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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 the students and staff at Covenant School in Nashville, and for all who are grieving, traumatized, and fearful…
For open-heartedness, courage, and humility in conversations about gun violence and meaningful change in our society…
For families and friends of those who died in the immigration center fire in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico…
For earthquakes and severe weather in California…
For cleanup efforts following a chemical spill in the Delaware River…
For all those recovering from the devastating tornado in western Mississippi and Alabama…
For the people of Israel in the midst of political turmoil…
For peace in Ukraine and de-escalation of nuclear threats…
For Muslim siblings observing Ramadan, Jewish siblings preparing for Passover, and Christians who prepare to enter Holy Week…
For LBGTQIA+ siblings, especially children and youth, amidst restrictive legislative actions in state legislatures across the United States…
In lament over acts of discrimination, hatred, and oppression done in the name of Christ…

Events and observances:

Sexual Assault Awareness Month (month of April)
Ramadan (Islam, March 22-April 21)
Passover (Judaism, April 5-13)
Hans Nielsen Hauge, renewer of the church, died 1824 (March 29)
John Donne, poet, died 1631 (March 31)
Benedict the African, confessor, died 1589 (April 4)
Artists Albrecht Dürer, died 1528; Matthias Grünewald, died 1529;  and Lucas Cranach, died 1553 (April 6)

Prayers from ELCA resources:

Resources for responding to gun violence and national distress:
Prayer for Lament (ACS p. 61)
Service After a Violent Event (ACS p. 64)
Prayers for Civic Life, Government, and the Nations (ACS p. 48-50)

A prayer for peace (ELW p. 76)
Gracious and Holy God, lead us from death to life, from falsehood to truth. Lead us from despair to hope, from fear to trust. Lead us from hate to love, from war to peace. Let peace fill our hearts, our world, our universe; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

A prayer for the public church (ACS, p. 47)
Mighty and merciful God, lover of justice and equity, you call us to support the weak, to help those who suffer, and honor all people. By the power of your Holy Spirit, make us advocates for your justice an instrument of your peace, so that all may be reconciled in your beloved community; through Jesus Christ, our Savior. Amen.

A prayer for time of conflict, crisis, disaster (ACS, p. 49)
God, our healer and our refuge, we pray for all who suffer from gun violence. With your mercy, bind up their wounds, restore their bodies and heal their hearts. Comfort the mourners and embrace the lonely. With your might, empower us to change this broken world. Make us advocates for a stable society, alive with hope in you. We ask this through the one once wounded for our transgressions and now standing with us in our sorrows, Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen.

A prayer against prejudice and racism (ACS p. 51)
O God, you divinity transcends, distinctions of gender, and through the generations you widen our awareness of human diversity. We gather here before you in our various expressions of gender identity, all of us one in Christ Jesus. Bring our society to peacefulness concerning a wider understanding of gender. Give courage and healing to those whose expressions of gender they testify as gift from you. Open the church to their witness. We asked with your creative spirit you cultivate new relationships, Amanda, old wounds, and nurture communities expect, for the sake of the one who embrace is all persons in love, Jesus Christ, our savior. 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.

Image from All Creation Sings, © 2020, Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

April 2, 2023–Broken Trust

Amy Martinell, Sioux Falls, SD

Warm-up Questions

Who is someone you completely trust? What organizations (school, clubs, health system, etc.) do you trust? What organizations do you not trust?  Is it easier to trust people or organizations?

Broken Trust

The last few weeks have brought worry and panic to the banking world. The panic began with the sudden collapses of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank over a three-day span. These bank closures led anxious customers to withdraw their money from other smaller regional banks and place it with bigger institutions that are better capitalized.

These smaller banks then had to scramble to have enough money to cover the withdrawals. Many banks sought emergency loans from the Federal Reserve. Some of these banks then saw significant drops in their stock and credit rating. This problem is not limited to the US. Credit Suisse, Switzerland’s second largest bank, was bought out by UBS, Switzerland’s largest bank, in order to prevent a collapse.

All of this action leads to concern about global and personal finances and worry that we are headed into a prolonged recession. While Global financial regulators state that the banking system is secure and healthy, many cannot help but wonder.

Discussion Questions

  • Distrust of banks has been common especially after the Great Depression. Have you experienced friends or family distrusting banks.  What stories have you heard about this?
  • Do you worry about the current financial situation? How do you think money is tied to our sense of security?
  • What things help you feel safe and secure, especially when you are feeling anxious?

Sunday of the Passion/ Palm Sunday

Isaiah 50:4-9a

Philippians 2:5-11

Matthew 26:14—27:66

(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

From one story of worry and panic to another. The story of Jesus’ passion is filled with tension and broken trust. We begin with Judas agreeing to hand over Jesus, his teacher and friend, for thirty pieces of silver. Judas is not the only disciple who lets Jesus down. When the disciples gather with Jesus for the passover meal, Jesus warns that one gathered there will betray him. Peter swears he will die for Jesus before he will desert him, but he quickly breaks this pledge. When Jesus is arrested, Peter loses his resolve and denies Jesus three times.

The road to the cross is a lonely one. When the High Priest and Pilate question Jesus, no one speaks a word in Jesus’ defense.  The very crowd that welcomed Jesus to Jerusalem calls for his death. In the end, even God seems silent. The desertedness of the story reaches its climax as Jesus’ cries out to God in anguish, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

The story of Jesus’ passion is hard to read. We want to rush to the good news of Easter, but it is important to sit with the story of Good Friday first.  In this story we see everyone fail Jesus—from his friends, to political and religious leaders, to the ambivalent crowd. These failures teach us that the ways of the world are imperfect at best and deeply flawed at worst.

We experience that in our own lives. We’re tempted to put our trust in earthly things. Things like banks, insurance, and retirement funds can make us feel safe and secure, but the current banking issues and history have taught us that they are not infallible. We put trust and care into our relationships with friends and family, but we know that while these relationships are wonderful and needed, they are not perfect. Forgiveness is such a big part of human relationships because even those with the best intentions, like Peter, will fail us and we will fail them.

It is only Jesus who never breaks our trust. Even when Jesus is betrayed and abandoned, he does not give up on humanity. Instead, he goes to the cross and takes on our sin and death, so that we might have new and abundant life. In Jesus, we have a God who has experienced every heartbreak we face: loneliness, betrayal of friends, and times when even God seems silent. Jesus knows our every pain and joins us in our suffering. 

In the story of Jesus’ passion, we also find the promise that God’s love is there for us no matter what. Jesus welcomed Judas to his table, knowing he would betray him.  The resurrected Jesus sought out Peter to offer love and forgiveness. Jesus’ actions promise us that nothing we can do can separate us from God’s love for us.

Discussion Questions

  • What stood out to you as you read the gospel reading? Were there parts that were hard to read?
  • Recall a time someone broke your trust? How did it make you feel? How did you respond to the situation?
  • When was a time that you felt God was with you amid a challenging situation?

Activity Suggestions

While only Jesus never breaks our trust, it is so important to have spaces where we feel safe and where we can trust each other. Help to build trust within your group by doing the activity below or other trust building activities.

