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New Data Show Trends, Challenge Old Wisdom

Knowing the numbers for hunger and poverty can go a long way to helping us talk about the issues accurately and craft effective, forward-looking responses. For those who share with their congregation information about hunger and poverty, these numbers can also be helpful in putting together presentations or workshops.

There are several sources for data that are particularly reliable and useful[1]:

  • The World Bank’s poverty report;
  • The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ (FAO) annual “State of Food Security” report;
  • The US Census Bureau’s annual reports on poverty and income; and
  • The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) annual “Food Security in the US” report.

We are still waiting for the release of the USDA’s report, hopefully within the next week, but already, the data are showing some troubling trends and some surprising shifts in understanding hunger and poverty.

Rather than litter this post with a ton of footnotes, the sources are summarized below.

Information and infographics about global hunger and food security come from:
FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP and WHO. 2023. The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2023.
Urbanization, agrifood systems transformation and healthy diets across the rural–urban continuum. Rome, FAO.
Information and infographics about incomes in the United States come from:
Gloria Guzman and Melissa Kollar, U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Reports, P60-279, Income in the United States: 2022, U.S. Government Publishing Office, Washington, DC, September 2023.
Information and infographics about poverty in the United States come from:
Emily A. Shrider and John Creamer, U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Reports, P60-280, Poverty in the United States: 2022, U.S. Government Publishing Office, Washington, DC, September 2023.


Global Hunger

The first troubling trend in the data is that the spike in hunger we have seen in recent years has not eased. Hunger is still “far above pre-pandemic levels” (FAO, 2023, viii). In 2022, between 690 and 783 million people were hungry. If we look at the middle of this range – 735 million – we find about 122 million more people hungry in 2022 than in 2019 (613 million.) The prevalence of undernourishment, which is the measure the FAO uses to determine the rate of hunger, has increased from 7.9% in 2019 to 9.2% in 2022 – nearly 1 in 11 people around the world.

Prevalence and number of undernourished people globally, 2023 (FAO)

Fortunately, that’s come down a bit from 2021. There were about 3.8 million fewer people facing hunger in 2022 compared to 2021, but the number remains remarkably high. The rate of hunger in 2022 was a slight decrease from 9.3% in 2021, but still the highest rate since 2005. In some areas, especially Africa, Western Asia and the Caribbean, hunger continues to rise, in part because of reliance on more expensive exports.

We see even more concerning news if we turn to another measure the FAO reports, namely food security. While the prevalence of undernourishment measures long-term, chronic signs of hunger, the FAO also reports on food security, which is a shorter-term measure of people’s access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food year-round.[2] In 2022, 2.4 billion people were food-insecure, an increase of 391 million people since 2019, relatively unchanged from 2021. This means nearly 30% of people around the world cannot reliably access the food they need.

What is keeping hunger and food insecurity so high?

For starters, one critical factor is the war in Ukraine. The FAO estimates that, without the war, 23 million people would not have faced hunger in 2022. Another factor is rising costs. Food is more expensive, fuel is more expensive and incomes haven’t risen to match the jump in prices. Many countries at risk of hunger are dependent on exports. The “world food import bill,” which measures how much is spent globally on the import of food and food products, reached nearly US$2 trillion in 2022, the highest on record and an increase of 10% from 2021. This puts enormous pressures on importing countries and translates into much steeper prices for consumers. The cost for imports of agricultural inputs, such as fertilizer (a huge export of Ukraine, Russia and Belarus), was even more staggering – $424 billion in 2022, an increase of 48% from 2021. Put together, it’s more expensive to bring food in and significantly more expensive to produce food in-country.

One of the trends impacting hunger and the cost of food is urbanization. More and more people globally are moving into large cities or closer to cities. By 2050, nearly 7 in 10 people worldwide are expected to live in cities. The result of this shift, according to the FAO, is that the old framework of a rural-urban divide simply doesn’t match the world as it is. In general, as people move toward cities, their economic prospects grow, and their risk of hunger and poverty decreases (slightly.) The problem we are seeing now, though, is rapid urbanization without economic growth. While we used to think of hunger as primarily a rural issue globally, the data point us toward understanding the need to attend to a continuum of rural-to-urban, including people who live in the in-between spaces between cities and rural areas.

As people move into cities, their diets change, and this presents a challenge to traditional thinking about hunger. For years, the truism has been that the world produces enough food to meet everyone’s needs. That might not be the case going forward. Between diets changing and more people moving away from food production in rural areas, the FAO finds that “the availability of vegetables and fruits, in particular, is insufficient to meet the daily dietary requirements in almost every region of the world” (FAO, 2023, xxii; 62). The reality seems to be that the world doesn’t produce enough food for everyone in every region to enjoy a healthy diet. Hunger isn’t just a problem of access but of production that meets changing needs – and changing understandings of nutrition and health.

The availability of food groups to meet a healthy diet (FAO)


Another surprising finding is that, in most of the countries the FAO analyzed, the majority of food consumed in rural households is purchased, not produced. This, too, challenges the traditional picture of rural subsistence farmers relying solely on food they grow or produce and makes the relationship between access and production more complex. The reality is that, in rural areas, the share of food that is produced by a household represents only about 33-37% of the food they consume, according to the FAO. The rest is purchased from grocery stores, street vendors or other suppliers.

There are a couple of consequences here. First, the growth in food purchases also means, in many cases, increased consumption of highly-processed foods, which can have lower nutritional value. This may mean that improving food security and nutrition will require new regulations to incentivize healthy eating and prevent exposure to unsafe foods, especially convenience foods purchased from street vendors. Second, focusing on increasing yields and production among rural farmers is important but may need to be combined with other efforts. It may also be important to focus on ways to generate income and to connect people to markets, particularly through improved infrastructure, such as navigable roads. That said, there still needs to be a focus on increasing farming production, especially of fruits and vegetables but also of staple grains, to meet the growing needs of an urbanizing population and to build resilience to shocks to export markets, as we’re seeing with the war in Ukraine.

The long-and-short of it is that the data suggest that the world may face a problem of not producing enough food to meet the changing diets of the world, and rural subsistence, as we tend to envision it, doesn’t completely reflect people’s actual dietary lives. These are huge shifts in our understanding.

Poverty and Income in the United States

As mentioned above, we are still waiting for new data on food security, but we do have information on income and poverty, courtesy of the US Census Bureau.

In 2022, the official poverty rate in the US was 11.5%, representing about 37.9 million people living in poverty. The good news is this wasn’t significantly different from 2021; the bad news is that this rate is far too high and still slightly higher than in 2019, before the pandemic.

