ELCA Advocacyhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/Learning about God’s call to care for all who cry outErin Haugen, Legislative Internhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/129http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/129<div class="ExternalClass9AD7D45CD86A4BA9BF96AF8CC94A1CB7"><p>I grew up in a quiet, safe, suburban neighborhood in Minnesota. I was fortunate enough to live in a place where crime and exploitation seemed like things that happened far away, to other people. To paint you a picture, some of the most common 'crimes' that were committed in my community were bored high-school kids throwing toilet paper on their friends' front lawns or loitering in the McDonald's parking lot past the city-mandated curfew. Needless to say, incarceration and exploitation were things that I rarely thought about, because I was privileged enough to not have to do so. </p><p>Part of understanding privilege is recognizing that while some, like me, have the ability to go through their day-to-day routines without worrying about the realities of incarceration or exploitation, others can't go a day without being affected by them in some way. The NAACP reports that <a href="http&#58;//www.naacp.org/pages/criminal-justice-fact-sheet"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">1 out of every 31 adults</span></a> in the United States are under some form of correctional control-- whether it be prison, jail, or probation. </p><p><img alt="2.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/2.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;160px;height&#58;215px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;left;" />At a criminal justice reform briefing in January, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) noted that 25 percent of the world's incarcerated people are in the United States, while we make up only 5 percent of the world's population. He commented that it is a &quot;great global shame&quot; that this is the case. But incarceration (imprisonment) and exploitation (treating someone poorly in order to reap benefits) aren't only present here in the United States. The Department of State estimates that there are <a href="http&#58;//www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/2014/index.htm"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">over 20 million victims</span></a> of human trafficking across the world, and factors like international trade agreements, environmental degradation, predatory behaviors toward the poor, and labor violence also contribute to exploitation around the world. </p><p><img alt="1.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/1.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;200px;height&#58;125px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;right;" />At the same briefing that Senator Booker spoke at, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich called for Christians to take a stance on criminal justice reform, declaring, &quot;if you believe that every person is endowed by their creator, that endowment doesn't stop at sentencing.&quot; This faithful conviction is echoed in the ELCA's social statement &quot;<a href="http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Criminal_JusticeSS.pdf?_ga=1.260757133.1839395505.1427382428"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">The Church and Criminal Justice&#58; Hearing the Cries</span></a>.&quot; As Lutherans, we recognize that we have yet to respond adequately to the cries of our brothers and sisters facing the criminal justice system.</p><p><strong>On Friday, April 17 hundreds of Christians will arrive in Washington, DC to take part in discussion and advocacy surrounding mass incarceration and exploitation during </strong><a href="http&#58;//advocacydays.org/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;"><strong>Ecumenical Advocacy Days</strong></span></a><strong>. Participating in events like EAD provide the Christian community an opportunity to confess this failure together as well as a broader opportunity to</strong><strong>&#160; </strong><strong>hear from those who have been impacted by the system, to learn about the ways that society continues to oppress incarcerated and exploited individuals, and to work together to address these challenges. </strong></p><p>While I may have grown up without the worry of crime or exploitation affecting my life, the reality is that too many of my brothers and sisters in Christ experience the exact opposite. I am excited to engage with the Christian community next weekend for worship, education, and advocacy. I am excited for the chance to examine the ways that my upbringing affected my interactions with the justice system. I am excited to learn about ways to create positive changes in the lives of incarcerated and exploited persons. Above all, I am excited to be part of an active Christian community living out God's call to care for all who cry out.</p><p>&#160;</p><p>Will you be at EAD? Reach out to me on Twitter&#58; @erinmhaugen or tweet @elcaadvocacy with your pictures and reflections! </p></div>04/13/2015April State Advocacy UpdateELCA Advocacyhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/128http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/128<div class="ExternalClass951F569705BE40B8970A12AA73525F0A"><p><span style="font-size&#58;14px;">​<span style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;, segoe, tahoma, helvetica, arial, sans-serif;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;float&#58;none;display&#58;inline !important;white-space&#58;normal;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><em>Lutherans are taking action across the country! Below you will find our monthy State Advocacy Newsletter. Share with your friends!</em></span></span></p><p class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="margin&#58;0px 0px 10px;padding&#58;0px;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;20px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;vertical-align&#58;top;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;font-weight&#58;bold;"><span style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;float&#58;none;display&#58;inline !important;white-space&#58;normal;font-stretch&#58;normal;">---------------------------------------------</span></strong></p><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;font-weight&#58;bold;">Washington, D.C.</strong></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;font-weight&#58;bold;">Advocacy Director, Stacy Martin</strong></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="color&#58;#569bbe;font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;font-weight&#58;bold;"><a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/advocacy" style="color&#58;#569bbe;text-decoration&#58;none;">www.elca.org/advocacy</a></strong><a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/advocacy" style="color&#58;#569bbe;text-decoration&#58;none;"></a><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;"><a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/advocacy" style="color&#58;#569bbe;text-decoration&#58;none;"></a><span style="color&#58;#181818;"><a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/advocacy" style="color&#58;#569bbe;text-decoration&#58;none;"></a><strong></strong></span></span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;"><span style="color&#58;#181818;"><strong></strong></span>&#160;</span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;left;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-family&#58;verdana, geneva, sans-serif;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-size&#58;14px;"><span style="color&#58;#181818;font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;"><strong><a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/advocacy" style="text-decoration&#58;none;"><span style="color&#58;#222222;font-size&#58;14px;">Congressional</span></a><span style="color&#58;#222222;"> </span>budget resolution&#58;</strong> This year, the U.S. Congress is working to pass a full budget <span style="color&#58;#181818;font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;"><img alt="LOGUM.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/LOGUM.