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. – ELCA.org/lowc
Dennis Frado, Director
The Twenty-First session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) took place from 25 April-6 May 2022. The theme this year was “Indigenous peoples, business, autonomy and the human rights principles of due diligence including free, prior and informed consent”.
Lutherans participated virtually and in person in the two-week event with a delegation of 5 representatives from the ELCA and the United Lutheran Seminary in Philadelphia.
In addition to attending the official sessions, Lutherans co-sponsored side events with several Ecumenical and Interfaith partners on the occasion of the Forum on Wednesday, May 4. The first event – “Faith-based Indigenous conversations” featured Vance Blackfox, Director, Indigenous Ministries & Tribal Relations, ELCA. The second event was a multi-faith worship service under the theme “All Our Relatives Live as One”.
- United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
- A Declaration of the ELCA to American Indian and Alaska Native People
- Indigenous Peoples reflect on Economy of Life – A webinar on 22 April 2021 hosted by the Lutheran World Federation, the World Council of Churches, the World Communion of Reformed Churches, the World Methodist Council and the Council for World Mission.
Lutheran Advocacy Ministry Colorado (LAM-CO) – lam-co.org
Peter Severson, Director
COLORADO LEGISLATURE ADJOURNS: The Colorado General Assembly adjourned on Wednesday, May 11. The Assembly took up a number of significant priorities on Lutheran Advocacy’s agenda, including school meals, criminal record sealing, housing support, workforce development, health benefits, and basic cash assistance. Our thorough write-up of the session and our priorities will be available in the coming weeks on our website, lam-co.org.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN SYNOD ASSEMBLY: The Rocky Mountain Synod met for its annual assembly in Loveland, Colorado, from May 9-11. Voting members had several opportunities to engage with advocacy efforts around the synod, including adding their voices to the ongoing listening process for a New Social Statement around Civics & Faith.
BALLOT MEASURE SEASON UPCOMING: Colorado has a generous direct-democracy provision in its constitution, meaning we get more ballot measures than most states. Follow our e-alerts and social media to learn more about our upcoming work on statewide ballot measures in 2022. It promises to be a busy season!
Delaware-Maryland Synod – demdsynod.org
The Rev. Lee Hudson, Assistant to the Bishop for Public Policy
The 2022 session of the Maryland General Assembly (MGA) was in session from January 12 to April 11, and it was productive for stated ELCA policy interests. By arrangement of the Delaware-Maryland Synod Bishop, the Rev. Bill Gohl, issues of interest are addressed under the auspices of his office, especially where a constituency interest may be present. These topics include creation care, racial justice, criminal justice, sustainable livelihood, and access to healthcare. There were 12 pieces of legislation that passed where documented support was sent to the MGA, as the legislation fell within the ELCA policy base. This included:
- Commitment to net-zero by 2045 with implementing policies;
- Protection of old growth forests;
- Expansion of the health insurance exchange with subsidies to small business and not-for-profit;
- Market stabilization of prior insurance exchange expansion;
- Medicaid expansion to include undocumented pregnant women and children;
- Medicaid expansion to include doula services;
- Medicaid expansion to include dental care;
- Introduction of CDC blood lead reference values to prevent poisoning;
- Paid family and medical leave;
- Expansion of EITC with notification of eligibility via tax returns;
- Eviction stay for determination of eligibility for rental assistance;
- Ghost gun ban
Texas Impact – texasimpact.org
Scott Atnip, Outreach Director
In response to the Texas Legislature’s voter suppression efforts in 2021, Texas Impact is scheduling a series of Faith in Democracy Events across the state this summer to equip congregations with the tools necessary to help participate in strengthening election infrastructure at the local level.
Following the Governor’s decision to bus migrants from the Texas/Mexico border the Washington, D.C., Texas Impact hosted ELCA Bishop Sue Briner on the Texas Impact Weekly Witness podcast discussing her meeting with migrant families in DC. Texas Impact is in process of relaunching the popular Court and Ports Program and is currently recruiting participants to go to the border to visit the ports of entry and serve as court observers.
The Texas Impact Board of Directors is beginning a project to compile social statements from member judicatories and will be responding to the series of high profile statements being made from state government officials and federal courts.
Faith Action Network (FAN) – fanwa.org
Elise DeGooyer, Director
In April we formulated our plans for Spring Summits in each of four regions across our state to meet in person and on Zoom as we reconnect for justice. We are looking forward to a hybrid summit experience, to make time for conversation to reintroduce advocates to each other, learn about the work they are doing in their communities, and have strategic conversations about policy issues. Our first summit was in the Puget Sound area on May 15.
Also in April, we learned of a proposed ballot initiative to undo the capital gains tax we passed last year after decades of work. Washington has the most regressive tax system in the nation, and we work in coalition to change that. We knew the measure would be challenged, as it has already been in court and is headed to the Washington Supreme Court. Now the opposition will begin signature gathering and have until July to gather over 320,000 signatures to qualify for the November ballot. This would have devastating impacts on funding for childcare and early learning services in our state. We are participating in the Decline to Sign campaign, and will oppose the initiative if it qualifies for the ballot.
Lutheran Office for Public Policy – Wisconsin (LOPPW) loppw.org
The Rev. Cindy Crane, Director
Wednesday Noon Live: Interview with Rev. Lanny Westphal, who talks about his sister living on a farm with her Ukrainian husband outside of Kyiv. Hear about his sister’s story and how the ELCA is helping Ukraine. Click here for the interview, and also updates on the Afghan Adjustment Act and Title 42.
Care for God’s Creation: LOPPW organized a first discussion about the Wisconsin Clean Energy Plan with leaders who were active in helping to shape the plan leading the discussion at our Wisconsin Climate Table. We are beginning to discern where advocacy will be needed on the legislative and state budget levels.
Youth Advocacy: Members of our team will develop a flyer and short video about faith-based advocacy. We plan to make the materials known at the synod youth events being held in July. Each of the team members will attend one of the events.
Synod Assemblies: LOPPW will have had an in-person presence at four assemblies, leading a workshop at one, speaking briefly during the plenary at one, and having tables at all four. One of the other synods will show a short video recently created by LOPPW at their mini assemblies.
Training Volunteers: LOPPW just trained one of our volunteers to give presentations on human trafficking. She presented on Saturday, May 14 while LOPPW staff was at the East Central Synod Assembly.