ELCA Advocacyhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/Lenten Reflection: Creating something from nothingStacy Martin, Director for Advocacyhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/126http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/126<div class="ExternalClassA9CC73F4AF8E424E81D22055DF5C3DAB"><table width="100%" class="ms-rteTable-default" cellspacing="0"><tbody><tr><td class="ms-rteTable-default" style="width&#58;100%;"><p><em>&quot;They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.&quot;</em></p><p style="text-align&#58;right;"><em>Mark 6&#58;42-44&#160;(NRSV)</em></p><p>Like Thomas Jefferson, I've never seemed to have much patience for the Bible's miracle stories. They're difficult to deal with. To my modern mind, it's hard to imagine that seas can part, food can appear from nowhere and that the dead can be raised.</p><p><img alt="stacy headshot.JPG" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/stacy%20headshot.JPG" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;140px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;left;" />It's so tempting for me, in my very modern way, to domesticate miracles – like reducing the feeding of the 5,000 miracle to an idyllic picnic or desert potluck. Not that thousands of human beings sharing isn't miraculous. It is. In the four Gospels, there are six accounts of this miracle. Six! It must be too important a story for it to be about people sharing their lunches. Miracles are tricky that way.</p><p>In the Gospel of John account of the miracle of feeding the crowd, the disciples estimate that the crowd is so large that not even six months' worth of paychecks would be enough money to feed the mass of people assembled. By expressing the amount in such stark terms, what I think the disciples are really saying is, &quot;We don't have enough money to feed all these people.&quot; And Jesus is saying, &quot;Exactly. Isn't that great?&quot;<br>Isn't that just like Jesus?</p><p>One disciple retorts with what I hear as screaming sarcasm. &quot;There's a boy with five loaves and two fish,&quot; he says. Imagine! Five thousand hungry people on the side of a mountain, and only five loaves and two fish in sight to feed them with. But it seems that this is exactly what Jesus wanted. The funny thing about God is that <strong>we are called to be God's hands in the world at precisely those times when there's a whole lot of nothing to work with; which is to say, God calls us all of the time.</strong> God even sets God's communion table so that we come with nothing. It seems that God likes it best that way.</p><p>God also likes to turn things on their heads. Jesus' disciples, who expected to be the ones to provide what was needed, found themselves surprisingly dependent upon the generosity of a small child. The Gospels' accounts of this miracle indicate that the boy gave over his lunch with the kind of abandon and generosity that we only associate with God. It is just the kind of juxtaposition that God seems to enjoy best. Jesus' faith is placed in a little child to stave off what might become a riot if the crowd is not fed. This is the same kind of juxtaposition we find ourselves in as church when we advocate in the halls of power in Washington, D.C.</p><p>This story about feeding 5,000 with so little is, among other things, a story about perspective. The disciples' main mistake in this story, I think, is that they have no idea what it is that they have. Namely, they have a God who can feed many on nothing. A God who created the universe out of nothing. A God who put flesh on the nothingness of dry bones. <strong>&quot;Nothing&quot; is God's favorite material to work with. Perhaps God looks upon that which we dismiss as &quot;nothing,&quot; &quot;insignificant,&quot; &quot;worthless,&quot; and says, &quot;HA! Now THAT is something I can work with!&quot;</strong></p><p>It is our poverty that we are asked to bring to God, not our treasure, because whether we think we have it all or we think we have nothing, we are all of us beggars fed at the table of God's mercy. What do we have? Five loaves, a couple of fish? Not much. We believe that even when we want to make a difference in the world, we have to arrive fully prepared, fully equipped and fully funded.</p><p>I hear often from church folk and non-church folk alike that Lutherans, any faith community for that matter, can make no real difference in Washington. &quot;Why bother?&quot; I'm asked. Compared to big lobbying firms and corporations, they have a point. By comparison, we don't have money, or connections, or power, or, often, technical expertise. What do we have? Five loves, a couple of fish? Only a smidge shy of nothing even on our most prosperous days.</p><p>It's on the darkest of days when even bishops suggest that all is hopeless in the halls of power, when I'm dismissed by a member of Congress because I don't come with deep pockets, when I'm ridiculed by a think tank because I attend to this work from a place of faith and not a place of &quot;real&quot; expertise, when I've received the tenth angry letter from a fellow Lutheran who is frustrated with me for even considering advocacy as a legitimate vocation, when I feel that we as the church simply don't have enough power to change things for the better. It's on those darkest days that I re-read this miracle story.</p><p>This tricky little miracle story – the one told six times over in the Bible – says otherwise to the &quot;why bothers&quot; of the world. In this story we glimpse God's inverted economy of free bread and fish paid for by, you guessed it, nothing. This is part of the juxtaposition I mentioned earlier. It is out of nothing that God will create something, even something as big as justice and peace. It is a tricky little miracle for sure.