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November Update: UN and State Edition

Following are updates shared from submissions of the Lutheran Office for World Community and state public policy offices.

U.N.| California | Minnesota | Ohio | Pennsylvania | Washington | Wisconsin

United Nations

Dennis Frado, Lutheran Office for World Community, New York, N.Y.

Women’s Human Rights Advocacy Training: The Lutheran World Federation in collaboration with Church of Sweden, Finn Church Aid, Mission 21, the World Council of Churches and ACT Alliance is holding an advocacy training on women’s human rights (26 October – 13 November 2020). The training is usually held annually in person, and this year, due to COVID-19 it is being held virtually.

Topics covered include introduction to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), tools and opportunities for engaging in preparing for parallel (also known as “shadow”) reports to CEDAW, the intersection between human rights, faith and gender, Gender-Based Violence prevention and responses, the role of men and boys in gender justice advocacy among others. LOWC is involved in the planning and facilitation of some sessions during the training. A resource for faith-based organizations on affirming women’s human rights can be found here.

General Assembly’s Third Committee Has Dialogues with Human Rights Mandate Holders: As it has done for some years, the General Assembly’s Third Committee has been having dialogues in recent weeks with various persons holding human rights mandates from the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council. While LOWC has been monitoring quite a few of these discussions on topics such as racism and racial discrimination, advancement of women, rights of indigenous peoples, and internally displaced persons, it took special note of the discussion with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, Professor S. Michael Lynk.  His report this year reviewed the situation of human rights in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and in Gaza and focused on accountability related issues. Lynk also held a separate virtual discussion with the UN NGO Working Group on Israel-Palestine, of which LOWC is a member, as he has in previous years on this occasion.


Regina Q. Banks, Lutheran Office of Public Policy- California

Getting ready for the election: The Lutheran Office of Public Policy in California (LOPP-CA) has been working diligently to prepare for the upcoming election. The staff did work around building patience and an understanding of the process. In the weekly Advocacy in Quarantine meetings, LOPP-CA worked with constituents to talk through the timeliness of the election while holding space for further learning on the state’s Proposition.

Prop 16 Text Banking: LOPP-CA went forward this month in continuing to text bank with the Prop 16 coalition. The office has been reaching out to California voters through a texting platform called Thru Text in hopes of overturning the state-wide ban of affirmative action, something that has been in effect since 1996. There has been a committed group of parishioners and advocates meeting every Monday to push this outreach, and so far the office has reached more than 600,000 voters in the state.

Partnering with California Food and Farming Network: Continuing the office’s commitment to advocate for food and farming, LOPP-CA has begun working closely with the California Food and Farming Network (CFFN), a coalition of around 40 advocacy organizations such as food banks, legislative advocacy, farming service organizations, and partners from across both the food and farming sectors. The Network has begun its strategic process for the year 2021, centering racial justice and equity in their approach. LOPP-CA has joined CFFN for this visioning process, and has given financial contributions toward centering racial justice through committing funds to CFFN’s community Engagement process. Specifically, CFFN will be reaching out into communities of color, finding leaders and advocates within food sectors, and providing compensation for their expertise. This listening campaign will take the expertise learned and structure CFFN 2021 priorities.


Tammy Walhof, Lutheran Advocacy- Minnesota

State Legislative Elections: Although the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party lost some seats in the House, it retains control of the chamber. In the Senate, some flipped districts occurred, but the balance remains the same. Unfortunately, at least one of the Republicans that was ousted was one who was helpful to our housing agenda. All the main leaders from both parties and both chambers retain their positions.

Minnesota U.S. Elections: Rep. Colin Peterson was ousted from Minnesota’s 7th congressional district seat and replaced by former State Senator/Senate President Michelle Fischbach, who also served briefly as Lt. Governor when Tina Smith was appointed to the U.S. Senate. Representative Peterson served as the long-term chair of the Agriculture Committee, a committee Fischbach hopes to serve on as it also addresses nutrition issues.

Update on Special Session #5: A carefully negotiated $1.36 billion bill including bonding, supplemental appropriations, and “tax  relief” for farmers and small businesses was finally passed when House Minority Leader Daudt let his caucus vote their conscience. Freed by Daudt, many House Republicans joined the bipartisan bill. Thanks for your hard work on the housing pieces!

Included in the bill were

  • $100 million in Housing Infrastructure Bonds
  • $16 million in General Obligation Bonds for Public Housing
  • A large amount for transportation including roads and bridges, some public transportation, and electric vehicle charging infrastructure
  • Bonds for public facility projects, public safety, the University of Minnesota, and other various public works, including municipal water infrastructure & solar projects
  • $31 million in a supplemental appropriation (added to last year’s biennial budget)


Deacon Nick Bates, Hunger Network in Ohio

Hunger For Justice Conference: On November 9th the Hunger Network sponsored the Hunger for Justice Conference featuring theological reflection on the election and analysis of what is to come so that faith leaders across the state can identify opportunities for successful advocacy!

Visit for links to our plenary panel, theological reflection and musical reflection of what the election means to our communities


Tracey DePasquale, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry–Pennsylvania (LAMPa)

Shaping Hunger Policy in PA: LAMPa Director Tracey DePasquale participated in the quarterly meeting of the state’s Emergency Food Assistance Advisory Committee, where the state Department of Agriculture and charitable feeding organizations assessed the current response to emergency nutrition needs during COVID-19, mapped likely needs and set goals for meeting those needs in the upcoming state budget.

LAMPa Participates in Virtual Human Trafficking Rally: LAMPa participated in a Pennsylvania Anti-Human Trafficking Advocacy Work Group sponsored Advocacy Day lifting legislation that provides definitions and the offense of trafficking individuals; repealing provisions relating to patronizing a victim of sexual servitude; promoting prostitution and living off sexually exploited persons; commercial sexual exploitation; and providing for Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund.

Workshop presented at We Love: LAMPa Program Director Lynn Fry shared a workshop titled : Take a Stand: Advocacy & Equality in Pennsylvania at the second ELCA NEPA Synod We Love Event – Building Safer & More Welcoming Congregations for LGBTQ+ Youth and Families.

Equipping leaders and vital congregations for discipleship in a democracy: LAMPa continued to disseminate election information to congregations, synods, and leaders regarding election security, poll watching, and voter safety. DePasquale and ELCA Advocacy Director Amy Reumann presented to leaders in the NWPA Synod Bishop’s Convocation.

Responded to Legislative threats to Medicaid: LAMPa worked to successfully stop legislation that threatened Medicaid provisions and funding.

Advocacy and Faith Formation: DePasquale taught a virtual adult faith formation class at Holy Spirit, Emmaus, SEPA Synod.


The Rev. Paul Benz and Elise DeGooyer, Faith Action Network

Election Successes: WA state passed Referendum 90 for Safe and Healthy Youth, a bill the legislature passed in the 2020 session mandating sex education in our K-12 school system with age-appropriate stages. This referendum was supported by sexual assault and domestic violence advocates, as well as a broad coalition of faith leaders who signed this letter, in contrast to opposition from the “religious right.” FAN was very involved in the campaign to secure the 60% approval. We also secured funding for our Long-Term Care Trust Fund via constitutional amendment – among the first of such funds in the nation.

New Regional Organizers: We are excited to share that our organizing team is expanding! FAN is able to fulfill one of our dreams of having a stronger presence statewide by hiring part-time Regional Organizers in Western, Central, and Eastern Washington as well as two social work interns from the University of Washington. We look forward to building deeper relationships with our Network of Advocating Faith Communities (NAFCs) and local organizations statewide.


The Rev. Cindy  Crane, Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin (LOPPW)

ELCAvotes: Wisconsin had a record turnout of voters! Since March, LOPPW placed major emphases on encouraging people to vote, especially absentee, and on countering misinformation. We often worked in coalition with ELCA partners and a statewide voting coalition. October efforts included interviewing a Wisconsin Elections Commission representative for Wednesday Noon Live and creating six Ballot Box FAQs videos, including one with an interview with the ACLU.

Care for God’s Creation: LOPPW’s statewide task force, so far with members from five synods, began planning a Care for God’s creation virtual advocacy day to coincide with an emerging new WI State Budget.

Trainings: LOPPW helped in organizing an advocacy webinar, co-hosted by ECSW WELCA. We also led discussions on voting and advocacy with adults and confirmands in LAS and in SCSW.

COVID-19: Participated in meeting with Lieutenant Governor on health mandates challenged by courts and possibly the legislature. I was then in dialogue with the bishops about drafting a statement, which can be found here. LOPPW also joined an interfaith group to organize an action to address the problem.

New Resource: Read our new resource, “Advocating Locally,” for information about engaging your community!

Criminal Justice: We’ve begun reviving efforts to return 17-year-olds to juvenile courts, led by our Hunger Advocacy Fellow, Kyle Minden.

