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Deaconesses Express Radical Love with Poor People’s Campaign

By guest blogger Katie Thiesen, Deaconess Community of the ELCA candidate from the ELCA New England Synod

The Deaconess Community of the ELCA is using prophetic diakonia – or service that leads to social change that restores, reforms and transforms – to do the work of justice with the Poor Peoples Campaign (PPC). This movement encourages us to be grounded in the thousands of scripture verses that call God’s people to the work of justice.

We claim as Lutherans that we are loved. We also know that being personally loved is only part of the story. Being unconditionally and radically loved is not an end. We more fully realize that radical love when we see the sacredness and love for ALL.

“Every stranger I meet is a part of me I don’t yet know – and I a part of them. Together, strangers, inextricably connected, we live into God’s reign on earth.” – Sister Davia Evans

After hearing the scriptural call to radical love, I have struggled with what it means to do the work of charity. If I see you hungry and feed you one meal, knowing that you will again be hungry later, where does that leave my relationship with you and with God? Matthew 25 connects us to Jesus in the encounter – “when you saw me hungry.” One meal begs many questions, including: Did not God create this world in abundance for all?

I am learning I must never stop with acts of charity. We all need to have daily needs met now, so we need charity now. Yet charity is only needed because we do not have justice and will only be needed until we have justice! Matthew 25:31-46 and James 2:15-22 call us out when we leave one another without needs met. Micah 6:8 calls us to justice.

Hear in this two minute video names and reasons including Emmett Till to Sean Reed “and the too many murdered just because they were black” that compel this deaconess to participate in the PPC: “The Poor Peoples Campaign is a vision and a movement for right now. That’s why I am going.” – Sister Ramona Daily

At a small PPC gathering in 2018, organizers called us together in a circle, asking us to stand next to people we didn’t know. We were then asked to turn to our left and then turn to our right and say, “Hello Image of God!” Even typing this brings me to my knees two years later.

This immediately consecrated everyone in the room! No one was more the image of God than another, and no one less. I felt a surge of the Holy Spirit moving about that space, affirming we all belonged, we all were loved and able to love in return, and we all wanted to be part of each person’s complete wellbeing.

We are not all the same, as 1 Corinthians 12:26 shares, but in all of our beauty and diverse gifts, we are ONE. I do not have all the answers of how to do and be this moral fusion work, but it grounds me and crosses every line of division.

The Deaconess Community of the ELCA endorsed the Poor People’s Campaign in 2019. “For over 130 years our Community has been acting on our call to prophetic diakonia – we can do this better with the Poor People’s Campaign, A National Call for Moral Revival fusion movement,” said Sister Noreen Stevens, Directing Deaconess, of work carried forward with the movement begun by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Mass Poor People’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington on June 20, 2020 will be a digital gathering of poor, dispossessed and impacted people, faith leaders, and people of conscience, marshalling collective voices to demonstrate the power of our communities, and you can register from this link.

“The PPC is a moral call to take care of all of God’s people in an equitable way. The prophets called out injustice, and Jesus stood with the most vulnerable. It is our mandate to follow the command to Love your neighbor. This campaign addresses the root causes of injustice, and we are called through our baptisms to serve all people, following the example of Jesus, and to strive for justice and peace in all the earth.” – Sister Dottie Almoney, Chair, Board of Directors of the Deaconess Community

You already have a place of belonging in this movement as we are all doing the work of being the one body we were created to be.


Learn more about PPC and the June 20 event from
Learn more about The Deaconess Community of the ELCA from

February Update: Advocacy Connections

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



TRAVEL BAN EXTENDED:  On Jan. 31, 2020, the Trump administration announced an expansion of the January 2017 travel ban to include more countries in Africa and Asia. Under the new policy, citizens from Nigeria, Eritrea, Myanmar and Kyrgyzstan will be barred from applying for visas to immigrate to the United States. The National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants (NO BAN) Act would address this executive action and assist those of us escaping perilous or life-threatening situations. Support for the NOBAN Act can be facilitated in a current Action Alert.

In a statement on the expanded travel ban, the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton writes, “As Lutherans, these actions should concern us. Through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, God has set us free from ourselves to serve our neighbor. This expanded policy separates families from loved ones already here. Further, it prevents people — especially those escaping perilous or life-threatening situations in several of these nations — from coming to safety in the U.S. It does not enhance our safety or reflect our vocation as Christians.”


GIRLS’ EDUCATION:  On Jan. 28, the House of Representatives passed the Keeping Girls in School Act, a bill that seeks to strengthen U.S. international programs by reducing education barriers faced by millions of girls around the world. The bill calls on continued U.S. government and private investments to ensure quality and equitable education, promotes girls’ empowerment and streamlines existing programs.

Hundreds of ELCA Advocacy network members used an Action Alert in support of this legislation to send over 1,000 messages to members of Congress. An identical bill in the Senate awaits committee action before it can be sent to the Senate floor for a vote.


