Bishop Eaton Addresses LOPPCA Followers

A message from Presiding Bishop of the ELCA, Elizabeth A. Eaton, to California advocates on what would have been our second annual Lobby Day today. We are grateful for her unwavering support of our work. This year’s Lobby Day has been postponed to September given the special circumstances of the legislative session during COVID-19.

In other news, we received approval for our permit to gather at the Capitol for Lutheran Lobby Day 2021. We are looking forward to gathering in person next year on May 19, 2020. You can mark your calendars!

ELCA presiding bishop issues pastoral message on COVID-19 racism and white supremacy

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. —I Corinthians 12:12

May 13, 2020

Dear church,

Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!

During the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, I am encouraged by your resilience and creativity in our witness to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I am also inspired by your generosity. Through the ELCA COVID-19 Response Fund and our Daily Bread grants, we are providing critical support to struggling yet vital ministries across this church. Through Lutheran Disaster Response International we have intensified our accompaniment of global partners. We are church together.

This is a trying time for us all. At the same time, we know that a disproportionate burden of illness, death, discrimination and harassment falls on communities of color. This pandemic has exacerbated racism and racial inequities deeply entrenched in society and across the church. We see this in the growing anti-Asian racism and the disproportionate number of deaths in black, American Indian and Latinx communities. I have been learning from the leaders of the ELCA’s ethnic associations how the data we see on the news is experienced in real life. I have listened to leaders of color share the impact of this pandemic on their communities — on their lives and on their ministries. These stories are difficult but important, so we are launching a special series on LivingLutheran.org to lift up these voices for us all to hear. We also seek to ensure that our COVID-19 response more effectively tends to the realities of racism and racial inequality. We are church together. 

Recently, in cities across this country, we have seen horrifying anti-Semitic and white supremacist messages displayed during public protests against government orders that are intended to protect lives. No matter our politics or opinions about our elected leaders and their policies, all of us must come together on the basis of our church’s commitments to condemn racism against indigenous people and people of color, white supremacy, sexism, and anti-Semitism whenever they occur. Whether our churches and communities are racially diverse or predominantly white,our work for racial and economic justice for all people is work for all of us. We are church together.

Just as God has joined us to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in baptism, we are joined to each other. Paul helps us to understand this by speaking of the one body of Christ, with many members. While this is always true, perhaps we feel it more acutely in this time of physical distancing. In our longing to be church together, let us be even more intentional in sharing with each other, easing each other’s burdens, consoling each other in our fear and grief, condemning what is contrary to the gospel and living out our baptismal covenant “to strive for justice and peace in all the earth.”

In partnership,


The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton
Presiding Bishop, ELCA

To learn more, visit:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “COVID-19 in Racial and Ethnic Minority Groups” 

ELCA social statement “Freed in Christ: Race, Ethnicity, and Culture” 

Explanation of the Declaration of the ELCA to People of African Descent

ELCA social policy resolution “Condemnation of White Supremacy and Racist Rhetoric” 

ELCA social statement “Faith, Sexism, and Justice: A Call to Action”  

Declaration of the ELCA to Jewish Community

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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with nearly 3.5 million members in more than 9,100 worshiping communities across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of “God’s work. Our hands,” the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA’s roots are in the writings of the German church reformer Martin Luther.

House Democrats Introduce The Heroes Act

Bold, Transformative Legislation Meets the Challenge of the Coronavirus Pandemic

A Statement from the Building the California Dream Alliance

WASHINGTON — House Democrats today introduced The Heroes Act, a bold and comprehensive coronavirus response bill that will meet the challenge this pandemic poses to our nation.

The more than $3 trillion legislation protects the lives and livelihoods of the American people. Among its many provisions, the bill:

Honors our heroes, by providing nearly $1 trillion to state, local, territorial and tribal governments who desperately need funds to pay vital workers like first responders, health workers, and teachers who keep us safe and are in danger of losing their jobs

Establishes a Heroes’ Fund for essential workers, with $200 billion to ensure that essential workers who have risked their lives working during the pandemic receive hazard pay

Supports testing, tracing and treatment, by providing another $75 billion for coronavirus testing, contact tracing and isolation measures, ensuring every American can access free coronavirus treatment, and supporting hospitals and providers

Provides additional direct payments, cushioning the economic blow of the coronavirus crisis with a second round of more substantial economic impact payments of $1,200 per family member, up to $6,000 per household