Anti-Racism: We offered consultation to ECSW’s Global Missions Committee on integrating anti-racism efforts into their work. I invited Regina Banks to give a presentation at one of their meetings.

Immigration and Refugees:  We offered consultation to the SCSW Immigration Task Force and created a video to address decreasing number of refugees in U.S. for the national, “Lift the Torch of Welcome” vigil.

October Update: UN and State Edition

Following are updates shared from submissions of the Lutheran Office for World Community and state public policy offices.

U.N. | Arizona | Colorado | Ohio |Pennsylvania | Washington | Wisconsin

United Nations

Dennis Frado, Lutheran Office for World Community, New York, N.Y.

UN 75TH ANNIVERSARY COMMEMORATION: The high-level meeting to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the UN was held on September 21st.  The meeting adopted a declaration acknowledging both the UN’s achievements and its disappointments, such as: “Our challenges are interconnected and can only be addressed through reinvigorated multilateralism,” “Strengthening international cooperation is in the interest of both nations and peoples.” It also included twelve pledges “to ensure the future we want and the United Nations we need.”

CELEBRATION OF THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF BEIJING WOMEN’S CONFERENCE: The UN General Assembly High-level meeting on the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women was held on October 1st. According to UN Women, no country has achieved gender equality. There has been progress since the Beijing Conference held in 1995, but gaps remain, and in some areas these gains are threatened and even reversed. The meeting was therefore being held under the theme “Accelerating the realization of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls”. It aimed to “demonstrate the political will and leadership that will bring about the transformative change needed to address root causes, structural barriers, discriminatory practices and social norms that underpin discrimination and inequality.” You can watch the meeting on UN Web TV.

LOWC SPEAKS TO LUTHERAN STUDIES PROGRAM COLLOQUIA 2020-2021 AT YALE: In late September, Christine Mangale and Dennis Frado spoke via Zoom with Lutheran students at Yale University as part of the Lutheran Studies Program Colloquia theme “Public Church.” The LOWC presentations focused on the church’s presence at the United Nations (UN) and the history of the ELCA’s work on human rights, including at the UN.


Solveig Muus, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry Arizona

GETTING OUT THE VOTE: In the midst of racial inequity, an upcoming election, a pandemic, and a climate gone crazy, we in Arizona thank God for forgiveness and mercy, and for the miraculous ways God works in us and through us.

This month, we’re all hands on deck to get out the vote. Every faith community and advocacy group in Arizona seems to be in step; all are publicizing the importance of voting and helping in any way to ensure everyone’s voice is heard. Arizona has an excellent track record for successful mail-in ballot counting. Rev. Mark Holman, Bishop’s Associate for Mobility and Leadership, wrote a study resource titled “How Would Jesus Vote?” for congregational use, and a member of LAMA’s policy team created a voter volunteer recruitment packet for congregations.

Like every other state office, LAMA continues to reach out to our 85 Arizona congregations, and are encouraged that several are considering adding an advocacy component to their social ministry teams. Building our network, producing a weekly newsletter, and feeding social media keep us busy.

UPCOMING EVENTS: We are planning LAMA’s first state-wide summit on November 7, which is to be a virtual event featuring Dr. Ryan Cumming of ELCA World Hunger. Together with Spirit in the Desert Retreat Center and Bread for the World Southwest, we are planning and promoting a Virtual Town Hall on November 17 featuring Rev. Eugene Cho, president and CEO of Bread for the World.


Peter Severson, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-Colorado

BALLOT MEASURES: Coloradans will vote on eleven statewide ballot measures this fall. Lutheran Advocacy is committed to providing Lutherans and all people of faith with comprehensive and detailed analysis of each measure from our perspective. Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-Colorado’s positions on the eleven measures are available now. View them at Our 2020 Voter Guide with analysis and information will be available on the same site in the first week of October. Ballots will be mailed to all Colorado voters on October 9th.

THEOLOGICAL CONFERENCE: The Rocky Mountain Synod met virtually for its annual fall Theological Conference from September 21-24. Lutheran Advocacy was present alongside hundreds of rostered ministers, lay professionals and other leaders to learn from expert presenters, engage in Bible study, and have in-depth discussions of anti-racism and building up God’s beloved community of liberation with all present.


Deacon Nick Bates, Hunger Network in Ohio

HUNGER FOR JUSTICE VIRTUAL CONFERENCE: As voting begins in Ohio this month, we are all diligently working to discern the best candidates for all positions – including the Ohio Statehouse, State Supreme Court, and community leaders for school board and Township Trustees. Regardless of who wins at the local, state, or national level, our work remains the same – proclaiming God’s desire that all may be fed and have justice and peace in our communities.

Our two-hour conference will be held on zoom and feature theological reflection to help frame the election results and policy landscape moving forward. We encourage clergy, congregational leaders, judicatory staff, and people curious about hunger and poverty to attend. Register at

OHIO COUNCIL OF CHURCHES ANTI-RACISM SUNDAY: HNO is a proud partner with the Council and their efforts to educate and engage congregations throughout the state on issues of white privilege and racism. You can watch the Livestream online here

CROP WALK KICK-OFF: HNO Director Nick Bates will be the featured speaker at the Columbus CROP Walk virtual kick-off on October 11th at noon to discuss our call to advocacy and justice around hunger issues.

PROBLEMS WITH VOTING: HNO is partnering with the Ohio Voter Rights Coalition. You can check your voter registration and find your absentee ballot at You can report a problem or concern to 1-866-OUR-VOTE or view their website,


Tracey DePasquale, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry–Pennsylvania (LAMPa)

EQUIPPING LEADERS AND VITAL CONGREGATIONS FOR DISCIPLESHIP IN A DEMOCRACY: LAMPa staff and volunteers contacted Pennsylvania’s 67 counties to assess their preparedness for the Nov. 3 election and shared the results with synod leaders to target congregations so that they could support safe access to polls in areas of need. Read more.

POLICY COUNCIL RETREAT: The Rev. Amy Reumann, ELCA Advocacy Director, joined virtually to talk about advocacy as discipleship. She invited the council to imagine how congregational leaders could engage in LAMPa’s ministry as faith formation through the practice of testimony.

HUNGER ADVOCACY FELLOW: Larry D. Herrold, Jr. joined LAMPa as our ELCA Hunger Advocacy Fellow. A member of Zion, Sunbury (Upper Susquehanna Synod), and active in hunger ministry there, he is discerning a call to ministry. Learn more about Larry.

ADVOCACY ON RENT RELIEF AND SURPRISE MEDICAL BILLS: LAMPa advocates urged state lawmakers to improve and extend the application deadline for the CARES Rent Relief Program and to end surprise medical billing.

UNITED LUTHERAN SEMINARY CONVOCATION: LAMPa Director Tracey DePasquale shared whys and ways of connecting with policymakers as a form of loving our neighbor.

GWOH: Congregations around Pennsylvania added their voices to God’s work. Our hands. Sunday by writing letters to lawmakers addressing issues to which they have been called in service of neighbor.

OTHER WORK: Opposed legislation rolling back clean water protections; Supported use of CARES funding to stop utility shutoffs; Garnered signatures in support of waivers for school nutrition programs; Increased SNAP benefits


The Rev. Paul Benz and Elise DeGooyer, Faith Action Network

FAN’s Annual Dinner will be held virtually this year on November 15. We hope this change will allow more people from across the state to join in, expanding the traditions of our Renton and Spokane dinners! Our theme is “Rise Up Together,” which speaks to our current and future work in confronting the challenges of multiple pandemics – COVID-19, systemic racism, economic uncertainty, and environmental devastation. Learn more at

NEW REGIONAL ORGANIZERS: FAN is building our statewide outreach by creating a staff team of Regional Organizers! In Central Wash., we welcome Zahra Roach (pictured here) who is a Pasco City Councilmember and who worked on our Census Equity Team earlier this year. In Western Wash., we welcome Jaspreet Singh who has experience working with the legislative session in Olympia and is representing FAN at the Career and Technical Colleges coalition. More to come as we add University of Washington social work interns and a Spokane area organizer!

WORKING FAMILIES TAX CREDIT: FAN is part of several state policy coalitions – one is the Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC) coalition. Several years ago, our legislature passed this law to provide tax credits to low-income working families, but it has never been funded. Now more than ever in this pandemic where so many households are struggling, funding an emergency cash assistance program like this with an annual credit is critical. Another important piece to make this program more equitable is to statutorily include Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) filers so that ALL workers in our state receive this benefit. Learn more at or


The Rev. Cindy  Crane, Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin (LOPPW)

WELCOME TO LOPPW HUNGER ADVOCACY FELLOW KYLE MINDEN:  Kyle is with us full-time for one year thanks to a generous grant from ELCA World Hunger.  He graduated from Wartburg College with a B.A. in Religion and Business Administration and a Minor in Social Entrepreneurship. Kyle is passionate about solving the systemic inequities and injustices that stem from public policy at the local, state, and federal level.

