Following are updates shared from submissions of the Lutheran Office for World Community and state public policy offices (sppos) in the ELCA Advocacy Network last month. Full list and map of sppos available.
Lutheran Office for World Community (LOWC), U.N. – ELCA.org/lowc
Christine Mangale, Director
Third and Second Committees of the General Assembly: The 78th session of Third Committee of the General Assembly, which deals with Social, Humanitarian and Cultural issues, has been meeting since Sept. 28 following the conclusion of UNGA78 high level meetings. The Third Committee has robust agenda items and like in previous sessions, is focusing on the examination of human rights questions, including reports of the special procedures of the Human Rights Council. Agenda items include the advancement of women, the protection of children, indigenous issues, the treatment of refugees, the promotion of fundamental freedoms through the elimination of racism and racial discrimination, and the right to self- The Committee also addresses social development issues related to youth, family, ageing, persons with disabilities, crime prevention, criminal justice, and international drug control. LOWC is following closely the sessions and coordinating with the LWF Action for Justice unit.
The United Nations General Assembly Second Committee is one of the six main committees of the United Nations General Assembly. It deals with global finance and economic matters. LOWC staff have also been following the Second Committee which is responsible for agenda items related to economic and financial affairs, with LOWC most closely following tax-related negotiations.
Rally for Peace: While commemorating the 23rd anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (SCR 1325) on Women, Peace, and Security that was adopted in October 2000, LOWC staff attended the NGO Committee on the Status of Women (NGO CSW) rally for peace that focused on recognizing and voicing concerns on how women are deeply affected by a conflict torn world. The rally emphasized the importance of involving women in decision making, conflict prevention, resolution, and peacebuilding activities. Participants called for a more gender-inclusive world.
Women’s Political Participation and the National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security in Columbia: LOWC staff attended a High-Level Policy Briefing in the run-up to the annual Open Debate on Women, Peace, and Security. One of the main goals of the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) agenda is to guarantee and increase women’s contributions and participation at all levels of decision-making. The meaningful participation of diverse women in peace processes and post-conflict governance is critical to achieving inclusive and sustainable peace. This specific briefing focused on the level and quality of Colombian women’s participation in the creation of the country’s National Action Plan (NAP). It also commented on lessons learned about women’s political participation following the 2016 peace agreement between the Colombian Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC-EP).
Women’s Human Rights Advocacy Training: LOWC Program Director Daniel Pieper attended the Women’s Human Rights Advocacy Training which took place from 17-20 October 2023 in Geneva Switzerland. The annual training is organized by Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in partnership with the World Council of Churches, Finn Church Aid and Norwegian Church Aid. Among the participants from different churches and faith-based organizations were women and men from LWF’s member churches in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malawi, the United States and Zimbabwe, as well as from its World Service country programs in Chad, Iraq and South Sudan. During the training, the LOWC Program Director shared about the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW68) and also participated in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) review of Malawi.
LUTHERAN ADVOCACY MINISTRY ARIZONA (LAMA) – lamaz.org
Solveig Muus, Director
Lutheran Advocacy Ministry Arizona (LAMA) hosted its 4th annual summit on Nov. 4, bring together LAMA policy council, congregational liaisons and leaders to explore advocacy as a spiritual practice… how might some element of advocacy become part of your daily or weekly routine? In addition, we prayed, sang, ate and wrote letters to our legislators, inviting them to Lutheran Day at the Legislature.
As one of LAMA’s policy priorities 2024 is water, our LAMA team connected with Congressman Greg Stanton and water policy experts over a community breakfast. We continue to seek partnerships in this area – conversations welcome!
Our Grand Canyon Synod Hunger Leaders Network meets monthly to share resources and updates from churchwide, learn about local hunger ministries, and support one another. The network is engaged in a congregational hunger ministry survey – the goal is 100% participation, with a hunger leader liaison in every congregation – and planning a Lenten Challenge with our sister synod in Southeastern Iowa.
This month, LAMA was privileged to present resources, updates and information about our work in person at two congregations, in addition to the synod convention of the Women of the ELCA and the synod retirees in retreat. We’re promoting an Advocacy 101 Toolkit from our partners at Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest (LSS-SW) which includes a video, slide show and resources for individual or group use.