Have everyone stand in a circle and hold out their hands parallel to the ground. They also stick out their index fingers. Gently place an object on their index collective fingers, like a hula hoop or a stick. Now ask them to lower the object to the ground but make sure their fingers do not lose contact with the object. The group may find it difficult at first. The idea is that they must formulate a strategy where they are working together and trusting everyone to do their part.

Closing Prayer

Dear Jesus, we thank you for the love you poured out for each one of us on the cross. May we put our trust in you in order to hear your call and follow your mission. Amen.



40 Days of Giving 2023: Week 5

Session 5 — Psalm 130

“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in [God’s] word I hope.” —Psalm 130:5

The 40 days of Lent are drawing to a close, and so, too, is our journey through the psalms. From the plaintive cries of Psalm 32 to the quiet comfort of Psalm 23, we have glimpsed the spiritual depth of these hymns and reflected on what they might mean for us today, centuries after they were first recorded.

The psalms can often seem dated, repetitive or obscure. Many of them originated from liturgies or festivals long since passed from memory. Others may be so familiar that we tend to skip over them. Yet within them we find the spiritual turmoil of a people who have experienced the heights of joy at being God’s chosen and the depths of despair at being victims of war and exile. We find lofty praise and pleas for mercy and peace. The psalms reflect the richness of worship and earnest prayer, the spirituality of our ancestors in faith.

Within them, we also uncover the close links between liturgy and community life. Though many of the psalms are tailored for use in religious ceremonies, they paint a portrait of a God who, above all, cares about God’s people. The God of the psalms provides abundantly, loves fiercely and pursues relentlessly, at once the restorer of Jerusalem (Psalm 122), the executor of justice (Psalm 146), the unceasing keeper of Israel (Psalm 121) and a “hiding place” for those stung by stigma and shame (Psalm 32:7).

Each of these images points us toward the realization that our many attempts to divide our life as people of faith from our life as neighbors and citizens of the world fall short of what God calls us to be. True worship, authentic worship is worship lived out in the world. Liturgy finds its most complete expression not in beautiful ceremonies but in beloved community.

The stories we have shared of work supported by ELCA World Hunger throughout the world are stories of worship come to life, of the living liturgical presence of God in our midst. Each of these stories could be its own psalm, filled with earnest prayers, with lofty praise and thanksgiving, and with new insights into who God is.

As we look ahead to the passion of Jesus, the pain of Good Friday and the joy of Easter Sunday, the psalms remind us that we are still discovering who God is and who we are called to be. They remind us too that we find the surest answers by carrying our faith into the world, God’s creation and the many communities we are invited to accompany around the world.

The psalms express what our ancestors found in their search for answers. What will we find as we continue the search? As we encounter new neighbors, as we hear stories of God at work through our partners, companions and congregations, what song will we sing?

We face great challenges. Rates of hunger are no longer falling but rising. Price increases make it harder for us and our neighbors to save for the future — or, in many cases, even envision one. With the psalmist, we “wait for the Lord, my soul waits” (Psalm 130:5). Yet like the psalmist, we find hope in God’s word because “with the Lord, there is steadfast love” and the promise of redemption (Psalm 130:7).

What psalms will sustain us? Perhaps more urgently, what new psalms are being written in our hearts now, as we bear witness to — and share in — God’s ongoing work toward that future?


Think about the lessons and stories you’ve read this Lent. What did you, your group or your congregation learn about the psalms, the work of ELCA World Hunger or other perspectives?

What is something that challenged you, your mindset or your group? How did you lean into that discomfort?

How will you begin or expand your support of the ministries described in this study?

As you wrap up this journey through Lent with ELCA World Hunger, what is shaping your experience of Holy Week? How does the death and resurrection of Christ bear witness to our hope in God’s promised future?

Sesión 5 — Salmo 130

“Espero al Señor, lo espero con toda el alma; en su palabra he puesto mi esperanza”. — Salmo 130:5

Los 40 días de Cuaresma están llegando a su fin, y también nuestra jornada por los salmos. Desde los clamores lastimeros del Salmo 32 hasta el consuelo apacible del Salmo 23, hemos vislumbrado la profundidad espiritual de estos himnos y reflexionado en lo que podrían significar para nosotros hoy, siglos después de que fueron anotados por primera vez.

A menudo los salmos pueden parecer anticuados, repetitivos u oscuros. Muchos de ellos se originaron en liturgias o fiestas que hace mucho tiempo desaparecieron de la memoria. Otros pueden ser tan comunes que tendemos a omitirlos. Sin embargo, dentro de ellos encontramos la confusión espiritual de un pueblo que ha experimentado las alturas del júbilo por ser el elegido de Dios y las profundidades de la desesperación por ser víctimas de la guerra y el exilio. Encontramos alabanzas sublimes y súplicas por misericordia y paz. Los salmos reflejan la riqueza de la adoración y la oración ferviente, la espiritualidad de nuestros antepasados en la fe.

Dentro de ellos también descubrimos los estrechos vínculos entre la liturgia y la vida comunitaria. Aunque muchos de los salmos están diseñados para ser usados en ceremonias religiosas, pintan un retrato de un Dios que ante todo se preocupa por su pueblo. El Dios de los salmos provee abundantemente, ama intensamente y persigue implacablemente; al mismo tiempo es el restaurador de Jerusalén (Salmo 122), el ejecutor de la justicia (Salmo 146), el guarda incesante de Israel (Salmo 121) y un “refugio” para aquellos punzados por el estigma y la vergüenza (Salmo 32: 7).

Cada una de estas imágenes nos lleva a darnos cuenta de que nuestros muchos intentos de separar nuestra vida como personas de fe de nuestra vida como vecinos y ciudadanos del mundo no están a la altura de lo que Dios nos llama a ser. La verdadera adoración, la adoración auténtica, es la adoración vivida en el mundo. La liturgia encuentra su expresión más completa, no en ceremonias hermosas, sino en preciada comunidad.

Las historias que hemos compartido sobre la obra que ELCA World Hunger respalda en todo el mundo son historias de adoración que cobran vida, de la presencia litúrgica viva de Dios en medio de nosotros. Cada una de estas historias podría ser su propio salmo, lleno de oraciones fervientes, de alabanza sublime y acción de gracias, y con nuevas percepciones de quién es Dios.

Al mirar hacia adelante a la pasión de Jesús, el dolor del Viernes Santo y la alegría del Domingo de Pascua, los salmos nos recuerdan que todavía estamos descubriendo quién es Dios y quiénes estamos llamados a ser. También nos recuerdan que encontramos las respuestas más seguras cuando llevamos nuestra fe al mundo, a la creación de Dios y a las muchas comunidades que estamos invitados a acompañar en todo el mundo.

Los salmos expresan lo que nuestros antepasados encontraron en su búsqueda de respuestas. ¿Qué encontraremos a medida que continuamos la búsqueda? Cuando nos encontremos con nuevos vecinos y escuchemos historias de la obra que Dios hace a través de nuestros socios, compañeras y congregaciones, ¿qué canción cantaremos?

Estamos enfrentando grandes retos. Los índices de hambre ya no disminuyen, sino que aumentan. Los aumentos de los precios hacen que sea más difícil para nosotros y nuestros vecinos ahorrar para el futuro —o, en muchos casos, aun visualizar uno. Con el salmista, “esper[amos] al Señor, lo esper[amos] con toda el alma” (Salmo 130:5). Sin embargo, al igual que el salmista, encontramos esperanza en la palabra de Dios “porque en él hay amor inagotable; en él hay plena redención (Salmo 130: 7).

