ELCA Advocacyhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/American by Grace, Compassionate by ActionSean Bonawitz, ELCA Advocacyhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/138http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/138<div class="ExternalClass8A90DD4296454CC594600DF19E7265BC"><h3>Rethinking Perspectives of Migration in The Northern Triangle</h3><p>We do not choose where we live, who our families are, or the time that we are born into. We are thrown into the mystery of life. Some land gracefully while others crash and crash hard. For those of us who are born as citizens of the U.S.A., our environment is a stable one. Not without its own challenges, but with general safety. Life is difficult at times for all, but have you ever felt a strong enough presence of danger that forced you to flee from your home? Rarely do we ever look across the Gulf and wonder what our lives would be like had they begun in Honduras, Guatemala, or El Salvador; the Northern Triangle of Central America.&#160; </p><p>Children and families in the Northern Triangle continue to leave their homes due to complex and interrelated reasons, including chronic violence, poverty, environmental displacement and lack of opportunities. These problems are exacerbated by the failure of governments to address these issues, leaving many with no choice but to flee. Children are forcibly recruited and targeted by gangs as they cross gang territories to attend school. Many business owners are forced to pay a &quot;protection&quot; fee to criminal actors to avoid harm. Although numbers of migrant children and families at the U.S.-Mexican Border have dropped significantly this past year, deportations and detentions of Central Americans along the Southern Mexico Border have increased drastically due to Mexico's <a href="http&#58;//www.wola.org/news/mexico_now_detains_more_central_american_migrants_than_the_united_states"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;"><em>2014 Southern Border Plan</em></span></a>, which is backed by the United States. </p><p>Why do we continue to prevent Central Americans access to the protection our nation's stability has to offer? It is possible we have been labeling migrants from the Northern Triangle incorrectly. So far we have refused to identify them as needing international protection or <em>refugees</em>, but rather, have colloquially categorized these children and families as &quot;illegal immigrants&quot;. The <a href="http&#58;//www.unhcr.org/3b66c2aa10.html"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;"><em>1951 Refugee Convention</em></span></a> under Article 1(A)2 says, &quot;the term <em>refugee</em> shall apply to any person who fear(s) being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion&quot;. Although persecution via gang violence does qualify many of these people for international protection, most children and family members do not qualify as textbook <em>refugees</em>, and fail to receive adequate aid. Why are these persecuted children and family members not regarded as deserving of this legal status? In a region where homicide rates and gang violence run rampant, fleeing from a community culture such as this should qualify these people as <em>refugees</em>.</p><p>Those of us who were born in America were handed this privilege by chance, not choice. As one of our founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, once proclaimed, &quot;We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights&quot;. We are endowed with, we were gifted these rights as humans and people of God. Our privilege as Americans is that we, as a nation, persistently fight for these values. So why should we deny these rights to others who actively seek acknowledgement of their unalienable rights? Should we not embrace our neighbor with open arms? </p><p>We as Americans should provide a safe haven for these refugees and welcome our neighbors, who have shown extreme bravery, courage, and faith. We should listen to the words in Philippians 2&#58;4 which states, &quot;Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others&quot;.&#160; We should welcome refugees, as we previously have, and continue the idea of America as &quot;The Great Salad Bowl&quot; of diverse communities. America was founded and forged by immigrant communities. We should not turn away those who seek life, liberty and pursue happiness. </p></div>07/13/2015ELCA Advocacy Update - July 2015ELCA Advocacyhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/137http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/137<div class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3"><p><em>Lutherans are taking action across the country! Below you will find our monthly State Advocacy Newsletter. Share with your friends!</em></p><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>​​​Washington, D.C.</strong></h3><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Advocacy Director, Stacy Martin</strong></h3><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/advocacy"><strong></strong></a><strong><a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/advocacy">www.elca.org/advocacy</a></strong><a></a><a></a><strong></strong></h3><p>&#160;</p><p class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;left;"><strong><img alt="ELCA ADVOCACY LOGO.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/ELCA%20ADVOCACY%20LOGO.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;110px;float&#58;left;" /></strong><strong>Vatican Encyclical &quot;Laudato Si&quot;</strong>&#58; &#160;On June 18 Vatican officials released &quot;Laudato Si,&quot; an <a href="http&#58;//w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">encyclical letter on caring for creation</span></a>. In the encyclical, Pope Francis I places a special emphasis on our moral obligation to address the growing threats to our world caused by climate change. Arriving shortly before the upcoming global climate summit in Paris, the pope's encyclical affirms that climate change is largely a man-made dilemma, and is a principal challenge facing humanity today. Immediately after its release, ELCA <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/News-and-Events/7752"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, praised the encyclical</span></a> noting parallels to our own social statement &quot;Caring for Creation.&quot; Bishop Eaton also called for action to help less-privileged nations that must now face the most brutal effects of climate change. </p><p><strong>Smarter Sentencing Act</strong>&#58; ELCA Advocacy took action earlier this month to support The Smarter Sentencing Act, now in the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, as part of our ongoing effort to address mass incarceration and racial justice in our communities. The bipartisan Smarter Sentencing Act makes modest reforms to our justice system by alleviating overcrowding in our prisons, restoring the ability of federal judges to determine fairer and more realistic sentences, and creating more transparency about how federal laws and regulations are applied. You can <a href="http&#58;//www.capwiz.com/elca/issues/alert/?alertid=66454626"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">take action now at the ELCA Action Center</span></a>. </p><p><strong>Mexico and Central America</strong>&#58; This month, members of ELCA Advocacy and the churchwide organization staff traveled to Mexico to learn about the detainment and treatment of migrant children and families from Central America. Staff met with civil society leaders and government officials to learn more about the ongoing crisis. <img alt="1.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/1.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;250px;height&#58;135px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;left;" />This visit came in the wake of the Obama administration's ongoing foreign policy discussion that continues to focus on encouraging increased border security measures by the Mexican and Central American governments without acknowledging the immediate need to protect migrants who are forced to flee. ELCA Advocacy continues to urge lawmakers to <a href="http&#58;//www.capwiz.com/elca/issues/alert/?alertid=66134716#sthash.jTLYCkXB.dpuf"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">support the protection and human rights of all God's children</span></a> and will be releasing a full report on the findings in Mexico within the coming weeks. </p><p><strong>Mother Emanuel AME in Charleston, S.C.</strong>&#58; &#160;Presiding Bishop Eaton and leaders of the ELCA offered their prayers to the victims of the Mother Emanuel AME tragedy earlier this month. Two of the victims, including the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, were graduates of the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, an ELCA seminary in Columbia, S.C. Bishop Eaton, who later attended Pinckey's funeral, <a href="http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/long_season_of_disquiet_letter.pdf?_ga=1.216214484.378179692.1424451403"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">reaffirmed in a statement</span></a> the immediate urgency to address racism as a society and as a church. ELCA Advocacy recognizes that we cannot truly seek justice and peace through advocacy without being committed to ending racism. We commit ourselves to working toward this goal and ask that you join us in this effort. Follow our Advocacy efforts and <a href="https&#58;//www.elca.org/Our-Work/Publicly-Engaged-Church/Racial-Justice-Ministries"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">ELCA Racial Justice Ministries</span></a> to learn how you can join in the conversation. </p><p><strong><img alt="2.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/2.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;150px;height&#58;151px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;right;" />The Endangered Species Act</strong><strong>&#58; </strong>On June 25, ELCA Environmental Policy Director Mary Minette was on a panel of experts about our moral obligation to care for creation by protecting endangered species. The event was attended by Senate and coalition-partner staff. In her message, Mary reaffirmed our religious calling to be stewards of nature by caring for creatures and the environments around them. To protect God's creation, we must make environment-friendly choices as well as advocate for continuing the Endangered Species Act, which is, as Mary put it, &quot;a modern-day Noah's ark.&quot;&#160;&#160; </p><p class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;">____________________</p><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;">New York, NY</h3><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Dennis Frado​, Lutheran Office for World Community</strong></h3><h4></h4><p><strong>Ministerium meeting at LOWC</strong><strong>&#58;</strong> On May 12, LOWC welcomed the Lutheran pastors from Manhattan to the Church Center for the United Nations. The meeting of the ELCA Manhattan Ministerium Conference started with worship on social justice under the heading &quot;Sing a new song to the Lord.&quot; Afterward the ministers had an opportunity to learn about the work of the Lutheran office and discussed possible areas of cooperation. The LOWC staff also expressed their offer to visit congregations that are interested in our work to the United Nations. </p><p><strong>Peace Not Walls gathering</strong><strong>&#58;</strong>&#160; About 30 members of the Peace Not Walls network gathered in mid-June at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio to discuss recent activities and future work plans. They shared ideas for synod engagement, heard reports on advocacy activities, proposed teleconferences with speakers from the Holy Land, heard updates about future young adult trips to the region, discussed the intersections of work between Peace Not Walls and racial justice and received an update about staff efforts to explore &quot;positive investment&quot; in connection with the 2013 Churchwide Assembly request.