VOTING: Kyle has developed two voting resources, the Comprehensive can be found at 2020 LOPPW Voting Guide, while the one-page summary can be found here: 2020 LOPPW Voting Overview

HUNGER: We made known information about people eligible for a stimulus check but who have not filed.  Kyle used the center to create this resource:  file:///Users/cynthiacrane/Downloads/Stimulus-Payment-Outreach-Resource-1-1%20(12).pdf

As part of our project to highlight at least one hunger ministry in each synod for others to learn from, we interviewed Bill Binroth, Director of Let’s Eat Community Meals of Chassell, MI in the NGLS.

CARE FOR CREATION: Our LOPPW statewide climate task force continues to meet.  We sent this press release as a letter to the WI Legislature:  file:///Users/cynthiacrane/Downloads/Revised-Climate-press-release-Team-Bishops.pdf

WEDNESDAY NOON LIVE & IMMIGRATION AND DETENTION: The video of Attorney Mary Campbell, Ms. Marisol Fuentes de Dubon, and Dr. Stephanie Mitchell mentioned last month was published in September:

“LIFTING OUR VOICES DURING THE PANDEMIC”: This Zoom webinar, co-sponsored by East Central Synod Women of the ELCA and LOPPW, will be held on Tuesday, October 13, 2020 from 6:30-7:30 PM. Register here:

2020 ELCA Advocacy Federal Policy Priorities

Looking ahead, 2020 is likely to be an eventful year. In the midst of societal shifts and opportunities, ELCA Advocacy has identified areas of priority for our work together on the federal level. “These priorities reflect ELCA Advocacy commitments for faithful and timely attention to pressing concerns that affect our neighbor’s well-being and the wholeness of creation,” says the Rev. Amy E. Reumann, Director of ELCA Advocacy.

Please consider being part of the ELCA Advocacy network for information and notification when your action matters most. Use to sign up, and invite your congregation and ministries to do so as well (sharable invitation posts are available on social media @ELCAadvocacy). Find a reproducible copy of 2020 priorities at ELCA Advocacy is a resource in our church to help bring our faith based voices into public policy dialogue as God calls us into the world to serve together.


In the ELCA we believe that, through baptism, God is calling us into the world to serve together.
We are a church that views governments as helpful ways God is active in our world and that is energized by lively engagement in our faith and public life. When we, as ELCA members, lift our voices together to influence policies that advance the common good, we further God’s work in our world.

Shaped by the ELCA’s social teaching documents and the experiences of its congregations, ministries and partners, we advocate to end world hunger and stands up for policies that create opportunities to overcome poverty, promote peace and dignity, preserve God’s creation and promote racial justice.

You will find ELCA faith-based advocates meeting with policy makers, taking joint action with values-sharing issue partners, writing letters, making public comments, talking with neighbors, asking questions in town hall meetings — listening, learning, educating and visibly and skillfully asserting policy considerations guided by faith foundations.

In addition to faith-based advocacy organized by local congregations and synods, by Lutheran state public policy offices and by Lutheran Office for World Community representation to the United Nations, ELCA Advocacy is active in Washington, D.C. Following are policy priorities on the national horizon for 2020.


Civic engagement

Anticipating the 2020 U.S. presidential election and supporting the church’s #ELCAvotes initiative, ELCA Advocacy will continue to prioritize policy and practice that increases both government inclusion of and civic participation in our communities.

  Domestic Policy

Child nutrition programs — Restore, protect and adequately fund school and community-based feeding programs as part of the federal safety net, and oppose efforts to convert nutrition assistance programs to block grants to states which would over time diminish free and reduced-fee meal benefits.

Criminal justice reform — End mass incarceration, promote fairer sentencing and support restorative reentry programs in our communities through federal and state funding and reforms.

Civil and human rights — Safeguard and promote protections for vulnerable populations, including communities who face barriers, unjust treatment or inequalities on the basis of racial, ethnic, cultural, gender, sexual orientation or class identity.

  • GO TOs — Find more in ELCA social teaching resources, including the social policy resolution “Advocating for Child Nutrition,” the social message “Human Rights” and the social statement The Church and Criminal Justice.
Domestic Policy: Housing

Budget concerns — Foster bipartisan cooperation and public support for budgeting of federal programs that fund affordable housing and assist people who are homeless.

Shelter and housing reforms — Ensure that the experience of churches and faith-based ministries informs federal reforms and public rule revisions that affect low-income housing programs.

Natural disaster impact — Support federal disaster aid resources and equitable access to recovery programs that assist communities before and after natural disasters.

  • GO TOs — Find more in ELCA social teaching resources, including the social message “Homelessness: A Renewal of Commitment” and the social statement Sufficient, Sustainable Livelihood for All.
Environment Policy

Mitigation, Adaptation and Resiliency — Support legislation and policies that address the global impact of greenhouse gas emissions, incorporating the principles of participation, solidarity, sufficiency and sustainability. Impacts and related policy considerations are multifaceted, including food security threats, agricultural challenges, increased health issues, national security and the forced migration of thousands.

Sustainability — Encourage and advocate for important legislation to protect frontline communities and vulnerable populations that disproportionately experience the negative impacts of environmental degradation, including climate-related changes that exacerbate existing racial, economic, ecological and social injustices.

Creation care strengths of ELCA — Amplify ELCA experiential, educational and creation-care value resources, expressing faithful hope for the future, at this time of pressing and wide-ranging environmental concerns.

  • GO TOs — Find more in ELCA social teaching resources, including the social statements Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope, and Justice; Sufficient, Sustainable Livelihood for All; and Genetics, Faith and Responsibility.
International Policy

Federal budget considerations — Advocate for robust support for international antipoverty, humanitarian and global health funding (i.e. HIV/AIDS, malaria), as well as funding for conflict prevention and peace-building programs.

Gender Justice — Strengthen U.S. government capacity to prevent gender-based violence, promote girls’ education, protect women and girls during humanitarian crises, and support the economic and health care needs of women and girls globally.

Peace and Diplomacy — Promote human rights and strengthen conflict prevention and peace-building activities around the world, including bilateral and multilateral initiatives.

Migration Policy

Plight of children, women and men fleeing the Northern Triangle of Central America — Raise awareness of the challenges and humanitarian stories on the United States’ southern border.

Human rights of migrants — Restore, protect and promote the human rights of those fleeing violence, poverty, environmental degradation or food insecurity, to name a few causes, and urge the relevant governments and ad hoc institutions to protect migrants, refugees and asylum seekers as established under international law, by denouncing policies and practices that exacerbate the risks and discrimination these populations face.

Militarization of foreign aid — Organize against the allocation of funds to militarize the U.S. southern border and the development of practices that compromise the human rights of migrants.

Path to citizenship — Support policy that reinforces Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

  • GO-TOs — Find more in ELCA social teaching resources, including the social messages “Immigration,” “Human Rights” and “Gender-based Violence.”


How can you get involved?

Become part of the ELCA Advocacy network at! You will receive monthly updates on policy activity and be invited to take action at moments when your voice and experience will have an impact.

Find resources for your advocacy efforts at and a community with which to engage on social media at @ELCAadvocacy. Together we endeavor to live into our baptismal covenant to serve all people, following the example of Jesus, and to strive for justice and peace in all the earth.

June update: Advocacy Connections

from the ELCA Advocacy office in Washington, D.C. – the Rev. Amy E. Reumann, director


DISASTER AID: President Trump signed a $19.1 billion disaster aid package on June 6, approving funding for many states and territories in critical need of recovery. The federal aid comes after months of negotiations and advocacy in Congress and will help many. Many disaster survivors have waited far too long to see assistance. Support for communities impacted by natural disasters will make meaningful differences in the lives of those of us seeking to rebuild—especially for very low-income families who are near the edge of or already struggling with homelessness. Over the past few months, hundreds of Lutherans have taken action and have clearly demonstrated to lawmakers on Capitol Hill that the faith community cares about disaster relief.


DREAM AND PROMISE ACT: On June 5, the House of Representatives passed historic legislation, the American Dream and Promise Act (H.R.6), that would provide a pathway to citizenship for qualifying Dreamers and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) recipients. The Rev. Amy Reumann, ELCA Advocacy Director, applauded the action, saying, “Passage of the American Dream and Promise Act recognizes that Dreamers, TPS holders and DED recipients are already part of the fabric of our nation. These immigrant neighbors, some of them members of our congregations, make our communities stronger as they work, serve and contribute. We are grateful for congressional action to provide permanent relief and protection to those who have been calling this country ‘home’ for so long. So, as we thank our Representatives for [the] vote, we turn today to urge our Senators to stand by our nation’s values, and to swiftly pass this legislation.”


EQUALITY ACT: The House of Representatives passed the Equality Act (H.R. 5) on May 17th, which would add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the classes protected against discrimination to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Advocates can encourage the Senate to do the same. Many states do not have enacted laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in important areas such as education, employment and public accommodation. Support for nondiscrimination protections enjoys broad support across the political spectrum and nearly all U.S. religious denominations, according to data from the Public Religion Research Institute. Use the Action Alert to add your voice urging passage of the law before the end of the year.