Protects payrolls, by enhancing the new employee retention tax credit that encourages employers to keep employees on payroll, allowing 60 million Americans to remain connected to their paychecks and benefits

Ensures worker safety, by requiring OSHA to issue a strong, enforceable standard within seven days to require all workplaces to develop and implement infection control plans based on CDC expertise, and prevents employers from retaliating against workers who report infection control problems

Supports small businesses and nonprofits, by strengthening the Payroll Protection Program to ensure that it reaches underserved communities, nonprofits of all sizes and types and responds flexibly to small businesses by providing $10 billion for Covid-19 emergency grants through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program

Preserves health coverage, by protecting Americans losing their employer-provided health insurance with COBRA subsidies to maintain their coverage and creating a special enrollment period in the ACA exchanges for uninsured Americans

Extends unemployment benefits, ensuring weekly $600 federal unemployment payments through next January, providing a vital safety net for the record number of Americans who are unemployed

Bolsters housing assistance, helping struggling families afford a safe place to live with $175 billion in new supports to assist renters and homeowners make monthly rent, mortgage and utility payments and other housing-related costs

Strengthens food security, addressing rising hunger with a 15 percent increase to the maximum SNAP benefit and additional funding for nutrition programs that help families put food on the table

Safeguards our democracy, with new resources to ensure safe elections, an accurate Census, and preserve the Postal Service

The Heroes Act was introduced by Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey (D-NY) and co-sponsored by Education and Labor Committee Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA), Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Small Business Committee Chairwoman Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Mark Takano (D-CA) and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA).

The legislation follows the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act enacted on April 24; the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, enacted on March 27; the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, enacted on March 18; and the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act enacted on March 6.

The text of The Heroes Act, H.R. 6800, is here. A one pager on the legislation is here. A section-by-section summary is here. A resource on the state and local relief provisions is here.

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Recovery for All

Progressive Organizations Outline Sweeping Agenda to
Achieve a “Recovery for All” in California that is Equitable and Green

Press Release
May 6, 2020
Contact: Nikki Paschal, 916.444.7170

Sacramento, CA –  The Building the California Dream Alliance, a broad coalition of more than 55 progressive organizations, today unveiled a sweeping set of policy proposals aimed at eliminating injustices in health care, economic opportunity, education and environmental quality that have been exposed and amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a letter to Governor Newsom, the organizations’ leaders emphasized the opportunity before California now to re-shape a broken economic system that left millions of Californians and their families unable to withstand any level of economic downturn, and to make a sizeable investment in safety net programs needed to ensure a Recovery for All. They also underscored the unacceptable structural racism in our health care system and in the determinants of health – reinforced by economic and environmental injustice – that have resulted in COVID-19’s staggering death toll for people of color.

“This pandemic is a clarion call for transformation across our economic and social systems,” said Regina Banks, Director, Lutheran Office of Public Policy – California.  “Within the first few weeks of California’s effort to slow the virus’ spread, millions of Californians were unable to pay for rent or food – illustrating just how many Californians were living on razor thin margins even in a ‘growing’ economy.  While we give attention to their most immediate needs, California must commit to support their recovery over the long haul and implement the sweeping reforms needed to deliver justice in economic opportunity, education, health care, and the environment.”

Each year the coalition outlines an ambitious agenda to uplift families, empower workers and communities, and expand opportunities for all Californians to take part in the California Dream.  This year’s coalition agenda was released today as state legislators have begun to hold policy hearings on bills and the week before Governor Newsom is set to release a May budget revision transformed significantly by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The disproportionate loss of life in California’s communities of color is devastating and unacceptable — and it was preventable,” said Nourbese Flint, Executive Director of the Black Women for Wellness Action Project. “Systemic racism has persisted in health care access and delivery because we have failed to prioritize eliminating it.  We will not allow inequities to be forgotten when the immediate threat of COVID-19 is behind us, and we will not relent from our fight for health care equity until every Californian has the opportunity to be healthy.”

“Too many workers whom we recognize now as essential have always been treated as if they are expendable,” said Amber Baur, Executive Director UFCW Western States Council. “Now is the time for us to start treating every single Californian as essential, valuable, and worthy of dignity and a voice both at work and in their communities.”

Healthcare and Housing for all people, with no exceptions.

Health Care: Expand Medi-Cal for all eligible seniors, regardless of immigration status.

Health Care:  Increase state subsidies for Covered California.