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;border&#58;0px currentcolor;width&#58;100px;line-height&#58;20px;vertical-align&#58;middle;float&#58;left;" /></span>– an achievement that has not been accomplished for more than five </span><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;">years. As each chamber of Congress looks to combine their budget resolutions this month, ELCA Advocacy will be pursuing ways to enact faithful budget priorities to promote&#58; holistic values that help raise families out of poverty, policies that protect our humanitarian efforts at our borders and abroad, and efforts to strengthen our national commitment to protecting God’s creation. Please join us in this effort as we hold our elected officials accountable. Visit our Action Center today! </span></span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;left;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-family&#58;verdana, geneva, sans-serif;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-size&#58;14px;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;"></span>&#160;</span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;left;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-family&#58;verdana, geneva, sans-serif;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-size&#58;14px;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;"><strong>U.S. releases climate change pledge</strong>&#58; ELCA Advocacy applauds the recent announcement of the United States’ pledge to set new goals addressing the issue of climate change. This pledge includes a commitment to protecting public health by reducing pollution and promoting investment in abundant clean energy sources. The U.S. pledge is an important step toward the upcoming international agreement in Paris that will include similar commitments to addressing climate change. Sign our interfaith climate petition calling on the U.S. government to fulfill its commitment to addressing climate change at the upcoming United Nations climate negotiations. </span></span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;left;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-family&#58;verdana, geneva, sans-serif;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-size&#58;14px;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;"></span>&#160;</span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;left;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-family&#58;verdana, geneva, sans-serif;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-size&#58;14px;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;"><strong>Children's Health Insurance Program</strong>&#58; Last month, the ELCA Advocacy Network took action to help renew health care access for low-income children through the Children's Health Insurance Program. Concerns for the program were flagged after its funding was threatened in ongoing budget resolution negotiations. After receiving waves of messages and calls from Lutheran advocates and members of the faith community, the funding successfully passed in the U.S. House of Representatives by an overwhelming bipartisan margin (392-37). </span></span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;left;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-family&#58;verdana, geneva, sans-serif;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-size&#58;14px;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;"></span>&#160;</span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;left;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-family&#58;verdana, geneva, sans-serif;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-size&#58;14px;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;"><strong>Vulnerable Immigrant Voice Act</strong>&#58; Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., reintroduced the Vulnerable Immigrant Voice Act in Congress, which would appoint needed legal counsel in immigration courts for unaccompanied children and people with developmental issues. Lack of access to counsel has resulted in children, asylum seekers and other vulnerable migrants having to represent themselves in court. Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, an ELCA partner, has strongly supported the legislation since it was first introduced last summer. As a church that recognizes the dignity of all God's children, the ELCA supports the bill and its efforts to give vulnerable migrants the right to tell their stories in front of a judge.</span><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;">&#160;</span></span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;left;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-family&#58;verdana, geneva, sans-serif;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-size&#58;14px;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;"></span></span>&#160;</div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-family&#58;verdana, geneva, sans-serif;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><p><span style="font-size&#58;14px;">&#160;<span style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;">&#160;</span><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-weight&#58;bold;"><span style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;float&#58;none;display&#58;inline !important;white-space&#58;normal;font-stretch&#58;normal;">---------------------------------------------</span></strong></span></p></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;font-weight&#58;bold;">New York, NY</strong></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;font-weight&#58;bold;">Advocacy Director, Dennis Frado</strong></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;left;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-size&#58;14px;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;"><strong></strong></span>&#160;</span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;left;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;"><strong>U.N. Commission on the Status of Women</strong>&#58; Last month, the 59<sup>th</sup> session of the <a href="https&#58;//www.flickr.com/photos/ecumenicalwomen/"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;text-decoration&#58;underline;">U.N. Commission on the Status of Women</span></a> took place in New York March 9-20 with a focus on achievements and remaining challenges since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action in 1995. LOWC hosted 30 Lutheran delegates (six international <a href="https&#58;//www.lutheranworld.org/news/gains-and-challenges-churches-20-years-after-beijing"><span lang="EN" style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;text-decoration&#58;underline;">Lutheran World Federation </span></a>and 24 ELCA members) and organized or collaborated in events including&#58; </span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;left;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;"></span>&#160;</div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;left;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;">•&quot;Faith, Justice, &amp; Culture&quot; meet-up, led by <a href="https&#58;//elcayacohort.wordpress.com/">ELCA Young Adults</a>; </span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;left;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;">•&quot;Silent No More&#58; How Can Faith Communities Address Sexism and Gender Based Violence,&quot; led by the ELCA Young Adult cohort; </span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;left;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;">•&quot;Three Lives of Women 20 years after Beijing,&quot; in collaboration with the World Council of Churches with reflections from Lutheran women from Palestine, Kenya and the United States; </span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;left;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;">•&quot;Local People, Global Impact&#58; The role of community-based organizations in the fight against the Ebola virus&quot; (in West Africa), in collaboration with Nobel Peace laureate Leymah Gbowee's foundation, with testimonies of the impact of the Ebola virus on communities – especially in Liberia – and what local women are doing about it; and </span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;left;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;">•Stocktaking event&#58; &quot;The role of faith in realizing the promise of Beijing&quot; (toward gender equality) in collaboration with the ACT Alliance and the World Council of Churches.</span></div><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;"><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;left;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">&#160;</div></span><p class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="margin&#58;0px 0px 10px;padding&#58;0px;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;20px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;vertical-align&#58;top;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font&#58;14px/19.6px &quot;trebuchet ms&quot;, helvetica;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;float&#58;none;display&#58;inline !important;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">---------------------------------------------</span></p><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;center;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="color&#58;#222222;font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;font-weight&#58;bold;">California</strong></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;center;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="color&#58;#222222;font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;font-weight&#58;bold;">Mark Carlson, Lutheran Office of Public Policy- CA&#160;​</strong></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="color&#58;#569bbe;font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;font-weight&#58;bold;"><a href="http&#58;//www.loppca.org/" style="color&#58;#569bbe;text-decoration&#58;none;">www.loppca.org</a></strong></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-size&#58;14px;"><strong style="color&#58;#569bbe;font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-weight&#58;bold;"></strong>&#160;</span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;left;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;"><strong style="font-weight&#58;bold;"><font color="#569bbe"></font></strong><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;"><img alt="Ca1.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/Ca1.