</p><p><strong>Lutheran World Federation Council meeting</strong><strong>&#58;</strong> As has become the custom, Dennis Frado served as co-opted staff for several of the committees of the annual meeting of the Lutheran World Federation Council when it met last month in Chavannes-de-Bogis, near Geneva, Switzerland. The council adopted four public statements and four resolutions. The public statements were on climate justice, protracted conflicts and over-stretched humanitarian response, the situation in Tanah Papua (West Papua, Indonesia) and the sin of racism (in response to the shooting in South Carolina).&#160; The <a href="https&#58;//www.lutheranworld.org/blog/lwf-council-makes-strong-resolutions-international-issues"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">four resolutions</span></a> covered the Middle East, Migrants, the post-2015 Development Agenda and the recent Nigeria elections.&#160; </p><p><strong>Unaccompanied and migrant children consultation</strong><strong>&#58;</strong> Following a number of conversations with synodical bishops, the ELCA Church Council and others, the churchwide organization called together a consultation last month to provide input for a proposed churchwide unaccompanied and migrant children initiative. Dennis is serving on the writing team to prepare the document related to the initiative with Alaide Vilchis Ibarra of the ELCA Advocacy office and Megan Brandsrud, program interpreter for Lutheran Disaster Response.&#160; It is expected to be reviewed by the Conference of Bishops later this year and be considered by the Church Council at one of its future meetings.</p><p class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"></span><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"><span style="text-align&#58;center;line-height&#58;20.79px;">____________________</span>​</span></p><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>California</strong></h3><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Mark Carlson, Lutheran Office of Public Policy</strong></h3><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><a href="http&#58;//www.loppca.org/"><strong>www.loppca.org</strong></a><strong>​</strong></h3><h4></h4><p>Sadness about Emanuel AME is mixed with good feelings about a state budget that includes a new state Earned Income Tax Credit, over $300 million in new funding for preschool and child care, health insurance coverage for undocumented children, resources to assist immigrant integration into society, and money for access to scarce water in disadvantaged communities as the drought worsens.&#160; There is good news about housing, as the first grants of carbon cap-and-trade funds were announced under the <a href="http&#58;//www.sgc.ca.gov/docs/Attachment_B_Summary_of_AHSC_Recommendations.pdf"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Affordable Homes and Sustainable Communities</span></a> program, with more to come.&#160; LOPP-CA was part of the collective effort needed to achieve this progress.</p><p><img alt="3.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/3.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;200px;height&#58;150px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;left;" />On Friday following the Charleston massacre, LOPP-CA Director Mark Carlson attended a prayer service at Murph-Emmanuel AME (site of a former ELCA congregation) and left Bishop Eaton's statement and spoke with the pastor of St. Andrew's AME, the oldest AME church west of the Mississippi. </p><p>On his own time, Mark went with family to see<em> </em>&quot;Inside Out,&quot; a <a href="https&#58;//www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MC3XuMvsDI"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">&quot;a major emotion picture,&quot;</span></a>the Pixar-animated tale of Riley Anderson, age 11, who moves from Minnesota, where her &quot;core memories&quot; were made, with her parents to more diverse &quot;San Franstinktown.&quot; Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust live in her head.&#160; She is engaged with Islands of Friendship, Family, and Honesty, among others, which crumble as she and her family try to adapt to a new life. Joy and Sadness work in grace for renewal, including a new Island of Friendly Argumentation, what we might call &quot;moral deliberation.&quot; </p><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><span style="text-align&#58;center;line-height&#58;20.79px;"></span><span style="text-align&#58;center;line-height&#58;20.79px;"><span style="text-align&#58;center;line-height&#58;20.79px;">____________________</span>​</span><br></strong><strong></strong></h3><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Colorado</strong></h3><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Peter Severson, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry – Colorado&#160;</strong></h3><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><a href="http&#58;//www.lam-co.org/"><strong>www.lam-co.org</strong></a></h3><h4></h4><p><strong>Self-Sufficiency Standard&#58;</strong> The Colorado Center on Law &amp; Policy recently released the 2015 Colorado Self-Sufficiency Standard, a measure of how expensive it is to live in Colorado. Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-Colorado was present at the launch event alongside many other interest groups. The standard calculates the income required for a family to meet basic needs without assistance. On average, costs increased by 32 percent across Colorado between 2001 and 2015. While the amount needed to be self-sufficient varies considerably by geography, 7 out of 10 of the most common occupations in Colorado pay median wages below the standard. Closing that gap will require both reducing costs and raising incomes, both of which will be part of LAM-CO's economic policy agenda for the 2016 legislative session.</p><p><strong>Other events</strong>&#58; LAM-CO Director Peter Severson was invited to give the benediction at the graduation of the Family Leadership Training Institute, a civic engagement program run by the Department of Public Health. Severson shared the stage with more than 100 graduates as well as Secretary of State Wayne Williams. Severson also recently attended the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative annual summit, took part in the commissioning of summer staff at Sky Ranch Lutheran Camp, and participated in Together Colorado's summit of Denver faith leaders at Shorter Community AME Church.</p><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"></span><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"><span style="text-align&#58;center;line-height&#58;20.79px;">____________________</span></span></strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong></strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>​Minnesota</strong><br><strong>Tammy Walhoff, Lutheran Advocacy - Minnesota</strong><br><a href="mailto&#58;tammy@lcppm.org"><strong>tammy@lcppm.org</strong></a><strong>&#160;&#160;</strong></h3><h4></h4></div><div class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3"><p><strong>The legislative special session&#58;</strong> Gov. Mark Dayton had been cut out of negotiation processes through much of the session and vetoed three funding bills, necessitating a special session. A month of negotiations finally reached adequate agreement to call the special session, though even then it was not a smooth process. LA-MN's priority issues saw little change, although both housing and clean energy were in a vetoed bill.</p><p><strong>Homes for all priorities (final)&#58; </strong>The coalition, supported by grassroots action, secured a&#160;$25.5 million boost for&#160;housing&#160;and homeless services (including $10 million in bonds for housing). Homeless Youth programing increased $1 million per year. New funds will help thousands of Minnesotans access safe, stable and affordable&#160;housing. (For funding table, click&#160;<a href="http&#58;//r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=001DgFlUqDP-Dxpd2ntkqj96Di_ZPnS3LBd6fM0nOQPtSUW3RHcz-2vv5wdrwKXKDSslv4oTKFWkShKnE3ZhMipYDhD7NKgd2fLjbF-mDLzCmnQOSpHUmxJ1BblG7bxNDixZzBHKT9-oL4_vBi0LsBWvnq_N3Nn54f8m1tFnQ4ZyGW6EbfpagLybsK7bm91csiO3rBt5M-NG_VjQmjW2bMDjCycYoiriWaqGa5YxQ8cz4g=&amp;c=8p1i1wOL-JqoyLhQTdS0bQU56p_nBlAPKxJpuDES2oTUGI9jrMqtfQ==&amp;ch=mBFmLS335NEitOKnaH80v_rB6QQM9OLOJsXyUTS8X8N_HdRzDD3biA=="><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">here</span></a>, and find the full bill&#160;<a href="http&#58;//r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=001DgFlUqDP-Dxpd2ntkqj96Di_ZPnS3LBd6fM0nOQPtSUW3RHcz-2vv5wdrwKXKDSsN-GX-EvtJsePc6R5bDzP8DRd_b3d9WxBQWEJmt5Ok5-N8ZV3fLKWolvMzdYajLVZ9rSgDn21E_X889sRlHwJLFNtAat3_HUQK907p8jVQLq6oBXP3WoCmSx97f4QB6jemMIlMzzPy8m2hT1vfIiIrkles5JZGW07bsKUnUJmylb9KqWhlTh5zkWGmuvJgxO6ARAdUFRk-7oY58w3Tb4o5c-v3bi-VdO2mDXlcKpS2ROfHVIIKa9ggg==&amp;c=8p1i1wOL-JqoyLhQTdS0bQU56p_nBlAPKxJpuDES2oTUGI9jrMqtfQ==&amp;ch=mBFmLS335NEitOKnaH80v_rB6QQM9OLOJsXyUTS8X8N_HdRzDD3biA=="><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">here</span></a>.)&#160;</p><p><strong>Clean energy (final)&#58;</strong> There were no improvements to the Renewable Energy Standard or energy efficiency (original goal). Success became stopping roll-backs taking Minnesota significantly backward. The <a href="http&#58;//www.cleanenergyjobs.mn/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/FaithLeaderLtr-CleanEnergy2015-MEDIA-FINAL.pdf"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">faith leader letter</span></a> (see May update) played a significant role in that regard.</p><p><strong>Papal encyclical</strong><strong>&#58;</strong> LA-MN used news of the new encyclical to draw attention to the ELCA social statement on the care of creation. Plans are to use the encyclical for study, to emphasize our stewardship role, and to tie poverty to climate and environmental degradation.</p><p><strong>Synod-related activities&#58;</strong><strong> </strong>LA-MN Director Tammy Walhof led a workshop on housing, homeless youth and advocacy at the Southwestern Minnesota Synod.</p><p><strong>Continuing education</strong><strong>&#58; </strong>&#160;A theological retreat with colleagues, focused on Dietrich Bonhoeffer's &quot;Ethics,&quot; made for interesting reflection in the advocacy context.</p><p>Twitter&#58; <a href="https&#58;//twitter.com/LuthAdvocacyMN"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">@LuthAdvocacyMN</span></a>&#160;&#160; <a href="https&#58;//www.facebook.com/pages/Lutheran-Advocacy-Minnesota/100113576746897"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Facebook</span></a></p><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><font color="#444444" face="Segoe UI"></font></h3></div><h3 class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"></span><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"><span style="text-align&#58;center;line-height&#58;20.79px;">____________________</span></span></strong></h3><div class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3" style="text-align&#58;center;">&#160;</div><h3 class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>​New Mexico</strong></h3><h3 class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Ruth Hoffman, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry – New Mexico&#160;</strong></h3><h3 class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><a href="http&#58;//www.lutheranadvocacynm.org/">www.lutheranadvocacynm.org</a></strong><br>&#160;</h3><p class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3"><strong><img alt="4.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/4.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;200px;height&#58;150px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;left;" />Learning about advocacy ministry&#58;</strong>&#160; Youth from Peace and Trinity Lutheran churches in Las Cruces stopped at the Roundhouse, as the New Mexico state Capitol is nicknamed, on their &quot;mystery trip.