The Policy Council of Lutheran Office of Public Policy is thrilled to announce that Regina Q. Banks, JD will join the Lutheran Office of Public Policy-California as Director. Banks has served as Policy and Legislative Director for both statewide memberships organizations and within the California Assembly. Her skills and relationships will support LOPP-CA’s expansion goals.
Ms. Banks is a proud alumna of Valparaiso University School of Law where she was a Jurist Scholar and Lincoln University of MO. She states, “I look forward to the marriage of my analytical and advocacy skills with my deep and abiding faith. I admire the work of the LOPP-CA and will work diligently on their behalf for policies that strengthen people and families and honor the majesty of God’s creation.”
The Capitol was full of excitement this week as statewide elected officials and legislators were sworn into office and got to work. Governor Gavin Newsom began inauguration day Monday, January 7, 2019 with a closed-door interfaith service at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Sacramento. Faith leaders from around the state- and across faith traditions- offered prayers for Gov. Newsom and first partner Jennifer Siebel. The service culminated with the a rousing sermonette by Rev. Dr. Amos Brown of Third Baptist Church, and president of the San Francisco Chapter of the NAACP, during which some 40 interfaith clergy were invited to stand together and invest the First Family with the prayers and support of the statewide family of faith. The San Francisco Interfaith Council hosted the service. At noon, Newsom was sworn in as the 40th Governor of the State of California in a ceremony on the West Steps of the Capitol complete with gospel choir. Continue reading “Excitement In the Capital this week as Regina Banks officially begins her position as Director of LOPP-CA.”
We gathered on Saturday, December 8th to celebrate the retirement of Mark Carlson, Director of Lutheran Office of Public Policy – California. The event included a luncheon and a time to honor Mark Carlson for his many years of faithful service.
As we near the end of the year, we recognize the final month of our shared #PrayFastAct campaign with The Episcopal Church. Over the course of the last two years, we have been grateful for our shared ecumenical partnership, focusing on the ways systemic change can make a meaningful difference for those of us struggling with poverty.
Focusing on a different theme each month (from hunger, health, community, shelter, and much more), the #PrayFastAct campaign stemmed from the recognition that effective approaches to poverty address the needs of the whole human person. Taking a small amount of time out of our busy schedules each month to pray, fast and act may seem like a small step; but in routine action it can serve as a transformative tool to ensure our neighbors do not fall through the cracks when times are hard. Through the end of this month, we hope you have a chance to review the current alerts found at ELCA Action Center and ELCA.org/prayfastact that address many of those needs today.
We act out of the conviction that the status quo has not been effective enough for many of us in need, and that conviction continues. Look forward to an upcoming video later this month to see a full review of our campaign, and what steps are ahead for 2019. Continue reading “ELCA ADVOCACY DECEMBER, PRAY, FAST and ACT”
DOCTRINE OF DISCOVERY, INDIGENOUS RIGHTS CHALLENGES, CLIMATE CHANGE: Synods that include California held their professional leadership conferences in October, and LOPP-CA director Mark Carlson participated in Theoasis in Palm Desert, which brought together the Pacifica and Southwest California synods and the Sierra Pacific Synod’s gathering in Olympic Park (still predominately known as “Squaw Valley,” an infamous, negative name in the experience of American Indians). Prairie Rose Seminole, ELCA director for American Indian and Alaskan Native Ministries, discussed her work, with a focus on the Doctrine of Discovery.