</p><p><strong>In the last days before Easter, as we await the biggest miracle of them all – the bringing forth of life from the vast nothingness of death – may we remember that our nothingness is all that God asks or needs.</strong></p></td></tr></tbody></table></div>03/27/2015Living Earth Reflections: ​Water for the CityMary Minette, Director for Environmental Education and Advocacyhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/125http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/125<div class="ExternalClass11E73207FAA643F6A1E047C488174587"><p><em>&quot;Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city.&quot;</em></p><p style="text-align&#58;right;">Revelation 22&#58;1-2</p><p>Just as the crystal water of the river of life is central to the shining city of New Jerusalem, clean and abundant water is a critical component of economic development and fruitful life in communities around the world. Each week <a href="http&#58;//www.unwater.org/worldwaterday/home/en/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">an estimated one million people</span></a><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;"> </span>move into the world's cities. This places an increased demand on water supplies and infrastructure such as pipes, sewers and treatment plants. Many cities, even cities in our wealthy country, have inadequate water systems&#58; old pipes that can easily break, aging treatment plants that put water quality at risk, and sewer systems that pollute water supplies during heavy rains. Increased demand from new urban dwellers only adds to this problem. The addition of earth's changing climate, with its floods, droughts, rising seas and melting glaciers, adds another layer of complexity.</p><p>To meet the needs of growing populations now and in the future, cities will need to build more sustainable, and more weather resilient water systems.</p><p>The large and sprawling city of Los Angeles is facing water infrastructure challenges that are exacerbated by California's <a href="http&#58;//www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/03/02/record-california-drought-linked-to-climate-change"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">long term drought</span></a>, now in its third year. <a href="http&#58;//thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/08/19/3473183/los-angeles-water-cops-slides-pipes-drought/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">L. A.</span></a><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;"> </span>has dramatically reduced water consumption per capita over the last 40 years, with the city using around the same amount of water now as it did then but with a much larger population. Los Angeles uses less water per capita than any other large U.S. city—about 123 gallons per person per day. Recent mandatory restrictions and price increases have reduced water usage 23 percent since 2009.</p><p>However, L.A.'s water infrastructure is in need of crucial repairs— a problem it shares with <a href="http&#58;//thevalueofwater.org/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">other cities</span></a> across the U.S. that contributes significantly to wasted water nationwide. With about one million feet of pipes that are a century old, L.A.'s water utility is currently replacing them at a rate of once every 300 years due, in large part, to the high cost and difficulty of replacing underground infrastructure. And L.A. is not an isolated example of aging infrastructure. In 2013 the <a href="http&#58;//www.infrastructurereportcard.org/a/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">American Society of Civil Engineers</span></a> gave our country's drinking water and wastewater infrastructures &quot;D&quot; grades, noting that without significant investment now, we risk water quality for our communities in the future.</p><p>Other cities around the world face similar problems, but may lack the means to tackle them. <a href="http&#58;//www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/26/us-peru-climate-idUSBRE83P1H820120426"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Lima, Peru</span></a> is one of the driest world capitals, with a large and growing population and average annual rainfall of less than half an inch. Lacking its own water resources, the city depends on <a href="http&#58;//ella.practicalaction.org/alliances/uploadFile/uploads/learning/discussions/InterviewwithRossana62986.pdf"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">diverse sources</span></a> that include rain and glacier melt from the mountains and water transfers from the Amazon basin. As a result of climate change, all these water sources are under threat. </p><p>But Lima's water faces other challenges. Once water reaches the city, it is often used in inefficient ways. For example, potable water is routinely used to irrigate green spaces, and only 10% of the city's treated wastewater is reused for irrigation. The city lacks sufficient infrastructure to serve its population; <a href="http&#58;//www.marketwatch.com/story/tight-water-supply-seen-threatening-limas-growth-2012-09-26"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">about a million people</span></a> don't have access to running water, while another million residents have their supply cut off periodically. Observers estimate that 30% to 40% of water is lost in the system through leaks and theft. Despite being in a desert, the per capita use of water in Lima is double that of some European capitals in part due to this waste and inefficiency. </p><p>If both Los Angeles and Lima are to grow and thrive, they will need to replace and build water systems that not only meet current needs for water, but also ensure a sufficient