&quot;&#160; LAM-NM Director Ruth Hoffman spoke to the group about advocacy ministry in a legislative committee room where they were able to sit in the legislators' chairs and learn about how to be involved in advocacy. Ruth also took them on a tour of the Capitol.&#160; Thanks to Laura Carson, AIM and the Christian education and youth ministry director at Peace Lutheran for inviting LAM-NM to be a part of the adventure.</p><p class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3"><strong><img alt="5.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/5.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;171px;height&#58;150px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;right;" />Ecumenical connections</strong>&#58;<strong>&#160; </strong>Rocky Mountain Synod Bishop Jim Gonia and LAM-NM Director Ruth Hoffman were part of the ecumenical and interfaith attendees at the installation of the new archbishop of Santa Fe. The Most Rev. John C. Wester comes to the archdiocese from Salt Lake City where he served as bishop and worked in partnership with local ELCA pastors on issues of immigration and poverty.&#160; Utah is within the territory of the Rocky Mountain Synod so we look forward to continuing our partnership with Archbishop Wester.</p><h3 class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"></span><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"><span style="text-align&#58;center;line-height&#58;20.79px;">____________________</span></span></strong></h3><div class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3" style="text-align&#58;center;">&#160;</div><h3 class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>​Ohio</strong></h3><h3 class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Nick Bates, The Faith Coalition for the Common Good&#160;</strong></h3><h3 class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3" style="text-align&#58;center;"><a href="mailto&#58;nick@oneohionow.org"><strong>nick@oneohionow.org</strong></a></h3><p>Gov. John Kasich signed the Ohio budget on Tuesday, June 30. Faith advocates are pleased that the conference committee restored Medicaid services for pregnant women up to 200 percent of the poverty level, removed a last minute amendment that would have cut homeless and affordable housing programs in half, and increased funding for emergency food banks. Faith advocates in Ohio will continue to advocate for increased access to emergency cash assistance, more equitable school funding, and a more progressive state tax system – including a refundable Earned Income Tax Credit to help lift Ohio families out of poverty. For more information, please contact Nick Bates at <a href="mailto&#58;batesyep@gmail.com">batesyep@gmail.com</a>.</p><h3 class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"></span><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"><span style="text-align&#58;center;line-height&#58;20.79px;">____________________</span></span></strong></h3><div class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3" style="text-align&#58;center;">&#160;</div><h3 class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Pennsylvania</strong></h3><h3 class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Amy Reumann, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania&#160;</strong></h3><div class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3" style="text-align&#58;center;"><h3><strong>Tracey DePasquale, Associate Director</strong></h3></div><h3 class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3" style="text-align&#58;center;"><a href="http&#58;//www.lutheranadvocacypa.org/"><strong>www.lutheranadvocacypa.org</strong></a></h3><p class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3"><img alt="6.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/6.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;225px;height&#58;150px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;left;" />As the July 1 budget deadline looms without promise of being met, Lutheran advocates are making their voices heard in the Capitol. </p><p class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3">LAMPa led a prayer service on the Capitol steps June 23 in conjunction with a rally by the Campaign for Fair Education Funding and a faith-based organizing fast. Lutherans from around the state joined in the day of advocacy.&#160; The Rev. Carlton Rodgers, Philadelphia, preached on the Capitol steps.&#160; <img alt="7.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/7.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;300px;height&#58;169px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;right;" /><a href="http&#58;//www.lutheranadvocacypa.org/a-moral-imperative-to-act-for-fair-funding-a-sermon/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Read his stirring sermon.</span></a> The Rev. David Byerly, Shamokin, a LAMPa policy council member, spoke at the press conference. Both called for an end to the injustice of the state's record of being the worst in the nation for school funding equity. </p><p class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3">The LAMPa network responded quickly to help stall a bill that would have created a lifetime ban for those with felony drug offenses from receiving nutrition benefits. Lutheran advocates have also been active in alerting lawmakers against supporting another bill that would legalize payday lending. </p><p class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3">LAMPa submitted <a href="http&#58;//www.lutheranadvocacypa.org/lampa-testifies-in-favor-of-death-penalty-moratorium/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">testimony in support of the death penalty moratorium</span></a> and assisted in publishing a <a href="http&#58;//www.lutheranadvocacypa.org/pa-bishops-support-anti-discrimination-bill/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">letter from the state's seven bishops</span></a> in support of legislation to prohibit discrimination in areas of employment, housing and public accommodation on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. Staff attended seven assemblies, which included advocacy-related <a href="http&#58;//www.lutheranadvocacypa.org/pennsylvania-synods-adopt-resolutions-on-food-insecurity-lgbt-discrimination-clean-energy-and-eco-reformation/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">resolutions on hunger, non-discrimination and the environment.</span></a></p><p class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3">&#160;LAMPa also equipped confirmation campers for their calling to strive for justice and a trip to Washington, D.C., where they advocated for clean water and child nutrition. </p><h3 class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"></span><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"><span style="text-align&#58;center;line-height&#58;20.79px;">____________________</span>​</span></strong></h3><h3 class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong></strong></h3><h3 class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Virginia</strong></h3><h3 class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Charles Swadley</strong></h3><h3 class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; </strong></h3><h3 class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><a href="http&#58;//www.virginiainterfaithcenter.org/">www.virginiainterfaithcenter.org</a></strong></h3><p class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3">On June 30, VICPP's Virginia Consumer Voices for Healthcare program held a highly successful event, &quot;Healthcare Access as a Moral Imperative,&quot; which was co-organized by VICPP's Richmond Chapter. Donations were generated for the Health Wagon, which provides remote-area medical services in Virginia and has been featured on &quot;60 Minutes.&quot; A capacity crowd of more than 150 was called into action for affordable health care access and expansion in Virginia! We are now planning to replicate this event with the two nurses of &quot;60 Minutes&quot; fame in Hampton Roads, Northern VA and Roanoke in the months ahead! </p><p class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3">On June 18, Virginia Interfaith Center members joined people of all faiths at a prayer vigil at Second Baptist Church to trump fears and setbacks associated with the Charleston murders the previous day. Those assembled are organizing for unity and faith in action about the chronic issue and the solutions for hate crimes. </p><p class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3">VICCP joined the Virginia Council of Churches in developing Virginia's <a href="http&#58;//www.virginiainterfaithcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Virginia-Faith-Communities-Condemn-Racist-Murders-in-Charleston.pdf"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">interfaith condemnation</span></a> of the murders in Charleston. &#160;</p><p class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3">Members of VICPP's New River Valley Chapter joined members of the NAACP, Common Cause, and League of Women Voters in a Voting Rights Act rally in Roanoke on June 25. VICPP is joining with the Center for American Progress to produce an Anti-Poverty Summit to be held in the fall in Hampton Roads. VICPP is helping to lead a statewide anti-hunger effort with faith communities and partners, including the ELCA, the Office of the First Lady and the Virginia Poverty Law Center.</p><h3 class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"></span><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"><span style="text-align&#58;center;line-height&#58;20.79px;">____________________</span>​</span></strong></h3><h3 class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong></strong></h3><h3 class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Washington</strong></h3><h3 class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Paul Benz, Faith Action Network&#160;</strong></h3><h3 class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3" style="text-align&#58;center;"><a href="http&#58;//www.fanwa.org/"></a><a href="http&#58;//www.fanwa.org/"><strong>www.fanwa.org</strong></a></h3><p class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3"><strong>Policy&#58;</strong><strong> </strong>The state Legislature, after three special sessions, finally got the 2015-2017 biennial operating budget approved and signed by the governor just before midnight on June 30 – the last of day of the current biennium. The $38.2 billion operating budget (capital and transportation budgets were approved separately on the same night) raised only $185 million in new revenue by eliminating two tax exemptions (Washington state has 600). Funding for the K-12 public school system is under a state Supreme Court order – we await the court's response as to whether this portion of the budget is adequate to fund education. The state education secretary is adamant that it's not enough and does little to change the unfair levy funding system.</p><p class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3">One key policy/revenue-related bill that passed allows counties (by a vote of the people) to raise one-tenth of 1 percent in local sales tax dedicated to housing and mental health services.&#160; </p><p class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3">On the congressional front, our four primary issues are&#58; trade (Trans-Pacific Partnership), Child Nutrition Reauthorization (summer hunger bills), Green Climate Fund, and the International Violence Against Women Act. FAN's goal is to meet with all 12 members of our congressional delegation. A FAN delegation had our first meeting on July 1 with Rep. Derek Kilmer, and later this month we'll meet with Sen. Maria Cantwell.