ELCA Advocacy Office, Washington, D.C.
The Rev. Amy Reumann, director ELCA.org/advocacy
RESPONDING TO GUN VIOLENCE AND HATE: Our nation is in mourning this week following the tragic deaths of 11 worshipers and the wounding of law enforcement and others at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. This act was quickly identified as a hate crime, committed by a gunman espousing anti-Semitic vitriol and carrying an AR-15 and other weapons intending to take the lives of people because of their Jewish faith. The same week, two African American shoppers were gunned down by a white man in Kentucky, an act also being investigated as a hate crime. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we cannot become numb to mass shooting tragedies. We are called as God’s own people to promote peace and the dignity of persons all by engaging in prayer, addressing community violence, and vigorously opposing anti-Semitism, white supremacy and all form of hate through our words and deeds. Lutheran bishops in Pennsylvania joined in a shared statement in response to this tragedy. As Pennsylvania Lutherans reflect on recent events, read more about actions taken by ELCA bishops and faith leaders below in the Pennsylvania state-section.
And, when Congress returns to work following the November elections, it is also imperative that we address the gun violence in our nation. An Advocacy Alert facilitating your faithful action is available at elca.org/advocacy/actioncenter.
2018 NOVEMBER ELECTION UPDATE: Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6, and it is a critical time to get out and vote! Voting is a first step toward faithful civic participation – a deliberate process of naming our faith values, then acting on them through our vote. Be sure to visit elca.org/votes and the ELCA Facebook page for more resources, Bible studies, shareable graphics and tools in the lead up to Election Day.
INDEFINITE CHILDREN DETENTION, FLORES: On Sept. 7, the administration proposed a regulation change that will undermine existing child protection standards for immigrant children and the standards set by the courts in the 1997 Flores Agreement. While the agreement outlines that children are not safe in detention facilities and should not be detained for longer than 20 days, the proposed regulation allows the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to keep children in detention indefinitely, despite the psychological and physical toll. ELCA Advocacy shared an action alert in October, encouraging advocates to submit comments and share their perspectives on the rule. The current deadline for submitting comments is Nov. 6.
GLOBAL FOOD SECURITY ACT, SIGNED BY PRESIDENT: Earlier last month, the Global Food Security Reauthorization Act unanimously passed in both the House and Senate. Its passage extends congressional authorization for Feed the Future, a U.S. government initiative charged with combating chronic hunger and food insecurity around the world.
Globally, 815 million people suffer from chronic hunger; the majority of whom are women. Approximately 45 percent of deaths of children under the age of 5 are caused by malnutrition. Through initiatives like Feed the Future, participating countries have been able to increase agricultural and nutritional investments. As a result, farmers can feed their families and communities and contribute to their countries’ economic growth. ELCA Advocacy sent a message to advocates who took action on the bill, celebrating the extension following its passage in October.
IPCC UPDATE: The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the international scientific body that assesses the science related to climate change, issued its 2018 report titled “Global Warming of 1.5°C.” The report expressed the urgency of needing to take rapid strategic action over the next decade to limit global warming to 1.5ºC to avoid the risks associated with long-lasting or irreversible change.
ELCA Advocacy will be publishing a blog later in November focusing on Lutheran teachings on good stewardship and how to take action through advocacy. The blog also illustrates the links between the consequences of climate change with other issues such as forced migration, famine, food insecurity and more. This summer, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) was officially accredited by the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Observation Liaison Unit, and will be attending the next UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP) with several young adult leaders.
Lutheran Office for World Community, United Nations,New York, N.Y.
Dennis Frado, director
WOMEN, PEACE AND SECURITY WEEK: Different side events took place Oct. 21-25 on the sidelines of the annual Security Council Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security. The events emphasized the vital role of women in preventing conflict and helping to forge peace. Despite that, women are far too often prevented from participating fully in peacemaking processes. Between 1990 and 2017, women constituted only 2 percent of mediators, 8 percent of negotiators, and 5 percent of witnesses and signatories in all major peace processes.
In 2020 the 20th anniversary of Resolution 1325 of the Security Council will be celebrated. The resolution highlights the nexus between long-lasting peace agreements and the participation of women in peace negotiations.
