Today, we present our ELCA Advocacy Update for the month of October. Please read below for important information on ELCA Advocacy efforts in Washington, across the country and throughout the world. To read the full version of the update and for more information on advocacy efforts from our Lutheran State Advocacy offices, visit our blog!
ELCA Advocacy, Washington D.C.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS: The October day of fasting and action is Saturday, Oct. 21. As the seasons transition and the days become colder, we answer the call this month by supporting action for people facing homelessness, unaffordable heating bills, and extreme housing insecurity. Only a quarter of the poorest households eligible for relief ever receive any assistance–creating barriers to success and stability for millions of households across the country. Christians have a long history of assisting people without housing by providing shelter and can offer a compelling voice in the public sphere through advocacy. Check out this month’s advocacy resource by visiting ELCA.org/prayfastact and look out for action alerts in upcoming weeks.
HURRICANE RELIEF ADVOCACY: In the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, key lawmakers in Congress are calling for an immediate disaster-aid bill to help communities rebuild. Legislators hope to provide recovery assistance to recently hit regions like Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, while also offering longer-term aid for states like Texas and Florida. ELCA Advocacy sent an action alert at the start of October in collaboration with Lutheran Disaster Response. Our message to Congress: Quickly take up a relief bill to ensure that low-income households are included in any assistance package.
GOD’S WORK. OUR HANDS.: Lutheran churches and volunteers sent in over a thousand letters to Congress last month during the “God’s work. Our hands. Sunday” day of service. The letters came as Congress negotiates critical decisions for programs that affect people facing poverty. Community leaders can help continue the conversations and find more advocacy resources at in the ELCA Advocacy Network!
HEALTH CARE UPDATE: On Saturday, Sept. 30, the mechanism that would allow the Senate to pass repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) expired. ELCA Advocacy’s efforts now focus on bi-partisan efforts to improve insurance markets and stabilize access to health care in the United States. We will remain vigilant, however, as a new budget reconciliation proposal to address tax reform in fiscal year 2018 could include efforts focused on repeal of the ACA. On Sept. 30, Congress also failed to reauthorize the Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP). We will continue to urge congressional action and are assessing ramifications in the short-term and long-term.
GLOBAL HUMAN TRAFFICKING: The Department of State and the United Kingdom’s government have announced matching awards of $25 million to the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery. Established by legislation in 2016, the fund is a grant-making, public-private foundation that will support international civil societies working to end human trafficking. The initiative seeks to raise a total of $1.5 billion from both governments and the private sector over several years.
UN FOUNDATION AND CLIMATE CHANGE: ELCA Advocacy participated in a roundtable discussion on “Could a new U.S. fund help support the international climate effort?” held at the UN Foundation. The roundtable included NGOs; faith-based organizations; state and city government officials; and financial institutions. In the wake of the current administration’s decision not to fund entities like the Green Climate Fund (which was an ELCA priority matter); and the stepping up of sub-nationals and private entities — a mechanism is needed to be able get funding to those vulnerable populations that need assistance in adaptation and mitigation efforts in response to climate change.
Fund development is in its infancy, as numerous legal and logistical issues must be resolved before moving forward.
Lutheran Office for World Community
PROTECTION OF RELIGIOUS MINORITIES IN CONFLICT: At a side event titled “Protection of Religious Minorities in Conflict” held during the opening debate at the 72nd session of the U.N. General Assembly, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for the Holy See’s relations with states, outlined seven essential elements needed to protect religious minorities, including: the need for action, interreligious dialogue, education and more. ZENIT has the full story.
SHARED RESPONSIBILITY FOR REFUGEES: In September 2016 the United Nations agreed to develop a comprehensive refugee response plan and a program of action in 2018. Among the objectives is addressing the educational needs of refugee children. At a meeting during the general debate at the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 21, David Miliband, president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, reflected on the need to advance these pledges by calling for changes in fundamental mindsets, institutional relationships and policy.