</p><p class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3"><strong>Organizing and programs&#58;</strong><strong> </strong>&#160;FAN's Network of Advocating Faith Communities reached a milestone with our 100<sup>th</sup> faith community joining&#58; Three Rivers Unitarian Universalists in eastern Washington. Our outreach continues with the Muslim community by attending the beginning of Ramadan in an eastern Washington mosque and an interfaith Iftar dinner in a Seattle-area mosque. FAN also released its <a href="http&#58;//fanwa.org/fan-statement-on-shooting-at-mother-emanuel-ame-in-charleston-sc/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">statement on the Charleston murders</span></a> and signed on to the <a href="http&#58;//sccouncil.net/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Statewide Ecumenical Executives statement</span></a>. FAN is in its third program season of the year, which is the convening of our Network of Advocating Faith Communities by 17 geographic clusters around the state. The purpose is to deepen relationships among local faith communities and strengthen our joint advocacy efforts. We're beginning to plan two fall forums on taxation and its role in building a more equitable and sustainable state. Planning is also underway for our annual dinner in November.</p><h3 class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"></span><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"><span style="text-align&#58;center;line-height&#58;20.79px;">____________________</span></span></strong></h3><div class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3" style="text-align&#58;center;">&#160;</div><h3 class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Wisconsin</strong></h3><h3 class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Cindy Crane, Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin&#160;</strong></h3><h3 class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3" style="text-align&#58;center;"><a href="http&#58;//www.loppw.org/" target="_blank"><strong>www.loppw.org</strong></a></h3><p class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3"><strong>State budget&#58; </strong>The Legislature will likely make final decisions about the state budget soon. We are pleased with the $2 million included in the budget to assist youth victims of sex trafficking but are disappointed in some of the deep cuts and the decision to add the requirement for drug testing for recipients of public assistance to the budget.<strong>&#160; </strong></p><p class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3"><strong>Other bills&#58; </strong>The bill that would return 17-year-old non-violent offenders to the juvenile justice system will now be addressed apart from the budget. Safe Harbor, ensuring youth under 18 caught in the sex trade will be treated as victims, has officially become a bill and will likely go to committee later in the summer or fall.</p><p class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3"><strong>Synod assemblies&#58;</strong> LOPPW had a display table and held the following workshops at four synod assemblies&#58; </p><p class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3"><strong><img alt="9.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/9.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;170px;height&#58;82px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;left;" />La Crosse Area Synod&#58;</strong> &quot;How to be an Advocate from a Faith Perspective,&quot; co-led by the director and Council Member Bridget Crave.&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;</p><p class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3"><strong><img alt="10.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/10.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;170px;height&#58;113px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;right;" />Greater Milwaukee Synod</strong>&#58; &quot;Human Trafficking in our Backyard,&quot; led by the director. The Assembly was held at Carthage College. </p><p><strong>Northwest Synod</strong><strong>&#58;</strong> &quot;Advocacy and the Proposed State Budget,&quot; co-led by the director and Council Member the Rev. Diane House.&#160;&#160; <img alt="11.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/11.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;160px;height&#58;120px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;right;" /></p><p><strong><img alt="12.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/12.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;left;" />South-Central Synod</strong>&#58; &quot;Poverty and our State Budget,&quot; co-led by the director and Council Member Lisa Hassenstab.&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; </p><p><strong>Sermon after Charleston deaths</strong>&#58; LOPPW's director <a href="http&#58;//www.loppw.org/wp-content/blogs.dir/45/files/2015/06/Sermon-June-21-2015.pdf"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">preached</span></a> at St. John's Lutheran Church in Madison&#160;on June 21.&#160; </p><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"></span><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"><span style="text-align&#58;center;line-height&#58;20.79px;">____________________</span>​</span></strong></h3><div style="text-align&#58;center;">&#160;</div><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>What advocacy efforts are going on in your synod or state? We want to hear about it!</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Contact us at </strong><a href="mailto&#58;washingtonoffice@elca.org"><strong>washingtonoffice@elca.org</strong></a><strong> ​​</strong></h3><p><br>&#160;</p>07/09/2015Living Earth Reflection: We have no such rightMary Minette, program director, Environmental Policy and Education http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/136http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/136<div class="ExternalClass82E8796276CB4582853673DC703BEA32"><p><span style="font-size&#58;16px;">June 2015</span></p><p><em>But ask the animals, and they will teach you; the birds of the air, and they will tell you; ask the plants of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of every human being</em>. – Job 12&#58;7-10</p><p>Last week, when Pope Francis released his <a href="http&#58;//w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">encyclical</span></a>, &quot;Laudato si,&quot; on care of creation, most of the media attention around the world focused on what he had to say about climate change and how Catholics might react to this message. However, Pope Francis addresses a broad range of issues affecting God's earth in his teaching document, and his call to care for God's creation is addressed to &quot;every person living on this planet,&quot; not just to those of the Catholic faith. This encyclical also reflects many of the same concerns and approaches as the ELCA's &quot;Caring for Creation&quot; social statement. </p><p><strong>One issue that is featured prominently in &quot;Laudato si&quot; is the protection of plants and animals from the threat of extinction. </strong>From the first chapters of Genesis to the end of the book of Revelation, the Scriptures that lie at the core of the Christian faith celebrate creation and our fellow creatures as a gift from God. God calls us into a relationship with our fellow creatures that is one of stewardship and care. God calls us to name &quot;every living creature&quot; – a responsibility that we are still fulfilling as new species are discovered. When God becomes angry with humanity for its corruption and plans to destroy the earth in a cleansing flood, God picks a righteous man, Noah, and tells him to save two of every living creature – a breeding pair – from the waters of the flood along with his own family. After the flood, God makes a covenant not just with humanity but with all creation to never again destroy the earth. And in the book of Job, God tells Job that his fellow creatures have much to teach him about the power of the creator and the connections between all of life.</p><p>The ELCA's social statement on caring for creation notes that <strong>&quot;humans, in service to God, have special roles on behalf of the whole creation. Made in the image of God, we are called to care for the earth as God cares for the earth.&quot; </strong>We are to name the animals, uniting us in relationship, and to love the earth as God loves each of us.</p><p>In &quot;Laudato si,&quot; Pope Francis argues that concern for our fellow creatures and concern for our fellow humans are deeply related&#58; &quot;A sense of deep communion with the rest of nature cannot be real if our hearts lack tenderness, compassion and concern for our fellow human beings … . It follows that our indifference or cruelty towards fellow creatures of this world sooner or later affects the treatment we mete out to other human beings.&quot;</p><p>Today, Earth is losing mammal species at 20 to 100 times the rate in the past – a rate so rapid it could rival the event that killed the dinosaurs. Since 1900, 69 mammal species are believed to have gone extinct, along with about 400 other types of vertebrates. Pollution, habitat destruction, hunting and poaching and increasingly climate change all cause God's creatures to vanish from the earth.</p><p>Pope Francis also describes this extreme rate of extinction in his encyclical&#58;</p><p><em>Each year sees the disappearance of thousands of plant and animal species which we will never know, which our children will never see, because they have been lost forever. The great majority become extinct for reasons related to human activity. Because of us, thousands of species will no longer give glory to God by their very existence, nor convey their message to us. We have no such right. </em></p><p>Earlier this spring a number of media outlets shared pictures of <a href="http&#58;//www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/apr/27/ol-pejeta-kenya-sudan-worlds-last-male-northern-white-rhinoceros"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Sudan</span></a>, the last male northern white rhino on our planet. Sudan lives in a nature preserve in Kenya surrounded by armed guards tasked with protecting him from poachers who want to kill him for his horn (powdered rhino horn sells for as much as $75,000 a kilo). He is 42 years old – rhinos typically live between 40 and 50 years – and so far, attempts to breed him with one of the four remaining female northern white rhinos have failed. </p><p>We are failing in our task of protecting God's creation and our fellow creatures, and by doing so we are failing ourselves and those who come after us. We have no such right. </p><p><strong>Learn more</strong></p><p>In 1973, Congress passed (and President Richard Nixon signed) the federal <a href="http&#58;//www.fws.gov/endangered/laws-policies/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Endangered Species Act</span></a> to protect our nation's native plant and animal species from the threat of extinction. For more than 40 years the act has protected species and their habitats and has dramatically increased populations of iconic species, such as the bald eagle and the grey wolf. Unfortunately, despite its successes, some would like to <a href="http&#58;//www.defenders.org/endangered-species-act/endangered-species-act"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">weaken</span></a> the protections of the act. This is why we must work to fulfill our call to protect all of God's creation.</p></div>06/25/2015ELCA Advocacy Update - June 2015ELCA Advocacyhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/135http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/135<div class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3"><p><em>Lutherans are taking action across the country! Below you will find our monthy State Advocacy Newsletter. Share with your friends!</em></p><p>&#160;</p><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>​​​Washington, D.C.