Health Care: Enact AB 1611(Chiu) which would ban surprise emergency room billing by preventing surprise bills for out-of-network hospital ER visits so consumers are only billed for their in-network co-pay or deductible, and setting a fair provider payment standard.

Healthcare: Clarify that reproductive and sexual health services including abortion, gender-affirming care, sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment, and family planning are essential healthcare that cannot be delayed. In addition, remove cost-sharing for these essential services.

Healthcare: Remove physician supervision for certified nurse midwives to increase access to high-quality, high-value maternity care, reduce race-based disparities in maternal outcomes, and bring California in line with the 46 other states that all do not require physician supervision for certified nurse midwives.

Housing: Forgive unpaid rent accrued by low income households during the crisis. Establish a relief fund for nonprofit housing developers and needy landlords who’s lost rental incomes would otherwise put their business at risk. Eligible landlords shall meet a set of tenant protection criteria. State government should recoup these funds with a temporary or permanent fee on the largest landlords.

Unhoused: Set aside 20% of the total 2020-21 homelessness budget to combat youth homelessness.

Housing: Dedicate significant funding and deploy a set of strategies to reign in speculation in the housing market.

Housing: End predatory displacement financing by requiring state chartered banks and state licensed lenders to develop an anti-displacement financing policy.

A government focused on care and inclusion that lifts all people out of poverty allowing us to live full and happy lives.

 Immigration: Direct local jails and prisons to suspend the transfer of individuals from California’s custody to ICE in order to protect Californians from being subjected to inhumane and unsanitary conditions in immigration detention where the COVID-19 virus has been rapidly spreading.

Immigration: Expand EITC for ITIN workers and allow it to go into effect retroactively.

Expand Aid Programs: Implement a public education program to get people to file federal tax returns so that they can receive the $1,200 federal stimulus checks.

Nonprofits: Direct departments to continue paying contractors who are underperforming due to temporary closures and suspension or reduction of services associated with COVID-19 and provide expedited or automatic approval process for budget modifications that do not increase the contract.

Small business: Invest in a $100 million grant program for small businesses with 1-25 employees and under $1 million in revenue disseminated by CDFIs and economic development community based organizations to ensure that hard to reach and historically marginalized small businesses and sole proprietors benefit from the program.

SEED Initiative: Maintain the $10 million SEED Initiative currently in the proposed budget.

 Policies and Programs that prioritize workers and communities over corporate executives.

Worker Protections:  Ensure that  workers receive the benefits they deserve by mandating a presumption that contracting COVID-19 or exposure to and physician ordered quarantine due to COVID-19 is conclusively determined to arise out of and in the course of employment for all essential workers.

Worker protections: Require California and its healthcare system to have a long term plan for ensuring we have an adequate supply of PPE.

Worker Protections: Expand California leave laws to ensure coverage for all workers not covered by the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act including amending the California Family Rights Act to ensure that workers can take time off to care for themselves or their loved ones without losing their jobs.

Worker Protections:  Create an “Emergency Fund” for workers that cannot access unemployment insurance and other safety because they are excluded by law such as garment workers, childcare workers and undocumented workers

Worker Protections:  Enact, SB 1257 (Durazo) which would eliminate the “household domestic service” exclusion in Cal/OSHA, which sets standards for employers to provide a safe working environment for workers.

Worker Protections: Enact SB 1399 (Durazo) which would put a stop to the most egregious exploitation of garment workers by ensuring that they are fairly compensated for their work and keep the wages they earn.

Payday Lenders: Issue comprehensive guidance to keep payday lenders and Merchant Cash Advance shops from increasing interest rates.

Childcare: Invest $200 million from the CARES Act into the creation of a child care fund to support essential workers child care needs. This investment would fund approximately 80,000 childcare slots.

Safety Net for All: Create a temporary, partial income replacement program for excluded workers who are not eligible for the state or federal benefits administered by EDD and who are unemployed or underemployed as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A just transition to a green, regenerative economy that ensures all Californians have a clean and safe environment where they live, work, play and pray.

Utilities & Water Service: Prohibit utility shutoffs and restore service for any essential service, including but not limited to: broadband, mobile phones, electricity, natural gas, water for those with combined water/sewer utility. In addition, waive all liens, late fees, and penalties on such utilities. This includes implementation of EO N-42-20, immediately ending all disconnections of water service for nonpayment, and restoring service to all those who had water service disconnected since March 4, 2020.

