Categories
UN/National Updates Updates

National Office: September 2019

ELCA Advocacy office in Washington, D.C.

from Rev. Amy E. Reumann, director

PROPOSED SNAP RULE CHANGE | AUGUSTA VICTORIA HOSPITAL | INTERFAITH CLIMATE CONSULTATION | YOUNG ADULT HILL VISITS

THIRD PROPOSED RULE CHANGE TO SNAP BENEFITS ANNOUNCED:  On Oct. 1, the United States Department of Agriculture proposed another rule that would cut SNAP benefits, this time by a total of $4.5 billion over five years. The cut would result from changes in how states take households’ utility costs into account in SNAP benefits determination. ELCA Advocacy opposes this new proposed rule.

Lutheran advocates have already submitted public comments pertaining to previously proposed changes. In the period through April 2, ELCA Advocacy network participants opposed time limits on food benefits. In the period through Sept. 23, participants opposed categorical eligibility elimination for SNAP benefit determination. Additional opportunity for response by the ELCA Advocacy network is in development.

AUGUSTA VICTORIA HOSPITAL:  Since September 2018, congressionally allocated U.S. aid has been redirected from hospitals in East Jerusalem to other projects. Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH) and the other members of the East Jerusalem Hospitals network are critical to the region’s health care and well-being. ELCA Peace Not Walls asks advocates to urge lawmakers to reverse this unilateral policy decision.

AVH is owned and operated by the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and several other member churches of the LWF. Without international assistance, Augusta Victoria and other hospitals in East Jerusalem face cuts to services. AVH is unable to make minimum payments to pharmaceutical suppliers of cancer medication and is currently running out of vital medication to treat its patients. Learn more from PNW.

ROBUST AND INSPIRATIONAL INTERFAITH CLIMATE CONSULTATION:  Organized by the ELCA and planning partners, “Climate Emergency: Faith-based Organizations Raising Ambition — Leaving No One Behind” drew representatives from more than 45 groups, including World Council of Churches, Islamic Relief, AME Zion Church, and the Buddhist and Catholic faiths. The consultation, held Sept. 24, amplified the momentum of the UN Climate Change Summit and youth-led actions around the world.

The consultation featured inspirational opening and closing prayers, robust discussions and a passionate report from two student activists who were instrumental in the massive youth mobilizations in New York and around the world on September 20. The consultation is preparing an action plan that reflects the discussions held.

YOUNG-ADULT FAITH LEADERS MAKE HILL VISITS:  An advocacy day for young-adult faith leaders was co-hosted by ELCA Advocacy, Bread for the World, Church World Service and other ecumenical partners in the last week of September. The participants, including ELCA young adults, met with their members of Congress to urging support of foreign assistance development and humanitarian funding.

Lutheran seminary student Wylie Cook said of the event, “It was absolutely humbling to work with fellow young people of faith who came together and sought bipartisan support advocating for foreign assistance funding, which assists the most vulnerable and marginalized around the world. Our common faith values coalesced into a formidable force and illuminated God’s intending of abundant life for all, ‘on earth, as it is in heaven.’”

Categories
State Updates

LOPP-CA Welcomes Nicole Newell As Our Hunger Fellow!

Nicole Newell joins this year’s ELCA Hunger Advocacy Fellows with a background in accompaniment, advocacy and teaching, both at home and abroad. She brings a background in food justice, having worked in kitchens and on small-scale farms to develop context for sustainable food practices. With a BA in Practicing Theology from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, Nicole has a love for Lutherans and served with Lutheran Volunteer Corps in Washington, DC from 2015-2016. She grew up in Des Moines, IA. Nicole is eager to bring her passion for the intersections of faith and justice to effect policy-level change in California.

Categories
UN/National Updates Updates

UN Update: September 2019

Lutheran Office for World Community, United Nations, New York, N.Y.

from Dennis Frado, director 

“TIME FOR HARD CHOICES” REPORT LAUNCH: On September 6, 2019, the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation and the Multi-Partner Trust Fund Office launched a report titled “Financing the UN Development System: Time For Hard Choices.” Split into two sections, part one provides UN funding data on revenue and expenditure, while part two delves into the financial complexities of the 2030 Agenda, told from the perspective of more than 30 authors within and outside the UN system. Read the full report here.

30TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD: UNICEF installed a display of 3,758 backpacks at the UN Headquarters, representing the ”senseless loss of a young life to conflict,” and a “reminder to world leaders of the stakes,” in the lead up to the 30th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child on November 20. The 2019 Annual Report of the Secretary General on children and armed conflict states, “more than 12,000 children were killed or maimed in conflict zones last year, the highest number since the UN started monitoring and reporting this grave violation.”