HOUSTON CONFERENCE AFFIRMS AN INCLUSIVE JERUSALEM: A conference on “Jerusalem: What Makes for Peace?” organized by Bright Starts of Bethlehem was held in Houston on Oct. 11. Different panels emphasized the realities of Jerusalem today; the importance of inclusive religious discourse involving Jews, Muslims and Christians; how to achieve a balanced U.S. policy on Jerusalem under the Trump administration; and the need for urgent action. The Rev. Dr. Mae Cannon, executive director of Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) emphasized six tasks: 1) pray for the peace of Jerusalem; 2) heed the cry of the church in Jerusalem that is Palestinian; 3) repent and lament; 4) be prophets; 5) be pragmatic and strategic; and 6) be willing to not give up hope. A concluding statement by the four sponsoring organizations – Bright Stars, the National Council of Churches, CMEP and the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference – included a nine-point call to action.
Mark Carlson, Lutheran Office of Public Policy – California lutheranpublicpolicyca.org
DOCTRINE OF DISCOVERY, INDIGENOUS RIGHTS CHALLENGES, CLIMATE CHANGE: Synods that include California held their professional leadership conferences in October, and LOPP-CA director Mark Carlson participated in Theoasis in Palm Desert, which brought together the Pacifica and Southwest California synods and the Sierra Pacific Synod’s gathering in Olympic Park (still predominately known as “Squaw Valley,” an infamous, negative name in the experience of American Indians). Prairie Rose Seminole, ELCA director for American Indian and Alaskan Native Ministries, discussed her work, with a focus on the Doctrine of Discovery.
Prairie Rose Seminole at Shasta Dam overlook
Before meeting in Olympic Park, Carlson and Jane Affonso, an LOPP-CA Policy Council member, Southwest California Synod Council member and synod Green Faith Team co-chair, invited Seminole to join them in Sacramento for a Methodist-sponsored lecture by White House correspondent April Ryan and the annual Acorn Day at the State Indian Museum. They then made a pilgrimage to Shasta Dam, the McCloud River and the lower slopes of Mount Shasta, near sites sacred to the Winnemem Wintu Tribe threatened by the renewed push to raise Shasta Dam to quench thirsty farms and cities in Central and Southern California – the Doctrine of Discovery in current application, driven in part by climate change. The photo of Seminole at the dam is similar to one of Winnemem Wintu Chief Caleen Sisk that appears in a 33-minute segment of the documentary Standing on Sacred Ground
NOVEMBER ELECTION: We are hopeful that voters will approve funding for housing, Props. 1 and 2!
Peter Severson, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry–Colorado lam-co.org
FINAL BALLOT PUSH: Colorado voters received their ballots in the mail during the week of Oct. 15. Now comes the push to fill out and return ballots by Nov. 6! We continue to advocate in favor of Amendment A, Amendment 73 and Proposition 111. In addition, we have taken opposing positions on Amendment 74 (property compensation) and Proposition 109 (fund road and highway repair through bonds).
REGISTER NOW: Lutheran Advocacy reminds all Colorado voters that it’s not too late to register to vote! You can register all the way through Election Day and still receive a ballot. Remember to vote all the way down on your ballot – in fact, start from the bottom! You can find our voter guide and resources at lam-co.org.
MINISTRY VISITS: Peter Severson, LAM-CO director, has been on the road visiting congregations and ministries of the Rocky Mountain Synod. Thank you to Augustana, Denver; Glory of God, Wheat Ridge; Lutheran Episcopal Campus Ministry at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley; and Lutheran Episcopal Campus Ministry at Colorado University–Boulder!
CHRISTIAN UNITY GATHERING: The National Council of Churches held its Christian Unity Gathering in Washington, D.C., Oct. 14-17. Severson was appointed to serve as the ELCA representative on the Joint Action and Advocacy Committee. This year’s event was focused on acting in Christian unity to combat racism in all forms in both church and society.
Photo: ELCA participants at the National Council of Churches Christian Unity Gathering. From left: Rev. Brenda Smith, Prof. Michael Trice, Rev. Russell Meyer, Peter Severson, Joel Pakan, Aimée Pakan, Kathryn Lohre.
Tammy Walhof, Lutheran Advocacy–Minnesota lutheranadvocacymn.org
2019 ISSUES AGENDA: At October’s meeting, the LA-MN Policy Council determined broad agenda areas within our mandate of work on issues of hunger, poverty and care of creation.