HUD NONCITIZEN RULE: Mixed-immigration status families would be prohibited from living in federal affordable housing programs by a notice of proposed rulemaking from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that was opened in May. Under HUD’s existing rules, eligible mixed-status families receive housing subsidies distributed specifically so that ineligible family members do not receive assistance and eligible members. If the proposed change is enacted, roughly 25,000 affected families and 55,000 children currently living with housing assistance could face an impossible choice between being evicted from their homes or being separated from their families. By HUD’s internal cost estimations, over 70% of the those affected by the proposed rule would be people otherwise eligible for assistance. Advocates have until July 6th to register their public comments on the proposed rule. An Action Alert is posted in the ELCA Advocacy Action Center to facilitate your comments.


IMMIGRATION FUNDING: The detention of graduate student pastor Betty Rendón last month came as the Administration continues to sharpen immigration deterrence strategies. The ELCA social message on Immigration and other teachings promote protection of the most vulnerable, keeping families together and treating immigrants with dignity. Urge lawmakers to support just immigration funding policies. Billions of tax dollars have been sought for deportation and immigration detention; dismantling the asylum process so that people seeking protection are turned away, militarizing our border communities and keeping families apart by locking up their members.

On May 23rd, ELCA Advocacy co-sponsored with the Interfaith Immigration Coalition a vigil to mourn the death of migrant children under U.S. custody. ELCA presiding bishop, faith leaders issue statement on children in detention that can be found at .


WEBINAR – MOVING FORWARD ON CLIMATE SOLUTIONS: A webinar with guidance for climate action for congregation and community is being hosted by ELCA collaborators Blessed Tomorrow with ELCA Advocacy for clergy, lay leaders and congregation members on Wed. June 26 at 1 p.m. ET. Register and check out the accompanying “Moving Forward” resource. Changes to our climate reach into communities across the U.S. and around the world. ELCA members, as individuals, congregations and ministry groups, are responding. This webinar will share ideas to expand your response in scope and efficacy. The issues are pressing – and the solutions are within reach. TO REGISTER for the webinar at . A calendar invitation option will be offered to add the day-of webinar link and instructions to your calendar. You can register up until the time of the webinar. Find the “Moving Forward” document and other resources at


UPDATE ON GLOBAL FRAGILITY ACT: On May 20 the House of Representatives passed the Global Fragility Act of 2019, which will help the U.S. government improve its capacity to identify and address threats to civilians in fragile, conflict-prone regions around the world. ELCA Advocacy is grateful for the strong leadership of Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX-10), who voiced their support for the bill and pushed for a full House vote. Our office continues to advocate on passage of similar bill in the Senate. Find an Action Alert in the ELCA Advocacy Action Center.


FAITH-VOICES AT CLIMATE SUMMIT: Plans are moving forward with leadership of ELCA Advocacy, The Episcopal Church, Texas Impact and others for a high-level, faith-based conference on building resiliency in the face of the heightening of a changing climate. It would take place around the UN Climate Change Summit this fall. Objectives would include developing concrete action items affirming the role that faith-based organizations have in efforts to combat climate change; identifying mechanisms and means which faith-based organizations can leverage relationships and networks to advance solutions; identifying resiliency measures that incorporate the social, mental and physical needs of all for sustainability; and advocating for strong climate finance to address “loss and damage” and innovative solutions.


HUNGER ADVOCACY FELLOWSHIP: The application process remains open for two ELCA Hunger Advocacy Fellowships – a 12-month transformative experience that combines leadership development and faith formation with impactful advocacy that moves us toward an end to hunger and a just world where all are fed. This is a 12-month, non-renewable, contract position. Apply to join our ministry in Washington D.C. or Sacramento, Calif. Start date is September 3, 2019. Details at: and

2019 ELCA Advocacy Policy Priorities

God is calling us into the world to serve together. Shaped by the ELCA’s social teaching documents and experiences of its congregations, ministries and partners, the ELCA advocates to end world hunger and stands up for policies that create opportunities to overcome poverty, promote peace and dignity, and preserve God’s creation. Introduced by the ELCA Advocacy director, the following policy priorities focus ELCA Advocacy activity on current central issues.

On Tuesday, February 5, President Donald Trump addressed our nation and introduced this administration’s major priorities for 2019. The annual State of the Union speech provides an opportunity for citizens of the United States to learn about the policies our elected leaders hope to focus on in the upcoming legislative year.

In this important moment, ELCA Advocacy presents our public policy priorities for 2019. This policy action agenda focuses the work of the ELCA in Washington, D.C. on actions that will reduce poverty and hunger, promote safe and healthy communities and care for our environment. ELCA Advocacy invites you to live out your baptismal identity by serving your neighbor through participation in the ELCA Advocacy network.

~ The Rev. Amy E. Reumann, director, Advocacy

Formative ELCA social teaching documents impacting domestic policy include the social statements Economic Life: Sufficient, Sustainable Livelihood for All and Church and Criminal Justice: Hearing the Cries, and the social message “Homelessness: A Renewal of Commitment.”


Secure shelter is a critical component of the foundation of the human person, the absence of which can contribute to hunger and challenges in healthcare, education, job prospects and more.

  • In 2019, we will work with state, national and interfaith partners to strengthen policies that reinforce housing affordability for low-income households. We will accomplish this through: • Strengthening funding levels and access to housing programs in the federal budget; • Advocating for structural housing reform through vital investments in infrastructure and programs such as the National Housing Trust; • Opposing efforts to increase rent or work eligibility requirements on low-income households, which could significantly impact seniors and people with disabilities.

God richly provides for daily bread — the earth can produce enough food for everyone. Yet, many of our sisters and brothers still go hungry.

  • In 2019, we will • Advocate to fund, improve and strengthen child nutrition programs through measures that adequately fund and promote access to School Breakfast Programs; National School Lunch Programs and after school snack programs; Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); and other vital nutrition assistance programs; • Support keeping these programs in the federal safety net rather than state block grants to prevent long-term erosion of access.

The ELCA is prompted to speak and to act because so many cries of suffering and despair emerge from the criminal justice system — from victims, the incarcerated, their families, communities, those wrongly convicted, they who work in the system — and have not been heard.

  • Building on the momentum of recent improvements in criminal justice and sentencing reform, in 2019 we will: • Advocate to restore judges’ discretion in sentencing decisions and decriminalize addiction; • Promote greater economic and racial justice by allowing thousands of federal prisoners to seek fairer punishments than those they are currently serving; • Support criminal justice funding that focuses on crime prevention and recidivism reduction which will better serve all our communities; • Promote programs that improve the dignity of women in prison populations.

Health is central to our well-being, vital to relationships, and helps us live out our vocations in family, work and community. Each person bears some responsibility for his or her own health, but health and healthcare also depend upon other people and conditions in society and our communities.

  • Our commitment to ensuring the availability of quality and affordable health insurance remains a priority for many across our country. In 2019, we will: • Advocate to improve and strengthen the Affordable Care Act and expand where possible access to vulnerable populations at the edges of poverty who lack access to affordable health care insurance; • Protect and strengthen Medicaid, Medicare and disability programs to ensure the health of persons with low-incomes, seniors and those living with disabilities.


Formative ELCA social teaching documents impacting environment policy include the social statement Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope and Justice.


As stewards of this world, we are called to care for the earth and examine our behaviors toward creation. While we need to take from the land for food and sustainability, we also need to be careful that we maintain good stewardship and do not exploit the wonderful things the earth provides.

  • In 2019 we will: • Advocate with Congress and the Administration for strong environmental protection regulation to protect all of creation; • Support climate finance measures that reduce emissions and enhance resilience to negative climate change impacts; • Prepare educational materials making connections between the common thread of the environment with hunger, poverty, health concerns, migration, disaster response and national security concerns; • Support Lutheran Disaster Response with climate change and disaster connections as well as stewarship of the land; • Work with Lutheran Restoring Creation and ELCA Stewardship on starting Creation Care Coaches Training; • Work with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on federal lead policy, starting with urban areas; • Work with EPA on promoting public gardens; • Work with associations and faith-based entities on just transition issues in areas where renewable energy technologies are expanding.


Formative ELCA social teaching documents impacting international policy include the social statement For Peace in God’s World and the social messages “Human Rights” and “Gender-based Violence.”


Concern for the well-being of others lies at the very heart of Christian faith. Christians have a variety of social identifications through their nation of origin, race, ethnicity or political affiliation, but all Christians have a common identity as children of a loving creator.