¿Qué salmos nos sostendrán? Tal vez más urgentemente, ¿qué nuevos salmos se están escribiendo ahora en nuestros corazones, mientras damos testimonio —y somos parte— de la obra continua de Dios hacia ese futuro?


Piense en las lecciones e historias que ha leído esta Cuaresma. ¿Qué aprendió usted, su grupo o su congregación sobre los salmos, el trabajo de ELCA World Hunger u otras perspectivas?

¿Hubo algo que le fue difícil a usted, a su modo de pensar o a su grupo? ¿Cómo se hizo cargo de esa incomodidad?

¿Cómo comenzará o aumentará su apoyo a los ministerios descritos en este estudio?

Al concluir esta jornada por la Cuaresma con ELCA World Hunger, ¿qué está moldeando su experiencia de la Semana Santa? ¿Cómo la muerte y resurrección de Cristo dan testimonio de nuestra esperanza en el futuro prometido por Dios?


ELCA Farm Bill Listening Sessions


Select to view short video.

The U.S. Congress is working to draft a new, five-year Farm Bill. “You may already know Farm Bill reauthorization is underway,” says John Johnson, ELCA Program Director for Domestic Policy. This impacts all of us who eat, including those of us who struggle with hunger. Beyond our bellies, we’ll feel the impact of farm bill policy decisions through our vocations. “Many of you work on farms, in businesses, and help to feed hungry people not only in the United States but around the world,” he observes.


What Is the Farm Bill and Why Now?

The farm bill is legislation that is critical to addressing hunger in the United States and globally. It covers federal nutrition programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), environment, trade, foreign aid and rural development. The bill impacts the lives of Lutherans and their communities – among us are farmers and ranchers and Indigenous communities and global partners and low income Americans.

Congress is preparing to reauthorize the bill in 2023. Each reauthorization provides an opportunity to improve or expand programs that ensure access to fresh and healthy food while addressing root causes of hunger.


What Is a Listening Session?

ELCA farm bill listening sessions are virtual gatherings where ministry leaders, members of congregations, and those with valuable lived experiences gather our opinions and experiences informed by faith values on stewardship, justice and serving our neighbor. This input will equip one another and the many communities of this church for farm bill advocacy that reflects those values, including our ELCA Witness in Society advocacy staff. These viewpoints, opportunities, concerns and hopes for a future farm bill will inform ELCA advocacy and help shape the ultimate law that Congress passes.


When Are They Happening & How Can I Register?

At this time, three, 1.5 hour listening sessions are scheduled in April 2023. Register for any, but each session will feature some discussion specific to the region of a particular time zone.

Invite others using social posts from @ELCAadvocacy!



Current legislation is set to expire in September 2023, and our faithful action can impact reauthorization decisions. On Capitol Hill, our faith-centered perspectives will inform ELCA advocacy as we advance priorities toward a just world where all are fed. “We need your expertise, and we need your comments, hopes and dreams for how this Farm Bill can make a better world,” invites Johnson. Please be part of a Listening Session to Inform ELCA Farm Bill Advocacy.


Want to learn more?

World Water Day 2023

March 22 marks the 31st annual World Water Day, a United Nations observance to celebrate the progress the world has made in providing access to clean, safe water for all and to remember how far we have to go as a global community toward that goal.

This week, the UN will host an international conference on water in New York City to commemorate World Water Day and to encourage “bold action” in pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goal of “clean water and sanitation for all.” The ELCA will be represented at the conference by staff from the Building Resilient Communities team and the Lutheran Office for World Community, learning and sharing together with other faith-based groups, governmental actors and organizations. Reaching the goal of clean water and sanitation for all is critical. As the conference announcement shares, “Water is a dealmaker for the Sustainable Development Goals, and for the health and prosperity of people and planet.” Indeed, without access to clean water and sanitation, many of the other Sustainable Development Goals will be out of reach.

Water and Hunger

This is especially true of the goal of ending hunger. Projects and initiatives that provide access to clean water and sanitation have long been part of the work supported by ELCA World Hunger. And with good reason. Northwestern University anthropologist Hilary Bethancourt notes, “In some cases, the most sustainable way to improve food security may be through improving water security.” Bethancourt and a team of researchers found in a 25-country study that people who frequently faced water insecurity[1] were nearly three times as likely to face food insecurity as those who did not.

What might be surprising is that one of the few longitudinal studies of water and food insecurity found that water insecurity actually precedes and may predict future food insecurity. So, rather than occurring together due to a single cause, water and food insecurity interact, with water insecurity actually occurring before food insecurity.

Similar dynamics are found in research in the United States. A study published last year examining tap-water avoidance found that food insecurity was more than 20% higher among the 61.4 million Americans who do not use tap water than among those who do use tap water.[2] What the study suggests is that access to – and use of – clean, safe, affordable tap water can help reduce the risk of hunger.

Addressing access to water is important, too, for solutions to hunger. As Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF Director of the Office of Emergency Programmes, has said bluntly, “No matter how much food a malnourished child eats, he or she will not get better if the water they are drinking is not safe.”

Perhaps even more startling are the results of a study involving 69 experts from around the world. When asked by researchers to identify the top threats from extreme events to global food security, the four most common responses involved water, while 6 of the 32 threats identified directly mentioned water.

Water and Sanitation by the Numbers

Where do we stand with progress on clean water and sanitation? What are some of the realities that are behind the “global water crisis”?

  • 2 billion people lack access to safely managed water.[3] The rate of people with access to safely managed water services increased from 70% in 2015 to 74% in 2020.
  • That number includes 2 billion people who lack access to basic drinking water services.[4]
  • By 2025, half of the world’s population could be living in water-stressed areas.
  • 6 billion people around the world lack access to safely managed sanitation services, which puts them at higher risk of waterborne illnesses.
  • Diarrhea resulting from unsafe water and insufficient access to adequate medical care claims an estimated 829,000 lives every year.

Some progress has been made, but we are not yet on track to reach the Sustainable Development Goal of clean water and sanitation for all. This makes the question raised Rev. Philip Vinod Peacock of the Church of North India, in his reflection on the words of Jesus, all the more poignant: “While the offer of living water is made, how come many still cry, ‘I thirst’”?[5]

Water and Power

Water scarcity affects communities in nearly every country around the globe, and the number of people facing water crises continues to grow. But that doesn’t mean the burden is shared equally. As Peacock notes about his context in India,

“The issues of water scarcity and pollution and its resulting impact…are closely connected with issues of justice and peace, caste and gender.”[6]

In discussions of water crises, Peacock writes, “another issue that has to be taken seriously…is the place of power relations.”[7] His co-authors in Waters of Life and Death: Ethical and Theological Responses to Contemporary Water Crises offer examples of the many ways water scarcity reflects and springs from marginalization and injustice, from the displacement of Dalit and indigenous Adivasi communities by large dam projects (J. Jeremiah Anderson) to the theft of groundwater in the village of Plachimada by Coca-Cola (Philip K.J.)