All that, plus coalition partner meetings, Hunger Fellow engagement, planning for Lutheran Day at the Legislature on Jan. 18, 2024, and a tour of the Maricopa County Elections Office are keeping us busy!
Lutheran Advocacy Ministry Colorado (LAM-CO) – lam-co.org
Peter Severson, Director
SPECIAL SESSION: Colorado Governor Jared Polis has called a special session of the legislature that began on Friday, Nov. 7. Legislators addressed property taxes and sought to provide relief after the failure of Proposition HH on the ballot. Average property tax increases across Colorado are approaching 40% due to skyrocketing assessment values, so the legislature will try to find a different path forward that is distinct from Prop HH.
Lutheran Advocacy Ministry Colorado will be advocating for an increased investment in the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit, which will offer significant poverty-reducing benefits for low-income families. The session will last at least three days.
ELECTION RESULTS: Proposition HH, the complex property tax reduction measure, failed by a significant margin. Proposition II, allowing the state to keep tobacco tax revenue, passed by a wide margin, and the nearly $24 million in revenue will go to the state’s new universal pre-K program.
Lutheran Advocacy Minnesota (LA-MN) – lutheranadvocacymn.org
Tammy Walhof, Director
Policy Council Retreat: The Lutheran Advocacy Minnesota (LA-MN) Policy Council just had its retreat with speaker Dr. Gary Simpson presenting on various ideologies of Christian traditions and how that influences political engagement. We spent time brainstorming strategies to respond to the deep polarization throughout our state and country. We plan to continue seeking ways to bring people together.
Issues for 2024: The Policy Council considered policy options for the next legislative session. We anticipate working on e-waste legislation (an environmental, energy, climate & jobs issue) and to increase the supply of affordable housing. At the federal level, we will be focused on various issues within the Farm Bill, which is a key legislation for ELCA Advocacy networks nationwide.
- Sacred Settlements: The legislation takes effect on Jan. 1. At that point, faith communities may move forward to host settlements of people leaving chronic homelessness and specially trained “good neighbors.” Two Minnesota synods passed resolutions in support of Sacred Settlements. If you would like to pursue something similar, see the resolution and a background paper on our website at https://www.lutheranadvocacymn.org/action-alerts.
- Energy Credits/Rebates: Several options for churches and individuals passed last session are not yet available, but we will monitor the rollout. We also plan to host informational events.
COP28 Climate Conference: Says Tammy Walhof, LA-MN director, “I have my ticket, my letter from the United Nations, and my visa, but still have a lot to learn before leaving for Dubai. As I mentioned in last month’s update, I’m privileged to represent the ELCA at this important event.” Please watch our Facebook page for updates from the Conference.
Faith Action Network (FANWA) – fanwa.org
Elise DeGooyer, Executive Director
FAN Annual Dinner
Faith Action Network (FANWA) staff and board hosted our annual celebration on Sun. Nov. 19. We held simultaneous in-person dinners in Renton and Spokane, plus a livestream with watch parties. This year’s theme, United in Hope, reflected our core conviction of hope for positive change through multifaith action. In the midst of a disheartening time of polarization, closely felt among the faith communities in our network, we were grateful to gather as a community.
Legislative Agenda Planning
FAN has been working on crafting our advocacy priorities for the 2024 legislative session with our coalition partners such as Anti-Hunger & Nutrition Coalition, Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network, Earth Ministry/WA interfaith Power & Light, and Balance Our Tax Code. It has been particularly helpful during this stage of planning to host regional cluster meetings. We met in 13 clusters this fall with more than 250 people from around the state. On the federal level, we continue to encourage our network to take action for the Farm Bill and WIC.
In November, we celebrated the success of the Health Equity for Immigrants Campaign. Starting on Nov. 1, all Wash residents, including immigrants who are undocumented, can buy health and dental insurance and apply for Cascade Care Saving Plans to alleviate their health care cost. Once a bill is passed, it is important for us to follow through its implementation. We will continue to work together in a coalition to expand access to this program and implement the next Medicaid-like health plan for immigrants.
Since Sept., 350+ newly arrived migrants seeking asylum from Angola, Congo and Venezuela have camped in tents or on the floor at a church outside Seattle. One third of them are children. ELCA Hunger Advocacy Fellow Tomo Duke testified at the King County Council budget hearing to ask for a county response to this emergency. Members of our network also are responding to the urgent needs for these immigrants, while we advocate for a government response.