supply of clean water for future needs. The water system of the future will not just need to deliver water to homes and businesses— it will need to be resilient to a changing climate by better managing wastewater, preventing waste throughout the system, and adopting new technologies to meet and reduce demand. </p><p>Meeting these goals comes with a hefty price tag, but in Lima and L.A. leaders are already planning to invest in new systems. <a href="http&#58;//www.sgvtribune.com/general-news/20150319/governor-legislature-ante-up-1-billion-to-fight-california-drought"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Last week</span></a>, California Governor Jerry Brown and the state legislature announced that they are setting aside $1 billion to tackle the state's drought-related water problems, including infrastructure challenges like those in L.A. <a href="http&#58;//www.marketwatch.com/story/tight-water-supply-seen-threatening-limas-growth-2012-09-26"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Lima's water system</span></a> is planning to spend $2.3 billion in the next five years to replace aging infrastructure and expanding services to residents that don't have access to running water. As these changes take shape, advocates for low income citizens in both cities will be challenged to ensure that the costs of necessary innovations do not put clean water out of the reach of those with the least means.</p><p>Yesterday, on March 22, the U.N. celebrated World Water Day, and this year's theme is Water and Sustainable Development. On this World Water Day, let us give thanks to God, our creator, for the gift of water, but also pray that our communities take the time to think about how to manage this precious gift sustainably and equitably so that it continues to bless our communities well into the future.</p><p>&#160;</p></div>03/23/2015Lenten Reflection: Walking with our brothers and sisters in Central AmericasAlaide Vilchis Ibarra, Assistant Director, Migration Policy and Advocacyhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/124http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/124<div class="ExternalClassDAE5436995C94834A9B51A4161EC04F1"><p><em>&quot;Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the Lord your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.&quot;</em> </p><p style="text-align&#58;right;">– Deuteronomy 31&#58;6 </p><p><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;"><img alt="Alaide Headshot 1.JPG" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/Alaide%20Headshot%201.JPG" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;240px;height&#58;272px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;right;" /></span>For many Christians, Lent is a time of spiritual renewal and preparation for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. My preparation had to do with being a witness to the causes of migration in Central America. A few weeks ago, I traveled with ELCA leaders to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to learn more about the reasons why children and families are fleeing their countries of origin and to better understand what happens when they are deported. What we saw and heard continues to stay with me – not only because the violence faced in these countries is worse than I imagined, but also because many of those we met stood with strength and boldness through incredibly difficult situations. We heard over and over how faith and belief that God is with them provides this strength. </p><p>As we listened to stories, met with government and non-government officials and prayed with people in these communities, I kept thinking about my favorite song about Latin America (watch the amazing video <a href="https&#58;//www.youtube.com/watch?v=DkFJE8ZdeG8"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">here</span></a>) that includes the line &quot;un pueblo sin piernas pero que camina,&quot; which translates to &quot;a community without legs but that still walks.&quot; I have always thought that this line the best way to summarize the communities in Latin America that I grew up in. They were communities where many people went hungry or didn't have proper housing or running water, where many felt their voice didn't count. But still, people helped each other and many worked to fix what they saw was broken. <strong>They walked.</strong></p><p>In the communities we visited, I witnessed similar experiences. People face violence from gang members, military, police and other government forces that work with criminals or narco-traffickers. Many of the members in their communities also live in poverty and are forced to pay an ongoing fee to gangs to avoid being targeted. Yet many of the people we heard from also highlighted the beauty of their countries and their appreciation for the people. Many were also working to reform the systems that keep violence and poverty alive or the corruption that feeds those same systems. <strong>They walk.</strong></p><p>It always troubles me when I write about the strength of communities without also pointing out that there are many people who feel defeated. We also met with people who weren't sure what they could do, and the toll of the violence weighed on them heavily. We prayed with them and I, at times, still feel defeated with them when I think of all of the forces that work together to push people out of their communities of origin while also working to strip them from their rights as they journey.</p><p>All the people we met knew someone who had migrated and many knew people who left their home because they were going to be killed if they didn't. These people left their communities and sometimes their countries to survive. They left in the middle of the night and many walked through areas controlled by narco-traffickers. Some knew of the dangers that would face them in Mexico, and some didn't. They had hopes of a better life, but also a safe life. Many of them were returned, most from Mexico, but continued to face the same country they had to leave.