Their sentiments are echoed by Catholic ethicist Christiana Zenner:

“Clean water flows toward power.”[8]

Without a doubt, there is a global water crisis – or, rather an interlocking set of water crises – with a rippling impact. But the water crisis is not just a hydrological or ecological crisis. It is a political and economic crisis. We see this in the racial disparities in water access here in the United States, where people of color are more likely to live in homes without full plumbing for clean water or sanitation and where water systems are more likely to violate the Safe Drinking Water Act in communities of color and in communities with households with low-income. The likelihood of a water system protecting residents from unsafe water decreases in communities as the proportion of people of color and households with low income increase.

Along with racial and economic disparities are clear gender inequities when it comes to water. In areas without basic drinking water services, the burden of water scarcity and lack of sanitation often falls on women and girls, who are typically responsible for collecting water for their households. The time spent on this, according to UNICEF, could be as high as 200 million collective hours each day.[9] A study on sanitation found that girls also bear the brunt of lack of sanitation facilities in schools. In a study of West African countries, WHO/UNICEF found that 15-25% of girls missed school during their period, in part due to a lack of adequate sanitation facilities and resources, such as running water, soap, sanitary supplies or waste bins.

Ripples of Hope

The communities ELCA World Hunger is invited to accompany inspire hope that change is possible, despite the complex undercurrents of injustice that flow beneath the global water crisis. This hope is rooted in movements that not only provide clean, safe water but that open opportunities for local communities and neighbors to make meaningful decisions about their own ecological future. Each of these stories – from microbasin restoration in El Salvador to awareness-raising and advocacy to reduce lead contamination in Milwaukee, from drought-resistant agriculture in Bangladesh to rainwater harvesting in Zimbabwe – is a step toward providing clean water or sanitation and an invitation to bear witness to the effective solutions that can come from communities working together for change.

We have a long way to go. But in faith, we journey together with neighbors and companions, taking seriously the words of Rev. Atle Sommerfeldt, the former General Secretary of Norwegian Church Aid:

Water is too important a matter to be left to politicians and technicians alone. Water must be an integral part of our spiritual and social agenda in every local community and nation.”[10]

Commemorating World Water Day

This World Water Day, and the gathering times that follow it, set aside time to pray for neighbors near and far facing water scarcity and water injustice, and give thanks for the local leaders whose tireless efforts inspire us with hope.

With your congregation or your household, use one of ELCA World Hunger’s educational resources to learn more about water and hunger:

Water and Hunger Toolkit

River of Life Vacation Bible school

Want to plan a larger event for this Spring or Summer? You can also check out ELCA World Hunger’s Walk for Water, an interactive track experience with a complete DIY guide.


Ryan P. Cumming, Ph.D., is the interim director of education and networks for the Building Resilient Communities team in the ELCA churchwide organization.


[1] “Water insecurity” can be defined as lacking reliable access to clean, safe and sufficient water to support livelihoods and human well-being. This is related to other terms such as “water stress” or “water scarcity.” Water scarcity generally describes the relationship between supply and demand, while water stress is a bit broader, encompassing not just adequate availability but dependable and sufficient access. See Young SL, et al.. Perspective: The Importance of Water Security for Ensuring Food Security, Good Nutrition, and Well-being. Advances in Nutrition. 2021 Jul 30;12(4):1058-1073.

[2] The reasons for tap water avoidance can vary. This can include a lack of adequate plumbing, safety or contamination concerns, shut-offs due to lack of payment, and lack of trust in municipal services and government.

[3] The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) define “safely managed drinking water service as “an improved water source that is accessible on premises, available when needed and free from faecal (sic) and priority chemical contamination. Improved water sources include: piped water, boreholes or tubewells, protected dug wells, protected springs, and packaged or delivered water.”

[4] WHO and UNICEF define a basic drinking water service as “drinking water from an improved source, provided collection time is not more than 30 minutes for a round trip.”

[5] Philip Vinod Peacock, “Water Conflict,” in Sam P. Mathew and Chandran Paul Martin, eds. Waters of Life and Death: Ethical and Theological Responses to Contemporary Water Crises (Chennai: UELCI/ISPCK, 2005), 65.

[6] Ibid, 64.

[7] Ibid, 63.

[8] Christiana Zenner, Just Water: Theology, Ethics, and Fresh Water Crises (Maryknoll: Orbis, 2018).

[9] This estimate was derived by calculating the number of women and girls living in areas where water sources are more than 30 minutes away from the home.

[10] In Mathew and Martin, eds., xi.


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 people involved in labor strikes – teachers in Los Angeles, workers across sectors in France, and hospital and airport workers in England…
For those working to stabilize political unrest in Kenya and South AFrica…
For the people of Russia and Ukraine, and for all peace and diplomacy efforts…
For Muslims across the world who are preparing for the holy season of Ramadan…
For rescue and relief efforts in Ecuador following this weekend’s earthquake…
For continued recovery efforts in Malawi following last week’s cyclone…
For educators, librarians, and all who steward knowledge and encourage learning…
For all who mourn, and for all who watch and wait at bedside of those nearing death…
For women across the world who continue to stand up, speak out, love, fight, and flourish despite opposition and violence…
For marginalized and vulnerable communities, and for their allies and advocates…

Events and observances:

Women’s History Month (Month of March)
Ramadan (Islam, March 22-April 21)
Thomas Cranmer, Bishop of Canterbury, martyr, died 1556 (March 21)
Persian New Year (March 21)
Ugadi (Hinduism, March 22)
Jonathan Edwards, teacher, missionary, died 1758 (March 22)
Oscar Arnulfo Romero, Bishop of El Salvador, martyr, died 1980 (March 24)
Annunciation of Our Lord (March 25)
Hans Nielsen Hauge, renewer of the church, died 1824 (March 29)
John Donne, poet, died 1631 (March 31)

Prayers from ELCA resources:

A prayer for renewal of mind and body (ELW p. 80)
O God, we thank you for times of refreshment and peace in the course of this busy life. Grant that we may so use our leisure for the renewal of our bodies and minds that our spirits may be opened to the goodness of your creation; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

A prayer against prejudice and racism (ACS p. 51)
O God, you divinity transcends, distinctions of gender, and through the generations you widen our awareness of human diversity. We gather here before you in our various expressions of gender identity, all of us one in Christ Jesus. Bring our society to peacefulness concerning a wider understanding of gender. Give courage and healing to those whose expressions of gender they testify as gift from you. Open the church to their witness. We asked with your creative spirit you cultivate new relationships, Amanda, old wounds, and nurture communities expect, for the sake of the one who embrace is all persons in love, Jesus Christ, our savior. 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.

Image from All Creation Sings, © 2020, Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

March 26, 2023–Invitation to Care

Brenda Henry, Carnegie, PA

Warm-up Question

What issue in your community would like to see addressed and why?  Are there others who have a different perspective than you? What are some of their reasons for their position? 

Invitation to Care

In the city of Dumaguete, Negros Oriental Island, in the Philippines, groups of people have come together to fight against a proposal that they believe will severely impact their community. This proposal, P23-B, is a land reclamation project that seeks to develop the coastlines of the city. Proponents of the project argue that the development project dubbed “The Smart City” will bring new residential and commercial businesses that are beneficial for community growth. 