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;250px;height&#58;188px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;left;" />The Policy Council of the Lutheran Office of Public Policy – California met at the Southwest California Synod Office in Glendale with excellent attendance. Discussed was priority legislation related to child poverty (the bill repealing the CalWORKS/Temporary Assistance for Needy Families “Maximum Family Grant” limit for new babies passed its first committee) and care for creation (a new climate change law expanding the renewable energy portfolio, reducing fossil energy in transportation, and improving building energy efficiency faces its first committee April 7). There was moral deliberation on proposed assisted-dying legislation and alarm over the latest bizarre manifestation of direct democracy&#58; initiative language submitted, but unlikely to qualify, that calls for shooting sodomites – recalling for some the murder of a gay couple in Redding in 1999, after which the killer asserted in a TV news interview that “It is not a crime to shoot a sodomite.” </span></span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;left;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-size&#58;14px;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;"></span>&#160;</span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;left;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;"><strong>Early childhood policy</strong>&#58; The annual “Watercooler Conference” included an award presented to ELCA member Carol Larson, CEO of the Packard Foundation. Nobel economics laureate James Heckman of the University of Chicago stressed that compassion and economic efficiency converge in investments in early childhood. </span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;left;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-size&#58;14px;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;"><strong></strong></span>&#160;</span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;left;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;"><strong>Upcoming&#58; </strong></span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;left;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;">• Participation in a showing of ELCA World Hunger-supported “Thirsty for Justice,” on the human right to water, to San Francisco Friends School 8th graders visiting CalEPA </span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;left;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;">• Helping with the pre-Detroit Sierra Pacific Synod youth gathering (with Ryan Cumming of ELCA World Hunger) </span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;left;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;">• Organizing events for the Rev. Joe and Joyce Ellwanger, civil rights/justice leaders (“Strength for the Struggle”) in Northern California, including Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary&#160;</span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">&#160;</div><div style="text-align&#58;left;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;"><p class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="margin&#58;0px 0px 10px;padding&#58;0px;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;20px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;vertical-align&#58;top;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;">---------------------------------------------</span></p><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;font-weight&#58;bold;">Colorado</strong></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;font-weight&#58;bold;">Peter Severson, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry – Colorado&#160;</strong></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;"><strong style="font-weight&#58;bold;"></strong><a href="http&#58;//www.lam-co.org/" style="color&#58;#569bbe;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;font-weight&#58;bold;"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">www.lam-co.org</span></strong></a></span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">&#160;</div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;"><strong>Minimum wage</strong>&#58; The Colorado General Assembly recently considered legislation to raise the state minimum wage from the current $8.23/hour. House Concurrent Resolution 1001 would have put a measure before Colorado voters in 2016 to approve an incremental increase up to $12.50/hour by 2020. The resolution failed to achieve the required two-thirds yes vote, but citizen petitioners have vowed to gather signatures to put the measure on the 2016 ballot anyway. </span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">&#160;</div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;"><strong>Other legislation</strong>&#58; Director Peter Severson recently testified at a hearing in support of House Bill 1258, which would establish a family and medical leave insurance program in Colorado. Currently, only 12 percent of Colorado workers have access to paid leave to care for new babies, seriously ill family members, or themselves. Lutheran Advocacy Ministry–Colorado continues to support other bills related to child-support payment benefits for low-income families, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and increasing the cap on appropriations for school lunches. </span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">&#160;</div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;"><strong><img alt="Co1.png" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/Co1.png" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;250px;height&#58;190px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;right;" />In the news</strong>&#58; Labor activists held a press conference on the Capitol steps in support of raising the Colorado minimum wage (see photo). A House committee also recently killed a broadly-worded “religious freedom” bill similar to the one in Indiana after a press conference in which many political, business and religious leaders spoke out against it, including the Rev. Brian Rossbert, interim associate pastor at House for All Sinners and Saints Lutheran Church.</span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">&#160;</div><p class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="margin&#58;0px 0px 10px;padding&#58;0px;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;20px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;vertical-align&#58;top;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;">---------------------------------------------</span></p><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;font-weight&#58;bold;">Illinois</strong></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;font-weight&#58;bold;">Jennifer DeLeon, Lutheran Advocacy – Illinois <a href="http&#58;//www.lutheranadvocacy.org/">www.lutheranadvocacy.org</a></strong></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">&#160;</div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;"><strong>Budgeting</strong>&#58; The proposed Illinois budget for fiscal year 2016 includes drastic cuts to human services programs that would affect people at-risk, including those served by our partner member Lutheran Social Services of Illinois. </span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">&#160;</div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;">Last year Lutheran Social Services of Illinois served more than 73,000 people through 190 programs at 85 sites across Illinois. The demographics of the clients served generally reflect those of Illinois’ population, with one important exception – more than 80 percent of clients report an annual household income under $15,000, compared to just 12 percent of all Illinois households. The organization provides critical programs for the state’s most vulnerable residents, including foster care, adoption, mental health services, alcohol and drug treatment, affordable senior housing, residential programs for people with developmental disabilities, and programs that help formerly incarcerated individuals integrate back into society. </span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">&#160;</div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;"><strong><img alt="Ia1.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/Ia1.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;200px;height&#58;156px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;right;" />Lutheran Day 2015&#58;</strong> On April 14 join Lutherans from across the state in Springfield to study, pray and take action for greater justice and compassion in Illinois. </span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">&#160;</div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-size&#58;14px;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;">For details and registration, visit </span><a href="http&#58;//www.lutheranday.org/"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;">www.LutheranDay.org</span></a><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;">.