</strong></h3><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Advocacy Director, Stacy Martin</strong></h3><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/advocacy"><strong></strong></a><strong><a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/advocacy">www.elca.org/advocacy</a></strong><a></a><a></a><strong></strong></h3><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong></strong>&#160;</h3><p class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;left;"><strong><img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/ELCA%20ADVOCACY%20LOGO.jpg" alt="ELCA ADVOCACY LOGO.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;110px;height&#58;110px;float&#58;left;" />Report on Central America</strong>&#58; This month, <a href="http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Our_Communities_in_Crisis_Central_America_Report.pdf?_ga=1.152324913.920514201.1406729918"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">ELCA Advocacy completed a report</span></a> on the findings from a recent trip taken by ELCA leaders to El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala to better understand what drives so many children and families to flee their homes. This report, titled &quot;Our Communities in Crisis,&quot; takes a faithful look at the root cause of Central American forced displacement and the repatriation of children and families after the summer of 2012. The ELCA continues to be committed to lifting up the voices of our communities in Central America. Take action today by urging President Obama to speak out for the protection of those fleeing violence and persecution in Central America – <a href="http&#58;//www.capwiz.com/elca/issues/alert/?alertid=66134716"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">visit our Action Center</span></a> now to send a message to the president.</p><p class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;left;"><strong>Global Food Security Act</strong>&#58; Recently, members of the House and Senate reintroduced the Global Food Security Act – an act that will enhance international development programs and investments, such as Feed the Future. The Global Food Security Act will help institute a comprehensive strategy to promote global food security, strengthen existing monitoring and evaluation practices to ensure efficiency and accountability, and support initiatives, such as improving maternal and child nutrition. <a href="http&#58;//www.capwiz.com/elca/issues/alert/?alertid=65946646"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">ELCA Advocacy is taking action</span></a> to help promote food security by urging members of Congress to pass this legislation. Learn more about Feed the Future and our efforts to support responsible international development in our <a href="https&#58;//drive.google.com/file/d/0B009fXHpAM3EVXN6WFZCdVpSUXM/view?usp=sharing"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Global Food Security Act</span></a> fact sheet. </p><p class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72"><strong>Green Climate Fund</strong>&#58; ELCA Advocacy <a href="http&#58;//www.capwiz.com/elca/issues/alert/?alertid=65718626"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">announced its support of the Green Climate Fund </span></a>last month. This international initiative mobilizes support for developing nations struggling to combat the growing effects of climate change. The consequences of climate change fall hardest on our brothers and sisters throughout the world who are least able to adapt because they live in communities already struggling with poverty and hunger. The fund will help pay for developmental initiatives for marginalized countries, increasing their ability to adapt to new environments and expanding their capacity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. You can learn more about the fund at our <a href="http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Green_Climate_Fund_factsheet.pdf?_ga=1.157942648.378179692.1424451403"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">ELCA Green Climate Fund Fact Sheet</span></a>. </p><p class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72"><strong>Financial debt in Nepal</strong><strong>&#58;</strong> Jubilee USA Network, an alliance of organizations and faith communities of which the ELCA is a member, is spearheading an international effort to support Nepal's recovery efforts by cancelling the country's overwhelming debt. ELCA Advocacy joined Jubilee USA in urging the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to provide immediate debt relief to Nepal so that the government can redirect these funds toward recovery and rebuilding efforts. Take action on this issue by <a href="http&#58;//www.capwiz.com/elca/issues/alert/?alertid=66131626"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">visiting our Action Center</span></a>. </p><p class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;">____________________</p><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;">New York, NY</h3><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Dennis Frado​, Lutheran Office for World Community</strong></h3><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72">&#160;</h3><p class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;left;"><strong>Peace Not Walls conference call with Presiding Bishop Eaton</strong><strong>&#58; </strong>LOWC joined other staff in planning for a conference call held on May 19 by ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton and Global Mission Area Program Director Cindy Halmarson with ELCA members with a keen interest in the Peace Not Walls campaign. It was an opportunity for those listening to hear about the Presiding Bishop's recent January visit to the region and her perspectives on the current situation there. </p><p class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;left;"><strong>U.N. Post-2015 Development Agenda</strong><strong>&#58; </strong>The fifth session of intergovernmental negotiations for the Post-2015 Development Agenda took place between May 18 and 25 in New York. Just three more sessions are planned before the conclusion of negotiations in late July. Disagreements remain as to whether implementation of the proposed Sustainable Development Goals will involve &quot;follow-up and review&quot; (which most developing countries support) or &quot;monitoring, accountability and review&quot; (which many developed countries support). There appears to be emerging consensus that the High-Level Political Forum, created at the Rio+20 conference in 2012, will be the venue for follow-up activities once the agenda is adopted. Consensus has not yet been reached on the means of implementation for the goals or on the relationship of the findings of the August Financing for Development conference to the Post-2015 Agenda.&#160; A &quot;zero-draft&quot; of the outcome document, which would be considered at the late September U.N. Summit to the Adopt the Post-2015 Development Agenda, is to be released on June 1.</p><p class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;left;"><strong>Visitors&#58;</strong><strong> </strong>LOWC has hosted a variety of visitors in recent weeks. These included Caroline Tveoy, Lutheran World Federation World Service Program officer for the Middle East and North Africa, based in Geneva, who stopped in New York to discuss the ELCA's Peace Not Walls campaign, while in transit to Haiti. The Manhattan Ministerium of the Metro New York Synod visited to learn about LOWC's work. The Rev. &#160;Joachim Tröstler of the North Elbian Evangelical Lutheran Church is on sabbatical and was interested in comparing the linkages between ministry with migrants and congregational-based community organizing in Germany and in the United States and how the issues are handled at the United Nations. Lastly, a group of Upstate New York Synod participants in a Peace Not Walls-related visit to the Holy Land stopped by on their way to the region.</p><p class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"></span><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"><span style="text-align&#58;center;line-height&#58;20.79px;">____________________</span>​</span></p><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>California</strong></h3><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Mark Carlson, Lutheran Office of Public Policy</strong></h3><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><a href="http&#58;//www.loppca.org/"><strong>www.loppca.org</strong></a><strong>​</strong><br></h3><p>&#160;</p><p class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;left;"><strong>Synod A</strong><strong>ssemblies&#58; </strong>LOPP-CA Director Mark Carlson participated in one day of the Pacifica Synod Assembly in Riverside, affording a chance for renewal and reconnection after missing last year's in Hawaii. Mark left early to return to the Sierra Pacific<strong> </strong>Assembly in Sacramento, where LOPP-CA and Lutheran Episcopal Advocacy in Nevada hosted a breakfast for about 55 people with California Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross on the topic of food, farming, drought and climate change. As Texas was devastated by floods, the Central Valley Flood Control Agency heard a report that the Sierra snowpack, which provides about one-third of California's water supply, is at 2 percent of normal.</p><p class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;left;"><strong><img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/1.jpg" alt="1.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;250px;height&#58;226px;float&#58;right;" />Lobby days</strong>&#58; Mark teamed with Mark Lowry, a member of Christ Lutheran Church in Orange and executive director of the Orange County Food Bank, for legislative visits on Hunger Action Day, supporting repeal of the Maximum Family Grant aid limit for TANF/CalWORKS families, an increase in the minimum wage, &quot;breakfast after the bell,&quot; and simplification and expansion of tax credits for California farm product donations. Mark gave a prayer of thanksgiving at the interfaith service to open Immigrant Day at the Capitol, followed by lobby visits. He and a &quot;dreamer&quot; from Ventura County broke away to attend an event with state and local elected officials where solar panels were placed on the roof of a low-income homeowner in a &quot;disadvantaged neighborhood,&quot; using carbon cap-and-trade funds. </p><p class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;left;">UPCOMING – California Interfaith Power &amp; Light Lobby Day, June 17. LOPP-CA is the site host.&#160;&#160;</p><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><span style="text-align&#58;center;line-height&#58;20.79px;"></span><span style="text-align&#58;center;line-height&#58;20.79px;"><span style="text-align&#58;center;line-height&#58;20.79px;">____________________</span>​</span><br></strong><strong></strong></h3><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Colorado</strong></h3><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Peter Severson, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry – Colorado&#160;</strong></h3><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><a href="http&#58;//www.lam-co.org/"><strong>www.lam-co.org</strong></a></h3><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72">&#160;</h3><p class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;left;">The first legislative session of the 70th Colorado General Assembly is officially in the books. With control of the two chambers split between parties, it was a tough year for many groups to get their priorities passed, but LAM-CO had several important bipartisan victories. </p><p class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;left;"><strong>Child Support Pass-through</strong>&#58; Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-Colorado and several of its partners in poverty-related legislation were thrilled that Senate Bill 12 made it through both the Senate and House and is currently awaiting a signature from Gov. John Hickenlooper. The bill, which allows families receiving TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) benefits to also receive child-support payments that were previously withheld by county governments, is one of the measures that will directly benefit families living in poverty that survived this year's Legislature.