ELCA ADVOCACY DECEMBER, PRAY, FAST and ACT

Advocacy Alert Update

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.

HIV AND AIDS PROGRAMS EXTENDED: Congress has finally passed legislation to reauthorize the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a U.S. government global health initiative that works to combat HIV and AIDS. We expect the president will sign the bill.

The legislation extends the PEPFAR mandate for five years
PEPFAR is the largest global health program devoted to a single disease.
Today PEPFAR supports 14 million people around the world by providing care and lifesaving HIV treatment.
ELCA Advocacy shared an action alert in support of funding for PEPFAR and other federal programs that work to address global health concerns. Interested advocates can customize a letter of their support to lawmakers from the ELCA Action Center at http://elca.org/advocacy/ActionCenter.

STATEMENT ON ASYLUM POLICIES: ELCA Advocacy shared an interfaith pledge to stand with people seeking asylum, following the announcement that the White House would be taking steps to prevent asylum seekers entering the U.S. between ports of entry from protection. The ELCA firmly stands against policies that restrict anyone’s legal right to seek asylum.

Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton commented, “As a church, we cannot remain silent as our asylum laws are unilaterally changed and our nation’s door is shut to people fleeing dire humanitarian situations. From our companion churches in Central America, our church knows many people leave to escape grinding poverty, violence or persecution and to seek a better life for their children.” Advocates can take action and join the pledge here.

ELCA AT THE UNITED NATIONS CLIMATE CONFERENCE: The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), climate change conference (COP 24) is being held in Katowice, Poland from Dec. 3 -14. The international parties are tasked with negotiating the terms of the rulebook for implementation of the Paris Agreement. Although the ELCA has previously participated in the COP conference, this year we attend with our own accreditation for the first time, with participants from ELCA Advocacy, ELCA Global Mission, and ELCA Young Adults. ELCA Advocacy has been actively preparing for this conference by working with other faith-based groups and non-governmental organizations.

Lutheran Office for World Community
LEADERS OF THREE CHURCHES RAISE GRAVE CONCERN ON DECISION TO HALT FURTHER U.S. HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE TO HOSPITALS IN EAST JERUSALEM: Leaders of three U.S. church groups including ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, issued a statement in early November raising “grave concern” about the Trump administration’s decision to halt further U.S. humanitarian assistance to hospitals in East Jerusalem, including Augusta Victoria Hospital, which is operated by the Lutheran World Federation. Leaders from The ELCA, The Episcopal Church and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said the six hospitals in the East Jerusalem Hospital Network are “providing invaluable medical care for the most vulnerable populations, including Palestinians living in East Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank.” They also said “this decision to discontinue that funding leaves the patients, the wider Palestinian community, and us disappointed and perplexed. It is difficult for us to understand why this humanitarian assistance is being brought to a halt, given that lives are being threatened unnecessarily.” The statement will be shared shortly with all members of Congress as part of a greater effort to obtain release of FY 2018 funds for the hospitals and build support for FY2019 funding.

U.N. RECEIVES REPORTS ON RACISM, RACIAL DISCRIMINATION, XENOPHOBIA AND INTOLERANCE: The Third Committee of the General Assembly heard several reports from UN Special Procedure mandate-holders and other experts in recent weeks. Work is progressing on a “Framework for a Declaration on the promotion and full respect of human rights of people of African descent” related to the implementation of the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024). The special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance focused one of her two reports on “ascendant nationalist populist ideologies and strategies that pose a sobering threat to racial equality by fuelling discrimination, intolerance and the creation of institutions and structures that will have enduring legacies of racial exclusion.” The other dealt with the contemporary use of digital technology in the spread of neo-Nazi and related intolerance. A full summary report of presentations, questions and comments from Member States on these and related matters is available