Opponents of the proposal, using the rallying cry, “No to 174 Dumaguete,” argue that the project will destroy the marine life along their coastline, disrupt the livelihood of the fishing community, and impact the quality of life for the fisherfolks. To them, the harm to the community is not worth the alleged gains of the project. 

Discussion Questions

  • Do you know of development projects in your community? What are some of the stated benefits of those projects? Who will benefit? What is the potential harm of the project to people and the environment?
  • How can you be a part of advocating for the care of your community and the environment?

Fifth Sunday in Lent

Ezekiel 37:1-14

Romans 8:6-11

John 11:1-45

(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

In our gospel we read the story of Lazarus, a friend of Jesus, who dies and is brought back to life by Jesus. We are invited into Jesus’ conversation with the disciples and with Lazarus’ sisters Mary and Martha. Jesus tells the disciples that Lazarus’ illness is not fatal, yet we learn that Lazarus dies. Both Martha and Mary challenge Jesus by saying “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  The sisters’ statement implies that Jesus failed their expectations:  He could and should have done something to save their ill brother who was Jesus’ friend. 

This narrative also shows a community that comes together to care for Lazarus’ family and comfort them in their grief. Jesus responds by acknowledging the sister’s grief. He weeps, revealing his grief and compassion. Jesus also acts; he reassures Martha by saying “I am the resurrection and the life.”  A response Martha perceives as a future answer. 

However, the response actually promises Martha an action which attends to the immediate need of the sisters, while also pointing to eternal hope. Jesus models compassion and concern, as well as taking action to care for the life and well-being of others. We too are invited to care for and attend to the gift of life granted to us through Jesus’ resurrection.  That care begins now. It may entail facing opposition and challenges that defy immediate, easy answers.  The outcome we seek may be long in coming. Yet as a community, with faith and trust in Jesus, change is possible. 

Discussion Questions

  • Can you recall a time when you experienced a difficult situation and others did not respond in the way you thought they should?  How did that make you feel? How did your feelings change if you realized their actions were helpful?
  • How can working together with others who may share a different perspective from yours help to address individual or community concerns?

Activity Suggestions

  • Take the community activity that you named before and identify two strategies that you can do to make a change.  Invite someone to help you design the strategy. 
  • Identify a community group or organization whose work interests you and see if there are any volunteer opportunities.  Ask to shadow the leaders to learn what they do.

Closing Prayer

Gracious and loving God, thank you for giving us the promise of life through your son Jesus. Help us to see the ways that we can care for our neighbors and our environment. Grant us the courage to advocate for justice, the wisdom to seek support, and the heart to trust that you are with us always. In Jesus’ name. Amen



40 Days of Giving 2023: Week Four

Session 4 — Psalm 23

‘“You prepare a table before me.” —Psalm 23:5

The community of Cataño, Puerto Rico, is vibrant, with residents talented in music, art and sports, yet it also faces a number of challenges. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median household income is about $18,600, nearly 12% lower than the average in Puerto Rico. Forty-six percent of people in Cataño live in poverty. So when Hurricane Maria passed through, the devastation compounded ongoing challenges and added new ones. Leaders of Tu Puedes, a project based at Iglesia Evangélica Luterana del Divino Salvador, recognized the increased need and responded by providing both community support for sustainable livelihoods and counseling for mental and emotional wellness. This support was crucial after the hurricane because many residents of Cataño faced the frustration and grief of life after a disaster.

To aid the community, Tu Puedes organized a support group for people who serve as caregivers to family members with Alzheimer’s disease. Providing care for a loved one is taxing work — physically, financially, mentally and emotionally. In the support group, caregivers found a safe, supportive place to voice their emotions and share experiences with others who understand what they are going through. The support group helped to create a community where the caregivers could learn from each other, be present with one another and be heard. Tu Puedes also offered relaxation workshops for caregivers and their loved ones and financial support following Hurricane Maria.

By working with community members, Tu Puedes is helping to create tables — safe spaces of welcome and support — for neighbors. These tables are central to the work of ELCA World Hunger because hunger is about not only the food we eat but also the tables at which we are welcome. The psalm for this week in Lent, Psalm 23, is one of the most familiar passages in the Bible. Its rich language offers a variety of metaphors for understanding God. Most popular, perhaps, is the first, that of the “shepherd” who provides secure rest in “green pastures” (verse 1-2). The most vivid, though, is the image of God as the perfect host, who “prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies,” with cups overflowing (verse 5). As a gracious host, God even anoints the guest with oil, a symbol of welcome and respect at ancient banquets. Even when surrounded by enemies, the psalmist experiences the abundant welcome of God, the perfect host, to a banquet table where the psalmist will be treated as an honored guest.

Being invited to the table symbolizes more than just being fed. In both Old Testament and New Testament times, to have a place at the table was to be welcomed, to be treated with respect. At banquets, specific rules governed who was invited to recline by the table and join in the meal with the host. We see this over and over again in the gospels, especially in parables that involve banquets. We also see the rigidity of these rules in the accusations leveled against Jesus for dining with people who would otherwise have been deemed unclean or unwelcome.

For the ancients as, indeed, for us, to be fed is one thing but to be welcome at the table is another.

How often in our communities do we find tables that are more exclusive than inclusive, more threatening than welcoming? Perhaps these are not dining tables but other gathering places that reflect society’s perspective on who is truly welcome and who is not. We can easily find roundtables filled with experts who talk about communities but rarely with them. Or we might find tables where the wealthy and powerful network with political decision-makers as few of us will ever be able to do. Tables are places at which relationships are built and decisions are made. When inclusive, they can be safe spaces for communities to come together. When exclusive, they can reinforce the discriminatory and stigmatizing practices that keep us apart.

Indeed, at the very heart of who we are as church stands a table: the table of Holy Communion. Martin Luther referred to Holy Communion as a “sacrament of love.” In dining at this table, he wrote, we remember our neediness before God, recall those not present at the table and commit ourselves to “tak[ing] to heart the infirmities and needs of others, as if they were [our] own.” To be at this table is to be formed by the sacrament of Holy Communion. To be the people of God is to be formed by a table where all are welcome and all are fed.

Of course, our calling goes beyond this. Worship and the sacraments take their most authentic form when they carry us back into the world, prepared not just to dine at the table but to be that table — that community of welcome, of hospitality, of safety and grace with and for our neighbors. This is a lofty goal that we aim for as church together. Ending hunger will take more than calories, water wells or sustainable jobs. It will take tables — inclusive spaces that bear witness to a new kind of community, where new relationships are formed, where each guest is welcomed and valued, and where every cup overflows with all that is made possible when God draws us together.


Think of a time when you were welcomed to a table — perhaps to dine, to communicate or to share your ideas. What did the experience feel like?

How does your congregation invite and create a hospitable place for new people at “the table” when decisions are made and visions for the future are shared?

How can creating safe spaces, such as the Tu Puedes support groups, contribute to ending hunger?

What other metaphors for God can be found in Psalm 23? How might these metaphors shape new ways of understanding the work of the church?