DISASTER AID FOR PUERTO RICO: The House of Representatives passed legislation to provide an emergency aid package for Puerto Rico in the wake of ongoing earthquakes and aftershock damage to the island. Support for this emergency aid in the Senate is the subject of an Action Alert, which emphasizes the lowest-income families in the greatest distress and the pressing need for authorizing proactive disaster policies for the greater United States.

The new package comes as the Trump administration recently released half of the blocked allocated assistance to help Puerto Ricans recovering from severe storms such as Hurricane Maria who now face additional devastation across the region. Two years after the 2017 hurricanes, more than 30,000 households are still waiting for assistance to have their homes repaired and/or rebuilt. Recent earthquakes have only accentuated the devastation many have experienced. Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding is desperately needed to assist survivors with building materials, furniture and labor so that they can rebuild their lives and homes.


FAIR HOUSING RULE: In January the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) proposed a new rule that would weaken oversight and national data on fair-housing initiatives in low-income communities of color. Under the new proposal, the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule would be rendered almost completely ineffectual. Before March 16, use the Action Alert to make a public comment discouraging implementation of the change.

AFFH was first designed to help localities promote diversity and inclusivity under the 1968 Fair Housing Act and take proactive steps to reverse the effects of housing segregation. ELCA World Hunger recently shared a blog outlining the effects of altering the AFFH rule and explaining how discrimination in housing is an intersectional moral issue that affects multiple aspects of our lives.


ELCA PARTNER WITH 2020 CENSUS:  The ELCA is an official partner of the 2020 Census as we work toward a just world where all are fed and further our commitment to greater justice in public policy and the electoral process. More than $675 billion in federal funds, grants and support to states, counties and communities is based on census data. An accurate count determines electoral maps and ensures that resources more justly go where they are needed most, including to vital programs that combat poverty and hunger and support people in need.

Posters are available from to help ELCA congregations encourage participation, particularly among hard-to-count populations such as people residing in rural areas, young children, LGBTQIA people, people experiencing homelessness, indigenous people, people who do not speak English, and racial and ethnic minorities. National Census Day is April 1, 2020, at which time all homes should have been invited to complete the census. For your neighbor and yourself — encourage your community to be counted!


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Into His Harvest Field

Greetings from our nation’s capital!  I join the ELCA Washington Office as the new Director for Grassroots Advocacy and Communication, where I look forward to working with Christians as we connect faith and public life.

Humbled by Christ’s constant inclusion of people living on the margins of society, Christians identify with and support the vulnerable through prayer and public witness.  God’s inescapable call to his people to lift up the sick, welcome the stranger, and aid the poor follows us outside of our church walls and in to our communities, our wider nation, and our world.

Christians in the United States have unique opportunities to work through political channels on behalf of the vulnerable.  Through advocacy ministries, the Church intercedes and creates space for the voiceless by engaging governments to aid immediate need and shatter deeply imbedded cycles of injustice.  This citizenship and view of government was central to the Reformation and remains important today.

My work here in Washington is based on an active partnership with you and your congregation.  I very much look forward to hearing your vision, and it is my hope that you will share your advocacy ministries with me and our larger Church body, as well as your communities and elected officials.  We seek to keep you informed of governmental action, and our office can provide resources to assist you in standing up for God’s most vulnerable children.

Everyday the God of our fathers and mothers, the Lord who always lives and is always near, goes with us as we collaborate to carry out Christ’s work on earth.   Jesus tells us, “The harvest is plentiful and the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.”   Today we ask the Lord of the harvest to call us, unite us, and work through us to shape public perception and policy affecting Creation, the poor, the hungry, the sick, and the stranger.






Willingly Giving Up Food

I have only been fasting for a week, but have you noticed we are surrounded by food? It’s available for purchase on myJodi Slattery Deike, director for grassroots advocacy and communication, ELCA Washington Office commute to work, laying out in the kitchen at work, sold by street vendors and advertised on television constantly. Food is tempting us everywhere. It’s no wonder I struggle with my weight.

The point of my fasting, however, is not to lose weight. It’s to participate in a larger effort to bring awareness to federal budget cuts — cuts that would have a devastating impact on poor people everywhere. The sad part is that deep cuts to such non-discretionary spending will have little to no effect on balancing the budget.

I’ve never fasted before and I have learned through this discipline how much food controls me. I now better understand why someone might steal a piece of fruit from a street vendor just to have something in their stomachs to get them through the day.

Most of us can get three meals a day, even if the amount of food isn’t much, it’s more than some people. I can break my fast if I had to, but people who are hungry can’t just start eating again. They have to wait for enough money, an open food pantry or community kitchen to receive a meal.

Along with my fasting, most importantly, I’m praying. I’m praying for our government and our brothers and sisters everywhere who are struggling. I’m praying together, with God’s help, we can stop these proposed cuts that harm vulnerable people.

I encourage you to consider joining the fast in whatever way is most appropriate for you. Learn more at