“WOMEN IN POWER” CALL TO ACTION: H.E. Mrs. Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, the 73rdPresident of the General Assembly, led the final informal high-level event in her “Women in Power” series. The call to action was titled “Voices for Change and Inclusion: Joining Forces and Redoubling Efforts to Achieve Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment for All,” influenced by Espinosa Garcés’ eight priorities to advance female leadership. During opening remarks, Ms. Susan Malcorra stated, “We are deeply convinced that for peace to be achieved and sustained, the full participation and potential of women must be unleashed.” View the session here. This event is in line with the call for action to accelerate full implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, as we head towards its 25th Anniversary in 2020. Read more here.

ANNUAL PRAYER FOR PEACE: In the lead up to the United Nations International Day for Peace (21 September) and the general debate during the 74th Session of the General Assembly, the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations hosted its 33rd Annual Prayer for Peace service. Archbishop Bernardito Auza led three prayers by Pope Francis, UN Secretary-General António Guterres spoke of the value of such a service, and His Excellency Tijjani Muhammad-Bande of Nigeria, President of the 74th session of the General Assembly, expressed how ”it is important to seek the help of God in the work of the United Nations.” 

LOWC FOR CLIMATE JUSTICE: On Friday, September 20, 2019, LOWC staff joined an estimated 60,000+ students, adults and activists in the Climate Strike for climate action in New York. Greta Thunberg delivered a speech during the event in New York stating, “we are doing this to wake leaders up… We are a wave of change, together and united we are unstoppable .” It is estimated that more than 1 million people participated in climate strikes globally across 125 countries on this day.

The UN Youth Climate Summit and SDG Action Zone took place the following day (September 21) at the United Nations Headquarters where Greta Thunberg criticized world leaders for their lack of urgency, during the opening session. Young entrepreneurs from around the world were given the opportunity to take the mic and discuss solutions.

On September 22, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres convened the Climate Action Summit 2019, where leaders were urged to showcase “concrete, realistic plans to enhance their nationally determined contributions by 2020, in line with reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45% over the next decade, and to net zero emissions by 2050.” During the event (view here), members of governments, the private sector, civil society and other international organizations came together to develop six action portfolios to curb global greenhouse gas emissions and promote global action.

74TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY CONVENES: The 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA74) began on 17 September with the general debate taking place 24 – 30 September under the new GA President, His Excellency Tijjani Muhammad-Bande of Nigeria. To view what each country had to say during the General Debate, click here. Many other high-level events were held, such as on Universal Health Coverage, the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, financing for development, and the review of progress made in addressing priorities of small island developing states (SIDS) also took place during this time. 

Categories
State Updates

August 2019 Update

LEGISLATURE BACK IN SESSION:
Fiscal committees had until August 30 to hear and pass the remaining fiscal bills to the floors of the respective houses. The remaining two weeks of session, until September 13, are reserved for floor sessions. This first year of a two-year session adjourns at midnight on Friday, September 13, 2019. Please look out for time-sensitive alerts about ways to support our advocacy as measures move from the floor of the legislature to the governor’s desk for signature.

LOBBY DAY PARTICIPATION:
LOPP-CA has had an exciting month supporting our ministry partners and advocacy allies in their lobby days and advocacy actions. Just a couple of highlights:

On Wednesday, August 21st we participated in Building The California Dream Alliance (BCDA) lobby day. BCDA unites more than 60 organizations in a broad progressive coalition in an ambitious agenda to uplift families and expand opportunities for all Californians. We worked on stronger protections for striking and locked out workers, more robust safeguards for student borrowers, greater securities for our undocumented siblings and much more. Go to http://cadreambuilder.org to find out more about BCDA and our participation.

California Interfaith Power and Light (CIPL) envisions a stable climate where humans live in right and just relationship, interconnected with a healthy, thriving, natural world. They work toward this goal through education, advocacy, direct action and conservation. Their lobby day was Wednesday, August 28th and together we advocated for “Complete Streets” (safe use of our community streets for walkers, bikers, public transportation, and private vehicles), Smog Checks for Big Rigs, the protection of our state lands from would-be fossil fuel extractors, and plastics use abatement. LOPP-CA would be glad to help you register to become an IPL congregation.

