of assault weapons and prohibit the sale, manufacture, transport, and import (but not possession) of assault weapons. 

FAN Governing Board members were also involved in local leadership towards passage of an ordinance to ban caste-based discrimination in the City of Seattle, the first city in the nation to do so. 



Lutheran Office for Public Policy – Wisconsin (LOPPW)

The Rev. Cindy Crane, Director

Wednesday Noon Live: We interviewed Julia Weibe, ELCA member and Bilingual FoodShare Outreach Specialist at Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin. Extra benefits for FoodShare ended on the day of our interview. Hear about what this means, how public policies matter, and about Julia’s personal story and faith journey. 

Advocacy, Training, and Preparations:  We advocated on driver’s licenses for undocumented Wisconsinites. Wisconsin Representative James Sensenbrenner introduced the Real ID Act in 2005. But it was a state law passed in 2007 that prevented undocumented people from obtaining licenses. There is more movement now than in many years to restore licenses for our undocumented neighbors; farmers are among the most vocal advocates.  

We spoke to legislators about returning 17 year old youth to the juvenile justice system. Wisconsin is one of three states still defaulting 17-year-olds to the adult court system, and the other two, Georgia and Texas, have proposed legislation to change that in their legislative hoppers. 

In addition, we advocated on two anti-sex trafficking bills, and in the state budget, funding to support Focus on Energy and addressing the problem of PFAs in water. 

LOPPW led two workshops, one on why we advocate as people of faith and another on how to advocate at a Northwest Synod of Wisconsin Event. 

We continued planning for our Day of Advocacy: Hunger, Climate & Water with our partner, Faith in Place, and our Youth Advocacy Retreat with leaders from synods around Wisconsin and the UP.   

March Update: Advocacy Connections

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

Partial expanded content from Advocacy Connections: March 2023


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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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Faith-Based Global Gender Equity Advocacy at CSW67

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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