from the ELCA Advocacy office in Washington, D.C. — the Rev. Amy E. Reumann, director
“GOD’S WORK. OUR HANDS.” SUNDAY: The ELCA Advocacy office is grateful for the many congregations that chose to include advocacy and public engagement in their activities for “God’s Work. Our Hands.” Sunday. This day of service came as Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas and the East Coast of the U.S. and as other communities braced for the peak of the hurricane season, from mid-August to late October. To advance the theme of the 2019 ELCA Advocacy Convening this spring, ELCA Advocacy has provided in 2019 congregations with resources and template letters centered on natural disaster and climate response. Many congregations have elected to use these, and in coming weeks ELCA Advocacy will be collecting their letters, messages and other stories to bundle and send to Congress. Advocates still interested in taking action on disaster issues can check out elca.org/advocacy/actioncenter for an up-to-date list of live Action Alerts.
INTERNATIONAL PROGRAMS BUDGET: In August the U.S. presidential administration indicated that it would rescind $4 billion in unobligated appropriated funds for international programs, which would have disrupted many humanitarian and development projects. ELCA Advocacy and other partners opposed this move, and many members of Congress publicly disagreed with the administration. Because of this combined pressure, the administration eventually withdrew its proposal.
PUBLIC CHARGE RULE COULD STOP BENEFITS TO LEGAL IMMIGRANTS: In August the Trump administration expanded a public charge rule that will stoke fear and increase suffering in immigrant communities. The rule will go into effect Oct. 15, 2019, unless constrained by Congress or the courts. This new policy would impose an unprecedented income test on people seeking legal entry to the United States and deny them entrance if they are judged to be, or judged to likely become, a “public charge” entitled to nutrition, housing or health care assistance. This policy will cause a cascade of negative impacts, increasing hunger, blocking family reunification and severely restricting immigration of people who want to contribute to our nation. On Sept. 24, Interfaith Immigration Coalition and the Interreligious Coalition on Domestic Human Needs will present an interfaith webinar, “Public Charge 101 for Faith Communities,” that will explain more about the rule and its potential impact on the most vulnerable families. ELCA Advocacy participates in both of these organizations, and interested parties are invited to join.
SANCTUARY RESPONSE: In August the 2019 Churchwide Assembly voted to declare the ELCA a sanctuary denomination. A post to ELCA Advocacy’s Facebook page announcing this development garnered rapid and wide response, with over 1,000 shares. Most comments affirmed the vote.“So proud of our church body and leadership for standing up for justice and grace for all,” wrote one commenter. “Thank you for this bold and necessary step.” Additional resources, including a Q&A video and ELCA AMMPARO strategy links, are available from elca.org/sanctuarychurch.
AFRICAN DESCENT LUTHERAN ASSOCIATION ACTIONS: “Seeking justice addressing homelessness and immigration” and “engaging youth through development and advocacy” are among six objectives that were affirmed during the 2019 African Descent Lutheran Association Biennial Assembly in August. ELCA Advocacy staff member Jackie Maddox will serve as a liaison energizing this overlapping commitment. Maddox and Christine Mangale of the Lutheran Office for World Community attended the event, held in Milwaukee, Wisc. Highlights included a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the ordination of black women in the Lutheran church, a discussion on the gift of human sexuality because all Black Lives Matter, and a commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the transatlantic slave trade.
In response to the ELCA’s “Declaration to People of African Descent” (adopted June 27, 2019, by the Church Council), the Rev. Lamont Wells, ADLA president, accepted the apology articulated in the document, stating, “We the people of African descent of the ELCA can receive this apology as a divine mark of repentance that serves as a catalyst for change. … This apology is received because Jesus has shown us the way towards reconciliation.”