&#160;</span></span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">&#160;</div><div style="text-align&#58;center;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;"><div style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;">---------------------------------------------<div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">​<span style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;"><strong style="font-weight&#58;bold;">New Jersey</strong></span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;"><strong style="font-weight&#58;bold;">Sara Lilja,&#160;New Jersey Synod&#160;</strong></span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;"><strong style="font-weight&#58;bold;"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;"><a href="mailto&#58;logm@njsynod.org">logm@njsynod.org</a></span></strong></span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">&#160;</div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;left;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;"><strong>State budget</strong>&#58; Here in New Jersey, we are working on the proposed 2016 state budget. We are in a fiscal crisis. There is little money to support programs that assist the poor and other vulnerable populations. New Jersey has awarded more than $4 billion in tax subsidies and credits to businesses over the past six years in an attempt to spur economic activity and boost the state’s recovery from the Great Recession. The unprecedented growth in subsidies, however, has so far done little to significantly improve the state’s economy. New Jersey’s economic recovery remains far behind our neighboring states. Just 40 percent of the jobs New Jersey lost in the recession have been recovered; the state has the highest share of workers who have been unemployed for more than six months, and the state continues to lead the nation in the percentage of homeowners (1 in 12) who are in foreclosure. All this is shocking when you understand that New Jersey is also the fourth most affluent state in the nation! </span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">&#160;</div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;left;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;">We at LOGM are asking that policymakers take concrete actions to slow the subsidy surge and bring more transparency and accountability to the use of these tax breaks by placing meaningful caps on spending, requiring more information from companies receiving subsidies, including an automatic sunset provision, eliminating subsidies for existing jobs, and developing more stringent standards for these awards. </span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;left;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">&#160;</div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;left;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;"><strong>Care for communities&#58;</strong> We are urging the state to include in the 2016 budget the following assistance for families in economic distress&#58; restoring the Earned Income Tax Credit, expanding preschool, and expanding health care coverage. It comes as no surprise that food insecurity is also on the rise! We are supporting the expansion of the Breakfast After the Bell program, expanding state funding for SNAP, and increasing the staffing levels at county welfare agencies to deliver assistance in a timely manner to all those who are in need.&#160;</span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">&#160;</div></span></div></span></div><p class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="margin&#58;0px 0px 10px;padding&#58;0px;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;20px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;vertical-align&#58;top;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">​<span style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;">---------------------------------------------</span></p><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">​<span style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;"><strong style="font-weight&#58;bold;">New Mexico</strong></span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;"><strong style="font-weight&#58;bold;">Ruth Hoffman, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry – New Mexico&#160;</strong></span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><a href="http&#58;//www.lutheranadvocacynm.org/" style="color&#58;#569bbe;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;"><strong style="font-weight&#58;bold;"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">www.lutheranadvocacynm.org</span></strong></span></a></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">&#160;</div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;"><strong><img alt="NM1.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/NM1.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;230px;height&#58;137px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;left;" />2015 legislative session</strong>&#58; The regular session of the New Mexico Legislature came to an end at noon on March 21. This was a difficult 60 days with the Senate controlled by one party and the House by the other. LAM-NM worked on behalf of legislation that reflected our focus on issues that can affect the lives of the many people living in poverty and hunger in our state. </span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">&#160;</div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;">We worked in coalitions to successfully stop the passage of several major initiatives, including so-called “right to work” legislation and the elimination of drivers’ licenses for undocumented immigrants. We also worked with the Fair Lending Coalition to block passage of harmful predatory lending bills, while also proposing a 36 percent cap on storefront loans. </span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">&#160;</div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;">LAM-NM worked on a successful effort to increase the TANF monthly cash assistance amount by 5 percent and to add an additional clothing allowance for TANF children. We helped to secure funding for the SNAP Double Up program, which doubles the amount of SNAP benefits families can use at local farmers’ markets. A bill requiring that eligible inmates be covered under the Medicaid program immediately upon release from incarceration passed both houses of the Legislature and heads to the governor’s desk for consideration.&#160;</span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">&#160;</div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-size&#58;14px;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;">---------------------------------------------</span><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">​<span style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;"><strong style="font-weight&#58;bold;">Ohio</strong></span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-size&#58;14px;"><strong>Nick Bates, The Faith Coalition for the Common Good </strong><a href="mailto&#58;nick@oneohionow.org"><strong></strong></a><strong><a href="mailto&#58;nick@oneohionow.org">nick@oneohionow.org</a></strong><a></a><a></a><a></a><strong></strong></span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong></strong>&#160;</div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;left;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;"><strong>Ohio budget&#58;</strong><strong> </strong>The Ohio Legislature continues to focus its time on Ohio's two–year budget (HB 64).&#160; This budget accepts a new normal of higher poverty and fewer resources. The biggest component of the budget is another tax shift increasing taxes on many while cutting the income tax to benefit the wealthiest Ohioans.&#160; </span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;left;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;"><p>The Faith Coalition for the Common Good is an ecumenical coalition formed to advocate through the budget process for increased state funding for food security and affordable housing (and other services to help low-income Ohioans), and expanded resources for education. All of these things are possible if Ohio foregoes the proposed $5.6 billion in tax cuts.</p><p>The coalition organized a panel on March 18 in front of the Finance Health and Human Services Sub-Committee. The Rev. Gregory Kenderick (United Methodist Church) facilitated the panel of individuals who have experienced poverty. About 60 people from the faith community showed up to support this panel's testimony. The testimony focused on the importance of public investments that help people transition out of poverty. The Ohio House Finance Committee is currently receiving amendments to the budget. We also submitted testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee opposing the proposed income tax cut.</p><p>The budget bill will move to the Senate in late April and to the governor's desk by June 30.</p></span></div></span></div><p class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="margin&#58;0px 0px 10px;padding&#58;0px;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;20px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;vertical-align&#58;top;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">​<span style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;">---------------------------------------------</span></p><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;font-weight&#58;bold;">Pennsylvania</strong></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;font-weight&#58;bold;">Amy Reumann, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania<span class="Apple-converted-space" style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;">&#160;</span></strong></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;font-weight&#58;bold;">Tracey DePasquale, Associate Director</strong></div></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;font-weight&#58;bold;"><span class="Apple-converted-space"></span><a href="http&#58;//www.lutheranadvocacypa.org/" style="color&#58;#303030;text-decoration&#58;underline;"><span style="color&#58;#009ac3;font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;">www.lutheranadvocacypa.org</span></a></strong></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong></strong>&#160;</div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;"><strong>Education</strong>&#58; Tracey testified and brought presenters before the Basic Education Funding Commission to bring the discussion of trauma (poverty, homelessness, violence) as a possible weighting factor in funding. <a href="http&#58;//basiceducationfundingcommission.pasenategop.com/">Watch the hearing</a>. We also continue to meet with lawmakers regarding a basic education <a href="http&#58;//www.lutheranadvocacypa.org/equity-in-education-funding/">funding formula </a>proposed by the Campaign for Fair Education Funding. <a href="http&#58;//www.washingtonpost.com/news/local/wp/2015/03/12/in-23-states-richer-school-districts-get-more-local-funding-than-poorer-districts/#graphic">Analysis of recent federal data </a>shows Pennsylvania is the most inequitable state in funding public schools.