Number of people in poverty and poverty rate over time in the US (US Census Bureau)


One thing to note in the data is geographic differences in poverty. While people living in every type of setting – city, suburb, rural– face vulnerability to poverty, the highest rate of poverty in the US is found “outside metropolitan statistical areas” or, in other words, rural areas. Fifteen percent of people living in rural areas in 2022 experienced poverty, compared to 11.0% living in urban centers (“metropolitan statistical areas.”) In principal cities themselves, poverty remained above 14% for 2022. So, the picture of poverty in the US as being primarily urban is not quite borne out by research; rural areas actually experience poverty at a slightly higher rate.

In addition to the official poverty measure, the US Census Bureau also calculates a Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM.) You can read more about the differences here, but one of the interesting things the SPM lets us see is how certain safety net programs and benefits help alleviate poverty. It also allows us to estimate how much certain costs contribute to poverty. Moreover, it determines the threshold of income that is “in poverty” a bit differently.

One important caveat before getting into the numbers: the numbers below are from the Supplemental Poverty Measure, not the official poverty measure. While they are illuminating and help us to analyze poverty more deeply, they should not be used as a replacement for the official poverty measure.

Here is where the news gets a bit frustrating, to be honest. We knew when the Child Tax Credit was expanded that we would see a rapid reduction in child poverty, and we did. Of course, that expansion and COVID-19 stipends expired in 2022, so the rate of child poverty in the US went up, as we knew it would. In fact, between 2021 and 2022, according to the SPM, child poverty more than doubled, from 5.4% in 2021 to 12.4% in 2022. At the same time, the official poverty rate for children stayed relatively stable, showing the deep impact the Child Tax Credit expansion had on child poverty. Perhaps even more worrisome is that the share of children in households with income of less than half of the poverty line also doubled, showing an increase of more than 100% for children living in what is considered deep poverty. Increases in deep poverty were true across the board for all age groups. The share of the population with resources below 50 percent of the SPM poverty threshold increased for every age group in the US. What this may point to is the way in which tax credits and stimulus payments had had a particularly significant impact on people living in deep poverty. What it also suggests is that ending poverty for households, even households in deep poverty, is not impossible; progress just takes bold but doable policy choices.

Child poverty – supplemental poverty measure vs. official poverty measure, US (US Census Bureau)


From the SPM, we can also get an idea of how effective certain public programs were in keeping people out of poverty in 2022. As the graph below indicates, for example, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP; formerly food stamps) and the National School Lunch Program lifted 5.1 million people out of poverty, while out-of-pocket medical expenses moved 7.1 million people into poverty, which means that, after medical expenses are subtracted from their resources, more than 7 million people had household resources below the poverty line.

Supplemental poverty measure – the impact of various sources of income or costs (US Census Bureau)


In terms of income, real median household income in the US decreased 2.3% between 2021 and 2022, from an estimated $76,330 per household to $74,580. More people were working full-time, year-round, but real median earnings of workers (including both part-time and full-time) decreased 2.2%. For just full-time, year-round workers, the drop in earnings was 1.3% from 2021 to 2022. So, the next time someone complains about how workers “these days” earn so much, you can gently and gracefully remind them that earnings are lower now than they were last year when accounting for inflation– at the same time (and partially because) goods cost so much more.


Credit: US Census Bureau, 2023


Moreover, the next time someone says, “People just don’t want to work anymore,” it might be helpful to point out that the number of full-time, year-round workers increased 3.4% between 2021 and 2022, compared to an overall increase in workers of 1.7%, which, according to the US Census Bureau, suggests that what we are actually seeing is a shift from part-time work to full-time, year-round work. The percentage of people 16 years and older who were in the labor force in 2022 was 63.5% – not much different from the 63.6% 5-year average from 2017-2021.

In terms of racial disparities in real median income, White and non-Hispanic White households experienced a decrease of 3.5% and 3.6%, respectively, while the change in income for other racial groups was not statistically different from 2021. This change may be because of long-term income disparities. White and non-Hispanic White workers tend to be paid disproportionately higher incomes than other racial groups, sometimes as much as 25-100% higher, and still, despite the modest decrease, get paid real median incomes of $108,700 per year per household, the highest among racial groups. Further analysis shows that the losses in real median income nationwide largely occurred in middle and high income brackets, so this makes some sense.

This drop in middle and high incomes means that income inequality was lower in 2022 than in 2021. In fact, the US Census Bureau reports that 2022 represented the first drop in the Gini coefficient – a common measure of income inequality – since 2007. There is some good news there, though, if we look at other measurements, such as the mean logarithmic deviation of income, which is a bit more sensitive to changes at the lower end of the income spectrum, we still see income inequality at the highest rate it has been since 1967, with the exception of 2021, of course.

What this means is that, yes, income inequality decreased because of drops in income at the middle- and high-income levels. But when the lowest 20% of income earners draw in only 3% of the total income of the country, and the highest 20% get more than 52% of the total income, can we really say that we are making headway on inequality? Probably not. There’s more work to be done.

Where to go from here?

“More work to be done” is a good way to sum up what we can learn from the data. Certainly, we are nowhere near the worst of projections from the early months of the pandemic. But we are also a far cry from the Sustainable Development Goal of ending hunger by 2050.

We know, though, that things do not have to be this way. We have come a long way from where we were as a country and a world in 1974, when the Lutheran hunger appeals that became ELCA World Hunger began. As we look ahead to the 50th anniversary of this ministry next year, we do so with hope and faith. Hunger and poverty are not givens. What the last few years’ worth of data demonstrate isn’t the intractability of hunger but the risk our world runs when we collectively ease up on progress toward ending hunger and poverty.

Working together, learning from one another, listening to each other, advocating together and creating spaces for communities to build trust and address the injustices that create vulnerability will all be important steps along the way.


[1] What makes data “reliable and useful”? One of the first things to consider is whether the sources of data describe their methods, including limitations of the data. This can help point to whether the data are reliable or not. Another factor to consider is consistency. The agencies named in the list use the same methods year after year, so data can be compared over time, and they report any changes to methods that might impact comparability.

[2] In the past few years, there has been more attention to “food crises” around the world and reports that use a measurement referred to as IPC/CH to determine risk of famine. The FAO has a great explanation of how food crisis measurements compare to undernourishment and food security measurements in the 2023 “State of Food Security” report. See Box 1, page 12 of the report.


For What Shall We Pray?

