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Transformative Waters: The Flooding of the Umatilla River


“Water represents an integral link in a world view where water is sacred and extremely important in preserving precious balance. Water is the origin of and essential for the survival of all life.”

Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indians


Water is crucial to our survival. But water can also be destructive. During a multi-day warm-up in February 2020, melting snow and heavy rains caused the Umatilla River and its tributaries to overflow their banks. They damaged homes and buildings in the Blue Mountain region of Oregon and Washington, which includes Columbia and Walla Walla counties in Washington and Umatilla County and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Oregon.

On both sides of the Umatilla river – Oregon and Washington – multiagency relief centers (MARCs) assembled in the days after the flood. At these locations, residents received immediate, relief  assistance and registered for long-term recovery support from various relief organizations. The state of Oregon declared an emergency and sent funding to each of the affected communities. FEMA offered both public and individual assistance in the days after the flooding. As the Washington side was less affected, they didn’t qualify for any FEMA assistance. In total, 579 homes were damaged, according to Charlene Larsen, a longtime volunteer and associate of the Lutheran Disaster Response network in Oregon and a leader in the Oregon Synod Disaster Preparedness and Response network.


Damage was great and so was the need for a long-term recovery group (LTRG), a common structure in the disaster response community that allows for a holistic response. Representatives from both sides of the river, as well as the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Oregon, came together to form the Blue Mountain LTRG. It’s a coalition of community organizations, with the local Lions Club, United Way of the Blue Mountains, Community Action Program of East Central Oregon, and the Blue Mountain Action Council involved. The LTRG also includes ecumenical partners and has disaster services from Lutherans, Methodists, Mennonites, Presbyterians, and Seventh-day Adventists represented.

One of the members of the Blue Mountain LTRG is Pastor Joel Ley of Christ Lutheran Church in Walla Walla, Washington, representing the Northwest Intermountain Synod of the ELCA. About the assortment of organizations in the group, he says “We’ve got all these people represented at the table and it’s pretty impressive because that doesn’t always happen. People dig in and do the work and that’s really nice to see.”

By joining forces, the group could do things that one organization on its own could not. Larsen told one story about how members of the Blue Mountain LTRG worked together to get a couple a new pair of recliners. A couple living in a mobile home lost their set of matching recliner chairs and didn’t have the funds to replace them, so a disaster case manager brought the situation to the unmet needs committee. An unmet needs committee focuses on helping people address needs not covered by insurance or FEMA money. One of the members of the committee found an identical set of recliners in Washington and another representative from the committee offered to pick them up. At the home of the couple, yet another member was there to help unload them. The community spirit was present, now on an even bigger scale.


2020 was also an unprecedented year for wildfires in the Pacific Northwest. While the fires didn’t affect the same area impacted by the February floods, the Blue Mountain LTRG was in a position to assist other groups in the state. They shared “all the documents we put in place for bylaws and recovery efforts, talking about different committees that need to be in place,” said Larsen, speaking about the process for forming a long-term recovery group. Last February, the Blue Mountain LTRG formed with assistance from another disaster recovery group in Oregon and the wildfires gave them the opportunity to pay it forward and share their knowledge with newly formed disaster groups.

As with all disasters this past year, COVID-19 has affected the recovery process. Doing one-on-one in-person case management interviews became impossible. Rebuilding and repairing homes is more challenging than normal because volunteers are discouraged, and contractors are difficult to find. When it is possible to safely bring in volunteers, they will be busy doing small repairs, especially on fences, wells, septic tanks, and irrigation systems on agricultural land.


People in the area are independent – when in trouble, they believe that their family and neighbors will take care of them. Early in the recovery process, there was a lack of trust by residents for organizations that came to support them, said Larsen. But over time, that trust grew. Out of the original 579 cases, over 300 have been closed. However, many remain open, and for that reason, the Oregon Synod recently received a grant from LDR to continue case management for survivors. The grant will help fund an AmeriCorps position. The staff member  will serve as a case manager and assist with the formation of a Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD) for the Blue Mountain region. The COAD is an extension of the existing Blue Mountain LTRG. By building upon the relationships formed during the relief and recovery phases of the flooding, the COAD is preparing to respond to the next disaster right away and in so doing, contributing towards the community’s disaster resilience.


Catalyst. That’s the world Larsen used to describe the role of Lutheran Disaster Response in the Umatilla flood response and recovery efforts. An LDR-supported Oregon Synod Disaster Preparedness and Response network has been working to spread awareness about the importance of being ready for a disaster. At the time of its formation, its main concern was the Cascadia earthquake expected to hit the region at some point. But preparedness quickly turned into response, first with the Umatilla floods, then COVID-19 and wildfires. While there was still much to do to respond to the flooding, the Oregon Synod had a slight head start.

“LDR  is the catalyst in getting that going and now others are supporting with their funds. So, it takes one catalyst to get it started and, in this case, it was LDR,” said Larsen.