</span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">&#160;</div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;"><strong><img alt="PA1.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/PA1.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;230px;height&#58;172px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;right;" />Immigration</strong>&#58; Tracey led an advocacy workshop for Dreamers at the first statewide Immigrant and Refugee Rights Convening. As an outcome, LAMPa’s Immigration Leadership Circle is assisting Dreamers in organizing a statewide caravan to tell their stories. In other immigration-related work, we applied to LIRS and the York County Prison Board for funding for the immigration detainee visitation program Walking Together/Caminandos Juntos. </span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><img alt="PA2.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/PA2.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;230px;height&#58;163px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;right;" />&#160;</div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;"><strong>Hunger</strong>&#58; Amy met with John Hanger, secretary of Planning and Policy, to present <a href="http&#58;//www.lutheranadvocacypa.org/meeting-pennsylvanias-hunger-challenge-a-briefing-paper-for-governor-elect-tom-wolf/">recommendations </a>developed by the statewide food security coalition. </span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">&#160;</div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;"><strong>Environment</strong>&#58; LAMPa’s Creation Care Leadership Team held a conference call on water issues with Jennifer Quinn, outreach coordinator for PennFuture. Outcomes include agreement to work statewide on storm water issues and to facilitate education and action on water issues with youth connected to the ELCA Youth Gathering and Walk for Water. </span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">&#160;</div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;"><strong>Youth</strong>&#58; Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod youth leaders invited LAMPa to discuss advocacy issues involving youth and how they might engage in service-related advocacy after returning from Detroit. We continue to work on final details for Lutheran Day at the Capitol, this year part of Gettysburg Seminary’s Spring Academy.</span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">&#160;&#160;</div><p class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="margin&#58;0px 0px 10px;padding&#58;0px;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;20px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;vertical-align&#58;top;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;">&#160;---------------------------------------------</span></p><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;font-weight&#58;bold;">Virginia</strong></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;font-weight&#58;bold;">Marco Grimaldo, Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy<span class="Apple-converted-space" style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;">&#160;</span></strong></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;font-weight&#58;bold;"><span class="Apple-converted-space"></span><a href="http&#58;//www.virginiainterfaithcenter.org/" style="color&#58;#303030;text-decoration&#58;underline;"><span style="color&#58;#009ac3;font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;">www.virginiainterfaithcenter.org</span></a><span style="color&#58;#009ac3;text-decoration&#58;underline;">&#160;</span></strong></div><p class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="margin&#58;0px 0px 10px;padding&#58;0px;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;20px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;vertical-align&#58;top;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">&#160;</p><p><span style="color&#58;#222222;font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;"><strong>Hunger&#58; </strong>Since the conclusion of the Virginia General Assembly session, advocates have begun to regroup and focus more of our attention on government commissions and agencies. On March 25, Bishop Jim Mauney convened the Virginia Synod's Child Hunger Task Group with the aim of coordinating the work of Lutheran churches and their partners in the community to feed more hungry kids and their families. Together we reviewed which schools participate in backpack programs, which churches and communities need more summer meals locations, and what schools should do to expand school breakfast and breakfast in the classroom. We also invited the governor's staff to help us coordinate with state agencies. What we learn through task group efforts will also inform our advocacy efforts.&#160; </span></p><p><span style="color&#58;#222222;font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;"><strong>Payday Lending&#58; </strong>We also worked to organize public testimony for the Richmond public hearing on payday lending held by the federal Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. The event included hundreds of people from all parts of Virginia and a strong representation of the faith community at the hearing. We also helped moderate the roundtable community conversation with the bureau's administrator, Richard Cordray. </span></p><p class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="margin&#58;0px 0px 10px;padding&#58;0px;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;20px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;vertical-align&#58;top;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;">---------------------------------------------</span></p><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><div><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;font-weight&#58;bold;">​Washington</strong></div></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;font-weight&#58;bold;">Paul Benz, Faith Action Network&#160;</strong></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;text-decoration&#58;underline;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="color&#58;#005594;font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;font-weight&#58;bold;text-decoration&#58;underline;"><a href="http&#58;//www.fanwa.org/" style="color&#58;#303030;text-decoration&#58;none;"><span style="color&#58;#005594;font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;text-decoration&#58;underline;"></span></a><a href="http&#58;//www.fanwa.org/">www.fanwa.org</a><a></a><a></a></strong></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;text-decoration&#58;underline;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-size&#58;14px;"><font color="#005594"></font></strong>&#160;</div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;"><img alt="WA1.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/WA1.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;left;" />Only Three weeks left to go – so it's budget time here! Of course, there are bills that are still alive and going through the legislative process, such as reforming our LFO (legal financial obligations) system, an anti-human trafficking bill, and a transportation bill providing more apprenticeships for communities of color and women. Both the House and Senate have approved their budgets, and these will now go to the budget leadership teams for negotiations to form a final budget to be sent to the governor – hopefully by the last day of session, April 26 – but we may need to go in to a special session during May. The House budget has new revenue in it, but the Senate budget does not – that is the main difference in terms of what gets funded and what doesn’t. </span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">&#160;</div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;"><strong>Washington budget</strong>&#58; The budget programs that FAN is working on include&#58; </span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">&#160;</div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;">• Emergency Food Assistance (food banks) </span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;">• State Food Assistance (additional assistance targeted to our Pacific Islander community who were brought here in the 1950s due to U.S. nuclear testing on their islands) </span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;">• WIC/Farmers Market Nutrition Program (supports local growers and low-income households) </span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;">• Breakfast After the Bell (expands time and location offerings for serving breakfast at public schools) </span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;">• Housing &amp; Essential Needs/Aged, Blind, &amp; Disabled (monthly cash assistance for the