</p><p class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;left;"><strong>Affordable housing</strong>&#58; Several late-breaking bills on affordable housing were quickly advanced through the House before being killed in the Senate. These bills would have used surplus funds from a state trust fund to invest in affordable housing construction and rent subsidy for low-income workers, as well as extending the life of the low-income housing tax credit.</p><p class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;left;"><strong>Other priorities</strong><strong>&#58; </strong>A measure to provide an affirmative defense for the crime of prostitution to minor victims of human trafficking was passed and signed by the governor. The House narrowly killed legislation that would have created paid family and medical leave insurance. A Senate committee defeated a bill to create a rural economic initiative grant program.</p><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"></span><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"><span style="text-align&#58;center;line-height&#58;20.79px;">____________________</span></span></strong></h3><div class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;">&#160;</div><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Illinois</strong></h3><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Jennifer DeLeon, Lutheran Advocacy Illinois&#160;&#160;</strong></h3><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72" style="text-align&#58;center;"><a href="http&#58;//www.lutheranadvocacy.org/"><strong>www.lutheranadvocacy.org</strong></a></h3><h3 class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72">&#160;</h3><p class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72"><strong>Legislative session</strong>&#58; We are at the end of the legislative session, and it seems like the Legislature will not pass a balanced budget by their May 31 deadline and that they will be called back for a special summer session. There is still time to act&#58; </p><p class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72">Budgets are choices. It's time for politicians to choose Illinois children, families and communities. Illinois doesn't have to make the deep cuts proposed in the governor's budget; we have a choice. Instead of painful cuts to vital programs for our children, families and communities, lawmakers and the governor must choose revenue. </p><p class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72">Act NOW! Tell lawmakers to choose to stand up for Illinois families and communities and prevent cuts by choosing revenue to close the budget hole. Do two things today&#58; </p><div class="ExternalClassA83F8A29E0B94225A558B4B0D584EF72"><ul><li>Call your lawmaker tool free at <span class="baec5a81-e4d6-4674-97f3-e9220f0136c1" style="white-space&#58;nowrap;">844-311-CUTS </span>(<span class="baec5a81-e4d6-4674-97f3-e9220f0136c1" style="white-space&#58;nowrap;">844-311-2887</span>) and tell them to choose revenue to prevent cuts to children, families,and communities. </li><li>Click <a href="http&#58;//stage.capwiz.com/elca/il/issues/alert/?alertid=65778626&amp;PROCESS=Take+Action"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">here</span></a> to send an email and for more information.&#160;</li></ul></div><p>We continue to work with Judith Roberts, director of Racial Justice, and we have submitted a criminal justice resolution at both the Metro Chicago Synod and Northern Illinois Synod assemblies , which calls on congregations to advocate for social justice and to support Lutheran Social Service of Illinois <a href="http&#58;//www.lssi.org/services-prisoner-family.php"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">prison and family ministry programs</span></a>. </p><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"></span><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"><span style="text-align&#58;center;line-height&#58;20.79px;">____________________</span></span></strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong></strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>​Minnesota</strong><br><strong>Tammy Walhoff, Lutheran Advocacy - Minnesota</strong><br><a href="mailto&#58;tammy@lcppm.org"><strong>tammy@lcppm.org</strong></a><strong>&#160;&#160;</strong><br></h3><p>&#160;</p></div><div class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3"><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><strong>The legislative session is (sort of) over</strong><strong>&#58;</strong> Differing visions made &quot;final&quot; legislative negotiations difficult. Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed three budget bills, meaning the Legislature returns for a special session.</p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><strong>Health and human services</strong><strong>&#58;</strong> Despite a $1.9 billion surplus, hundreds of millions were cut from low-income programs. Nevertheless, intense advocacy efforts achieved moderate increases in some housing-related services. Notably, $2 million was added to base funding for homeless youth over two years.</p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><strong>Affordable housing and clean energy</strong><strong>&#58;</strong> Affordable housing, jobs, economic growth and energy were all in the same bill. LA-MN and Minnesota Interfaith Power &amp; Light presented their clean energy <a href="http&#58;//www.cleanenergyjobs.mn/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/FaithLeaderLtr-CleanEnergy2015-MEDIA-FINAL.pdf"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">faith-leader letter</span></a> with 300+ signers to Gov. Dayton, conference negotiators, leadership and legislators. LA-MN also generated <a href="https&#58;//www.dropbox.com/s/i5tam19sz0k4n2x/LAMN-SampleLtr-AffordHousing-KidVersion%2815-feb14%29.pdf?dl=0"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">letters, cards, emails and calls</span></a> from key districts regarding <a href="http&#58;//www.mhponline.org/images/stories/docs/policy/state/2015/2015_H4A_Agenda_wTable.pdf"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">affordable housing</span></a>.</p><p style="text-align&#58;left;">Conference negotiations on the bill never occurred, but the chairs introduced replacement language in the final moments of session. <a href="http&#58;//youtu.be/jTru1m5R7yE?a"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Watch the House pass it</span></a> in the last two minutes, with the wrong bill number, amidst chaos! Energetic advocacy efforts prevented renewable energy and energy-efficiency roll-backs and cuts to housing. The bill was vetoed, so LA-MN and its partners hope more gains may be made.</p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><strong>Synod-related activities</strong><strong>&#58;</strong> Tammy Walhof, LAMN director, was the speaker for the Southeastern Minnesota Synod Creation Care Assembly and also led workshops. She had display materials at the Minneapolis Area Synod Assembly and stayed briefly before heading to the Northwestern Minnesota Synod Assembly, where she led workshops on affordable housing and advocacy.</p><p>Like Lutheran Advocacy-MN on <a href="https&#58;//www.facebook.com/pages/Lutheran-Advocacy-Minnesota/100113576746897"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Facebook</span></a><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;"></span></p><p>Follow Lutheran Advocacy-MN on Twitter&#58; <a href="https&#58;//twitter.com/LuthAdvocacyMN"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">@LuthAdvocacyMN</span></a></p><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"></span><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"><span style="text-align&#58;center;line-height&#58;20.79px;">____________________</span></span></strong></h3><div style="text-align&#58;center;">&#160;</div><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>New Jersey</strong><br><strong>Sara Lilja, Lutheran Office of Governmental Ministry in New Jersey</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><a href="https&#58;//www.facebook.com/logmnj?fref=ts"><strong>Visit us on Facebook!​</strong></a><br></h3><p>&#160;</p></div><div class="ExternalClass2D1F82D5E4954D23AD020570F603F1F3"><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><strong>New Jersey Advocacy is growing</strong><strong>! </strong>We have launched a new advocacy body, the Lutheran Episcopal Advocacy Ministry of New Jersey (LEAMNJ), headed by the Rev. Sara Lilja.</p><p style="text-align&#58;left;">The goal of LEAMNJ is to be a powerful public witness of faith through advocacy, representing nearly 80,000 people in 450 parishes in New Jersey, backed by the national Lutheran and Episcopal churches, reflecting more than 8.7 million people in the United States. It will shape and influence public policy in New Jersey and in local communities as that policy &#160;affects vulnerable populations, social justice issues and other priorities that reflect the common teachings and values of the partner groups.</p><p style="text-align&#58;left;">There is great excitement by all the partners for the promise of the combined new entity to have an impact on policy affecting the concerns of people in our neighborhoods and state.&#160; </p><p style="text-align&#58;left;">&quot;As society has become more bifurcated into seemingly separate worlds of those with means and those without, we come together to forge a strong voice to express the commitments of our faith traditions in advocating for policies leading to a just society,&quot; said Lilja. She added, &quot;I'm proud to lead this charge on behalf of our new partnership and to grow the expression of compassion and social justice by means of education and advocacy through congregations throughout the state.&quot;&#160;&#160;</p><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"></span><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"><span style="text-align&#58;center;line-height&#58;20.79px;">____________________</span></span></strong></h3><div style="text-align&#58;center;">&#160;</div><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>​New Mexico</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Ruth Hoffman, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry – New Mexico&#160;</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><a href="http&#58;//www.lutheranadvocacynm.org/">www.lutheranadvocacynm.org</a></strong></h3><p><br>&#160;</p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><strong><img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/2.jpg" alt="2.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;110px;height&#58;121px;float&#58;left;" />&quot;We are Church&#58; Better Together&quot;</strong><strong> </strong>That &quot;the church&quot; is much more expansive than each individual congregation was highlighted over and over at the 2015 Rocky Mountain Synod Assembly in Salt Lake City, Utah, May 1-3. &quot;Our form and structures may change, the extent of our actual usefulness to God may wax and wane, but that God can and does work in and through us – this is a promise,&quot; said Bishop Jim Gonia, addressing the assembly.&#160; </p><p style="text-align&#58;left;">The state public policy offices in Colorado and New Mexico, which are an integral part of the ministry of the Rocky Mountain Synod, were an active part of the Synod Assembly. Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-New Mexico and Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-Colorado had displays about their work and activities. Directors Ruth Hoffman and Peter Severson presented an advocacy toolkit during an interest dinner. Additionally, they served on the Committee on Reference and Counsel, which reviewed proposed resolutions and memorials for consideration by the assembly.</p><p><strong><img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/3.jpg" alt="3.