Environment: Implement health-protective regulations that impact clean air, clean water, and environmental health must not be delayed or rolled back, especially not during a health crisis.

Environment: Retain the use of Greenhouse Gas Reduction Funds for incentives that reduce greenhouse gases and localized air pollution from vehicles.

Environment: Develop an economic stimulus package that aligns spending with good job creation with benefits to public health, the environment, and climate resiliency. Any such plan must be informed by impacted communities.

Environment: Enact AB 345 (Muratsuchi) to ensure that CalGEM finishes the public health and safety rulemaking currently underway, provides resources for impacted communities to participate, and establishes a health and safety buffer zone between oil extraction and communities. As the link between exposure to air pollution and susceptibility to COVID-19 has emerged, CalGEM has the responsibility to establish a setback and any other measures that will help improve public health coming out of this crisis.

Expand and Protect our democratic process, ensuring robust, accessible opportunities for all Californians to determine the future of our government and economy.

Voting: Mail every voter a ballot, require robust in-person voting options and early voting, ensure additional resources for a massive public education and outreach campaign so every voter understands their options to vote safely, and provide poll workers with protective gear and “hazard pay”.

 Public Access: Continue to ensure that the public, and especially those most impacted by decisions, both locally and state-wide, can participate remotely in decision making.

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The Building the California Dream Alliance includes: ACCE, Advancement Project, American Civil Liberties Union of CA, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN), Black Women for Wellness, Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, California Attorneys For Criminal Justice (CACJ), California Calls, California Donor Table, California Low Income Consumers Coalition, California Domestic Workers Coalition, California Employment Lawyers Association (CELA), California Environmental Justice Alliance, California Food & Farming Network, California Labor Federation, California Immigrant Policy Center, California League of Conservation Voters, California NOW, California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, California Reinvestment Coalition, Center for Responsible Lending, Child Care Law Center, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), Consumer Attorneys of California, Council on American-Islamic Relations, California Chapter (CAIR-CA), Courage California, Disability Rights California, Drug Policy Alliance, Earthjustice, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Environment California, Equality California, Equal Rights Advocates, Friends Committee on Legislation of California, Health Access, Latino Coalition For A Healthy California, Lutheran office of Public Policy, MALDEF, Mobilize the Immigrant Vote, Mujeres Unidas, NARAL Pro-Choice California, NextGen California, PICO California, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of CA, PolicyLink, Public Advocates, SEIU California, Sierra Club California, Smart Justice California, UFCW, Voices for Progress, Young Invincibles, Western Center on Law & Poverty

Register for Lobby Day!

 

Maybe you are interested in politics, but aren’t sure where to jump in. Or maybe you’ve never voted before and don’t know what a legislative district is. Or maybe you’ve met with your legislators before, perhaps many times.

Whoever you are, Lutheran Lobby Day is for you.

WHo

Laypeople, pastors and bishops will convene virtually for our second annual advocacy day with the California State Legislature. While we regret that we cannot gather in person at the State Capitol, we are excited that gathering virtually allows more people to participate.

WHy advocacy?

God calls us through baptism to strive for peace and justice through all the earth. Our advocacy will focus on COVID-19 relief for California’s most impacted communities. Your voice is needed. No experience required!

How do I prepare?

Two training webinars will be offered prior to Lobby Day on May 6 at 12:00 pm and at 6:00 pm PDT. All registrants will receive information about how to participate in one of these trainings.

is there a fee?

The event is free of charge, but donations are always welcome. There will be breaks throughout the schedule.

Can I promote this event?

Yes! Please feel free to promote this event in your synods, churches, and church groups. You can find a flier and a sample email here.

tentative Schedule
9:00am Opening Convocation
10:00am Policy Briefing
10:30am – 2:15pm Virtual Visits with Legislators

 

Recap: Lobby Day 2019

Over 100 people came from all over the state of California advocating to end childhood poverty, to bring clean water to marginalized communities, and for compassionate and sustainable immigration systems at our first Lobby Day!

a conversation on the latest draft social message

Please sign up for a conversation with Rev. Roger Willer on the ELCA’s Draft Social Message on Government and Civic Engagement: Discipleship in a Democracy.

A link for the virtual meeting will be sent prior to the event for all who register.

Prior to the hearing, please read the draft social message.

Social messages are teaching documents of the ELCA focused on particular social topics. They are intended to focus attention and urge action on timely, pressing matters of social concern to church and society.