“For What Shall We Pray?” is a weekly post inviting individuals, groups, and congregations to lift up our world in prayer. This resource is prepared by a variety of leaders in the ELCA and includes prayer prompts, upcoming events and observances, and prayer suggestions from existing denominational worship materials. You are encouraged to use these resources as a starting point, and to adapt and add other concerns from your local context. More information about this resource can be found here.


Prayer prompts:

For gatherings and conversations of interfaith partnerships and community groups dedicated to fostering dialog and understanding…
For those near death and for those mourning the loss of a loved one…
For the partnering work of the Lutheran World Federation as delegates travel home from LWF Thirteenth Assembly in Krakow, Poland…
For the Lutheran World Federation’s new president, the Rev. Henrik Stubkjær….
For the recent assembly of the Sierra Pacific Synod and for Bishop-Elect Jeff Johnson…
For attendees of the WELCA Triennial Gathering in Phoenix, AZ…
For the work of the UN General Assembly…
For those experiencing liberation and reunion…
For those struggling with addiction, in recovery programs, and celebrating sobriety anniversaries…
For areas around the world experiencing violence and unrest, including Ukraine and Niger…
For the people of Morocco and Libya in the aftermath of devastating flooding…

Events and observances:

Monthly Observances in September: National Suicide Prevention Month, Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept 15-Oct 15),

Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist (Sept 21)
International Day of Peace (Sept 21)
National Native American Day (Sept 22)
Yom Kippur (Judaism, begins eve of Sept 24)

Prayers from ELCA resources:

A prayer for those who live alone (ELW p. 83)
Gracious God, none who trust in your Son can be separated from your love. Give to those who live alone peace and contentment in their solitude, hope and fulfillment in their love of you, and joy and companionship in their relations with others; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A prayer for those who are oppressed because of religious identity  (ACS p. 51)
God of mercy and new life, you love all people, whom you have made in your image. Empower your faithful people to stand in solidarity with all those oppressed because of religious identity. Deepen respect, community, and love among all those who seek justice and peace. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

ELW = Evangelical Lutheran Worship
ACS = All Creation Sings: Evangelical Lutheran Worship Supplement

Additional topical prayers are found in Evangelical Lutheran Worship (pp. 72–87) and All Creation Sings (pp. 46–55), as well as in other resources provided in print and online at

Crafted intercessions for every Sunday and festival are provided in the Sundays and Seasons worship planning guide published in-print and online by Augsburg Fortress. Further assistance for composing prayers of intercession can be found here: Resources for Crafting Prayers of Intercession

Prayer Ventures, a daily prayer resource, is a guide to prayer for the global, social and outreach ministries of the ELCA, as well as for the needs and circumstances of our neighbors, communities and world.


September 24, 2023–What is Fair?

Heather Hansen

Warm-up Question

When have you been a part of a decision that seemed unfair?  How did that feel?  What made it seem unfair?

  • Bonus Warm-up Activity–Come prepared with enough prizes (like a candy bar or treat of some kind that everyone would like) to give to each person in the group.  Ask for volunteers (to equal about ¼ of the group) to do 10 minutes of jumping jacks and tell them that you will give them a prize for finishing that is worthy of their time and activity.  Allow them to jump for 3 minutes then recruit the same number of volunteers you did before to join them.  Tell them that they will also receive a prize that is worthy of their time and activity.  Wait three more minutes and recruit a third group, and finally with one minute left recruit a final group.  Once the 10 minutes is up, have them line up in order of who came into the activity with one minute left to the ones who jumped for 10 minutes.  Give each person in the line the exact same reward, then have them return to their places.

What is Fair?

When I was in high school, I was blessed with parents who both had good, full-time jobs that allowed us to have everything we needed and still prepare a little for the future.  However, while they did have a little beyond basic needs, the “extra” in the budget was still not going to be enough for my full college tuition.  My parents made too much money for need-based scholarships but did not make enough to pay for the whole four years.  I had a highly praised resume and applied for almost every scholarship I could.  Since I applied to a very competitive state school, I did not receive any scholarships. I was SO CLOSE!

While I was disappointed, I accepted it fairly well until I started finding out about the scholarships a number of my friends were receiving.  A large number of my friends had parents who made a lot more money than mine.  In many cases, their resumes were slightly less accomplished and often a few grade points below mine.  However, they WERE getting generous scholarships.  I was hurt and confused and didn’t understand why because they had more money and their qualifications, while good, were not necessarily as impressive as mine.  Then I learned that because of affirmative action, there were numerous scholarships available to them which were not available to me since I was in the white majority.

I have to admit, unfortunately, that it took me a long time to truly understand and become more compassionate about this seemingly “unfair” event in my life.  However, through stories in scripture – like the parable of the lost son and the parable of the vineyard workers – and through the wise teaching and mentoring of compassionate pastors, leaders and very patient friends, I was finally able to see that this was a case of equity and not of equality.

Discussion Questions

  • Have you ever experienced something that seemed unfair or “unequal” to you?  How did you feel?
  • Have you ever experienced something that you felt was just or right, but others argued that it was unfair?  How did you feel?
  • What are other examples in our world of issues that people fight about as to whether they are just or unjust; fair or unfair?
  • Recent Supreme Court rulings (Students For Fair Admission vs Harvard and SFFA vs UNC) have called into question many affirmative action programs in higher education.  What do you think of that change?

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost

Jonah 3:10—4:11

Philippians 1:21-30

Matthew 20:1-16

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year A at Lectionary Readings.)

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

Gospel Reflection

This week’s gospel is a story about a group of workers recruited by a landowner to work in his fields.  In the end, some of those workers feel they have been treated unfairly.  They have put in a full day’s work, while another group of workers only put in an hour or two.  Yet they all got the same pay. The landowner reminds the workers that he is not obligated to pay anyone any more than what is “right,” which he did.  He pays the early workers the normal daily wage, but chooses to be generous to those who start later.  

We don’t really know the circumstances of the workers in the marketplace that day.  Perhaps they all gathered early in the morning, and some received jobs while others did not.  So, when the landowner came back and saw there were people not working, he gave them an opportunity too, so they could take care of their families. Perhaps their jobs finished early and they had worked early, but were also finished early, which would not allow them to make what they needed.  

Of course, it’s possible that some of them were lazy,  slept in,  and took advantage of a generous man.  However, it seems unlikely that the entire group of workers left in the center of town were late only because they were “lazy.”  Generally, most people who come to work come because they need to.

This story doesn’t really differ from the experiences of people in our own time, does it?  I can think of a number of examples like this in my own community that are almost exactly like this.  I live in San Antonio, where there are a large number of people who come into the country looking for work from Mexico and all parts of Latin America.  They risk their lives to come to a place that might provide a little more money, safety, or opportunity for them and their families.