  • In addition to promoting and advancing human rights, we will work to increase capacity and support for U.S. and multilateral initiatives/programs that aim to build peace and prevent conflicts around the world. Specifically, we will: • Advocate for passage of the Global Fragility and Violence Reduction Act; • Ensure Congress allocates funds for the Complex Crisis Fund in the FY2020 budget; • Encourage continued U.S. engagement in South Sudan, especially in the peace process as well as humanitarian and development assistance; • Monitor U.S. Cuba policy and encourage the Administration to take positive and mutually beneficial steps that will help move the two countries toward normal relations; • Work with foreign policy staff in the Administration and Congress to promote values of good governance and inclusive participation in the electoral processes.

“For all” in the title of the ELCA social statement on economic life refers to the whole household of God—all people and creation throughout the world. We should assess economic activities in terms of how they affect “all,” especially people living in poverty.

  • In 2019, we will work to build broad support for international development and humanitarian aid in Congress. Specifically, we will: • Advocate to bolster funding levels to international poverty-focused programs as appropriate in the International Affairs budget; • Oppose efforts by Administration or Congress to cut funds to these programs; • Work to improve ways some programs are administered or implemented to ensure programmatic efficiencies and accountability; • Monitor the Administration’s review of foreign assistance and respond accordingly; and • Advocate for passage of legislation that focuses on improving specific poverty-focused programs, such as those enhancing child and maternal health.

The ELCA is committed to the continual work of prayer, learning, reflection, discernment, and action to resist patriarchy and sexism as we live together in community into the promised abundant life God intends for all.

  • In 2019, we will work to ensure that prevention of gender-based violence becomes a priority in U.S. foreign policy and diplomatic engagement. In addition, we will promote gender integration throughout development and humanitarian programs. In doing so, we will: • Advocate for passage of legislation that seeks to improve the quality of life for women and girls globally, such as the International Violence Against Women Act; • Oppose efforts to dismantle the Office of Global Women’s Issues, housed in the Department of State; and • Monitor and analyze the U.S. government’s gender-focused program activities and provide feedback to appropriate entities.


Formative ELCA social teaching documents impacting migration policy include the social messages “Immigration” and “Human Rights.”


Thousands of children and families from Central America continue to flee their communities and search for safety in the U.S. As a church, we envision a world in which children and families do not have to leave their communities in order to live a safe and sufficient life.

  • In 2019, we can help address this goal with advocacy and AMMPARO measures through: • Strengthening funds from the U.S. government to anti-corruption mechanisms and development programs that are culturally appropriate for Central American communities; • Opposing US. Foreign policies that support the militarization of Central American countries or prevent people from seeking protection in a country where they feel safe.

Our faith calls Lutherans to see our neighbors as ourselves. As people flee their communities, the ELCA will continue to celebrate and stand alongside our immigrant neighbors.

  • In 2019, we can help address this goal through: • Support of robust asylum and trafficking prevention laws alongside laws that provide a pathway to citizenship to long-term residents of the U.S.; • Opposition to attempts to weaken asylum laws or other laws that protect vulnerable children and families fleeing their communities.


Formative ELCA social teaching documents impacting this policy focus include the social statement Freed in Christ: Race, Ethnicity & Culture.


We are called to conversation and prayer around our role as U.S. residents and as people of faith in ensuring our election systems promote dignity and respect for all.

  • In 2019, we will • Advocate to ensure access to voting by the broadest number of eligible voters in our nation; • Promote laws and regulations that prevent efforts to disenfranchise voters on election day or create burdens to eligible voters in voter registration process; • Support efforts to keep money out of politics and to oppose repeal of the Johnson Amendment; • Support strong funding for the Census to ensure that the whole population is adequately represented in Congress.


Become part of the ELCA Advocacy network from to receive updates and notifications at moments when action is most impactful. Find social teaching documents from . Find a downloadable copy of the 2019 ELCA Advocacy Policy Priorities at and share.

Giving thanks, coming together, looking ahead

A message from The Rev. Amy Reumann, Director, ELCA Advocacy

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

On Election Day and throughout this season, the #ELCAvotes initiative has encouraged Lutherans to live out our baptismal affirmation to “serve all people, following the example of our Lord Jesus,” by engaging in our communities and casting our ballots. Thank you to all the ELCA advocates who contributed to the stewardship of our common life, serving God as faithful and active citizens!

Giving thanks

We thank God for every voter, and for the countless volunteers who worked to ensure their community members could participate in the election process. We are also grateful for all who contributed to a vision for thriving healthy communities by running for office. We pray for the success of the candidates who were elected to office at every level of government. May they receive God’s wisdom in their service to all people.

Coming together

This election season included rhetoric and rancor that has divided and wounded our nation. Christ calls the church to the ministry of reconciliation and gifts us with the Holy Spirit for this work. We have what we need to engage in a common life that extends well beyond Election Day; this includes engaging in deep listening and communal discernment, practicing the art of difficult conversations and actively accompanying those in our communities who are suffering or alienated.

Looking ahead

The work of ELCA Advocacy, grounded in the Gospel and our social teaching, also continues. We look forward to engaging with the new administration, Congress and in state capitols around the country in our core areas of concern to end hunger, alleviate poverty, welcome the stranger and care for creation in the U.S. and globally. We will create and shape policies that reflect this church’s deep commitment to racial and gender justice, and we will work alongside ecumenical and interfaith partners to further God’s work in our world.

Together we will continue to be stewards of our common life by serving God through loving our neighbor as faithful and active citizens.


Yours, In Christ,

The Rev. Amy Reumann

Director, ELCA Advocacy

September Advocacy Update

Lutherans are taking action across the country! Below you will find our monthly State Advocacy Newsletter. Share with your friends!


ELCA Advocacy Office, Washington, D.C.

The Rev. Amy Reumann, director

GOD’S WORK. OUR HANDS. OUR VOICES: ELCA Advocacy sent out resources in early August, encouraging group discussions around civic participation, advocacy and ELCAvotes as additional congregational activities1 for “God’s work. Our hands.” Sunday, a day of service held on September 11th. In 2015, congregations engaged in “God’s work. Our hands.” Sunday sent hundreds of letters to their elected officials in support of U.S. child hunger programs and the Green Climate Fund. Congregations are encouraged to continue to take action on child nutrition, an ongoing federal issue, or engage in a letter writing campaign around an issue of concern this year. Among the advocacy resources, the message included #ELCAvotes materials for the election in November. Resources include congregation guides on civic participation, a Bible study, and a discussion guide on voting rights and racial justice.

ACCOMPANYING MIGRANT MINORS WITH PROTECTION, ADVOCACY, REPRESENTATION AND OPPORTUNITIES (AMMPARO): The ELCA Churchwide Assembly passed the AMMPARO strategy Aug. 10, reinforcing ELCA Advocacy’s role in helping address the root causes of migration and protect children and families displaced2 from their communities in Central America. The afternoon it passed, ELCA Advocacy sent a message explaining the initiative, its passage and its context. There are currently two bills in Congress that address some of these conditions, the State and Foreign Operations appropriations bill and the Secure the Northern Triangle Act (S. 3106/H.R. 5850).

ELCA Advocacy will continue to advocate for strong human rights conditions in any funding toward Central America, including conditioning aid on protecting the right to seek asylum.

NATIONAL PARKS TURN 100 YEARS OLD: The National Park Service celebrated its centennial Aug. 25. President Barack Obama took the opportunity during this anniversary month to protect more than 87,500 acres of forests and streams in central Maine as the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument and to create the world’s largest marine protected area, the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument off the coast of Hawaii. The president visited the Hawaiian monument on Sept. 1. Earlier in August, ELCA Advocacy joined an interfaith letter praising the national parks and initiatives to conserve God’s creation.

EDUCATION: The ELCA’s social statement “Our Calling in Education” states that we minister in two ways: to educate people in the Christian faith for their vocation, and to strive with others to ensure that all have access to high-quality education that develops personal gifts and abilities and serves the common good. Education issues are also critical this November; early childhood to higher education issues are making  headlines in campaigns. Read more on the ELCA Advocacy blog!


Lutheran Office for World Community, United Nations, New York, N.Y.

Dennis Frado, director

U.N. SUMMIT ON ADDRESSING LARGE MOVEMENTS OF REFUGEES AND MIGRANTS: In early August, U.N. member states reached agreement on three texts related to the Sept. 19 summit on addressing large movements of refugees and migrants. The primary aim of the summit is to find a path toward a better international response to the situations of both groups. If the outcome document is formally adopted, two multiyear processes will commence to prepare a global compact for refugees and a global compact on migration. The one on refugees will build on the Refugee Convention of 1951 as amended and will be developed with the help of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in 2018. Because there is no comparable treaty concerning migrants, an intergovernmental negotiation process will commence next year with the aim of having a proposal for adoption at an intergovernmental conference on international migration in 2018. LOWC is collaborating closely with The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in advance of the summit as part of a civil society action committee. LWF endorsed the committee’s call for “A New Deal for refugees, migrants and societies.”