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;140px;height&#58;93px;float&#58;right;" />Affordable housing</strong><strong>&#58; </strong>Director Hoffman is a member of the State Housing Trust Fund Advisory Committee. At the committee's most recent meeting, several low-income housing projects were recommended for funding. The projects included those at Santo Domingo Pueblo, Silver City in southwestern New Mexico and in Albuquerque.</p><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"></span><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"><span style="text-align&#58;center;line-height&#58;20.79px;">____________________</span></span></strong></h3><div style="text-align&#58;center;">&#160;</div><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>​Ohio</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Nick Bates, The Faith Coalition for the Common Good&#160;</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><a href="mailto&#58;nick@oneohionow.org"><strong>nick@oneohionow.org</strong></a></h3><h3>&#160;</h3><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><strong>Ohio budget&#58;</strong><strong> </strong>The Ohio Legislature continues to focus its time on Ohio's two–year budget (HB 64). 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; </p><p style="text-align&#58;left;">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 style="text-align&#58;left;">The coalition organized a panel on March 18 in front of the Finance Health and Human Services Sub-Committee. The Rev. Gregory Kenderick (The 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 style="text-align&#58;left;">The budget bill will move to the Senate in late April and to the governor's desk by June 30.</p><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"></span><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"><span style="text-align&#58;center;line-height&#58;20.79px;">____________________</span></span></strong></h3><div style="text-align&#58;center;">&#160;</div><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Pennsylvania</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Amy Reumann, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania&#160;</strong></h3><div style="text-align&#58;center;"><h3><strong>Tracey DePasquale, Associate Director</strong></h3></div><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><a href="http&#58;//www.lutheranadvocacypa.org/"><strong>www.lutheranadvocacypa.org</strong></a></h3><h3>&#160;</h3><p>May and June are busy months at LAMPa as synods gather and the General Assembly gets down to business around the budget. Director Amy Reumann spoke on hunger at the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod Assembly and staffed an interactive booth at the Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod Assembly where attendees made video messages for lawmakers on education funding. </p><p style="text-align&#58;left;">LAMPa staff members have also been attending briefings by Gov. Tom Wolf, Budget Secretary Randy Albright and Secretary of Planning and Policy John Hanger and are engaged in planning events around the state to raise support for a fair and adequate education funding formula.&#160; </p><p style="text-align&#58;left;">Reumann and Tracey DePasquale, associate LAMPa director,<strong> </strong>met with Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg representatives to debrief about collaboration on our 2015 Lutheran Day at the Capitol <a href="http&#58;//www.lutheranadvocacypa.org/get-involved/lutheran-day-at-the-capital/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">(see highlights)</span></a> last month and agreed to partner again in 2016, with a common thread of faith and science.&#160; </p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/4.jpg" alt="4.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;220px;height&#58;124px;float&#58;right;" />Reumann and the Rev. Bruce Osterhout, policy council member, attended a protest against family detention at the Berks County immigration detention facility. Osterhout also wrote a letter to the editor that was published in the Reading Eagle.</p><p style="text-align&#58;left;">LAMPa hosted a call on theology and water for our creation care team, featuring Dr. Gil Waldkoenig of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg. <a href="http&#58;//www.lutheranadvocacypa.org/issues/care-for-creation/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Listen to a recording.</span></a> LAMPa is partnering with the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania and Moms Clean Air Force, with whom we are working on common policy initiatives. </p><p style="text-align&#58;left;">LAMPa continues to promote the Pennsylvania School Breakfast Challenge and has facilitated cooperation between state hunger partners and the Pennsylvania State Education Association. </p><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"></span><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"><span style="text-align&#58;center;line-height&#58;20.79px;">____________________</span>​</span></strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong></strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Virginia</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Charles Swadley</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; </strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><a href="http&#58;//www.virginiainterfaithcenter.org/">www.virginiainterfaithcenter.org</a></strong></h3><h3>&#160;</h3><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><a href="http&#58;//www.virginiainterfaithcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/VICPP_AnnouncementsMay2015.pdf"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">The Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy</span></a> organized and hosted a &quot;Consumer Finance Reform and Regulation&quot; policy discussion call with Sen. Mark Warner on Monday, May 18, attended by more than 40 faith leaders from across Virginia. VICPP also recruited participants to the National Faith-Based Partnerships teleconference held by Director Richard Cordray of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on May 21.</p><p style="text-align&#58;left;">VICPP hosted a &quot;Faith-Based Partnerships to End Child Hunger in Virginia&quot; webinar on May 27 with Dorothy McAuliffe, the first lady of Virginia, regarding engagement with the Virginia Kid Hungry program attended by more than 75 faith leaders and supporters from across Virginia. <a href="http&#58;//www.virginiainterfaithcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/ThisIsTheAmericanDreamArticleFaquierTimesFridayMay1.png"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">An article was also published in the Fauquier Times</span></a> on May 1 about the VICPP's Northern Piedmont Chapter's very successful community forum, &quot;Fact vs. Fiction&#58; Unmasking the Truth about Immigrants in Virginia's Workforce.&quot; The forum was attended by more than 100 people on April 28 at Lord Fairfax Community College. </p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><a href="http&#58;//www.virginiainterfaithcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/2015NoVaRedistrictingForumFlierFinalJune4.pdf"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">The Northern Virginia Chapter is hosting a &quot;redistricting&quot; event</span></a> on June 4 at George Mason University-Arlington that the NoVa Chapter is co-organizing with the university, the League of Women Voters and OneVirginia2021. The VICPP Richmond Chapter is hosting a Healthcare Access Forum with political and faith leaders on June 30 at 7 p.m. at the Weinstein Jewish Community Center. The forum will include excerpts from the Remote Area Medical film about providing medical and dental services to those in poverty and without insurance in rural areas, such as Wise County, Virginia. The forum is in partnership with Bon Secours.</p><p style="text-align&#58;left;">VICPP's Annual Policy Priority Survey is out and all supporters are invited to participate using this <a href="https&#58;//www.surveymonkey.com/r/VICPP2015Survey"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">link</span></a> to assist in developing our 2016 Policy Priorities. </p><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"></span><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"><span style="text-align&#58;center;line-height&#58;20.79px;">____________________</span>​</span></strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong></strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Washington</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Paul Benz, Faith Action Network&#160;</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><a href="http&#58;//www.fanwa.org/"></a><a href="http&#58;//www.fanwa.org/"><strong>www.fanwa.org</strong></a></h3><h3>&#160;</h3><p><strong><img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/5.jpg" alt="5.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;260px;height&#58;195px;float&#58;left;" />Legislature&#58;</strong><strong> </strong>May 28 was the last day of our first special session. Legislators were working that week and budget negotiators are getting closer to resolving differences for all three budgets (operating, transportation and capital). FAN is active with the Washington United for Fair Revenue coalition, which sponsored a &quot;call-in day for revenue&quot; on May 28. Hundreds of advocates called their legislators from around the state saying, &quot;The wealthy and big corporations do not pay their fair share into the state budget to help meet the critical needs of our state.&quot; FAN's key policy bill remains the state voting-rights act. If the state Senate agrees to this, our state would join three others (California, Florida and Illinois) having a state voting-rights act to better enfranchise the disenfranchised communities of color.&#160; </p><p><strong>Congressional issues&#58; </strong>FAN has four issues in Congress that we are focusing on&#58; Trade/Trans-Pacific Partnership, Child Nutrition Reauthorization, I-VAWA International Violence Against Women Act, and the Green Climate Fund. FAN is working with our allies here in Washington state and with the ELCA Washington, D.C., office to better engage our advocates and their members of Congress on these issues.</p><p><strong>Organizing summits&#58; </strong>This is the time of year for FAN's four regional summits. At these we continue to build relationships with our advocates, review our legislative agenda, and build toward creating next year's agenda through table conversation by legislative district. By the time you read this, two summits will be completed (Spokane and Vancouver), and Seattle and Yakima will occur in June.</p><p><strong>ELCA and denominational assemblies&#58;</strong><strong> </strong>FAN has had a presence (displays, podium time, and networking) at all three ELCA synod assemblies, as well as the annual conference of the regional United Church of Christ. We will also have a presence at The United Methodist Church's June annual regional conference.</p><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"></span><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"><span style="text-align&#58;center;line-height&#58;20.79px;">____________________</span></span></strong></h3><div style="text-align&#58;center;">&#160;</div><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Wisconsin</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Cindy Crane, Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin&#160;</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><a target="_blank" href="http&#58;//www.loppw.org/"><strong>www.loppw.org</strong></a></h3><h3>&#160;</h3><p><strong><img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/6.png" alt="6.png" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;240px;height&#58;179px;float&#58;left;" />Synod assemblies</strong><strong>&#58; </strong>LOPPW's Advisory Council member Eric Larson, from the<strong> </strong>Northern Great Lakes Synod, manned a display table at his assembly. He provided post cards for the ELCA's campaign supporting child nutrition and the WIC Reauthorization Act at the LOPPW display table and the synod hunger team's table. The director led a workshop at the East Central Synod Assembly and will lead workshops at the other four synod assemblies.