The importance of disaster preparedness was one of the biggest takeaways by both Larsen and Ley. In the Blue Mountain region, there was no preparation for flooding, or any other disaster, except for the early stages of the Oregon Synod Disaster Preparedness and Response network. The Blue Mountain LTRG had to form in the midst of the disaster. Ley said that it would be easier if relationships between the organizations were built beforehand. They both realize how unprepared the region was for disasters last February. A year later, with organizations coming together to form the Blue Mountain LTRG and COAD, they are confident in their readiness for the next disaster.


Water can give life and take away life. But water can also transform life. The waters of the Umatilla River transformed the Blue Mountain region. They brought different communities and organizations together to help everyone. They led to the establishment of an LTRG and COAD, which formed new relationships and strengthened old ones. The waters led to a transformation of how the region thought about disasters, preparedness, and the importance of long-term recovery.

“LDR has always billed itself as being in for the long haul and I had taken that message in, but I didn’t realize how important that was,” said Ley. “You do the initial work, but there’s a lot of stuff that hangs out there for a long time and without long-term commitment from LDR and other partners, there would just be a lot of issues that wouldn’t be addressed.”

In all responses, LDR strives to transform lives. From immediate relief to long-term recovery, LDR is present to support survivors and communities as they rebuild their homes and lives. Around the United States and around the world, communities impacted by disasters are transforming and becoming more resilient, ready for the next disaster.


November Update: UN and State Edition

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

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

United Nations

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


Tammy Walhof, Lutheran Advocacy- Minnesota

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

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

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

Included in the bill were

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


Deacon Nick Bates, Hunger Network in Ohio

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

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


Tracey DePasquale, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry–Pennsylvania (LAMPa)

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


October Update: UN and State Edition

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

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

United Nations

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

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

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

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


Solveig Muus, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry Arizona

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

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

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

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


Peter Severson, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-Colorado

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

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


Deacon Nick Bates, Hunger Network in Ohio

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

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

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

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

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


Tracey DePasquale, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry–Pennsylvania (LAMPa)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Walking for Water

At tW4W_5his time of year we see seasons changing with the last bit of winter frost fading to the warm air of spring. The seasons of the church change as well from the somber time of Lent into the celebration of Easter. During the season of Lent Messiah Lutheran Church in Vancouver, Washington, decided to spend their weeks not only in worship, but educating their congregation about water.

“Stay Thirsty” was the name of the Wednesday evening sermon series for the season of Lent and each Sunday there was a children’s message about water. In the midst of abundance, Messiah Lutheran Church decided to talk about scarcity of a resource that we all depend on: clean water.W4W_6

The first “Stay Thirsty” evening, the congregation put on their own Walk for Water. They set up three tracks going throughout the church with stops along the way to learn about waterborne diseases and the reality of water all around the world.

Each track lets you walk in the shoes of a real story, and simulate the difficulties of not having accessible water.

At Messiah there were a large number of people who wanted to participate, so the congregation provided various sizes of water containers to accommodate the inter-generational walk with participants as young as three.     W4W_7

This first event provided a way for the whole congregation to get acquainted with the theme of “Water for the World”, and learn more about what the ELCA is doing around the world.

As a retired teacher, Hope Quinn took on the responsibility for writing and delivering the children’s messages each Sunday. Each week provided a different lesson on water, and a box for collecting coins to contribute to ELCA World Hunger’s water programs. “Water for the World” was the theme that was adopted and a wishing well was placed in the narthex to collect prayers of the congregation on a clothesline with a thermometer to gauge how much money they raised.

The first Sunday the theme was introduced with a simple question to the children, “When you want a drink of water at home, what do you do?”. The answer would be the same for many of us, that we simply go to our sinks and turn on the faucet. There might be a water filter involved, but nothing strenuous. Answers from the children prompted a conversation on how many people in the world do not have this same luxury, with an illustration from the Walk for Water video. The children were given coin boxes to collect money during the week and told about how their coins can help give people safe water to drink.W4W_10

Wells were the next topic, and understanding what kind of well water is actually safe to drink. Quinn pointed out that well water can contain debris and other materials to make the water unsafe to drink. Porterville, California, is an area that relies on wells to provide water but due to drought their wells are running dry. Quinn lifted up that ELCA World Hunger is helping provide materials to aid the people of Porterville, which is only a two-day drive from Vancouver. After this children’s message many adults came up to Quinn saying that they had no idea that ELCA World Hunger worked domestically!

W4W_3Women are usually the ones faced with the burden of gathering water for their families, and that was illustrated in the third week of Lent. Quinn asked for two girls to volunteer from the group to carry an empty bucket and an empty jug. The volunteers illustrated how difficult it is to carry the bucket instead of the jug and learned that with only two dollars from their Water for the World boxes they could buy one of the jugs! Also with only one dollar from their boxes they could provide 140 water purification tablets! The last Sunday showed what happens when an area gets clean water. Quinn showed a PowerPoint that illustrated the different components to getting clean water and what it meant for a community in India to gain access to clean water with the support of ELCA World Hunger.

Messiah wanted to show through education and giving that we really can make a difference by coming together as sisters and brothers in Christ. This congregation took a season to learn about the ELCA in the world, and at the end of their time they raised nearly $2,500!W4W_8

Let us take a season, a Sunday, or just a moment to bear witness to what we as a church can do in the world, and how something as simple as clean water can make all the difference.