Sesión 4 — Salmo 23

“Dispones ante mí un banquete” — Salmo 23:5

La comunidad de Cataño, Puerto Rico, es vibrante, con residentes talentosos en música, arte y deportes, pero también enfrenta una serie de retos. Según la Oficina del Censo de los Estados Unidos, el ingreso familiar promedio es de aproximadamente $ 18,600, casi un 12% más bajo que el promedio de Puerto Rico. El cuarenta y seis por ciento de los habitantes de Cataño vive en la pobreza. Entonces, cuando el huracán María pasó por ahí, la devastación agravó los retos que ya había y agregó unos nuevos. Los líderes de Tú Puedes, un proyecto con sede en la Iglesia Evangélica Luterana del Divino Salvador, reconocieron que las necesidades aumentaron, y respondieron a estas brindando apoyo comunitario para medios de vida sostenibles y consejería para el bienestar mental y emocional. Este apoyo fue crucial después del huracán porque muchos residentes de Cataño enfrentaban la frustración y el dolor de la vida después de un desastre.

Para ayudar a la comunidad, Tú Puedes organizó un grupo de apoyo para personas que sirven como cuidadores de familiares que padecen de la enfermedad de Alzheimer. El cuidado de un ser querido es un trabajo agotador —física, financiera, mental y emocionalmente. En el grupo de apoyo, los cuidadores encontraron un lugar seguro y solidario en el cual expresar sus emociones y compartir experiencias con otras personas que entienden lo que ellos están atravesando. El grupo de apoyo ayudó a crear una comunidad en la cual los cuidadores podían aprender unos de otros, estar presentes unos con otros y ser escuchados. Tú Puedes también ofreció talleres de relajación para cuidadores y sus seres queridos, y apoyo financiero después del huracán María.

Al trabajar con miembros de la comunidad, Tú Puedes está ayudando a crear mesas —espacios seguros de acogida y apoyo— para los vecinos. Estas mesas son fundamentales para el trabajo de ELCA World Hunger, porque el hambre no solo se trata de los alimentos que comemos, sino también de las mesas en las que somos bienvenidos. El salmo de esta semana de Cuaresma, el Salmo 23, es uno de los pasajes más conocidos de la Biblia. Su rico lenguaje ofrece una variedad de metáforas que ayudan a entender a Dios. La más popular, quizás, es la primera, la del “pastor” que da un descanso seguro en “verdes pastos” (versículos 1-2). La más vívida, sin embargo, es la imagen de Dios como el anfitrión perfecto, que “dispone ante mí un banquete en presencia de mis enemigos”, con copas rebosantes (versículo 5). Como amable anfitrión, Dios incluso unge al invitado con perfume, lo que era un símbolo de bienvenida y respeto en los banquetes antiguos. Incluso cuando está rodeado de enemigos, el salmista experimenta la abundante acogida de Dios, el anfitrión perfecto, a una mesa de banquete donde el salmista será tratado como un invitado de honor.

Ser invitado a la mesa simboliza más que simplemente ser alimentado. Tanto en el Antiguo Testamento como en los tiempos del Nuevo Testamento, tener un lugar en la mesa era ser bienvenido, ser tratado con respeto. En los banquetes, reglas específicas determinaban quién era invitado a reclinarse junto a la mesa y comer con el anfitrión. Vemos esto en los evangelios una y otra vez, especialmente en las parábolas que hablan de banquetes. También vemos la rigidez de estas reglas en las acusaciones que se le hicieron a Jesús por cenar con personas que de otro modo habrían sido consideradas impuras o no bienvenidas. Tanto para los antiguos como para nosotros, en efecto, ser alimentados es una cosa, pero ser bienvenido en la mesa es otra.

¿Con qué frecuencia en nuestras comunidades encontramos mesas que son más exclusivas que inclusivas, más amenazantes que acogedoras? Tal vez estas no son mesas de comedor, sino otros lugares de reunión que reflejan la perspectiva de la sociedad en cuanto a quién es realmente bienvenido y quién no. Podemos encontrar fácilmente mesas redondas llenas de expertos que hablan de comunidades, pero rara vez con ellas. O podemos encontrar mesas donde los ricos y poderosos se relacionan con quienes toman decisiones políticas como pocos de nosotros podremos alguna vez hacerlo. Las mesas son lugares en los que se construyen relaciones y se toman decisiones. Cuando son inclusivas, pueden ser espacios seguros para que las comunidades se unan. Cuando son excluyentes, pueden reforzar las prácticas discriminatorias y estigmatizantes que nos mantienen separados.

De hecho, en el centro mismo de lo que somos como iglesia se encuentra una mesa: la mesa de la Santa Comunión. Martín Lutero se refirió a la Santa Comunión como un “sacramento de amor”. Al cenar en esta mesa, escribió él, recordamos nuestra necesidad ante Dios, recordamos a los que no están presentes en la mesa y nos comprometemos a “tomar en serio las enfermedades y necesidades de los demás como si fueran las nuestras”. Estar en esta mesa es ser formado por el sacramento de la Santa Comunión. Ser el pueblo de Dios es ser formado por una mesa donde todos son bienvenidos y todos son alimentados.

Por supuesto, nuestro llamado se extiende más allá de esto. La adoración y los sacramentos toman su forma más auténtica cuando nos llevan de vuelta al mundo, preparados no solo para cenar en la mesa, sino para ser esa mesa —esa comunidad de acogida, de hospitalidad, de seguridad y gracia con nuestros vecinos y para ellos. Esta es una meta elevada a la que aspiramos juntos como iglesia. Acabar con el hambre requerirá más que calorías, pozos de agua o empleos sostenibles. Se necesitarán mesas —espacios inclusivos que den testimonio de un nuevo tipo de comunidad, donde se formen nuevas relaciones, donde cada invitado sea bienvenido y valorado, y donde cada copa rebose de todo lo que es posible cuando Dios nos une.


Piense en un momento en el que le dieron la bienvenida a una mesa —tal vez para cenar, comunicarse o compartir sus ideas. ¿Cómo se sintió la experiencia?

¿Cómo invita su congregación y crea un lugar hospitalario para nuevas personas en “la mesa” al tomarse decisiones y compartir visiones para el futuro?

¿Cómo puede la creación de espacios seguros, como los grupos de apoyo Tú Puedes, contribuir a acabar con el hambre?

¿Qué otras metáforas de Dios se pueden encontrar en el Salmo 23? ¿Cómo podrían estas metáforas moldear nuevas formas de entender la obra de la iglesia?








March 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

  • Child Labor Statement: LOWC co-led the creation of the statement “A Call to Stop Stealing Children’s Lives” as part of the United Nation’s NGO Committee on Migration. Lutheran World Federation (LWF) has signed. The letter is a call to action to all UN Member States in an effort to raise the alarm and rally collaboration to put an immediate end to all forms of child labor. More information about the letter can be found here as well as sign-on link below 
  • UN Commission on Status of Women: From March 6-17, 2023, LOWC has hosted 30 Lutheran Delegates who are attending the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW67) in New York. The delegation includes representation from 12 countries (Columbia, Ethiopia, Finland, Indonesia, Jordan, Liberia, Mexico, Mozambique, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Uganda, UK, USA, Zimbabwe). They represent Lutheran clergy, lay leadership, staff and issue experts from Lutheran faith-based organizations and our partners. This year’s CSW67 priority theme is “Innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.”  
    • The group made an official statement to the Commission on the Status of Women in its 67th session. LOWC, together with LWF, planned hosting and co-hosting of eight high level events during the CSW67 including side-events, workshops and learning events, Lutheran worship and ecumenical and interfaith prayer gatherings. Additional event information is available from an ELCA Advocacy Blog post on CSW67. 
    • On March 10, 2023 LWF hosted the event, “Harnessing ICTs to End Sexual and Gender-Based Violence.”  
    • On March 9, 2023, LOWC co-hosted “A Phone of My Own: Sexual and Economic Empowerment in Times of Crisis”. Co-sponsors included Finland, Liberia, UNFPA, ACT Alliance, Act Church of Sweden, Bread for the World, Christian Aid, Dan Church Aid, Finn Church Aid, Lutheran World Federation, World Renew, Norwegian Church Aid, World Council of Churches, and World YWCA. Webcast can be accessed here when it is published. 