most vulnerable and those waiting for their SSI application to be processed) </span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;">• Pesticide Drift Proviso to assess needs for a neighborhood notification system </span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;">• Post-secondary education for inmates </span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">&#160;</div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;">Our primary budget issue is keeping revenue in the final budget – that is the BIG budget battle. FAN is doing its part by collecting signatures on a petition that will be delivered to budget leadership before the session ends. </span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">&#160;</div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;"><strong>Faith-based organizing</strong>&#58; FAN is preparing for our four regional summits (Spokane May 17, Vancouver May 31, Seattle June 7, and Yakima June 14), where we gather by political districts for conversation on the key issues for our communities. We continue to grow our statewide network of advocating faith communities in terms of number (now at 97) and in terms of depth of relationships by keeping our liaisons engaged. </span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">&#160;</div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;"><strong>Spring denominational assemblies</strong> (FAN will be present with a staff person and display)&#58; </span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;">• ELCA in Pasco and Everett (April and May) </span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;">• United Church of Christ in Spokane (April) </span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;">• United Methodist Church (Pasco in June)</span></div><p>​</p><p style="text-align&#58;center;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;"><font color="#222222"></font>&#160;---------------------------------------------</span></p><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;font-weight&#58;bold;">Wisconsin</strong></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;font-weight&#58;bold;">Cindy Crane, Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin<span class="Apple-converted-space" style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;">&#160;</span></strong></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;font-weight&#58;bold;"><span class="Apple-converted-space"></span><a href="http&#58;//www.loppw.org/" style="color&#58;#303030;text-decoration&#58;underline;"><span style="color&#58;#009ac3;font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;14px;text-decoration&#58;underline;">www.loppw.org</span></a></strong></div></span></div><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;trebuchet ms&quot;,helvetica;font-size&#58;13px;"><div style="text-align&#58;left;">&#160;</div><div style="text-align&#58;left;"><span style="color&#58;#222222;font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;"><strong><img alt="WI1.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/WI1.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;220px;height&#58;123px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;left;" />Joint Finance Committee public hearing</strong>&#58; LOPPW’s director gave a statement about the governor’s proposed budget. Read the <a href="http&#58;//www.loppw.org/files/2015/04/Joint-Finance-Statement-from-LOPPW-Com-1.pdf">statement by clicking here. </a></span></div><div style="text-align&#58;left;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;"><span style="color&#58;#222222;"></span>&#160;</span></div><div style="text-align&#58;left;"><span style="color&#58;#222222;font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;"><strong>Advocacy Day on April 29</strong>&#58; LOPPW is part of the People of Faith United for Justice to organize a biennial advocacy day. Our focus will include threats to our safety net programs and legislation related to voter IDs. The LOPPW director is working with three additional groups to address specific safety net concerns. </span></div><div style="text-align&#58;left;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;"><span style="color&#58;#222222;"></span>&#160;</span></div><div style="text-align&#58;left;"><span style="color&#58;#222222;font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;"><strong>Safe harbor</strong>&#58; LOPPW and Cherish All Children held a rally to <img alt="WI2.png" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/WI2.png" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;120px;height&#58;165px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;right;" />support legislation to help young victims of sex trafficking. The director attended a round table at the Department of Children and Family Services and another at the Department of Justice. She also met with the director of Wisconsin Women’s Council to discuss possible partnerships. June Kjome (<em>see photo at right</em>), age 94, traveled from La Crosse to speak at the rally. When seeking justice “it’s good to be the headlights instead of the tail lights,&quot; she said. </span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;left;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-size&#58;14px;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">&#160;</div></span></div>04/09/2015Lenten reflection: The loving call to do justiceDennis Frado, Director, Lutheran Office for World Communityhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/127http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/127<div class="ExternalClass8434F22FCCBF49E6848BC80C89066C55"><p><strong><em><img alt="dennis headshot.JPG" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/dennis%20headshot.JPG" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;200px;height&#58;310px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;left;" />The Gospel liberates from sin, death, and evil and motivates the Church to care for neighbor and the earth.</em></strong><strong><em>&#160; </em></strong></p><p style="text-align&#58;right;"><strong><em>– &quot;The Church in Society&#58; A Lutheran Perspective&quot;</em></strong></p><p>Lent always refocuses me on the fact that Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for us through his death on the cross and his resurrection, which overcame death. The good news of God's salvation is the gospel. The excerpt above and the one below from the ELCA's social statement succinctly summarize why I am grateful to have the privilege of a job that calls for engaging every day in advocacy.&#160; </p><p><strong><em>The witness of this church in society flows from its identity as a community that lives from and for the Gospel. Faith is active in love; love calls for justice in the relationships and structures of society. It is in grateful response to God's grace in Jesus Christ that this church carries out its responsibility for the well-being of society and the environment.</em></strong></p><p>Many days here at the United Nations we are confronted with the failures of humanity – war, refugees, seemingly intractable disputes, and horrible violations of human rights. But the loving call to do justice does not grow weary, and we should not either.&#160; </p><p>Fortunately, we are also able to get to know the work of the peacemakers, the aid workers, the negotiators, and the rights defenders, give thanks for their work and lift them up to others as among those pursuing the better path for the common good.&#160; These folks are the ones who thankfully undercut my pessimism and reinforce my hope for a better world. Many, but not all by any stretch, are Christians. </p><p>International structures, like all that are the work of humans, are prone to sin.&#160; But we are reminded&#58;</p><p><strong><em>God institutes governing authorities, for example, to serve the good of society. This church respects the God-given integrity and tasks of governing authorities and other worldly structures, while holding them accountable to God. …</em></strong></p><p><strong><em>This church must participate in social structures critically, for sin also is at work in the world. Social structures and processes combine life-giving and life-destroying dynamics in complex mixtures and in varying degrees. This church, therefore, must unite realism and vision, wisdom and courage, in its social responsibility. It needs constantly to discern when to support and when to confront society's cultural patterns, values, and powers. – &quot;The Church in Society&#58; A Lutheran Perspective&quot;</em></strong></p><p>So, why again are we about this work?</p><p><strong><em>Jesus frees Christians to serve others and to walk with people who are hungry, forgotten, oppressed, and despised. The example of Jesus invites Christians to see people near and far away, people of all races, classes and cultures, friends and strangers, allies and enemies as their &quot;neighbor.&quot; – &quot;The Church in Society&#58; A Lutheran Perspective&quot;</em></strong></p><p>In 2013, The Lutheran World Federation, working with other religious groups, made manifest this understanding by initiating a series of affirmations from the leaders of a wide variety of faith traditions titled <em>&quot;</em>Welcoming the Stranger<em>&quot;</em>&#58;, </p><p><strong><em>A core value of my faith is to welcome the stranger, the refugee, the internally displaced, the other. I shall treat him or her as I would like to be treated. I will challenge others, even leaders in my faith community, to do the same.