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

Partial expanded content from Advocacy Connections: October 2023



IN A TIME OF WAR: The devastating loss of life in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories since Oct. 7 grieve us all.
U.S. churches including the ELCA have spoken on the conflict several times (including 10/7/23 and 10/12/23); the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, ELCA presiding bishop, issued a statement on Israel-Hamas war (10/13/23); and an Action Alert for all of us to reach out to U.S. policy makers was advanced through the Peace Not Walls network; among faith-based responses to this situation.

Corresponding to calls from Churches for Middle East Peace, a coalition in which the ELCA is a member, we are calling on Congress to act in ways that will help de-escalate the violence and stop further loss of life. Specifically, we call on Congress to:

  • Publicly call for ceasefire, de-escalation, and restraint by all sides;
  • Call on all parties to abide by the laws of war, including the Geneva Conventions and customary international law; and
  • Prioritize steps to secure the immediate release of hostages and ensure international protection for civilians.

We implore Congress to refrain from steps that only exacerbate the violence and increase the risk of expanding war into the broader region. Any Congressional effort that is one-sided and rushes to send new weapons to Israel will only intensify the conflict, leading to further deaths and destruction. Congress must work to prevent the spread of more violence, including against Palestinian civilians in Israel and the West Bank.

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NATIVE AMERICAN HOUSING REFORMS: In July, the Senate passed a reauthorized version of the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act (NAHASDA) – the main vehicle of U.S. housing assistance and funding for tribal communities.

The legislation, which has not been reauthorized since 2013, was attached as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act which passed by a wide margin of 86-11. NAHASDA block grant funding to tribal communities has remained flat and not risen with inflation since its expiration over a decade ago – making renewal a core priority for many housing advocates. Final passage could be quite possible as the Senate conferences the wider bill with the House of Representatives later this year. Witness in Society staff are tracking the legislation and will be coordinating with partners on the issue in the coming weeks.


COUNTERING GLOBAL CORRUPTION: The Biden administration has launched the first ever U.S. strategy on countering corruption. Among other things, the new strategy aims to elevate anti-corruption work as a priority in diplomatic efforts and improve international anti-money laundering efforts.

In 2021 when coming into office, President Biden asked his national security team to take a lead on creating a comprehensive U.S. strategy to strengthen the U.S. government’s ability to fight corruption, combat illegal finance and improve accountability. This development is encouraging for priorities of the ELCA, as the ELCA social statement, The Church and Criminal Justic: Hearing the Cries, says both “This church knows that human evil is prevalent, ancient and often heinous” (p. 6) and “Drawing from the biblical witness to God’s wondrously rich forms of love and justice, we are compelled by a ‘holy yearning’ to address the need for a change in public mindset and for dramatic reforms in policies and practices” (p. 1).


YOUNG ADULT MIGRATION ADVOCACY: On Sept. 26 and 27, ELCA Witness and Society and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) staff provided support for the first ever Young Adult Migration Advocacy Day. Constituents met with the offices of 12 members of Congress from six states.

The day brought together 12 young adults virtually from across the nation to return to share their witness and recommendations with their elected representatives after immersing themselves in an educational trip to the border where they met with government and community stakeholders. The day of advocacy (see Facebook post) took place just as Congress was considering key federal spending bills and legislation.


CLIMATE WEEK NYC: In partnership with the U.N. General Assembly, Climate Week NYC was held from Sept. 17-24, 2023, and Witness in Society advocacy and Lutheran Office for World Community staff were present. Around 75,000 people took part in a March to End Fossil Fuels on Sept. 17.

Within this march, organized through GreenFaith, diverse people of varying faiths and traditions collaborated to create a “faith contingent” and host a prayer service before the March commenced. Some Lutherans visibly participated. LOWC and D.C.-based advocacy staff joined in conjunction with values of Lutherans to protect creation and promote climate justice.


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