There are also people in my city who have lived here for generations but have only been able to find work that pays a minimum wage and not a living wage.  In these cases, their children also have to work as soon as they are old enough to support their family, and the younger ones often care for even younger children while the older members of the family work.  They are caught in a cycle of poverty that feels impossible to break out of.

Education is one way people break out of poverty.  But it is hard to succeed if you do not have a parent at home to supervise you.  Furthermore, an older child who has to care for siblings or work in the community before school, after school and late into the night, is less likely to succeed.  Even if a person wants  to succeed, they must overcome greater obstacles  than a person like me.  Even though I didn’t have a lot of extra money growing up, I had what I needed and then some.  I also had the opportunity to use my time to do extracurricular activities and outside learning with my family, which contributed to my performance in school. 

In the U.S. according to a study by the children’s defense fund, in 2021, at least 1 in 5 Black children were poor in 42 states and the District of Columbia; Hispanic children, in 36 states; and American Indian/Alaska Native children, in 29 states. Not one state had a white child poverty rate above 20%.

When I listen to the story of the parable in the vineyard and compare it to the stories of poverty in our own culture today, it helps me understand why I didn’t get those scholarships in high school.  More importantly, it teaches me to love with the compassion of Christ.  The workers in the morning were paid “what is right.”  Perhaps the landowner recognized the plight of the later workers and wanted to give them equal opportunity.  To do so required him to pay more than what was the appropriate hourly wage.  But what a gift to receive what you need when you otherwise would not!  

God’s sense of justice and fairness does not always look just or fair to us because we are often unable to see with the same compassion, generosity and understanding.  Thank goodness we believe in a God that looks past that and gives what is “right” to all people.

Discussion Questions

  • What were your first reactions when you heard the story of the workers in the vineyard?  What did you feel in your gut or your heart?
  • Did those feelings or reactions change after comparing the story to the ways that we live today?
  • What does this story inspire you to see differently or to learn about in order to show the kind of justice and equity that God shows?

Activity Suggestion

Watch the following video about the disparity in equity that still exists today in our culture.  What would the members of your group do in response to the leader’s questions?  Talk about what it would feel like to step forward or stand still.

Closing Prayer

Compassionate God, help us to look around and find ways to be compassionate.  Teach us that we should only look at what’s in another person’s bowl to make sure they have enough, and not just to see if the distribution is fair or equal.  Teach us to see the best in our neighbor, to recognize when things are unjust, and to work for sharing your grace and abundance with others.  Finally, God, may we rejoice and celebrate the gift of your boundless grace, which you bestow in gracious and loving measure to all people, saint and sinner.




August/September Updates – U.N. and State Edition

Following are updates shared from submissions of the Lutheran Office for World Community and state public policy offices (sppos) in the ELCA Advocacy Network this month. Full list and map of sppos available.




Lutheran Office for World Community (LOWC), United Nations, New York, N.Y. –

Christine Mangale, Director


LOWC co-hosted a mini-series of events over the summer focused on the rights of migrants and refugees. These events included:

  1. “Confronting Anti-Blackness in Global Migration” with Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI)and ELCA. The event was held on May 30 at the Church Center for the UN; Rev. Lamont Wells and LOWC staff presented. Event was held during the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent (PFPAD), which was in its second session at the United Nations.
  2. “Commemoration of the World Refugee Day” (June 8), virtual event co-hosted by the NGO C, including the LWF (who is co-chair of this committee).
  3. “World Refugee Day- Renewing Passion and Reclaiming Resilience” Freedom Dreams from the Margins Event held on June 20 at the Church Center for the UN. This event was co-hosted by Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference (SDPC,) ELCA, LWF and Ecumenical Women.
High Level Political Forum updates

The High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) is the voluntary reporting mechanism for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The theme of the July 10-19, 2023 session of the HLPF was, “Accelerating the Recovery from the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) and the Full Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at all levels.” The session reviewed in-depth sustainable Development Goals: 6 on clean water and sanitation, 7 on affordable and clean energy, 9 on industry, innovation and infrastructure, 11 on sustainable cities and communities, and 17 on partnerships for the Goals.

ELCA/ LWF was represented at the HLPF by staff of the Lutheran Office for World Community in New York, staff of ELCA World Hunger, ELCA Advocacy office in Washington DC and a young adult delegation from the United States. Unfortunately, a LWF delegate from Liberia who works on the “waking the giant” initiative was denied a visa to enter the US for these meetings. Visa denial in the US is a rapidly increasing reality faced by civil society groups and organizations engaging with the UN.

The SDGs are at their halfway point in their 15-year mandate and at their current course they will not be achieved in any context. Rapid acceleration is required to meet any of the targets under each of the goals. The LWF has a unique opportunity to push this agenda forward; especially giving its links to climate and human rights policy areas. Further support from a potentially reaffirmed mandate from the LWF assembly in September 2023 is a big opportunity for accelerating and amplifying this area of our work together.



Lutheran Office of Public Policy – California (LOPP-CA) –

Regina Banks, Director

Movement in CA Legislature

The California legislature is reconvening from their summer recess, so the final push to get remaining bills across the finish line has commenced. The Lutheran Office of Public Policy, California (LOPP-CA) is working with our partner coalitions and organizations to pass legislation covering issue areas spanning affordable housing, worker and family protections, and environmental justice. Of LOPP-CA’s priority bills, two remain moving through the process. Those bills are SB 4 (Wiener), Affordable Housing on Faith and Higher Education Lands Act, and AB 249 (Holden), school lead testing and clean up. SB 4 was passed by the California legislature on September 8, and is expected to be signed by the governor soon.

Another bill, AB 660 (Irwin), which would have required food date label reform, was made into a 2-year bill, so it will be considered in next year’s legislative session.

State Budget Summary

Key efforts were impacted by the budget this year, which was unavoidable given the $31.5 billion shortfall. Funds have been shifted to bonds or delayed to future years. The tax credits for low-income households didn’t make it this year (though, there is still hope for some of that within SB 220). Environmental issues took a hit, and a lot will be riding on a climate bond. However, a lot of programs were also spared, and funding increased in some critical areas, such as flood resilience. Other bills that will require appropriations of some kind are still moving, but any major piece of spending legislation will face difficulty.