A former refugee on the panel pointed out the plight of refugees is not just overseas as refugee children are living in New York City and other relocated communities. Others noted that education is the key to the future for these children. The thing refugee children report missing most is school, yet for every month out of school, their chance of returning diminishes
THE OCEANS – A WEALTH OF OPPORTUNITIES: Michelle Bachelet, president of Chile, stressed the need to raise awareness of work to protect, conserve and use oceans in a sustainable manner in her keynote address at a U.N. “High-level dialogue: The Oceans – A Wealth of Opportunities” on Sept. 20. More than 3 billion people depend on the oceans, which generate $3 trillion to $6 trillion in trade annually. Bachelet called for a stronger national framework regarding Sustainable Development Goals 13 and 14, enhanced conservation and sustainable use, and a change in consumption and production patterns.
Other speakers included Thomas Esang Remengesau Jr., president of Palau, who urged reversal of failed existing approaches to ocean warming and acidification and called on the U.N. to take a stronger role as a conduit for smaller developing countries, and Erna Solberg, prime minister of Norway, who stressed that a U.N. convention of law of the sea is essential and encouraged scientific development and common understanding. She noted the appointment of a U.S. special envoy.
Some speakers stressed the promotion of sustainable development for sustainable economies and called for a global effort to reduce plastic by 75 percent. Others called for long-term commitments in the public, private, and international sectors, with attention to strategies for off-coast tourism, biomedical research, and recognition of zone-based fishing.
Hunger Advocacy Fellowship Program
WELCOMING THE 2017-2018 ELCA HUNGER ADVOCACY FELLOWS
The ELCA Hunger Advocacy Fellowship, a program made possible by ELCA World Hunger, is a year-long transformative experience that combines leadership development and faith formation with impactful advocacy that moves us toward an end to hunger and a just world where all are fed. In September, the ELCA welcomed four fellows to this new program:
Amanda Silcox, Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy
Amanda Silcox is the inaugural ELCA Hunger Advocacy Fellow at the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy. Prior to joining the Interfaith Center, she worked as an ELCA Young Adult in Global Mission in Cambodia for one year, where she worked with a rural development organization and taught English. Amanda is native of Ohio and a recent graduate of the University of Dayton, where she studied Economics and Finance.
Kendrick Hall, Lutheran Advocacy Minnesota – Minneapolis
Kendrick Hall is a 2014 graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College and he currently attends Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN pursuing ordination. For the past three years, he worked for Redeemer Lutheran Church as a lay worker and mechanic, as well as was the Fellowship leader for one year. Kendrick’s passion for justice started in his undergrad years and his life between St. Peter, Min. and North Minneapolis, however, it truly stemmed from spending fifteen of the eighteen days occupying the fourth precinct after the killing of Jamar Clark in Nov. 2015; and has only grown deeper in justice work through Philando Castile and now Charlottesville.
Rebecca Schneider, Texas Impact – Austin
Rebecca Schneider grew up in Katy, Texas. She attended Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and graduated with a degree in Social Work in the Spring of 2017. While in college she developed a love of traveling, spending time in Costa Rica, Guatemala, London, and Ecuador. Through her experiences in these countries and her classes she became passionate about fighting for social justice for all people and spreading cultural awareness. She is currently as Hunger Advocacy Fellow at Texas Impact.
Elena Robles, ELCA Advocacy Washington, D.C. office – D.C.
Elena Robles was raised in the Washington, D.C. area and is a recent Guilford College Graduate. In college, she studied Political Science and Religious Studies. She’s passionate about justice work that upholds marginalized communities. Elena is happy that she will be spending the next eleven months serving the ELCA Advocacy unit in Washington DC as a Hunger Advocacy Fellow.
Lutheran state advocacy efforts across the country
Find out all about the vast and incredibly important work and top priorities of Lutheran state advocacy networks across the country by visiting the ELCA Advocacy Blog.