PARTNERSHIP WITH FARMING HOPE:
LOPP-CA is excited to announce collaboration with Farming Hope, a non-profit community organization providing transitional employment and training in the culinary industry to unhoused and low-income people in our community. They are a recipient of an ELCA World Hunger grant and Executive Director Jamie Stark was well received at the hunger leaders gathering this summer in Minneapolis, Minn. Initial discussions were had over brunch on August 24th with representatives of Lutheran Social Services of Northern California, ELCA World Hunger and the office of Bishop Mark Holmerud, ELCA Sierra Pacific Synod. To find out more about Farming Hope visit them at https://farminghope.org and have a bite at their commercial kitchen site Manny’s at 3092 16th Street in San Francisco.

MISSION SUPPORT LETTER:
Be on the lookout for a letter going to congregations asking for additional mission support. The work we do here at LOPP-CA is dependent upon you and your congregation’s generosity. Please consider blessing our ministry with an additional gift today. Instructions can be found in the mail, or at our website: lutheranpublicpolicyca.org.

CONGREGATION VISIT THANK YOU: 
A sincere thank you goes out to congregations that have welcomed LOPP-CA into their Sunday worship experiences recently. They were truly blessed times in the Lord, and we look forward to coming back soon. Specifically, Faith Lutheran Church in Marysville, Calif.

Categories
State Updates

August 2019 Update

SUMMER RECESS:
The Legislature for the state of California is in Summer Recess and slated to return August 12. Fiscal Committees will have roughly 3 weeks, until August 30, to hear and pass the remaining fiscal bills to the floors of the respective houses. The remaining two weeks of session, until September 13, is reserved for floor sessions. This first year of a two-year session adjourns at Midnight on Friday, September 13, 2019.

SUMMER LEGISLATIVE VISITS:
Summer is an excellent time to meet with federal, state and local policy officials while they are back home in their districts. LOPP-CA would like to highlight just such an opportunity taken. Lutheran Church of the Master in Sacramento, CA hosted a beautiful community meeting with elected officials on the Sacramento City Council and command representatives from the Sacramento City Police Department and local social service agencies to address the homelessness issue in their South Land Park community. Pr. Linda Boston and Councilman Steve Hansen did a great job of engaging the nearly 100 participants who came out on a hot Wednesday evening on July 24th. It is a beginning to their local advocacy and LOPP-CA has vowed to walk with them. Is your congregation interested in beginning an advocacy project? Contact us and we would be proud to walk with you.

HUNGER LEADERS’ GATHERING 2019:
LOPP-CA participated with ministries across the country (and touching locations across the globe) in the Hunger Leaders’ Gathering hosted by Central Lutheran Church of Minneapolis, Minnesota July 18-21. The Hunger Leaders’ Gathering is a conference of ELCA World Hunger Grant recipients. ELCA World Hunger Grants amount to LOPP-CA’s single largest funding source and a source of ministry support and guidance. It was a blessing to get together with fellow recipients and World Hunger staff to share best practices and network. Standby for word on new initiatives from California!

MISSION SUPPORT LETTER:
Be on the lookout for a letter going to congregations asking for additional mission support. The work we do here at LOPP-CA is dependent upon you and your congregation’s generosity. Please consider blessing our ministry with an additional gift today. Instructions can be found in the mail, or at our website: www.lutheranpublicpolicyca.org

CONGREGATION VISIT THANK YOUS:
A sincere thank you goes out to congregations that have welcomed LOPP-CA into their Sunday worship experiences recently. They were truly blessed times in the Lord, and we look forward to coming back soon. Specifically, St. Mark’s Lutheran Church (Fairfield) Pr. Karen Stetins Sr. Pastor, Peace Lutheran Church (Grass Valley) Rev. Bill Wong Interim Pastor and Lutheran Church of the Master (Sacramento) Pr. Linda Boston Sr. Pastor.

Categories
UN/National Updates Updates

Responding to Our Sorrow With Action

Our communities are bracing for nationwide raids by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to begin on Sunday. Planned raids are reported to focus on 10 major cities where the Department of Justice has sped up immigration cases for thousands of recent arrivals.

Lutherans have a deep-rooted history in refugee and immigrant issues. One of every six Lutherans in the world was a refugee or displaced person after WWII. The God-given dignity in all people and value of family unity have been cornerstones of ELCA faith-based advocacy, and we understand that many immigrants, as well as their families, are both afraid and confused by recent developments. Daily experience of ministries, Lutheran organizations and members “keep before us – so that we do not forget – the grim realities many immigrants face and the strength of character and resourcefulness newcomers demonstrate,” notes the ELCA social message, “Immigration.”