Lutheran Advocacy Ministry Colorado (LAM-CO) –

Peter Severson, Director

Two Propositions on Fall Ballot

Coloradans will be voting on two statewide propositions this fall:

  • Proposition HH is a measure to use some of the state’s surplus revenue – as defined by Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) – to provide property tax relief to homes and businesses instead of doling out the excess funds as income tax reductions or refunds.
  • Proposition II would allow Colorado to retain in excess tobacco tax revenue dedicated to preschools that has been collected under Proposition EE, which was passed by voters in 2020.
    • The Blue Book estimated $186.5 million would be collected, but $208 million was actually collected; TABOR requires the amount in excess of the initial estimate to be refunded to tobacco retailers and the tax rate lowered in subsequent years unless Prop II is approved.

Lutheran Advocacy will be producing a Voter Guide with information about each of these propositions in the coming weeks. Look for our guide to be available online and in print soon!

Proposed Evolution of Lutheran Advocacy Office

The leadership of the Rocky Mountain Synod ELCA and the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado are currently in conversation about creating a joint Lutheran-Episcopal advocacy office for Colorado. Such an office would represent a new phase of evolution for Lutheran Advocacy Ministry Colorado, which has been advocating in our state since 1984.

The proposed office would advocate on behalf of both denominations’ theological and social teaching and would be accountable to (and supported by) congregations from each. Keep an eye out for more information about this dynamic proposal in the coming months.



Lutheran Advocacy Minnesota (LA-MN) –

Tammy Walhof, Director

Forum on Sacred Settlements (or Sacred Tiny Home Communities

How do we cultivate communities for those experiencing homelessness? What is the “Communities First” model? How are we called to support Sacred Settlements in Duluth?

These were questions explored at a well-attended forum Sunday, Aug. 13, at Trinity Lutheran of Duluth. People of many denominations and nonprofits gathered to explore the research-based model, and learn from the experiences of the Settled staff, advocates, friends, and the Sacred Settlement at Mosaic Community (St. Paul).

The Northeastern Minnesota Synod Assembly has passed a resolution endorsing the Sacred Settlements concept, supporting the legislation, and committing to both learning about homelessness & exploring the creation of Sacred Settlements. This forum was the next step for Duluth Community.

Minnesota Court Strikes Down Tenant Protection

Eviction actions by landlords follow tenants for years, making it difficult to find new housing. We have worked with the Homes for All Coalition since 2019 to ensure that such a mark does not remain on the tenant’s record if they win the court judgement. It passed the legislature in 2023 as part of a broader tenant reform package.

However, we learned that this provision was recently ruled unconstitutional, with the court claiming it is “contrary to the rules of public access.” The disappointing ruling came as a surprise to Homes for All, and the legislative bill authors, as we did not know it was being challenged. We are now exploring what kind of word changes might be acceptable.



Hunger Network in Ohio –

Deacon Nick Bates, Director

August Special Election

In early May, Ohio politicians voted to create an August special election to end majority rule in Ohio in hopes that a low turnout would allow them to sneak this issue past voters. With more than 3 million Ohioans showing up (38% voter turnout) Ohioans voted to protect our right to hold political corruption in check.

Issue 1 would have blocked citizen-initiated referendums by increasing signature requirements, eliminating a 10-day window to fix technical mistakes, and would have allowed 40% of voters to silence the will of 60%. Ohioans came through and defeated Issue 1 by a 57%-43% margin – protecting Ohio from more political corruption and cronyism.

Our right to the ballot is essential for our advocacy work to fight for a day when all shall receive their daily bread. Read more about Issue 1 in this Op-ed by Deacon Nick Bates that was published in the Columbus Dispatch less than two weeks before the election.

Service Learning Camps

Throughout the summer, the Hunger Network joined Service-Learning Camps through the Northwestern Ohio Synod and taught about advocacy and our Church’s role in creating systemic change. The foundation of Service-Learning Camps is that “learning is just as important as the service.” During these sessions, Hunger Network led the youth in a light-hearted and fun simulation with deep lessons that connect to the root causes of poverty – including racism, classism, wealth disparity, and many other issues. We had a lot of fun hearing the reflections of young people in our church and are excited to see them lead our communities toward a world where all shall receive their daily bread!

If your youth group is interested in participating in our simulation, please contact us at and we can set something up!



Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania (LAMPa) –

Tracey DePasquale, Director

New Staff

Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania(LAMPa) is pleased to welcome the Rev. Erin Jones as our Communications and Advocacy Engagement Manager.

Erin Jones headshot

Erin Jones joins LAMPa as Communications and Advocacy Engagement Manager

Jones is an ELCA pastor serving in Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod since 2018, brings experience in advocacy, communications and ecumenical community-building justice work to the position.

“I’m beyond happy that Pastor Erin said, ‘Yes’ to this new call,” said LAMPa Director Tracey DePasquale.  The role itself is new, and the search was extensive, “In the process,” DePasquale said, “we were blessed to meet people with an incredible variety of gifts who are seeking to live out their faith in transformative ways. It’s a big job, requiring a challenging set of skills to find in one person.

Jones’ work will take her to Harrisburg and beyond, DePasquale said, as her work supports and equips the church’s advocacy across the Commonwealth.  LAMPa staff, including an incoming hunger advocacy fellow, plan to visit with ministries in each of Pennsylvania’s seven synods in the coming months.  Jones will get a running start in the role, which begins Aug. 28, as she has been serving on LAMPa’s policy council and active with the ELCA’s advocacy for years.

“I’m so excited to come on board as staff with LAMPa!” Jones said. “My faith is deeply shaped by the way I and the Church show up in the public sphere. The more engaged I am in justice work, advocating for policies that feed and house and affirm others, the more connected I feel to God’s vision of the kin-dom.” Read more.


Texas Impact –

Bee Morehead, Director

Education Policy in Special Session

The Texas Legislature is in-between their 140-day regular session and multiple summer special sessions. The special session this fall will address school funding and private school vouchers. Texas Impact is preparing Texans of faith for the conversations through a new “Public School Defenders” program.

The Texas Impact Weekly Witness podcast series is hosting a legislative wrap-up series with elected representatives and an August “Houston Faith Votes” campaign. Elected officials and faith leaders will discuss the importance of civic engagement and tools for how local congregations can mobilize their communities. Bishop Mike Rinehart was one of the featured speakers.

Bishops Pen Letter

The three Texas Lutheran Bishops also penned a letter urging Texas to end the Operation Lone Star militarization of the border with Mexico. Texas Impact also hosted a webinar with authors of the Dignity Act, Rep. Veronica Escobar and Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar discussing immigration reform.


Faith Action Network –

Elise DeGooyer, Executive Director

Board Retreat
: FAN board and staff work hard to carry out our mission and advocate for justice across WA state. We were grateful to get to spend some time together in person at Chobo-ji Zen Center.