LOWC staff will attend the summit and is planning to be engaged with the LWF in post-summit follow-up activities in New York and Geneva. LOWC is also coordinating closely with the assistant director for migration policy and advocacy in the ELCA Advocacy office in Washington, D.C.

BUILDING A JUST AND SUSTAINALBE PEACE PROCESS IN COLOMBIA: On Aug. 18, program associate Charlotte Mildenberger attended the meeting “Building a Just and Sustainable Peace Process in Colombia” at the Church Center for the United Nations. It was co-organized by the World Council of Churches and Caritas Internationalis and co-sponsored by The Lutheran World Federation.

U.N. delegates, representatives from the Mission of Colombia and representatives from other nongovernmental organizations attended this meeting. Danilo Rueda, director of the Inter-Ecclesial Commission for Justice and Peace, gave an overview about the current situation in Colombia and said the forthcoming agreements would be a foundation for peace. There are 6 million displaced people in Colombia. Many others have disappeared and suffered torture, especially those who are politically active, but they aren’t counted in official statistics. The commission defends the rights of the victims and their families, including the rights of children. It also fights impunity.

Drug-related crime with paramilitary group involvement is a major continuing concern, along with the fear of its expansion. As parts of the Colombian military are attacking peacebuilders, an important question is how to include the police and the military within the peace process.



Mark Carlson, Lutheran Office of Public Policy

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE: The California Legislature returned from a month-long recess Aug. 1. As this was written it was nearing the Aug. 31 end of its two-year session, when the focus of LOPP-CA turns to bills on 3Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk, and November ballot measures.

CARE FOR CREATION: LOPP-CA was site host for the California Environmental Justice Coalition conference and lobby day opening dinner, which brought grassroots activists to the Capitol from some of the harder places in the state: Kettleman City, West Oakland, North Richmond, Bayview-Hunters Point, East Los Angeles, and Harbor Gateway. LOPP-CA will be site host for a dinner sponsored by the Pesticide Action Network for participants of a five-day Society of Environmental Journalists national conference.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM: LOPP-CA was asked to accompany an advocacy team of the Boys and Men of Color Network, which brought hundreds to the Capitol to support bills addressing gang registries, privatized incarceration and law enforcement policies affecting immigrants, among other challenges. AB 2590, placing some restorative justice language in the penal code, is headed to Brown’s desk. We are recruiting Lutherans to participate in a Sept. 12 briefing with Brown on his Prop. 57 sentencing reform.

ECONOMIC JUSTICE/HUMAN DIGNITY: LOPP-CA provided grassroots and direct advocacy in support of a bill providing overtime pay after eight hours in a day and 50 in a week for farmworkers. The previous requirement had been 10 hours/day, 60/week. Besides the economic benefits, AB1066 carries great symbolic meaning about human dignity and a lower tier of workers.



Peter Severson, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry – Colorado

ELCA CHURCHWIDE ASSEMBLY: LAM-CO Director Peter Severson was present with Rocky Mountain 4Synod voting members at the 2016 ELCA Churchwide Assembly in New Orleans. Nearly 1,000 voting members from across the church took action on matters related to Lutheran-Catholic dialogue, the new “Word and Service” roster, the AMMPARO strategy (accompanying migrant minors), fossil fuels, Israel-Palestine and a number of other important issues in the life of the church. Advocates will have a lot to work with as a result of the assembly’s actions.

FALL BALLOT ADVOCACY: Seven measures and two constitutional amendments will appear on the ballot for Colorado voters this November. LAM-CO is a supporter of Amendment T, known informally as “No Slavery, No Exceptions.” Amendment T supporters held a press conference Aug. 23 on the steps of the state Capitol to voice the importance of the measure. LAM-CO also supports Amendment 70, a measure to increase the state’s minimum wage to $12/hour by 2020. People of faith will be invited to join events in September and October to learn more about these ballot issues. Follow LAM-CO on social media or join our email list to get the latest information.

CONGREGATIONAL VISITS: Thanks to members of the Aurora Area Ministry Strategy and Lord of the Mountains Lutheran Church, Dillon, Colo., for inviting LAM-CO to join you this month! Our advocacy is strengthened when everyone raises their voice together.

(Photo caption: Rocky Mountain Synod voting members, volunteers and guests at the 2016 Churchwide Assembly, New Orleans. Photo credit: RMS Facebook page.)


Tammy Walhof, Lutheran Advocacy – Minnesota

SPECIAL SESSION NOT HAPPENING: Despite reports in late July of an August special session, negotiations broke down primarily over light-rail issues (state funding share vs. permission for increased Hennepin County share vs. no Southwest Metro Line regardless of funding mechanisms).

SIGNIFICANT LOSSES:  Sadly, without a special session, Affordable Housing Bonds of $45 million were lost. While much less than needed and only about a third of what Lutheran Advocacy and the Homes for All Coalition were working to get this session, it would have been decidedly better than nothing. Also lost were bonding funds for clean-water infrastructure and statewide transportation infrastructure, in addition to a “tax relief” bill that included tax credits for low-income working families.

FALL ELECTIONS: All state legislators (House and Senate) are up for election this year. This makes it an effective time to contact candidates about Lutheran Advocacy’s key issues. Candidates from all parties, especially those who have had major party standing in Minnesota (MN Republican Party, MN Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, Independence Party and Green Party) should hear about these priorities at candidate forums, meet-and-greet events, parades, debates, etc. It’s also good timing to send notes to candidates about these issues. Lutheran Advocacy-MN is in the process of creating an election guide with questions and messaging to share with candidates. It should be ready in a couple weeks.


  • Part-time office/communications assistant
  • Paid internship (housing/hunger focus)
  • Unpaid internship (clean energy focus)

Send cover questions, letters and resumes to


New Mexico

Ruth Hoffman, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry – New Mexico

The interim Legislative Health and Human Services Committee met in August at the University of New Mexico. LAM-NM Director Rut5h Hoffman testified before the committee and urged the members to push for more oversight of the administration of the SNAP and Medicaid programs by the state Human Services Department. The department has been found to be violating a federal court order to comply with federal rules about how enrollment in federal benefit programs is carried out. LAM-NM, working with other advocacy groups, is advo6cating that the department improve their IT systems; make client notices accurate and understandable; create a comprehensive, accurate online worker manual; and collect and share data on enrollment and processing. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has also found the state Human Services Department to be in violation of federal regulations in its administration of the SNAP program. These ongoing violations are harming low-income families across the state by denying them the help they need. New Mexico has among the highest rates of poverty and hunger in the country.



Nick Bates, The Faith Coalition for the Common Good

Three congregations within less than three miles of each other worked together to raise awareness and resources to help those who are hungry in Columbus, Ohio. Clinton Heights and North Community 7Lutheran churches held their second-annual hunger march down High Street, through the Clintonville neighborhood, collecting more than 90 bags of food, breaking stereotypes and raising awareness about the realities of hunger in Ohio and Columbus. The following day, Maple Grove United Methodist Church sponsored a “Feed the World Sunday” where they used their worship time to engage in service projects and letter writing. Congregation members wrote letters to Sens. Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown about the importance of childhood nutrition programs in our community. Many letter writers were actually young people in the congregation who want to see policy changes to better serve the community.

We would also like to thank John Johnson, domestic policy director for the ELCA, for visiting us in Ohio to discuss how we can effectively grow our advocacy ministries. It is a strong reminder that we are in ministry together and are stronger together. Visit for more information about advocacy ministries in Ohio.



Tracey DePasquale, Lutheran Advocacy – Pennsylvania                 

With the General Assembly in recess until September, August provided time for assessing and strengthening partnerships within the church, including relationships with Lutheran camps and seminaries. Meetings are exploring ways to lift up stories from our ministries and create a program that would include advocacy as an element of faith formation. LAMPa’s policy council will engage these topics and more as we restructure for mission at our annual retreat in September.8

LAMPa is also equipping synodical women’s organizations to support Safe Harbor legislation as part of the churchwide dedicated day of service on Sept. 11. Congregations may label bars of soap with the human trafficking hotline information for distribution at hotels as a service project. Lower Susquehanna’s organization adopted a resolution in support of SB851 and is sending a letter to the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The resolution also calls on members to write their individual lawmakers in support of the bill that would divert trafficked children from the criminal justice system into appropriate services.

Very little is expected to be addressed in the few remaining weeks of the legislative session beyond finishing details connected to the budget. We remain alert for any movement on a memo circulated early in the session on possible payday lending legislation.



Samuel D. Brannon, Texas Impact

On Aug. 22, Dr. John Hellerstedt, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), met in Austin with Lutheran and other faith leaders to discuss Texas’ Zika plan.

“All of us play a role in limiting the potential that it gets here to Texas and the potential for it to spread,” said Hellerstedt. He explained that practices like using mosquito repellent, putting screens in open windows and wearing long-sleeve clothing will go a long way in preventing contact with an infected mosquito. He added that personal prevention measures can be almost 100 percent effective. “We don´t have to be perfect at this, but we do need to be as consistent as possible in these practices,” said Hellerstedt.