</em></strong></p><p>It is this kind of effort, this kind of statement of common values crossing many boundaries, where Lutherans have and can continue to make a contribution to that goal stated in the U.N. Charter&#58; &quot;<em>…to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom …&quot;</em><em><strong> </strong></em>and also offer tangible signs in a myriad of ways of&#58; &quot;<em>… a faith that is active in love, a love that seeks justice, and an insight that strives to discern what is right, good, and fitting…&quot; </em>(The Church in Society&#58; A Lutheran Perspective). </p></div>04/01/2015Lenten Reflection: Creating something from nothingStacy Martin, Director for Advocacyhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/126http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/126<div class="ExternalClassA9CC73F4AF8E424E81D22055DF5C3DAB"><table width="100%" class="ms-rteTable-default" cellspacing="0"><tbody><tr><td class="ms-rteTable-default" style="width&#58;100%;"><p><em>&quot;They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.&quot;</em></p><p style="text-align&#58;right;"><em>Mark 6&#58;42-44&#160;(NRSV)</em></p><p>Like Thomas Jefferson, I've never seemed to have much patience for the Bible's miracle stories. They're difficult to deal with. To my modern mind, it's hard to imagine that seas can part, food can appear from nowhere and that the dead can be raised.</p><p><img alt="stacy headshot.JPG" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/stacy%20headshot.JPG" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;140px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;left;" />It's so tempting for me, in my very modern way, to domesticate miracles – like reducing the feeding of the 5,000 miracle to an idyllic picnic or desert potluck. Not that thousands of human beings sharing isn't miraculous. It is. In the four Gospels, there are six accounts of this miracle. Six! It must be too important a story for it to be about people sharing their lunches. Miracles are tricky that way.</p><p>In the Gospel of John account of the miracle of feeding the crowd, the disciples estimate that the crowd is so large that not even six months' worth of paychecks would be enough money to feed the mass of people assembled. By expressing the amount in such stark terms, what I think the disciples are really saying is, &quot;We don't have enough money to feed all these people.&quot; And Jesus is saying, &quot;Exactly. Isn't that great?&quot;<br>Isn't that just like Jesus?</p><p>One disciple retorts with what I hear as screaming sarcasm. &quot;There's a boy with five loaves and two fish,&quot; he says. Imagine! Five thousand hungry people on the side of a mountain, and only five loaves and two fish in sight to feed them with. But it seems that this is exactly what Jesus wanted. The funny thing about God is that <strong>we are called to be God's hands in the world at precisely those times when there's a whole lot of nothing to work with; which is to say, God calls us all of the time.</strong> God even sets God's communion table so that we come with nothing. It seems that God likes it best that way.</p><p>God also likes to turn things on their heads. Jesus' disciples, who expected to be the ones to provide what was needed, found themselves surprisingly dependent upon the generosity of a small child. The Gospels' accounts of this miracle indicate that the boy gave over his lunch with the kind of abandon and generosity that we only associate with God. It is just the kind of juxtaposition that God seems to enjoy best. Jesus' faith is placed in a little child to stave off what might become a riot if the crowd is not fed. This is the same kind of juxtaposition we find ourselves in as church when we advocate in the halls of power in Washington, D.C.</p><p>This story about feeding 5,000 with so little is, among other things, a story about perspective. The disciples' main mistake in this story, I think, is that they have no idea what it is that they have. Namely, they have a God who can feed many on nothing. A God who created the universe out of nothing. A God who put flesh on the nothingness of dry bones. <strong>&quot;Nothing&quot; is God's favorite material to work with. Perhaps God looks upon that which we dismiss as &quot;nothing,&quot; &quot;insignificant,&quot; &quot;worthless,&quot; and says, &quot;HA! Now THAT is something I can work with!&quot;</strong></p><p>It is our poverty that we are asked to bring to God, not our treasure, because whether we think we have it all or we think we have nothing, we are all of us beggars fed at the table of God's mercy. What do we have? Five loaves, a couple of fish? Not much. We believe that even when we want to make a difference in the world, we have to arrive fully prepared, fully equipped and fully funded.</p><p>I hear often from church folk and non-church folk alike that Lutherans, any faith community for that matter, can make no real difference in Washington. &quot;Why bother?&quot; I'm asked. Compared to big lobbying firms and corporations, they have a point. By comparison, we don't have money, or connections, or power, or, often, technical expertise. What do we have? Five loves, a couple of fish? Only a smidge shy of nothing even on our most prosperous days.</p><p>It's on the darkest of days when even bishops suggest that all is hopeless in the halls of power, when I'm dismissed by a member of Congress because I don't come with deep pockets, when I'm ridiculed by a think tank because I attend to this work from a place of faith and not a place of &quot;real&quot; expertise, when I've received the tenth angry letter from a fellow Lutheran who is frustrated with me for even considering advocacy as a legitimate vocation, when I feel that we as the church simply don't have enough power to change things for the better. It's on those darkest days that I re-read this miracle story.</p><p>This tricky little miracle story – the one told six times over in the Bible – says otherwise to the &quot;why bothers&quot; of the world. In this story we glimpse God's inverted economy of free bread and fish paid for by, you guessed it, nothing. This is part of the juxtaposition I mentioned earlier. It is out of nothing that God will create something, even something as big as justice and peace. It is a tricky little miracle for sure.</p><p><strong>In the last days before Easter, as we await the biggest miracle of them all – the bringing forth of life from the vast nothingness of death – may we remember that our nothingness is all that God asks or needs.</strong></p></td></tr></tbody></table></div>03/27/2015Living Earth Reflections: ​Water for the CityMary Minette, Director for Environmental Education and Advocacyhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/125http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/125<div class="ExternalClass11E73207FAA643F6A1E047C488174587"><p><em>&quot;Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city.&quot;</em></p><p style="text-align&#58;right;">Revelation 22&#58;1-2</p><p>Just as the crystal water of the river of life is central to the shining city of New Jerusalem, clean and abundant water is a critical component of economic development and fruitful life in communities around the world. Each week <a href="http&#58;//www.unwater.org/worldwaterday/home/en/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">an estimated one million people</span></a><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;"> </span>move into the world's cities. This places an increased demand on water supplies and infrastructure such as pipes, sewers and treatment plants. Many cities, even cities in our wealthy country, have inadequate water systems&#58; old pipes that can easily break, aging treatment plants that put water quality at risk, and sewer systems that pollute water supplies during heavy rains. Increased demand from new urban dwellers only adds to this problem. The addition of earth's changing climate, with its floods, droughts, rising seas and melting glaciers, adds another layer of complexity.</p><p>To meet the needs of growing populations now and in the future, cities will need to build more sustainable, and more weather resilient water systems.</p><p>The large and sprawling city of Los Angeles is facing water infrastructure challenges that are exacerbated by California's <a href="http&#58;//www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/03/02/record-california-drought-linked-to-climate-change"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">long term drought</span></a>, now in its third year. <a href="http&#58;//thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/08/19/3473183/los-angeles-water-cops-slides-pipes-drought/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">L. A.</span></a><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;"> </span>has dramatically reduced water consumption per capita over the last 40 years, with the city using around the same amount of water now as it did then but with a much larger population. Los Angeles uses less water per capita than any other large U.S. city—about 123 gallons per person per day. Recent mandatory restrictions and price increases have reduced water usage 23 percent since 2009.