STATE ISSUES (PROACTIVE AND DEFENSIVE WORK)
- AFFORDABLE HOUSING, HOMELESSNESS AND RELATED SERVICES: Despite wins at the Minnesota Legislature, significant shortages of affordable housing still exist across the state. Rapid loss of Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing (NOAH), high (and rising) rental rates, and wages that have stagnated or declined mean housing continues to be the most severe hunger/poverty issue facing Minnesota.
Walhof has been helping evaluate 44 policy proposals to recommend a few for the Homes for All collaborative agenda. Also from the LA-MN office, Amy Shebeck is engaged with the coalition’s communications team and managing some of the social media.
- CLEAN AIR, CLIMATE AND CLEAN ENERGY JOBS: Severe consequences of climate change are happening more rapidly than scientists believed would be the case due to pollution caused by fossil fuels. Many countries and states (including Minnesota) have already started transitioning to a clean energy economy, but that process needs to be greatly accelerated. Transitions will be difficult for some industries and workers, but changes will also create new economic opportunities, businesses and jobs.
LA-MN will be focused on education and legislation related to a) renewables, b) efficiency and c) mitigation to protect those most vulnerable.
FEDERAL ISSUES (DEFENSE OF PROGRAMS/PROTECTION OF THOSE MOST VULNERABLE)
- Anti-poverty programs in danger of severe cuts.
- Environmental protections in danger of severe cuts.
Lutheran Advocacy-MN website: Check out the content we’ve been adding to the site! ‘
GeoRene Jones, North Carolina Synod Social Justice and Advocacy Ministries nclutheran.org/congregations/justice/
After hurricanes Florence and Michael decimated eastern North Carolina communities, Rosemary and Bill Pate led a team of 55 DISASTER RECOVERY volunteers from Christ the King (Cary), which put boots on the ground in Fayetteville to help clean out flooded homes. Collaborating with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and North Carolina Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (NC VOAD), Ascension (Wilson) and St Mark’s (Lumberton) are responding as collection and distribution sites for food, adult and infant diapers, and personal hygiene kits.
Congregations including Grace (Hendersonville), First (Greenville), Mount Pisgah (Hickory) and Our Saviour’s (Welcome) included the University of North Carolina–Wilmington and Lutheran Disaster Response in their OUTREACH MINISTRIES and financial contributions. Lutheran Church of the Reconciliation (Wilmington), itself facing recovery of their heavily damaged campus buildings, also took on collection and distribution of food and cleaning supplies to neighbors in its community.
St. Mark’s (Asheville), Lutheran Church of the Reconciliation (Wilmington), and Christ the King (Cary) lent support for DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AWARENESS MONTH with educational opportunities, including topical discussions held on social media.
Again, St. Mark’s (Asheville) continues to support the ELCAVotes! initiatives to get members registered to vote and provided early voting information and candidate guides. At Christ The King (Cray), knowledgeable volunteers staffed tables in the atrium after services with information on early/absentee voting and ballot examples. Voting education focusing on proposed North Carolina constitutional amendments gave Sunday school classes an opportunity for discussions around needs for advocacy as a public witness ministry of the church.
LUTHERAN WORLD RELIEF QUILTS: Congregations created hundreds of quilts on behalf of Lutheran World Relief. Grace (Hendersonville) sent 100 to LWR and another 50 to hurricane relief, Christus Victor, Durham completed 200, and at Christ the King (Cary) quilts were displayed, ready to go, in their atrium.
Nick Bates, The Hunger Network in Ohio www.hungernetohio.com
DID YOU KNOW: One in 3 families in Ohio are struggling to make ends meet. There is an entire alphabet soup of acronyms of underfunded programs that should help many of these families put food on the table, purchase needed medicines and fix a car when it breaks. But the state of Ohio is holding hostage $500 million from the federal government that could help our neighbors. The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program was designed in 1996 to “end welfare as we know it,” but through out-of-date funding formulas, misdirected priorities, and harsh time requirements and sanctions, many of our neighbors don’t have access to the resources that we have invested in to help lift our communities out of poverty. We encourage you to join us for our Advent Advocacy Day on Nov. 28 at the Ohio Statehouse to meet with state officials to learn and discuss this and other important issues. Register at www.hungernetohio.com/advocacy
PLEASE REMEMBER TO VOTE YES ON ISSUE 1: When Ohioans are struggling, we help each other out. After 40 years of a failed war on drugs, we need a new strategy that is smart on crime and doesn’t go after those who are the most vulnerable in our communities – especially people of color and those struggling with poverty. These communities already lack the resources to access addiction treatment programs. Incarceration puts up even more walls to employment, treatment, education and housing. Issue 1 is a first step for our communities to create a more positive future where we invest in treatment over incarceration and we remove unnecessary blockades that trap our neighbors in poverty. You can download a bulletin insert on issue 1 here.