FAN board and staff work hard to carry out our mission and advocate for justice across WA state. We were grateful to get to spend some time together in person at Chobo-ji Zen Center.

This summer we had our annual board-staff visioning retreat in June, hosted at one of our advocating faith communities, Dai Bai Zan Cho Bo Zen Temple (Chobo-ji) in Seattle. Our hybrid retreat allowed us to consider together the changes since FAN was founded 12 years ago, the current context that provides new challenges and opportunities for our multifaith-based movement, and possible priorities for FAN. As we discussed and prepared for this coming year, we reinvigorated our commitment to take on what will be another crucial year of advocacy.

Summer Advocacy Focus

Our policy attention this summer has included how federal legislation will impact our local communities, especially the Farm Bill and any requirements that might limit access for people who rely on Supplemental Food Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. We look forward to welcoming our ELCA Hunger Advocacy Fellow, Tomo Duke in September to help further these efforts.

Cluster Meetings

We are also planning geographical cluster meetings around our state. In each meeting, community partners will have the chance to strengthen their relationships for local and statewide advocacy and build solidarity with one another for the year ahead.


The Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin –

Rev. Cindy Crane, Directory

Raise the Age

Republican bill authors made a draft of their bill known to the Raise the Age steering team and anticipate introducing it in September.  This bill proposes returning 17-year-old youth to the juvenile justice system.


ELCA Program Director for Migration Policy, Giovana Oaxaca, advised the Lutheran Office of Public Policy in Wisconsin(LOPPW) on advocacy for the Protect-Vulnerable-Immigrant-Youth-Act-of-2023,which would help ensure access to vital protections for young immigrant survivors of trafficking, abuse, domestic violence, and other harms.  The act would also ease backlogs in the EB-4 category and free up visas for people such as religious workers, while allowing the children to continue life in the United States as lawful permanent residents.

We received this information in response to a request we made about advocacy for church workers to gain permanent residency more quickly.  LOPPW was also in contact with Senator Tammy Baldwin’s office about individual church work.


Youth who attended the LOPPW workshops at the tri-synod youth conference received these stylish ELCA sunglasses.

LOPPW led two workshops on advocacy at the tri-synod youth conference including the La Crosse Area Synod (LAS), Northwest Synod of Wisconsin (NWSW), and the Northern Great Lakes Synod (NGLS) in River Falls.  Many of the youth also enjoyed ELCA sunglasses from our DC office, as the above photo attests.

Hunger Storytelling Event

Rev. Walter Baires from the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin (SCSW), Cindy Dobberke from the Greater Milwaukee Synod (GMS), Meg Finerty and Rev. Kathryn Ingbritsen from La Crosse Area Synod (LAS), and Deb Martin from the East-Central Synod of Wisconsin (ECSW) were supported by an ELCA World Hunger grant to organize two evenings of advice on how to craft, record, and edit your story about hunger. LOPPW led a presentation on the second evening.

Those recordings can be found here (use password “0?&b$Mz8” to access), and here (use password “G!6fit*.” to access.





Index of the September 2023 Issue

Issue 89 of Administration Matters

Register Sept. 15 for the 2024 Youth Gathering and related events!

Registration opens at noon on Sept. 15 for the ELCA Youth Gathering and Young Adult Gathering, taking place in New Orleans, La., July 16-20, 2024, and for the two pre-events: the Multicultural Youth Leadership Event (MYLE) and the tAble, for youth living with disabilities, both July 13-16, 2024. We’re thrilled to be back in such a vibrant city, filled with history, great food and inspiring music. This cycle we’re excited to announce that we will waive the pre-event registration fee for the first 1,000 people who register for the MYLE and the first 200 who register for the tAble.

To learn more, visit If you have any questions, email We’ll see you in the bayou!

Update your Portico benefits enrollment

This August the board of trustees for Portico Benefit Services approved rate and benefit changes for 2024. Sponsoring organizations and plan members have been notified by email. If your organization provides Portico benefits, visit EmployerLink to review your organization’s Decision Guide and Custom Comparison Report. Then, from Oct. 2 to Oct. 13, select your organization’s 2024 ELCA-Primary health benefit. >More

Laws and rights for employers and employees

Q. I recently read that my congregation needs to put up posters explaining certain laws to the staff. Where can I get more information?
A. Here and at the ELCA’s legal page.

What’s Your Church’s Money Story?

Now that your congregation has passed the midpoint of 2023, this is a good time to examine your financial health. Many congregations are experiencing their first full year in a post-pandemic environment. How do your organization’s finances look today? >More

Don’t Be Left in the Cold — Inspect Your Heating Boiler

One of the biggest risks of boiler heating systems is that some problem might escalate the internal pressure to a point where the boiler explodes. This not only results in major physical damage to the facility but can be life-threatening if your members or employees are in the building. With proper maintenance you can greatly reduce the risk of this occurring. >More


Partner Organization Resources and Events

Each month ELCA Worship highlights resources and events from other organizations and institutions. These Lutheran and ecumenical partner organizations work alongside the ELCA to support worship leaders, worship planners, musicians, and all who care about the worship of the church.

Association of Lutheran Church Musicians

ALCM nurtures and equips musicians to serve and lead the church’s song.

One-day local workshops for church musicians to learn new skills, share best practices, build relationships and support systems, and introduce others to the ALCM Community. Workshops are scheduled all across the country.  Sign up for upcoming events.


Lutheran Summer Music Academy and Festival

Nominate students for Lutheran Summer Music

It’s not too soon to nominate a student for LSM 2024. With enrollment for next summer already over 50% full, it will be important for interested students to apply early! Know a high school student who would benefit from the life-giving and joyful musical community at LSM? Nominate them today or contact for more information. LSM 2024 takes place at Valparaiso University from June 30 through July 28, 2024.


Calvin Institute of Christian Worship

An interdisciplinary study and ministry center that promotes the scholarly study of the theology, history, and practice of Christian worship and the renewal of worship in worshiping communities across North America and beyond.

The Vital Worship, Vital Preaching Grants Program at the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship is designed to foster, strengthen and sustain well-grounded worship in congregations Grants to worshiping communities stimulate thoughtful and energetic work that will result in worship services that exhibit renewed creativity, theological integrity, and relevance. Learn more about Worshiping Communities Grants. The next deadline for proposals is October 15. Future dates include Feb. 15 and June 15, 2024.


Music that Makes Community

Music that Makes Community practices communal song-sharing that inspires deep spiritual connection, brave shared leadership, and sparks the possibility of transformation in our world.