This writing project was requested by the 2019 Churchwide Assembly and authorized in November 2019 by the ELCA Church Council [CC19.11.47w]. From March 20 to May 27, ELCA members are invited to provide feedback on a draft of the message. It will be considered for adoption at a June meeting of the council.

April 2020 Update

While COVID-19 has turned our world upside down in unprecedented ways, our advocacy work continues to be essential in developing coordinated and inclusive responses that support all Americans.

The California Legislature went on an extended recess beginning in mid-March which has been extended for the next month. Advocacy has therefore focused on urging the Governor to enact a true moratorium on evictions and mortgage protections, include Individual Taxpayer Identification Number filers in any relief at the state level, and more. Even so, we continue to support state bills related to COVID-19 relief, such as CalFresh, Simpler for Seniors and CalFresh, Prison Preenrollment and the Racial Justice Act for when the Legislature reconvenes. We are also assisting our partners in accessing federal CARES and Families First provisions and shifting our advocacy to the federal level when necessary.

The Lutheran Office of Public Policy – California instituted a new program to engage our Policy Council, pastors and members of Lutheran congregations in California. We call it Advocacy in Quarantine.

  • We set a weekly Wednesday Zoom meeting where LOPP-CA staff offer a roughly 25 minute overview of the federal government’s response to Covid-19, the State of California’s response, and pending state legislation we are following and sponsoring. We also highlight the work that our allies and ministry partners are doing in the state.
  • We then direct them to actions that would take them about 5 minutes to complete (I.e.; call or tweet the governor to release prisoners and ICE detainees on #FaithfulFridays)

We are grateful for an incredible response from our members, and we’re getting feedback from our ministry partners that the calls are already being noticed. We are seriously contemplating how this can become a part of our programing when we go back into session.

April 8 Action Items

  1. Call state legislators to support undocumented Californians.

Make the phonecall to your assemblymembers and senator’s offices found at findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov

It’s likely that you will speak with a staff member. They will relay your message to their state member. 

Hello ______________,

My name is ___________ . I am calling today as your constituent and as a member of the Lutheran Office of Public Policy, CA.

I urge you to include undocumented people, families, seniors, and children in any COVID-19 related legislation this year.

I support retroactively expanding the CalEITC to ITIN filers. I also support the Health4All expansion to undocumented seniors, and paid family leave and job protection for immigrants.

How can we live with ourselves if we leave people out in this time of crisis? Documentation status does not trump essential human rights to health, safety, livelihood, and home.

[Use this opportunity to share any stories you may have that support the need for this relief in your district.]

Please do not forget our immigrant neighbors in this time of need.

Thank you so much for your time.

Goodbye.

2. Sign a letter to include immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers in all federal COVID-19 recovery plans

A message from our partners at AMMPARO:

Dear friends,

I hope you are all doing well and that your loved ones are healthy.

Though our partnership with the Interfaith Immigration Coalition (IIC), our Advocacy office has contributed in drafting the attached letter.

I am asking you to join this sign on letter to  include immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers in all COVID-19 recovery plans – and keep families and communities together. It is imperative that Members of Congress and the administration hear that their constituents want to see meaningful solutions that support all of our neighbors.  

Faith Leaders: Sign on to this important letter by Tuesday, April 14th. Please fill out this form to sign on: bit.ly/COVID19FaithLeaderSignOn.

Crises test who we are as a nation – and we are stronger when we are united, extend compassion to our neighbors, listen to public health experts, and resist medical prejudice and discrimination.

Thank you for taking action – and please share this action alert with your networks!

Un abrazo,

Trini

Census 2020: Who are we?

On this National Census Day, commit to complete your form – but also encourage the community as well! Undercounting is a significant issue among groups which benefoit most form anti-poverty programs and from greater representation in decision-making. “Hard to count” individuals in census experience include persons residing in rural areas, young children, LGBTQIA persons, people experiencing homelessness, people who do not speak English, indigenous peoples and racial and ethnic minorities.

“An accurate count ensures that resources more justly go where they are needed most. It is also critical for representation I the political process as census information determines electoral maps,” says the Rev. Amy E. Reumann, Director of ELCA Advocacy. Before in-person census takers are scheduled to facilitate this once-every-10-years count, let’s encourage everyone we can to complete the census online, by mail or by phone – accessed at 2020census.gov.