Before meeting in Olympic Park, Carlson and Jane Affonso, an LOPP-CA Policy Council member, Southwest California Synod Council member and synod Green Faith Team co-chair, invited Seminole to join them in Sacramento for a Methodist-sponsored lecture by White House correspondent April Ryan and the annual Acorn Day at the State Indian Museum. They then made a pilgrimage to Shasta Dam, the McCloud River and the lower slopes of Mount Shasta, near sites sacred to the Winnemem Wintu Tribe threatened by the renewed push to raise Shasta Dam to quench thirsty farms and cities in Central and Southern California – the Doctrine of Discovery in current application, driven in part by climate change. The photo of Seminole at the dam is similar to one of Winnemem Wintu Chief Caleen Sisk that appears in a 33-minute segment of the documentary Standing on Sacred Ground
RESPONDING TO GUN VIOLENCE AND HATE: Our nation is in mourning this week following the tragic deaths of 11 worshipers and the wounding of law enforcement and others at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. This act was quickly identified as a hate crime, committed by a gunman espousing anti-Semitic vitriol and carrying an AR-15 and other weapons intending to take the lives of people because of their Jewish faith. The same weekend, two African American shoppers were gunned down by a white man in Kentucky, an act also being investigated as a hate crime. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we cannot become numb to mass shooting tragedies. We are called as God’s own people to promote peace and the dignity of persons all by engaging in prayer, addressing community violence, and vigorously opposing anti-Semitism, white supremacy and all form of hate through our words and deeds. Lutheran bishops in Pennsylvania joined in a shared statement in response to this tragedy. As Pennsylvania Lutherans reflect on recent events, read more about actions taken by ELCA bishops and faith leaders in the full state update.
2018 LEGISLATIVE ACTION CONCLUDED: Sept. 30 was the deadline for departing Gov. Jerry Brown to take action on bills passed in the two-year session. With considerable fanfare, he signed SB 100 (September Advocacy Update), placing California on a path to 100 percent clean electrical energy by 2045. He signed several other LOPP-CA-supported bills related to protecting California’s coast from any new federal offshore oil leases, and expanding environmental justice protections for disadvantaged communities. Of other bills supported by LOPP-CA, he signed measures enhancing disclosure of campaign contributions for social media political advertising, narrowing the sweep of the “felony murder rule” that has significant racial disparities, and requiring greater disclosure of video footage and personnel information in police deadly force incidents.
Sign at Global Climate Action Summit
GLOBAL CLIMATE ACTION SUMMIT: LOPP-CA was part of the leadership team for Lutheran-hosted “Talanoa Dialogue” events on “Loss & Damage” and “Just Transition,” held at Grace Cathedral during the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco.
The Rev. Dan Smith (left), Mary Shaima and Joann Anderson.
NEW BOOK: Retired U.S. Rep. Lois Capps’ (Santa Barbara) new book, Keeping Faith in Congress – Why Persistence, Compassion, and Teamwork Will Save Our Democracy, was published in September (Fortress Press). LOPP-CA had been involved in encouraging Capps to pursue the book project as she retired from Congress two years ago. She is a former board member of Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Berkeley, Calif., and an alumna of Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, Wash., and Yale Divinity School, New Haven, Conn.
BUDGET UPDATE:With no line-item vetoes, Gov. Jerry Brown approved a General Fund budget of about $140 billion that includes items supported by LOPP-CA to increase the CalWORKS/Temporary Assistance for Needy Families assistance grants intended to relieve childhood poverty, increase spending for child care, expand census outreach and make the state Earned Income Tax Credit available for more low-income taxpayers. Proposals to provide Medi-Cal (Medicaid) coverage for low-income young adults and seniors, regardless of immigration status, did not make it into the final budget. LOPP-CA Director Mark Carlson mixed with some of the Poor People’s Campaign participants and tried to connect some of the “outside” protestors with actual budget and legislative decisions being made “inside.”
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: LOPP-CA was site host for a California Interfaith Power & Light Advocacy Day, supporting bills to set stronger goals for renewable electrical energy (SB 100), protect California’s coastline should the federal government seek to expand offshore oil drilling, and establish goals for carbon reduction from ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft. LOPP-CA also offered brief testimony in the Senate Elections Committee supporting stronger sponsor and funding disclosure in social media ads for ballot measures.
NOVEMBER BALLOT:California voters will decide on 12 measures, three placed on the ballot by the Legislature and nine that reached via the initiative petition process. Our priority continues to be the housing bond, cahahousing.org (Programs and Initiative). Carlson hosted the June conference of ELCA rostered leaders gathering at a permanent supportive housing site where Lutheran Social Services of Northern California provides services (photo).