A compilation of resources, updated today from an original posting on June 28, can be found in “Responding to our sorrow with action” on the ELCA Advocacy blog. At the meeting place of our knowledge and values, Lutherans have acted and can continue to respond.

Categories
State Updates

July 2019 Update

BUDGET GAINS AND LOSSES:
During our Lobby Day last month we advocated for a Medi-Cal (California’s low-income health care program) expansion that would cover all income-eligible people independent of immigration status. We, and our allies, were partially successful in spurring an expansion that will cover those up to age 26.  We also talked to legislators about the establishment of a clean, safe and affordable drinking water fund. The Legislature agreed and chose to finance the measure with cap-and-trade funds as opposed to the governor’s proposed new fee on polluters. Finally, the Legislature approved a significant expansion to the California Earned Income Tax Credit. This is a tent post for the End Child Poverty coalition to which we belong and was a huge win. Unfortunately, the expansion will not include those who file taxes with an ITIN, whose filers are primarily undocumented workers. Thank you to everyone who came to Lobby Day, made calls, wrote e-mails and prayed. We got both some significant wins and a clearer roadmap of the work ahead!

WORLD REFUGEE DAY ACKNOWLEDGMENT:
June 20thmarked U.N. World Refugee Day. LOPP-CA acknowledged the day with partners such as St. Paul Lutheran Church of Lodi, Calif; Organizacion de Trabajadores, Fuerzas Unidas and others in a march and prayer circle for the reunification of families being callously held in US detentions. We prayed together and then marched to the U.S. General Services Administration building in Sacramento where we prayed for the employees and our policy makers.

SECOND-MILE GIVING:
Thank you so much to everyone, congregations and individuals alike, who participated in the Sierra Pacific Synod’s second-mile giving support of LOPP-CA in June. We are humbled by your generosity.

Categories
State Updates

June 2019 Update

LUTHERAN LOBBY DAY 2019 WAS A HUGE SUCCESS:
About 105 Lutherans from throughout our diverse state gathered in Sacramento on May 29 to talk to policy makers about childhood poverty, a MediCal expansion to cover undocumented adults and water justice. We assembled at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Sacramento to hear the gospel preached by the Rev. Amy Reumann, director of ELCA Advocacy, commune together and learn advocacy tips and strategies before heading to the Capitol for scheduled meetings. We met with 52 (of 120) state legislator offices in four hours! Some were short, uplifting meetings of like-minded people; others were more contentious. But all participants had a meaningful day putting faith into action.

LOPP-CA would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who helped make the event a success. We’d especially like to highlight Bishops Guy Erwin of Southwest California, Mark Holmerud of Sierra Pacific and Andy Taylor of Pacifica Synod who attended and committed themselves and their staffs to highlighting the role of advocacy in the life of the church. St. John’s and its pastor, the Rev. Frank Espegren, who were a study in hospitality for the day; and our ministry partners throughout the capitol community that made the vision for the day come to life. It was truly a blessed time in the Lord, and it’s not too soon to plan to join us next year!

Categories
State Updates

Lutheran Lobby Day 2019 Was an Outstanding Success!

Here is a slideshow from Lutheran Lobby Day.  It is nothing short of amazing that we had over 100 people advocating to end childhood poverty, to bring clean water to marginalized communities, and for compassionate and sustainable immigration systems at our first Lobby Day!   Our new Director, Regina Banks, is doing a fabulous job!

Categories
State Updates

May 2019 Update

ADVOCACY CONVENING:
California was well-represented at this year’s Advocacy Convening held April 29 through May 1 in Washington, D.C. The theme of this year’s event was “Prepared to Care: Our Advocacy in Light of Disasters Intensified by Climate Change”. The California delegation consisted of Bishop Guy Erwin of the Southwest California Synod, Debi Groon of Lutheran Social Services of Southern California, Wylie Cook a seminarian and board member of the Lutheran Office of Public Policy- California, and Regina Q. Banks, director of LOPP-CA.

The delegation discussed the ELCA’s commitment to disaster response and preparedness with congressional representative Gilbert Cisneros (CA-39), Doris Matsui (CA-06) and Brad Sherman (CA-30),  as well as senators Kamala Harris and Diane Feinstein. All of the meetings went very well and it was decided all of the offices were receptive to the ELCA Advocacy Ask.

LUTHERAN LOBBY DAY IN SACRAMENTO:
Washington was good practice for California’s first statewide advocacy event scheduled for Wednesday May 29th in Sacramento. You can still register for Lutheran Lobby Day at the State Capitol. Participants from D.C. will give an in-depth debrief. Information and a link to register can be found at www.loppca.org