The ELCA is an official partner of the 2020 Census. Use these voices of Lutheran leaders, also available on social media @ELCAadvocacy, to help encourage the most accurate count possible.


 

“The Central States Synod encompasses two states (Kansas and Missouri), large metropolitan centers, small towns and rural communities, places where the population is growing with thriving businesses, and wide open spaces where homes are few and far. Our landscape from the Lake of the Ozarks to the plains of western Kansas is quite diverse as are our political views and agendas. But through the church we recognize and dare to proclaim, as Jesus did in the gospels, that we all have value and worth, that everyone counts and is important, that it is our diversity which reflects the image of God in our midst. And because everyone counts, everyone needs to be counted in the upcoming census to get a truer and more accurate picture of who we are.”
– The Rev. Susan Candea, Bishop, ELCA Central States Synod  [PHOTO CREDIT: FB@LRC-Central States Synod]

 

“People of color and indigenous people – we can’t afford the illusion of having the luxury of not engaging in this census, because the system doesn’t work for us. We have to do both: making sure our communities are counted and equitably represented in this census, and working to change systems and structures, elected leaders and representatives until they do work for all of us.”
– The Rev. Albert Starr, Jr., ELCA Director, Ethnic Specific and Multicultural Ministries

 

“Those of us struggling with homelessness and at risk of frequent eviction are often missed in our critical census count. Taking part in the census helps direct critical housing and homeless resources to our communities in the greatest need. From the Emergency Shelter Grants Program to the Special Milk Program for children, these programs depend on a complete and accurate count. In coordination with local census offices, houses of worship, shelters, service providers and others might be the only opportunity many have to take part in the census. Help your ministry, soup kitchen, or service program expand the count which can be completed online, by phone or by mail.”
– Andrew Fuller, ELCA Advocacy Coordinator

 

“Forty-five million versus 13 million. That’s the enormous disparity between the average number of words children with white collar parents who read to them hear by the age of four in contrast to children growing up with less access to books. However, reading and being read to has a significant life-long impact on our children and our society. Access to libraries becomes essential for healthy communities, and yet there are “book deserts” all across our nation. Without voice or vote themselves, kids cannot tell you how much reading matters to them – and they are often overlooked when it comes to census taking. Encourage counting the kids in the 2020 Census.”
– The Rev. Janelle Hooper, ELCA Program Director for Ministry with Children

 

“As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community and as a person of faith, I know the importance of being seen, named and cared for by the communities I am part of. One way care for LGBTQIA+ people can increase is for us to be seen and counted across the country. For those from the LGBTQIA+ who are not in danger of losing their employment or housing by sharing their identity in the 2020 Census, I invite you to do so – knowing it will make a way for others to receive care.”
– Aubrey Thonvold, Executive Director, ReconcilingWorks  [PHOTO CREDIT: FB@ReconcilingWorks]

 

“The benefit of the census is deeply personal to our communities. Undercounting is a significant issue among groups which benefit most from anti-poverty programs and from greater representation in decision-making. Like our federally recognized tribes, our unrecognized untreatied undocumented people benefit from the very personal infrastructures that affects our lives, like healthcare, food programs, our education from Head Start and libraries to tribal colleges and Pell Grants being available. Counting matters.”
– Prairie Rose Seminole, ELCA Program Director, American Indian and Alaska Native Ministries  [PHOTO CREDIT: USFWS Mountain-Prairie]

 


For your neighbor and yourself – encourage your community to be counted!

Why do Lutherans get involved in politics?

How do we do God’s work in public life? What is good government anyway?

To address these questions, our church has drafted a Social Message on Government and Civic Engagement: Discipleship in a Democracy. From March 20 to May 20, ELCA members are invited to provide feedback on a draft of the message.

We want to hear from YOU, your CHURCH, and your SYNOD about this draft social message. What’s missing, what do you find insightful, where could there be greater depth?

Read the message here and leave comments here. Virtual discussions by synod are on the horizon–we’ll keep you posted.

 

This writing project was requested by the 2019 Churchwide Assembly and authorized in November 2019 by the ELCA Church Council [CC19.11.47w]. It will be considered for adoption at a June meeting of the council.

Social messages are teaching documents of the ELCA focused on particular social topics. They are intended to focus attention and urge action on timely, pressing matters of social concern to church and society. 

To learn more about the social message and the process of its creation, please see the “Frequently Asked Questions” document.