As Music that Makes Community plans future offerings and resources, we invite you to answer the question, “What do you need?” through a short survey we’re offering until the end of September. As musicians, clergy, community leaders, composers, and organizers, we know you are listening deeply to your community and context. We want you to know we’re also listening and eager to hear how MMC’s programming might find deeper resonance!

As always, find upcoming MMC offerings on our website calendar. Morning Grounding has resumed, and there are workshops, webinars, and retreats offering resources for your congregation, as well as spaces for rest and renewal.


Augsburg Fortress Events and Resources

Augsburg Fortress is an imprint of 1517 Media, the publishing ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Gather Together: 8 Intergenerational Events to Explore All Creation Sings provides opportunities for children, youth, and adults to come together around topics of worship, images for God, being a global church, experiencing life transitions, creation care, and more! Enjoy coming together as a faith community for learning and fellowship with this new and timely resource.




Ashes to Action: Finding Myself at the Intersection of the Minneapolis Uprising

Call to Allyship: Preparing Your Congregation for Leaders of Color

Come, Emmanuel: Devotions for Advent 2023-2024

Remind Me Again Facilitator Guide: 41 Sessions Based on the Poetry of Joe Davis

Unscheduled Grace: 40 Devotions and Prayers for College Students



For What Shall We Pray?

“For What Shall We Pray?” is a weekly post inviting individuals, groups, and congregations to lift up our world in prayer. This resource is prepared by a variety of leaders in the ELCA and includes prayer prompts, upcoming events and observances, and prayer suggestions from existing denominational worship materials. You are encouraged to use these resources as a starting point, and to adapt and add other concerns from your local context. More information about this resource can be found here.


Prayer prompts:

For those facing the immense grief of natural disasters and their devastation: flooding in Libya, earthquake in Morocco, floods in Massachusetts, Typhoon Haikui in southern China, and those in the path of Hurricanes Lee and Margot…
For victims of gun violence, especially in Sacrament, CA; Chicago, IL; Colorado Springs, CO; Choctaw, OK; Minneapolis, MN; Kansas City, MO; and Pittsburgh, PA…
For all facing financial insecurity…
For renewed civility, grace, and commitment to the common good among political leaders and governments…
For peace in areas of war or conflict, especially in Ukraine, Myanmar, Syria, and Palestine…
For those struggling with anxiety, depression, or suicidal ideation…
For doctors, therapists, counselors, social workers, and all mental health professionals and advocates…
For Jewish neighbors who are entering a season of holy days…

Events and observances:

Monthly Observances in September: National Suicide Prevention Month, Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept 15-Oct 15),

National Historically Black Colleges and Universities Week (Sept 7-14)
National Suicide Prevention Week (Sept 10-16)
John Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople, died 407 (Sept 13)
Holy Cross Day (Sept 14)
Rosh Hashana, (Judaism, Sept 15 eve-Sept 17)
Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, martyr, died around 258 (Sept 16)
Hildegard, Abbess of Bingen, died 1179 (Sept 17)
Dag Hammarskjöld, renewer of society, died 1961 (Sept 18)

Prayers from ELCA resources:

A prayer for those in affliction (ELW p. 84)
Lord Christ, you came into the world as one of us, and suffered as we do. As we go through the trials of life, help us to realize that you are with us at all times and in all things; that we have no secrets from you; and that your loving grace enfolds us for eternity. In the security of your embrace we pray. Amen.

A prayer for those living with mental illness (ACS p. 52)
Mighty God, in Jesus Christ you know the spirits that could our minds and set us against ourselves. Comfort those who are torn by conflict, cast down, or lost in worlds of illusion. By your power, drive from us the powers that shake confidence and shatter love. Tame unruly forces within us, and bring us to your truth, so that we may know peace and accept ourselves as your beloved children in Jesus Christ. Amen.

ELW = Evangelical Lutheran Worship
ACS = All Creation Sings: Evangelical Lutheran Worship Supplement

Additional topical prayers are found in Evangelical Lutheran Worship (pp. 72–87) and All Creation Sings (pp. 46–55), as well as in other resources provided in print and online at

Crafted intercessions for every Sunday and festival are provided in the Sundays and Seasons worship planning guide published in-print and online by Augsburg Fortress. Further assistance for composing prayers of intercession can be found here: Resources for Crafting Prayers of Intercession

Prayer Ventures, a daily prayer resource, is a guide to prayer for the global, social and outreach ministries of the ELCA, as well as for the needs and circumstances of our neighbors, communities and world.


September 19, 2017–Forgiving Sins

Don Holmstrom, Blacksburg, VA

Warm-up Question

How would you define “forgiveness” if you could not use the word “forgive?”

Forgiving Sins

A middle-aged man named Charlie Ryder grew up in Ireland, the son of an alcoholic father.  As a boy, his father verbally and emotionally abused him, leaving young Charlie with low self-esteem and deep depression.

As a teenager, Charlie started his journey to find healing.  In college, he attended Alateen, a 12-step program for young people whose lives were affected by a family member’s alcoholism.  “Alateen,” Charlie says, “gave me a safe space to open up and share honestly about the shame and humiliation I’d felt growing up.”  He began to find peace.   

To completely heal, Charlie decided he would need to forgive his dad.  But how?  He could easily list things “that he hated about his dad.”  But for what was he grateful?  He thought of ways his dad had shown his love, including giving his son “pocket money,” as well as money for Christmas and birthdays.  

But a more important realization for Charlie was discovering his father’s history.  His father grew up in a family of alcoholism.  Both of his father’s  parents were alcoholics.  His father, also, suffered from depression.  Upon learning this, Charlie, for the first time, felt compassion for his dad.  

A few years ago, Charlie and his sister visited his dad in the hospital.  His father was dying.  Near the end of their visit, Charlie’s father took his children’s hands and expressed regret for what he had done.  His final words to them were, “I’m sorry.”  Charlie responded, “We love you, dad.”

At that moment, Charlie says, he knew he had truly forgiven his father “for harming me as a child.”  And then Charlie offers this insight, “Forgiveness is a very personal journey but it can be a wonderful act of self-love.”

Discussion Questions

Can you remember a time you were forgiven for something you had done or failed to do?  How about a time when you forgave someone else?  What did forgiveness feel like?  

Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Genesis 50:15-21

Romans 14:1-12

Matthew 18:21-35

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year A at Lectionary Readings.)

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

Gospel Reflection

This Matthew text starts with a famous question from Peter and an equally famous response from Jesus.  Then Jesus tells a parable illustrating forgiveness and judgment.