He said the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been working closely with the state on Texas’ strategy. So far, all cases reported in Texas are the result of mosquito bites received during foreign travel or were passed by sexual transmission. DSHS asked faith organizations to engage their communities because, although behavioral change is difficult, the public needs to start taking real preventive measures. Congregations can help by:

  • Meeting with local officials to be communication partners.
  • Informing their communities. Resources available here: org.
  • Going door-to-door with preventive information in high-risk neighborhoods.

Preparation, education and rapid response – coordinated at the state and local level, and with partnerships between state agencies and community organizations like congregations – is the best way to protect our communities from the spread of Zika.



Paul Benz, Faith Action Network

ELECTED OFFICIAL MEETINGS: Faith Action Network (FAN) is busy meeting with elected officials and the faith advocates in their districts. We’re primarily focusing on state legislators but also meeting with county council members and members of Congress. Our main state issues are: revenue solutions to fund K-12 education and our broken mental health systems, repealing our state’s death penalty statute and reforming our use of deadly force statute. Our two primary congressional issues are child nutrition and passing sensible sentencing reform. At all these meetings, we are sharing a statement: Interfaith Leaders Call for a Responsible & Respectful 2016 Electoral Process.9

CANDIDATE/INITIATIVE FORUMS: FAN is currently planning candidate forums in districts with competitive state Senate races, each hosted by congregations and moderated by faith leaders. We are also doing a forum on two key ballot initiatives: increasing the minimum wage while establishing paid sick and safe leave, and reducing gun violence using “Extreme Risk Protection Orders.”

FAN will soon have its three new organizing interns in place: Chasity Jones from Louisiana with the United Methodist Global Missions program, Joshua Sullivan from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, and David Choi from Virginia with the United Church of Christ’s Justice Leadership Program.doing a forum on two key ballot initiatives: increasing the minimum wage while establishing paid sick and safe leave, and reducing gun violence using “Extreme Risk Protection Orders.”

ANNUAL CLUSTER GATHERINGS: Every fall, FAN gathers our advocates and friends together in 17 geographic clusters all around our state. We do this to hear what FAN is doing and to hear what advocacy-related projects our various faith communities are doing. The overarching goal is to bring people of different faith traditions together to see how we can be more effective in our common work of advocating for justice.

(Photo caption: Our Interfaith Leaders Council gathered this month to call for a responsible, honest, and respectful election season this year.)



Cindy Crane, Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin

POVERTY AND HUNGER: The hunger team in La Crosse is talking about supporting the efforts of ELCA World Hunger and, with LOPPW, advocating for a just bill for the Child Nutrition Reauthorization.

ELCAVOTES: LOPPW is working with the League of Women Voters to plan a candidate forum in the E10ast-Central Synod of Wisconsin and is working with a council member to organize an additional forum.

UPCOMING CONFERENCE: The anti-trafficking conference LOPPW is organizing with Cherish All Children will include legislators, an outreach worker to homeless youth, and at least one individual who was trafficked as a youth and now works to stop sex trafficking. More information at

DAYS AFTER MILWAUKEE WAS HIT BY VIOLENCE: “One good thing that might come out of what happened in Milwaukee is that it will bring national attention to Milwaukee’s race problems. … We need to have dialogue, but sometimes things erupt. … Not everyone is racist . … We can’t just separate into sides all the time; that won’t work in the long run.” Spoken by a high school student unearthing soil at Alice’s Garden (director/minister Venice Williams is an LOPPW Advisory Council member).


 What advocacy efforts are going on in your synod or state? We want to hear about it!

Contact us at

Renewing The Fight for Universal Preschool: A Lutheran Perspective

By: Ryan Taylor, ELCA Legislative Intern

Education Photo
Photo Credit: U.S. Department of Education

In this election cycle full of hyper-partisanship, campaign insults, and the perceived inability of the public to agree on a variety of topics, there remains one issue on which the American people can come together: the economy. According to a recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 84% of registered voters cite the economy as an issue “very important” to their vote in the 2016 election. In fact, the economy topped Pew’s list of results as the single most important issue to voters in this campaign.

If this is the case, how, then, do we improve our economy and in turn make it work for everyone? Perhaps one way to advance our economic progress is to properly invest in and increase access to quality education.

In 2010, President Obama declared in a speech that, “education is the economic issue of our time. It’s an economic issue when the unemployment rate for folks who’ve never gone to college is almost double what it is for those who have gone to college. Education is an economic issue when nearly eight in 10 new jobs will require workforce training or a higher education by the end of this decade. Education is an economic issue when we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that countries that out-educate us today, they will out-compete us tomorrow.”

President Obama then suggested that, “The single most important thing we can do is to make sure we’ve got a world-class education system for everybody. That is a prerequisite for prosperity. It is an obligation that we have for the next generation.”

The ELCA’s social statement “Our Calling in Education” states that we minister in two ways: to educate people in the Christian faith for their vocation, and to strive with others to ensure that all have access to high-quality education that develops personal gifts and abilities and serves the common good.

Education issues are also critical this November. In the aforementioned survey conducted by Pew, 66% of registered voters said education is “very important” to their vote in the 2016 election. Throughout the remainder of this election cycle, we must encourage candidates up and down the ballot to support quality education for all, with a particular emphasis on youth.

Early childhood education lies at the core of this issue. Studies consistently show that high-quality education for children before the age of five sets them up for future success. For example, the HighScope Perry Preschool Study found that “individuals who were enrolled in a quality preschool program ultimately earned up to $2,000 more per month than those who were not.” Furthermore, the study found that “young people who were in preschool programs are more likely to graduate from high school and own homes.”

Because children rapidly develop social and cognitive skills during the earliest stages of their lives, it is imperative that every child has access to high quality preschool education. Building upon President Obama’s Preschool for All proposal and in accordance with our Lutheran calling in education, we must advocate for proper funding and must work to expand access to universal preschool.

While great progress has been made in this arena, there is still much work to be done. There are still six states that do not provide state funding for pre-Kindergarten programs (pre-K). Just under half (46 percent) of age-eligible children attend pre-K across the country, and only 4 percent of 3-year-olds and 28 percent of 4-year-olds attend state-funded programs. We must continue to push our candidates for office, as well as current legislators, to provide adequate federal funding to states that already provide pre-k programs. Furthermore, we should push for new federal funding to states that do not provide pre-k programs.

This November, with so much at stake, let us renew the fight for quality education for all God’s children. Universal preschool is a bold first step toward a bright future not only for students across the country, but also for our economy. If we truly value a strong education system and a strong economy, we must work to elect public officials who value educating our children in the most critical stages of social and cognitive development and onward. We can participate in this work knowing that access to quality education is a core value in our shared Lutheran heritage.

(Photo Credit: U.S. Department of Education)

From accompaniment to advocacy: Reflections on Central America migration

The reflections you will encounter are from Gettysburg seminarians who traveled to Honduras and Guatemala earlier this year in order to better understand the conditions driving so many to leave their communities. The words you will read are excerpts from reports the students wrote as part of the class that brought them on this trip. The videos were recorded for ELCA Advocacy. Each entry highlights something the author learned when they met individuals from communities the ELCA accompanies or is in relationship with. We hope these reflections show the amazing power that individuals have to move from accompaniment to action by walking and advocating alongside affected communities.

We would like to thank Gettysburg Seminary and all of the students who shared their stories with us. 

(All names and locations referred to in these reflections have been changed to protect community members.)

A call that all Christians have – by Chris SchaeferChris Schaefer2

The power people of faith have to connect and listen12227638_10103242770848189_7953080954390039971_n

A reflection by Alaide Vilchis Ibarra, Assistant Director for Migration Policy

As a new(ish) U.S. citizen, I am always curious about what drives so many of us to be advocates in this country. These reflections remind me that when people of faith spiritually connect and truly listen to others, even those whose language we might not speak, God gives us an amazing power for good.

I am humbled that these seminarians chose to share faithful reflections about their trip to Central America, and I am proud that they viewed advocacy as part of their responsibility as faith leaders. I also know that there are thousands
of others who are out educating friends and neighbors about issues affecting their communities, visiting their elected officials to discuss their concern for brothers and sisters who live in poverty, and work in ministries that provide hope and support for people throughout the world.

As you read these reflections, I hope you take with you a sense of the amazing power that exists in sharing what we learn through accompaniment with others in community and with those in power so that we may live in a world where everyone is treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.

In the final reflection of this series, we will hear again from Chris Schaefer. Chris traveled to Washington, D.C. to speak with his elected officials about his experience in Central America. His movement from accompaniment to advocacy serves as a great example of the impact people of faith can have in affecting positive policy change.

Protecting our environment and protecting each other – by Kayla Edmonds

La lucha” “The struggle”

…The most surprising part of our trip to Central America was the massive impact that climate change plays in migration. Due to climate change the communities that had two growing seasons now only have one…If the crop doesn’t come through then they either have to go without or take out loans.