</p><p>However, L.A.'s water infrastructure is in need of crucial repairs— a problem it shares with <a href="http&#58;//thevalueofwater.org/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">other cities</span></a> across the U.S. that contributes significantly to wasted water nationwide. With about one million feet of pipes that are a century old, L.A.'s water utility is currently replacing them at a rate of once every 300 years due, in large part, to the high cost and difficulty of replacing underground infrastructure. And L.A. is not an isolated example of aging infrastructure. In 2013 the <a href="http&#58;//www.infrastructurereportcard.org/a/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">American Society of Civil Engineers</span></a> gave our country's drinking water and wastewater infrastructures &quot;D&quot; grades, noting that without significant investment now, we risk water quality for our communities in the future.</p><p>Other cities around the world face similar problems, but may lack the means to tackle them. <a href="http&#58;//www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/26/us-peru-climate-idUSBRE83P1H820120426"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Lima, Peru</span></a> is one of the driest world capitals, with a large and growing population and average annual rainfall of less than half an inch. Lacking its own water resources, the city depends on <a href="http&#58;//ella.practicalaction.org/alliances/uploadFile/uploads/learning/discussions/InterviewwithRossana62986.pdf"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">diverse sources</span></a> that include rain and glacier melt from the mountains and water transfers from the Amazon basin. As a result of climate change, all these water sources are under threat. </p><p>But Lima's water faces other challenges. Once water reaches the city, it is often used in inefficient ways. For example, potable water is routinely used to irrigate green spaces, and only 10% of the city's treated wastewater is reused for irrigation. The city lacks sufficient infrastructure to serve its population; <a href="http&#58;//www.marketwatch.com/story/tight-water-supply-seen-threatening-limas-growth-2012-09-26"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">about a million people</span></a> don't have access to running water, while another million residents have their supply cut off periodically. Observers estimate that 30% to 40% of water is lost in the system through leaks and theft. Despite being in a desert, the per capita use of water in Lima is double that of some European capitals in part due to this waste and inefficiency. </p><p>If both Los Angeles and Lima are to grow and thrive, they will need to replace and build water systems that not only meet current needs for water, but also ensure a sufficient supply of clean water for future needs. The water system of the future will not just need to deliver water to homes and businesses— it will need to be resilient to a changing climate by better managing wastewater, preventing waste throughout the system, and adopting new technologies to meet and reduce demand. </p><p>Meeting these goals comes with a hefty price tag, but in Lima and L.A. leaders are already planning to invest in new systems. <a href="http&#58;//www.sgvtribune.com/general-news/20150319/governor-legislature-ante-up-1-billion-to-fight-california-drought"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Last week</span></a>, California Governor Jerry Brown and the state legislature announced that they are setting aside $1 billion to tackle the state's drought-related water problems, including infrastructure challenges like those in L.A. <a href="http&#58;//www.marketwatch.com/story/tight-water-supply-seen-threatening-limas-growth-2012-09-26"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Lima's water system</span></a> is planning to spend $2.3 billion in the next five years to replace aging infrastructure and expanding services to residents that don't have access to running water. As these changes take shape, advocates for low income citizens in both cities will be challenged to ensure that the costs of necessary innovations do not put clean water out of the reach of those with the least means.</p><p>Yesterday, on March 22, the U.N. celebrated World Water Day, and this year's theme is Water and Sustainable Development. On this World Water Day, let us give thanks to God, our creator, for the gift of water, but also pray that our communities take the time to think about how to manage this precious gift sustainably and equitably so that it continues to bless our communities well into the future.</p><p>&#160;</p></div>03/23/2015Lenten Reflection: Walking with our brothers and sisters in Central AmericasAlaide Vilchis Ibarra, Assistant Director, Migration Policy and Advocacyhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/124http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/124<div class="ExternalClassDAE5436995C94834A9B51A4161EC04F1"><p><em>&quot;Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the Lord your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.&quot;</em> </p><p style="text-align&#58;right;">– Deuteronomy 31&#58;6 </p><p><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;"><img alt="Alaide Headshot 1.JPG" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/Alaide%20Headshot%201.JPG" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;240px;height&#58;272px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;right;" /></span>For many Christians, Lent is a time of spiritual renewal and preparation for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. My preparation had to do with being a witness to the causes of migration in Central America. A few weeks ago, I traveled with ELCA leaders to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to learn more about the reasons why children and families are fleeing their countries of origin and to better understand what happens when they are deported. What we saw and heard continues to stay with me – not only because the violence faced in these countries is worse than I imagined, but also because many of those we met stood with strength and boldness through incredibly difficult situations. We heard over and over how faith and belief that God is with them provides this strength. </p><p>As we listened to stories, met with government and non-government officials and prayed with people in these communities, I kept thinking about my favorite song about Latin America (watch the amazing video <a href="https&#58;//www.youtube.com/watch?v=DkFJE8ZdeG8"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">here</span></a>) that includes the line &quot;un pueblo sin piernas pero que camina,&quot; which translates to &quot;a community without legs but that still walks.&quot; I have always thought that this line the best way to summarize the communities in Latin America that I grew up in. They were communities where many people went hungry or didn't have proper housing or running water, where many felt their voice didn't count. But still, people helped each other and many worked to fix what they saw was broken. <strong>They walked.</strong></p><p>In the communities we visited, I witnessed similar experiences. People face violence from gang members, military, police and other government forces that work with criminals or narco-traffickers. Many of the members in their communities also live in poverty and are forced to pay an ongoing fee to gangs to avoid being targeted. Yet many of the people we heard from also highlighted the beauty of their countries and their appreciation for the people. Many were also working to reform the systems that keep violence and poverty alive or the corruption that feeds those same systems. <strong>They walk.</strong></p><p>It always troubles me when I write about the strength of communities without also pointing out that there are many people who feel defeated. We also met with people who weren't sure what they could do, and the toll of the violence weighed on them heavily. We prayed with them and I, at times, still feel defeated with them when I think of all of the forces that work together to push people out of their communities of origin while also working to strip them from their rights as they journey.</p><p>All the people we met knew someone who had migrated and many knew people who left their home because they were going to be killed if they didn't. These people left their communities and sometimes their countries to survive. They left in the middle of the night and many walked through areas controlled by narco-traffickers. Some knew of the dangers that would face them in Mexico, and some didn't. They had hopes of a better life, but also a safe life. Many of them were returned, most from Mexico, but continued to face the same country they had to leave.</p><p><strong>Let us walk together, and with God, for positive change.</strong></p><p>I left with a sense that we all need to walk together in order to change these conditions that force people to migrate and cause governments to ignore human dignity. I am driven to learn from experts, service providers and people in these countries and help amplify the voices of my brothers and sisters. Our travel to Central America was a time of preparation to be bold in our witness to the stories. Please join us in bearing witness by signing up for <a href="http&#58;//www.capwiz.com/elca/mlm/signup/?ignore_cookie=1"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">updates from our network</span></a>, where you will hear more about the work that came out of our trip. Also, please continue to pray with your congregation and community for the women and children who are forced to migrate.</p><p><strong>May God walk with us as we continue letting decision-makers know the stories we heard. May God walk with those we met as they continue to fight for safer countries and dignity for all people. May we all be strong and bold. </strong><strong>&#160;</strong></p></div>03/19/2015