Peter’s question to Jesus might imply that the apostle is uneasy with the notion of forgiveness being unlimited.  Let’s just get by with as little forgiveness of others as we can, Peter seems to say. 

Jesus answers:  Not a handful of times should we forgive, but over and over and over again!  (Note that “seven” is a “holy” number in the scriptural world.  “Seventy-seven” indicates unlimitedness.)

But the parable that Jesus tells also seems to imply a catch: repentance must come before forgiveness.  In fact, every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer we evoke this idea of repentance before forgiveness: “Forgive our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.”  Do you see such a connection between repentance and forgiveness?  

On the cross, Jesus says, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”  Does this imply that repentance must come before forgiveness?  Or is forgiveness a free gift, no strings attached?

Discussion Questions

  • Who is forgiveness for:  the perpetrator, the victim, or both?  How would Charlie Ryder answer this question?
  • Where is God in the process of forgiveness?

Activity Suggestions

  • Write down the word FORGIVENESS on a sheet of paper or white board.  Using each letter of forgiveness, jot down a word that begins with that letter and is connected to forgiveness.  (Ex.  “F” is for “freeing.”)
  • Read aloud the Old Testament text assigned for today.  It’s the conclusion of the long story of Jospeh and his brothers.  You’ll recall that his brothers sold Joseph into slavery.  But because of Joseph’s perseverance and God’s great love for him, he ends up becoming a revered leader in Egypt.  What happens to Joseph and his family due to the power of forgiveness?     

Closing Prayer

Gracious God, through your great love and grace, you continually forgive our sins and bring us to new life.  Help us to receive forgiveness with grace and humility.  And give us the strength and courage, O God, to forgive others as we have been forgiven.  Amen.



The tAble

by Rev. Jonathan Vehar

Every three years in the days leading up to the ELCA Youth Gathering a unique event takes place that gathers young people together for worship, service, and fellowship. And if you’re thinking, “isn’t that what the Youth Gathering does?”, you’d be right. But what makes The tAble exceptional is that it brings together youth who have a shared experience of living with a disability. We know that every youth who comes to The tAble brings their own story, struggles, triumphs, and ways that they experience the world around them. But they also share an identity as a child of God who has created them to be fully themselves. They discover a sense of belonging, knowing that others who are there get the part of their story that isn’t translatable to the able-bodied world.

The biggest challenge that the tAble faces is that only a fraction of the young people in our churches who live with a disability even know about it. But you can help by spreading the word that such a community exists. And then being creative to make it possible to be at the tAble, where a place is waiting. Find out more at


Allow Flourishing in Season of Creation

“The Season of Creation is a splendid opportunity for Christians around the world to embody the communion for which we human earthlings are created, and to do so in the quest for lifeways that build justice among people and allow Earth’s web of life to flourish,” said the Rev. Dr. Cynthia D. Moe-Lobeda, Director of the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary’s Center for Climate Justice and Faith. The celebration spans Sept. 1 through Oct. 4, shaped as an annual season instrumentally by the World Council of Churches, and is a time for Christians to come together to care for our common home (more).

In interwoven global awareness, local action and prayer, many of us are seeking to embody communion for the sake of God’s good creation. “Time after time a new report, study or press conference calls a ‘code red’ for our planet,” observes Christine Moffett, ELCA Program Director for Environment and Energy. “It is time for less talking about it and more acting about it.”



Significant global decision-makers will be meeting in confluence with Season of Creation dates. New York City hosts the highest-level gathering of the United Nations – the United Nations General Assembly – on Sept. 19-26, 2023. Heads of state meet, including for a “Climate Ambition Summit” on Sept. 20 to accelerate action by all sectors of society to address the increasing threat of climate change. National governments have not done enough to stop global warming in the seven years since the Paris Agreement was signed, relays our Lutheran Office for World Community (LOWC) program director Daniel Pieper from content of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change March 2023 Synthesis Report. In that context, he notes that UN Secretary General António Guterres said “the world is running out of options to defuse the ‘ticking climate time bomb.'”

As a joint ministry with both the ELCA and Lutheran World Federation (LWF), LOWC colleagues find foundational affirmation from the Twelfth LWF Assembly: “the global ecological crisis, including climate change is, human-induced. It is a spiritual matter. As people of faith, we are called to live in right relationship with creation and not exhaust it.”

Stay attuned to COP28, the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference, being held Nov. 30-Dec. 12, 2023, at the Expo City, Dubai. ELCA and LWF presence will be onsite to advance advocacy priorities.



GreenFaith has organized a March to End Fossil Fuels on Sept. 17 in New York City in conjunction with the Climate Ambition Summit. Several of our faith partners and some ELCA congregations and leaders will be participating. Lutherans Restoring Creation (LRC) describes the event as a time to witness “in search of a better way to offer healthy energy to our communities.”

While advocating for global impact is vital, in each of our communities we are aware of the splendor of and the degradation to God’s gift of creation. The ELCA’s most recent social message, “Earth’s Climate Crisis,” reads: “This social message is rooted in our duty to be responsible caretakers of God’s creation. It is motivated by that responsibility and by hope… With God’s help humanity can turn from the present course, take loving and just action, and live more harmoniously within God’s beautiful and verdant creation” (pp. 1-2).

The 2023 Farm Bill reauthorization will have significant impacts for all: those of us with farm-related vocations; those of us who go to supermarkets, farmers markets, SNAP provisions and global food aid for needed provision; and the communities and natural foundations that are needed to feed us into the future. If you didn’t use the Farm Bill background & template letters as an act of advocacy in service to your neighbor on “’God’s work. Our hands.’ Sunday” this year, revisit the resource and consider reaching out to policy makers to influence a policy outcome that can – as Pr. Moe-Lobeda characterized – “allow Earth’s web of life to flourish”.



Many of us sense these times as a “Kairos moment,” a descriptor from the social message of a decisive time in our relationship with God’s creation. In this Season of Creation, let us all join in prayer.

Prayers and other liturgical resources are available around the 2023 Season of Creation theme, “Let Justice and Peace Flow.”

Additionally, LRC has shared a prayer composed by the Rev. Lee Gable and the Rev. Inge Williams called “Sowing the Seeds of Transformation.” It can be found in full online, but here is an excerpt:

O God, whose fingerprint is reflected in every leaf and person,
you have entrusted us with the resources of Creation
And yet we squander your generous life-giving gift as if there is endless supply.
Transform our stewardship from immediate gratification to generational investment.

Inspire in us repentance and encourage our struggle for a just future
As we join you in mending this wounded world and its people
So that the fullness of your Kin-dom dream may become reality for all
Into the ages of the ages.