Tracey DePasquale, Lutheran Advocacy – Pennsylvania lutheranadvocacypa.org
Members of Trinity, Camp Hill, signed 425 letters in favor of a just federal Farm Bill.
LAMPa advocates celebrated the passage of Safe Harbor legislation protecting child victims of sex trafficking. The bill redirects victims away from prosecution for prostitution or other crimes related to their trafficking and into appropriate services. Women of the ELCA organizations throughout Pennsylvania were especially supportive in this advocacy over several legislative sessions. The bill was the last one addressed before the General Assembly recessed, effectively meaning all pending legislation has died. Among end-of-session highlights for LAMPa’s work was passage of legislation requiring firearms to be turned over to police within 24 hours in cases of domestic violence. Advocates prevented two bills with costly barriers to food and medical assistance from becoming law and stopped legislation that would have rolled back environmental regulations on oil and gas drilling for three decades.
Seven Pennsylvania synods joined in a shared statement in response to the violent crimes at the Tree of Life synagogue on October 27th. The statement rejected anti-Semitism as an affront to the Gospel, and issued a call to work towards peace. An interfaith statement expressing solidarity from religious leaders across the state, including Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania, was also released.
Pennsylvania hunger leaders are signing requests for increases in 2019 anti-hunger programs. DePasquale joined other members of the Pennsylvania Anti-Hunger Coalition executive team in meetings with the budget secretary, policy secretary and governor’s chief of staff to outline goals for next year.
Alaide Vilchis Ibarra teaching at the migrants’ journey simulation training.
OTHER HIGHLIGHTS: Lynn Fry from the LAMPa office attended the Pennsylvania Health Action Network annual conference. DePasquale taught at St. Matthew, York; the Wittel Farm, Lititz; and attended an event featuring Dan Rift, director for ELCA World Hunger and Disaster Appeal, at Trinity, Camp Hill, where LAMPa equipped the congregation to gather 425 letters in support of a just farm bill. She also connected with advocates at a migrant’s journey simulation training led by Alaide Vilchis Ibarra, ELCA Advocacy program director for migration, at St. Peter, Lancaster.
Hilton Austin, director
VOTE!: Midterms are upon us and Election Day is Nov. 6, but several states allow early voting. While Alabama and Mississippi do not participate, Georgia voters can cast early ballots up to Nov. 2, and Tennessee voters up to Nov. 1. Voters can look up their state’s sample ballots, check registration, find their polling sites and register to vote at headcount.org/your-ballot/.
SYNOD CONVOCATION: This month we attended and spoke at the Southeastern Synod Convocation at Lutheridge Camp and Conference Center in Arden, N.C. Hilton Austin and Jordan Slappey were able to give short presentations about advocacy and hunger in the synod and tabled for advocacy and ELCA World Hunger throughout the meeting.
CARE FOR CREATION: Austin attended the Georgia Interfaith Power and Light (GIPL) “Coastal Green Summit” in St. Simons Island. The event was well attended and very informative. GIPL provides a multitude of program and educational offerings to congregations and religious schools across Georgia. Two programs in particular were highlighted:
Our Powerwise program is a way that we help congregations reduce their energy footprint and save money! Through this program, we provide low-cost professional energy audits for congregations. After receiving one of these audits, your congregation can apply to GIPL for up to $10,000 in matching funds to implement recommended efficiencies.
Green Team Coaching/Green Team Registry.
Start a Green Team or Sustainability Group at your congregation! Green Teams are groups of three or more people who lead the sustainability work in a congregation. GIPL provides free Green Team coaching for a 12-month period to congregations forming a Green Team for the first time or to those that are relaunching a Green Team.