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

Regina Banks, Director

Budget negotiations are in full swing in California right now as organizations are dealing with the near $23 billion state shortfall projected for the 2023-24 fiscal year. The Lutheran Office of Public Policy in California(LOPP-CA) is working on a variety of issues with our coalitions covering child poverty, hunger, affordable housing, environmental justice, and more.  

Some key bills we’re supporting and tracking right now include AB 1128 (Santiago), which would remove age restrictions on a qualifying child for the Young Child Tax Credit, and AB 1498 (Gipson), which would create a minimum dollar amount available for the Earned Income Tax Credit. One environmental bill we’re following is the re-introduction of the Climate Corporate Leadership and Data Accountability Act, SB 253. 

Upcoming events: Join LOPP-CA in celebrating the end of the ICE contract at Yuba County Jail on Sunday, March 19th at 1 pm outside the Yuba Co. jailhouse! LOPP-CA is co-sponsoring the event and helping with some transportation costs for families of former detainees to attend the event from the San Jose and Bay Areas. Register at: 

Registration is also now open for our annual Lutheran Lobby Day! You’re invited to join us on Wednesday, May 17th from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm in Sacramento for a day of speakers, workshops, and legislative meetings on important state justice issues. Register here: 





Lutheran Advocacy Ministry Colorado (LAM-CO) –

Peter Severson, Director

SUCCESSFUL DAY AT THE CAPITOL: Lutheran advocates joined together for our annual Day at the Capitol event on February 16. Participants engaged with Rep. Andrew Boesenecker (Fort Collins), a former ELCA pastor, and an advocacy leader from the Colorado Center on Law & Policy before moving to the Capitol to lobby for House Bill 1126 (see more below). Thanks to all who came!   

LEGISLATIVE SESSION CONTINUES: The Colorado General Assembly has reached its halfway point of the session. Some of the important bills on the Lutheran Advocacy agenda are below: 

HB 23-1126 – Consumer Reports Not Include Medical Debt Information (Reps. Naquetta Ricks & Ron Weinberg) 

Prevents medical debt from appearing on credit reports, and prevents collection agencies from falsely asserting that medical debt will impact one’s credit score. 

HB 23-1008 – Food Accessibility (Rep. Mike Weissman) 

Transfers $1 million per year for the next 7 years to the Colorado Division of Prevention Services, directing the division to partner with a statewide nonprofit organization to provide healthy eating program incentives among Colorado’s low-income populations. One purpose of the program incentives is to increase access to fresh Colorado-grown produce among these populations.  

HB 23-1186 – Remote Participation in Residential Evictions (Reps. Mandy Lindsay & Iman Jodeh) 

For residential evictions filed in county court, the bill requires the court to allow either party or any witness to choose to appear in person or remotely at any proceedings. 

You can see all the bills we’re working on at


New Mexico

Lutheran Advocacy Ministry New Mexico (LAM-NM) –

Kurt Rager, Director

1st Session of the 56th Legislature races toward the finish. 

The New Mexico Legislature’s current 60-day session will come to an end at noon on March 18.  Almost 1,300 pieces of legislation have been introduced.  Lutheran Advocacy Ministry – New Mexico (LAM-NM) has been tracking 90-plus bills, actively speaking in support or opposition to those identified as priority legislation through our 2023 Advocacy Agenda.  

LAM-NM Advocacy Agenda legislation highlights:  

Affordable Housing & Homelessness Supporting legislation that would update landlord-tenant relations, for appropriations to the NM Housing Trust Fund, enabling it to greatly increase the building of low and affordable housing, and for funding of programs that can prevent and assist people experiencing homelessness.   

Family-Sustaining Income – Supporting legislation that updates monthly TANF payment amounts, work exemptions and barriers to access, and for new SNAP transitional support and senior cost-of-living support. 

Healthcare – Supporting legislation that would create Public Health and Climate Resiliency funds, that would create a Prescription Drug Affordability Board, that would increase Medicaid provider rate increases, legislation that supports rural healthcare options and staffing, and studying the feasibility of expanding Medicaid to all New Mexicans.  

Hunger – Supporting legislation that would provide for healthy universal breakfast and lunch meals at schools, and for full funding of the Food Initiative.  

Tax Policy – Supporting omnibus tax legislation that would revise personal income tax rates, reduce capital gains tax break, increase the state’s Child Tax Credit, cut the state’s GRT rate, and more.  

Criminal Justice – Supporting legislation that would eliminate the sentencing option of life without the possibility of parole for juveniles, would revise court fines and fees, and would prohibit private prisons from detaining asylum seekers. 



Lutheran Advocacy Ministry – Pennsylvania (LAMPa)

Tracey DePasquale, Director

LAMPa Director Tracey DePasquale joined Legislative Hunger Caucus leaders at a Capitol press conference about the looming hunger cliff

LAMPa Director Tracey DePasquale joined Legislative Hunger Caucus leaders at a Capitol press conference about the looming hunger cliff

With more than $200 million a month in federal emergency food assistance about to expire in Pennsylvania, advocates invited lawmakers to learn about the growing rate of food insecurity and urged them to increase state supports in the face of a looming hunger cliff. Lutheran ministries were well represented at the Legislative Lunch and Learn, hosted  by the Hunger Caucus and the Pa. Hunger Action Coalition 

Witness in Society staff delivered invitations from ELCA ministries with people experiencing homelessness to members of Congress

Witness in Society staff delivered invitations from ELCA ministries with people experiencing homelessness to members of Congress


Lutheran Advocacy Ministries in Pennsylvania(LAMPa) was on the road in February, marking a significant return to in-person events, starting with the delivery of quilt squares and site visit invitations to members of Congress from ELCA ministries in their districts with people experiencing homelessness. The invitations were a follow-up to the Homeless Remembrance Blanket Project held on the Capitol lawn in December. While in Washington, LAMPa Director Tracey DePasquale participated in the Blessed Tomorrow summit for a faith-community campaign to hit 2030 climate targets. 

Closer to home, DePasquale offered in-person presentations in Southwestern, Northeastern and Lower Susquehanna synods and attended the Pasa (Sustainable Agriculture) Conference. 

LAMPa and ecumenical partners offered ashes-to-go in the state Capitol for the first time since the pandemic

LAMPa and ecumenical partners offered ashes-to-go in the state Capitol for the first time since the pandemic

In another welcome return, LAMPa and ecumenical partners marked the start of Lent by offering ashes-to-go in the state Capitol for the first time since the start of the pandemic. 