What exactly does accompaniment mean?

A friend of mine explained it to me by using the story from the bible the Road to Emmaus. In the road to Emmaus story, two of Jesus disciples are walking along the road to Emmaus when Jesus appears to them and walks alongside them. We are not Jesus in this story. I don’t think I can emphasize this enough. We. Are. Not. Jesus. We are one of the disciples and our neighbors in Central America are the other disciple. And as we are walking along together, Jesus comes and walks along beside of all of us.

Statistics vs. the real story

We see statistics all the time on migration. Rarely though do we ever hear the stories of those who have migrated or tried to migrate. These people are not numbers; they are real people who are simply trying to provide for themselves and their families a better life. I wasn’t sure what to expect from our trip to Central America, I had never been out of the country or even on a plane for that matter…

Through this trip I realized just how small my world and my view of the world truly was. And for that I am truly grateful. I am more aware of the world outside of my little world and of the need to walk beside of our brothers and sisters in Central America and beyond. Nothing has ever impacted me as much as this trip did, and I look forward to seeing how this experience will shape and change my future ministry.

“I knew how much they were giving up” – by Ariel Williams


He wanted to be home – by Patrick Ballard

Reflexiónes de una peregrina – Reflections from a sojourner – by Jennifer Crist

“El sacrificio” “The sacrifice

We began [our visit] by watching families and jovenes arriving at the end of their attempt to migrate…As we waited outside for the buses of deported migrants to arrive… I wondered who might arrive on the bus that had just been deported from the US due to increased ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) raids…

There were many more families traveling together than I expected… One could transport these families to somewhere like Disney World, stepping off of the shuttle bus after a long day of lines and rides and eating; carrying backpacks and sweaters.  But these families were not returning from any vacation. Instead of their backpacks carrying all that they needed for one day at the park, their backpacks were carrying all of their possessions, everything they needed to traverse multiple countries.  I wonder what I would put in my backpack?  What if my backpack got stolen?  What would I do?  Unfortunately, I imagine most of these families have faced these questions…

Our final visit of the day was to … a neighborhood claimed as a territory of the MS-18 gang… A twenty-five year old woman, named Luz, spoke about her journey north to Mexico, where she worked until she felt she could no longer be separated from her baby who remained in Honduras.  As she talked, she often paused, expressing her gratitude to God.  She spoke of the reasons she left, as being intimately interwoven with the violence of the neighborhood: “Here the colonia is very dangerous.  Living here limits us.  There is not work, because when they hear we are from this area, they don’t hire us.  We can’t get a loan, because of our address here.  One doesn’t LIVE like this, with insecurity and fear.”…Despite all of her negative experiences, she spoke of the hope she had felt when CASM [the Comisión de Acción Social Menonita] connected with her.  She said, “Thank God….No one ever helped me like that before.”

Arroz Blanco” “White rice”

Despite being tired from a long day and food preparation in the hot, dark kitchen, I was pleasantly surprised by a migrant passing through, named Marco…Both of our childhood families were very poor.  My mother would prepare white rice with a little bit of milk and sugar for us for dinner; Marco’s mother would prepare arroz blanco with a little bit of coffee and sugar for him for dinner.  We both only realized as adults that this was because our mothers were poor and couldn’t afford better dinners.  To this day, he and I both adore white rice prepared the way our mother’s had prepared it when we were children.  White rice is our comfort food.  As I watched Marco depart the next day, I embraced him and whispered, “¡Te cuidas!” as I thought of his mother and of my oldest Guatemalan sons.  Though our experiences had been similar in childhood, I was born in a different geographical location, not needing to make a perilous journey to a better future.  While I could freely travel into and out of his country, he had to endure violence and hardship in order to enter mine.  A wave of guilt washed over me as I watched him depart with his backpack…

“La Lucha “The struggle”

[I] found myself reading about Jesus in the desert being tempted by Satan.  As I read about Jesus enduring many things (hunger, humiliation, etc.), I was reminded of stories that I had heard of hardship in traveling to El Norte….stories of hunger, violence, and violation of basic human rights.  After Jesus endured the temptation, Luke’s version simply has Jesus returning home.  And that is the reality of many migrants as well.  I imagine when Jesus returned home, he was tired from his journey in the desert, but he was filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.  According to the writer of Luke, Jesus did not go home to rest from his journey in the wilderness, but instead he began his public ministry of teaching.  And as Jesus stood up in his “home congregation” and revealed his authority from God, he also announced his job description to those who were gathered: to bring good news to the poor and to liberate the oppressed.  Jesus was focusing on justice and mercy.

After returning home…

As I finish this [reflection], the community I have been gathering as a mission developer, Communities of Hope, is preparing to gather in a coffee shop in Harrisburg, PA.  We will sing, hear God’s Word, and share a meal together.  However, we also intentionally decided that at every worship service we would have an advocacy component within our liturgy.  I will share one of the stories from Honduras (listed below) with the community tonight.

¿Por qué están aquí? – by Chris Schaefer

On our first full day of travel in Honduras, we had the opportunity to visit with a small Lutheran community that gathered regularly at a home in [a] small village. While there, several gentlemen shared their stories of attempts to migrate north to Mexico and the United States. They demonstrated great candor in relating many of the trials, hardships, and set-backs they had experienced before leaving their families and friends behind… After the gentlemen wrapped up their accounts, a patriarch of the village stood up and asked our group, “¿Por qué están aquí?” or, “Why are you here?”  

He continued by expressing some confusion as to our purpose because after all of the questions and answers exchanged between our groups he was still unsure why we would come all this way to ask about information that we already knew, particularly regarding why folks were migrating and what faced them on their journeys. Many of us had to admit that we were actually fairly ignorant about the causes of the immigration crisis… The patriarch’s question struck a chord with me, though, and forced me to reexamine my reasoning in accompanying this group, as well as why our group was there as a whole.

Seeing the faces of our neighbors

The staggering statistics that surround these stories are often too vast to comprehend and fully internalize, but the story of an individual allows and enables us to see the faces of our neighbors and better live out our calling as Christians to love and care for all of our neighbors, regardless of whether they live right next door or in a country far from our home.

As we continued on the trip, my preconceived notions about the intelligence and abilities of those living in the Northern Triangle were continually shattered and rebuilt in a way where I could better see the true nature of partnership in community and how these strangers living in a foreign land demonstrated true discipleship…

Kindling a stronger sense of love, compassion, and justice

I drew great inspiration and strength from our interactions, and because of that, a stronger sense of love, compassion, and justice has been kindled within me, and I am quite certain that the Holy Spirit was present and active in, with, and among us. 

Their strength and courage and trust in God in all things has helped tear down walls of fear and anxiety that surrounded me. I feel strengthened and invigorated to live out my calling as a Christian and I plan to take the stories that were so trustingly and generously shared with us and pass them to others so that the Spirit may work through them as the Spirit has worked in me. 


Join me in prayer and action this Mother’s Day

By The Rev. Corrine Denis, Lutheran Campus Center of Winona, Minn.

​I write on this Mother’s Day to speak out about an issue that is close to my heart: childhood hunger in the United States. I speak not only as a campus pastor who witnesses the results of childhood development in the college students I serve, but also as a mother who has benefitted from the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)– one of our country’s child nutrition programs that plays a critical role in helping reduce childhood hunger.

I was in my final year of seminary when I gave birth to my first child. Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa, provided a food pantry on campus for students and families, aware of the financial challenges. However, my family and I could not rely on boxes of cereal and bagels from Panera to get us through. Thankfully, we were able to receive assistance from WIC, which allowed for a more balanced diet and extra protein for me to nurse my daughter. The produce allowance was extremely limited, and I had more tuna than I knew what to do with. While I am grateful that my child was supported by one of our country’s child nutrition programs, my own experience also showed me that these programs do not go far enough to truly ensure that our children have access to nutritious food.

In a nation of great wealth and resources, no child should ever go hungry. Children who face hunger are also forced to face a lifetime of challenges, including low birth weights, diminished immune systems, emotional and developmental growth delays, educational delays, greater hospitalization, decreased earning potential as adults, and higher life-long health costs.

This year, Congress must renew funding for our federal child nutrition programs in order to ensure that our nation’s children have adequate access to nutritious food where they live, play and learn. These programs include WIC, as well as the National School Lunch Program and the Summer Food Service Program.

Please join me this Mother’s Day in calling for an end to childhood hunger in the U.S. by urging Congress to strengthen our nation’s child nutrition programs!

As we take a moment to celebrate motherhood, let us also pray that God gives strength to all parents who strive to give their sons and daughters a healthy and happy childhood.​

– The Rev. Corrine Denis of Lutheran Campus Center of Winona speaks out on this Mother’s Day about her experience benefitting from the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) – one of our country’s child nutrition programs.