RESOURCE UPDATE: The synod advocacy office has finished writing and is in the process of producing and making a few informational documents available to the public. One document details the importance of the Lutheran call to be active advocates in our communities, and the other explains how to make an effective visit to a state’s capitol. Keep an eye out for them on the synod website.
Paul Benz, Faith Action Network fanwa.org
CLUSTER GATHERINGS: Every fall, FAN convenes the 21 geographic clusters that make up our Network of Advocating Faith Communities, of which we now have 144! These gatherings are a great time to connect with our members to hear what they are doing around advocacy, and for FAN to share social justice opportunities. So far we have had 14 meetings around the state!
ELCA HUNGER ADVOCACY FELLOW SARAH VATNE has been leading many adult education hours, workshops and forums over the last month. She has been focusing on the Washington State Initiatives, as well as the proposed Public Charge rule change. One conversation she led looked at the intersections of hunger and poverty, using the Presbyterian Church’s “Food Week” as a guide. To read more about this conversation, check out her blog post “Hunger is Not a Single Issue” sarahvatne.wordpress.com/2018/10/26/hunger-is-not-a-single-issue/.
ELECTION SEASON: FAN always coordinates candidate forums during this time of year. We have had several forums that we led before the August primary, but most of them occur during October. One highlight was an ELCA congregation from the Southwestern Washington Synod hosting a candidate forum for the first time, moderated by Bishop Rick Jaech.
Our ballots began arriving in homes Oct. 19 for people to start voting. Every fall ballot in Washington has a couple of statewide initiatives. The three main initiatives that FAN is working on are:
- I-940 reforms our state law to include training law enforcement in violence de-escalation and reframes the law regarding the use of deadly force. FAN encourages a YES vote.
- I-1631 establishes a fee of $15/ton on the highest carbon emitters in our state and creates a board to govern these funds, which would be reinvested in communities. If approved, we would be the first state in the country to have a carbon fee law passed by voters! FAN encourages a YES vote.
I-1639 helps reduce gun violence by increasing the age to purchase semiautomatic rifles to 21, enhances the background checks and training for these purchases, and establishes liability for gunowners whose gun has caused physical harm for not being properly stored. FAN encourages a YES vote.
Cindy Crane, Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin loppw.org
FARM BILL: Cindy Crane led a two-hour workshop on advocacy that included letter writing on the farm bill in the Northwest Synod of Wisconsin. Our hunger fellow, Kelsey Johnson, led a similar workshop in the Greater Milwaukee Synod. Crane preached and co-led a workshop with Johnson and our intern, Sarah, at a church in the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin.
IMMIGRATION: Sent out a message to our Listserv on the Flores Settlement and Public Charge
THE CARE FOR GOD’S CREATION team organized a half-day event, “What’s Working in Wisconsin” (with renewable energy). We included leaders from interfaith traditions, a county, two cities, a school district and secular nonprofits. LOPPW discussed how to advocate to duplicate what is working
VOTING: Sarah, via a grant secured by Lutheran Campus Ministry, helped organize a Wisconsin voting campaign. She created a student brochure, a poster inviting congregants to pledge to vote and interviewed students in a video that Kelsey edited: youtube.com/watch?v=f94CrYQuCak&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR10wyMBnUVqidh55ShjN4daRfgV5BmqFD8sPUbvnx2pgp7gxUShV36_b_Q. We made resources known via synod newsletters, email, social media and phone calls, and lifted up ELCAVotes resources.
Kelsey videotaped Crane and a volunteer with a message on voting in Spanish: youtube.com/watch?v=7JHFTlLYOt8&fbclid=IwAR1hAw8Zy8-w94G9fgex0Bp-xiIYrmLkA6OTZlCMZ4c3nwdkTIL5BCvc-io.
PARTNERING TO MAXIMIZE EFFORTS: We strategized with our Public Benefits Coalition to find common ground for a proactive agenda; with People of Faith United for Justice to prepare for advocacy day; and with the Wisconsin Anti-human Trafficking Consortium, which included a review of possible upcoming bills.
LOPPW ADVISORY COUNCIL RETREAT: Planned and held with council members.
Coming soon: Regional advocacy retreat for college students.