LAMPa is looking forward to our first in-person Lutheran Day in the Capitol since 2019.  The Rev. Dr. Roger Willer will keynote as we focus on a theme of Discipleship in a Democracy and progress on the new social statement. 

LAMPa is searching for a full-time communications and advocacy engagement manager.  Learn more.   




Faith Action Network (FAN) –

Elise DeGooyer, Director

Trevor Sandison (center), longtime ELCA government relations volunteer for FAN, has put in long hours in Olympia this month!

Trevor Sandison (center), longtime ELCA government relations volunteer for FAN, has put in long hours in Olympia this month!

We passed the halfway point in the 2023 Washington State Legislative Session, scheduled to last until April 23. Faith Action Network(FAN)-supported safety net protections were the first bills to pass their houses of origin, including those addressing funding for food banks, free school meals for more children, and hunger-free campuses. Other bills on our agenda that we care greatly about are moving forward, providing fixes to the Working Families Tax Credit, increasing gun safety, and removing unconstitutional statues such as the death penalty from state law. Some bills we care about that would advance economic justice are not moving forward, like a Guaranteed Basic Income and Washington Future Fund. As we move toward April, legislators will also need to come to agreement on a two-year state budget. The hybrid session has allowed for committee testimony both in-person and virtually, enabling advocates to sign in Pro or Con on bills and provide written testimony—all positive outcomes of two years of online sessions. 

FAN-supported gun responsibility bills were debated for many hours on the House floor before passage: One bill will require a comprehensive background check, safety training, and a 10-day waiting period to purchase a firearm in Washington. Another bill would ban the sale of assault weapons and prohibit the sale, manufacture, transport, and import (but not possession) of assault weapons. 

FAN Governing Board members were also involved in local leadership towards passage of an ordinance to ban caste-based discrimination in the City of Seattle, the first city in the nation to do so. 



Lutheran Office for Public Policy – Wisconsin (LOPPW)

The Rev. Cindy Crane, Director

Wednesday Noon Live: We interviewed Julia Weibe, ELCA member and Bilingual FoodShare Outreach Specialist at Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin. Extra benefits for FoodShare ended on the day of our interview. Hear about what this means, how public policies matter, and about Julia’s personal story and faith journey. 

Advocacy, Training, and Preparations:  We advocated on driver’s licenses for undocumented Wisconsinites. Wisconsin Representative James Sensenbrenner introduced the Real ID Act in 2005. But it was a state law passed in 2007 that prevented undocumented people from obtaining licenses. There is more movement now than in many years to restore licenses for our undocumented neighbors; farmers are among the most vocal advocates.  

We spoke to legislators about returning 17 year old youth to the juvenile justice system. Wisconsin is one of three states still defaulting 17-year-olds to the adult court system, and the other two, Georgia and Texas, have proposed legislation to change that in their legislative hoppers. 

In addition, we advocated on two anti-sex trafficking bills, and in the state budget, funding to support Focus on Energy and addressing the problem of PFAs in water. 

LOPPW led two workshops, one on why we advocate as people of faith and another on how to advocate at a Northwest Synod of Wisconsin Event. 

We continued planning for our Day of Advocacy: Hunger, Climate & Water with our partner, Faith in Place, and our Youth Advocacy Retreat with leaders from synods around Wisconsin and the UP.   


March Update: Advocacy Connections

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

Partial expanded content from Advocacy Connections: March 2023


DEBT CEILING:  The U.S. Treasury Department could default on its debt as early as June without congressional action, as the United States will exhaust its ability to pay all its bills unless the current $31.4 trillion cap on borrowing is raised or suspended. ELCA advocacy staff are very focused on several important fronts that impact hungry and vulnerable communities as debt ceiling debate develops.

In coalition with both Circle of Protection, a coalition of church bodies and related ministries representing the diversity of Christianity in the United States, and interfaith colleagues, we are receiving briefings and updates on the potential impact to poverty reduction programs should Congress fail to raise the current debt ceiling. A Feb. 27 letter from Circle of Protection leaders to President Biden and members of the 118th Congress said: “The priority we assign to reducing poverty and hunger is controversial but reflects values that are based in our Scriptures – passages such as Psalm 20:7 on trusting God rather than iron chariots, Isaiah 2:4 on beating swords into plowshares, and Matthew 25:31-46 about how God judges nations according to their response to people who are hungry and in need.”


BIDEN ADMINISTRATION GENDER PROGRESS REPORT: The White House Gender Policy Council released its first progress report to the president on its 2021 National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality.

International program highlights include: expansion of U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Engendering Industries program which advances gender equality in male-dominated industries around the world; launch of new USAID gender-based violence prevention and response programs and tools in northern Central America to promote human rights, justice, equity and equality; and launch by the State Department and USAID of the Safe from the Start ReVisioned initiative, expanding gender-based violence prevention, risk mitigation, response efforts and empowering women and girls in crisis-affected countries. The Safe from the Start Act has been a gender justice priority for the ELCA.


INFLATION REDUCTION ACT: The Inflation Reduction Act is the largest investment in climate solutions in U.S. history. It includes provisions to promote the transition to renewable energy for individuals and for institutions, and it has a large focus on environmental justice for communities most-affected by climate change.

Among provisions, the Inflation Reduction Act could as written specifically benefit “state, local and Tribal governments, as well as nonprofit organizations and other tax-exempt entities”. While most assistance in the Inflation Reduction Act comes in the form of tax credit, this provision allows for tax-exempt entities to receive “direct pay” as incentives for their climate-friendly investments into their communities. There have been calls on both sides of the aisle (examples here and here) for oversight of the distribution of these funds.

Although additional information for federal funding for energy work to guide congregations was anticipated in Feb. 2023, right now the clearest guidance is still more broad as available from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


BIDEN ADMINISTRATION ASYLUM POLICY CHANGES: The Biden Administration is using the federal rulemaking process to usher drastic changes to U.S. asylum policy ahead of the anticipated end of Title 42, on May 11. Adopting this rule would have severe consequences on people fleeing persecution and violence. Detrimental impact on children and families, Black persons, Indigenous persons and gender-based violence survivors seeking refuge could result.

Through the new proposed rule titled “Circumvention of Lawful Pathways,” the administration seeks to impose a “presumption of asylum ineligibility” for asylum seekers unless they received parole prior to arrival, presented themselves at a port of entry at a pre-scheduled time and place, or sought protection and were denied protection in a country en route to the United States. Your public comments on the proposed rule can urge withdrawal of the proposal – see our Action Alert for details. Many have spoken out. ELCA Witness in Society staff attended a rally organized by the Welcome With Dignity Campaign and Interfaith Immigration Coalition at the White House, cautioning against severe restrictions on those seeking asylum due to the way people came to or enter the United States.


HOUSING APPROPRIATIONS: ELCA Witness in Society staff met with congressional staff in February and March discussing housing and homeless investment needs in the fiscal 2024 federal budget (FY24), as intent to find new cuts in discretionary spending this year has been expressed by several members of the House.

With rents and housing costs continuing to rise in many areas across the United States this year, any serious cut to Housing and Urban Development programs this year could result in a new wave of evictions, homelessness and housing insecurity. ELCA Witness in Society staff will likely be planning an Action Alert around housing needs in the budget as the president prepares to release his budget proposal to Congress in early March.


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