&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; </p><p><strong>Proposed state budget&#58;</strong><strong>&#160; </strong>LOPPW is working with a coalition of secular and faith-based nonprofits, called Better Choices, to make better state budget choices known.&#160; LOPPW has helped organize two press conferences&#58; On May 4, Bishop Mary Froiland <a href="https&#58;//www.youtube.com/watch?v=7V7cK4cYBuI"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">spoke on a panel in Madison</span></a>. On May 14, Bishop Rick Hoyme and ELCA member and professor James Boulter spoke on a panel in Eau Claire. Bishop Hoyme discussed prioritizing those who are most vulnerable in the budget. <a href="http&#58;//www.loppw.org/wp-content/blogs.dir/45/files/2015/05/Media-Advisory-BETTERCHOICESEAUCLAIREPRESSADV-5-13-15.pdf"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Boulter focused on protecting our environment.</span></a> LOPPW also posted a statement on <a href="http&#58;//www.thewheelerreport.com/wheeler_docs/files/0508lopp.pdf"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">revenue estimates</span></a><strong>, </strong>which were lower than some lawmakers had hoped for </p><p><strong>Human trafficking</strong><strong>&#58; </strong>The Joint Finance Committee approved $2 million for youth victims of sex trafficking.&#160; Two Democrat legislators are trying to secure co-sponsors for a safe harbor bill. LOPPW has helped to target possible co-sponsors. The director visited with a Republican legislator who has agreed to be one of the co-sponsors.&#160; </p><p><strong>Living-wage coalition</strong><strong>&#58; </strong>LOPPW joined a coalition of faith-based and secular organizations to strategize advocating for a higher minimum wage in Wisconsin.&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; </p><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"></span><span style="line-height&#58;20.79px;"><span style="text-align&#58;center;line-height&#58;20.79px;">____________________</span>​</span></strong></h3><div style="text-align&#58;center;">&#160;</div><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>What advocacy efforts are going on in your synod or state? We want to hear about it!</strong></h3><h3 style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Contact us at </strong><a href="mailto&#58;washingtonoffice@elca.org"><strong>washingtonoffice@elca.org</strong></a><strong> ​​</strong></h3><p><br>&#160;</p></div>06/05/2015Let’s put food banks out of businessErin Haugen, Legislative Internhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/134http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/134<div class="ExternalClassFFF9D1C9318444469A0EC4741BAC157B"><p>Imagine your congregation without a food shelf. Imagine it without regular food drives. Imagine it without free community meals.</p><p><img alt="Erin1.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/Erin1.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;250px;height&#58;188px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;left;" /><img alt="Erin3.JPG" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/Erin3.JPG" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;240px;height&#58;34px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;left;" />At first, it might make you nostalgic for the afternoons you've spent packing grocery bags for the pantry with your fellow congregants, or maybe sad for the loss of evenings spent chatting with those who show up for a free supper. But looking beyond those memories, you'll see a community, a state, or maybe – dare we dream it – an entire nation where no one is hungry. While testifying before Congress, Sherri Tussler from the Hunger Task Force in Milwaukee, Wisconsin explained why we should dream of a day when these ministries are gone – &quot;The day we don't need food banks is the day we end hunger in America.&quot;</p><p>According to the United States Department of Agriculture, in 2013 (most recent data available), <a href="http&#58;//www.ers.usda.gov/media/1565415/err173.pdf"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">17.5 million households</span></a> faced food insecurity at some point during the year. Living in those homes are 15.8 million children failing to receive consistent, quality nutrition. You know these children. You see them walking into the school when you drop your own children off. You watch them play football at the high school on Friday nights. You share in communion with them on Sundays. </p><p>So how do we put food banks out of business? Churches are often hubs where families can go to receive assistance, whether its bags stocked with groceries, free meals throughout the week, or through some other hunger-based ministry. The ways that congregations reach out in their communities to provide food for those in need are incredible examples of how people of faith live out God's call to love one another. However, congregations can't end hunger on their own. Bread for the World <a href="http&#58;//www.bread.org/ol/2013/engagement/downloads/churches-and-hunger-fact-sheet.pdf"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">reported</span></a> that one in 20 bags of food assistance comes from a charitable organization – the rest comes from Federal nutrition programs. </p><p>These Federal nutrition programs are incredibly important. While we do the best we can as churches and communities to combat hunger and provide food for our neighbors, we still face need beyond our capacities. As we continue to care for our communities, it's also important for us to ask Congress to support policies that provide ample assistance for our nation's hungry children. Funding for important child nutrition programs will run out unless Congress reauthorizes them. <a href="http&#58;//www.capwiz.com/elca/issues/alert/?alertid=65539626"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Visit the ELCA Advocacy Action Center</span></a> and call on Congress to&#58;</p><ul><li>increase funding for child nutrition programs like Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, the National School Lunch Program, and the Summer Food Service Program; </li><li>invest in expanding access to these programs in rural and Native American communities; </li><li>continue supporting the use of these programs to access nutritious foods as determined by scientific recommendations; </li><li>and address climate change, as it contributes heavily to the rising cost of nutritious food.<br><br>Imagine your congregation without a food shelf, food drives, or free community meals. Reauthorizing child nutrition programs brings us one step closer. </li></ul></div>06/02/2015Living Earth Reflection: Protecting the Waters of the United StatesMary Minette, program director, Environmental Policy and Educationhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/133http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/133<div class="ExternalClassC5FC30FE8CAF4D7DB4C7FB2212273347"><p><span style="font-size&#58;13pt;">​May 2015</span></p><p><em>&quot;But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.&quot;</em></p><p style="text-align&#58;right;">Amos 5&#58;24</p><p>Water as a metaphor flows through scripture, perhaps because of the essential role water plays in sustaining human life and the abundance of God's creation. Water is also central to our spiritual lives. In the waters of baptism we begin our journey as Christians; the water that makes possible both the bread and wine of Communion.</p><p>So how does the scriptural significance of water relate to our calling to seek justice for our communities and protect that which plays a central role in creation? </p><p>For more than four decades, the federal Clean Water Act has protected our nation's waters, including the smaller streams and wetlands that feed into larger rivers and lakes. But many of these bodies of water are still under threat from pollution.&#160; </p><p>In recent years two Supreme Court cases created uncertainty about whether smaller streams and wetlands merit the full protection of clean water regulations, and ordered the Administration to resolve this ambiguity. This week, the EPA issued a new clean water rule that protects small and seasonal streams and wetlands that connect to larger bodies of water, which we rely on for drinking, fishing and other uses. Under the new rule, many of the streams and wetlands that were historically covered under the Clean Water Act will again be covered. The rule carefully defines &quot;waters of the United States&quot; to clarify that all bodies of water with a clear connection to larger watersheds are protected, but also allows for case-by-case evaluation of streams and wetlands with less certain connections to downstream bodies of water.</p><p>The new rule has <a href="http&#58;//www.nytimes.com/2015/05/23/us/politics/obama-set-to-strengthen-federal-role-in-clean-water-regulation.html?_r=0"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">drawn criticism</span></a> from groups that argue that it will regulate irrigation ditches and puddles, and that it will cause economic harm to landowners, who will be required to ask permission before using their land in ways that may affect water quality. The EPA has <a href="http&#58;//www2.epa.gov/cleanwaterrule/ditch-myth"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">responded to these concerns</span></a> and attempted to reassure groups worried about the economic impact of the rule<strong>--</strong> that these impacts are overstated and that the benefits of the rule outweigh the economic costs. Such conflicting points of view about economic impacts are nothing new; nearly every new environmental regulation proposed in the last 30 years has had to overcome arguments that these rules are overreaching and economically harmful. In the midst of such conflict, how is God calling us to be stewards of Creation?</p><p>As Lutherans we believe that we stand at the foot of the cross, and are called to acknowledge our own sin and brokenness. But we are also set free from sin and captivity by the love of God and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, so that we can be loving servants, caring for our neighbors and seeking justice for all the earth. </p><p>What does justice for creation look like? To quote from the ELCA social statement <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Social-Statements/Caring-for-Creation?_ga=1.68422360.814924114.1429201593"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">&quot;Caring for Creation&quot;</span></a>&#58; &quot;When we act interdependently and in solidarity with creation, we do justice. We serve and keep the earth, trusting its bounty can be sufficient for all, and sustainable.&quot; Justice for creation includes four principles—participation, solidarity, sufficiency and sustainability.&#160; Within this framework of justice, the principles of sufficiency and sustainability speak most directly to the need to balance economic interests against protection of the earth to meet the needs of current and future generations. </p><p><strong>Take Action</strong></p><ul><li>Learn more about the proposed rule and the Clean Water Act on from our <a href="http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Waters%20of%20the%20United%20States_Backgrounder.pdf?_ga=1.86185243.209186557.1424464280">ELCA Waters of the United States resource</a>.</li><li>Write your U.S. Representative today at the <a href="http&#58;//www.capwiz.com/elca/issues/alert/?alertid=65346101">ELCA Action Center</a>, and ask them to oppose efforts that prevent the EPA and Army Corps from protecting small streams and wetlands—your voice will make a difference!</li></ul></div>05/27/2015