</p><p><strong>Let us walk together, and with God, for positive change.</strong></p><p>I left with a sense that we all need to walk together in order to change these conditions that force people to migrate and cause governments to ignore human dignity. I am driven to learn from experts, service providers and people in these countries and help amplify the voices of my brothers and sisters. Our travel to Central America was a time of preparation to be bold in our witness to the stories. Please join us in bearing witness by signing up for <a href="http&#58;//www.capwiz.com/elca/mlm/signup/?ignore_cookie=1"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">updates from our network</span></a>, where you will hear more about the work that came out of our trip. Also, please continue to pray with your congregation and community for the women and children who are forced to migrate.</p><p><strong>May God walk with us as we continue letting decision-makers know the stories we heard. May God walk with those we met as they continue to fight for safer countries and dignity for all people. May we all be strong and bold. </strong><strong>&#160;</strong></p></div>03/19/2015Lenten reflection: "Our Dream is a World Free of Poverty"Patricia Kisare, Program Director, International Policyhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/123http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/123<div class="ExternalClassD1886B37BD0341BBAC1E7F955D56C56B"><p><em>We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God's love abide in anyone who has the world's goods and sees a brother or sister[a] in need and yet refuses help?</em></p><p><em>1 John 3&#58;16-17 (NRSV) </em></p><p><img alt="PK headshot.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/PK%20headshot.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;180px;height&#58;240px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;left;" />The words &quot;Our Dream is a World Free of Poverty&quot; are enshrined on the walls of the World Bank building in Washington, D.C. Although I had seen them before, the meaning and symbolism of this phrase never truly struck me until a few weeks ago when I attended a meeting there. The slogan represents the overarching mission of the World Bank – the largest multilateral institution tasked with the job of ending extreme poverty globally.</p><p>The World Bank reports that in the past 20 years, extreme levels of poverty in developing countries have been reduced tremendously. Between the years 1990 and 2010, <a href="http&#58;//www.worldbank.org/mdgs/poverty_hunger.html"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">700 million people were lifted out of extreme poverty</span></a>, living on &#160;$1.25 per day. Investments by governments, the private sector, churches like ours and other non-governmental organizations have contributed to this progress. </p><p>Though this progress is reassuring, approximately 1 billion people continue to live in extreme poverty. For them, having access to basic necessities is a constant challenge – many are forced to make impossibly difficult choices every day. Because of these challenges, people living in extreme poverty are often denied the basic freedoms and human dignity that many of us enjoy.</p><p>&#160;</p><p><strong>Dreaming of a world free of poverty</strong></p><p>What might a world &quot;free of poverty&quot; look like? I encourage you to allow yourself to imagine that world.</p><p>For me, a world without poverty is one where all of us, no matter where we live, have adequate nutritious food to eat daily. It means each of us has access to health care and education. A world free of poverty means homelessness and slum dwelling are a thing of the past.</p><p>Indeed, a more peaceful world it would be.</p><p style="text-align&#58;center;">&#160;</p><p><strong>Reflecting on our response to global poverty</strong></p><p>The Lenten season is a good time to reflect on our individual and collective response to global poverty. For us living here in the land of plenty, it can be easy to isolate our lives from the lives of those whose daily survival depends on the support of others. The stark contradiction between these two worlds can be confounding. On one hand, we live in a society overrun by too many choices and insatiable keenness for material possession. On the other hand, 1 billion of us struggle to fulfill our very basic needs (food, shelter, water). How do we reconcile these realities? </p><p>Scripture is filled with many stories of Jesus caring for the poor and oppressed. At the outset of his ministry, Jesus repeatedly reaches out to people at the bottom of social stratification. As followers of Christ, we are commanded to do the same for the marginalized among us. </p><p>As I reflect on the gift of life given to us as a result of Jesus' death and resurrection, I am heartened that our church remains very active in the fight against extreme poverty. Many lives have been renewed because of this life-giving ministry. While we rejoice over the fact that 700 million people are no longer living in conditions of extreme poverty, let's be reminded of the immense challenge ahead. Ending extreme poverty requires us to multiply our collective efforts. In addition to <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/give?_ga=1.168096161.1650466570.1425930760"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">donating financial resources</span></a>, I encourage you to <a href="http&#58;//www.capwiz.com/elca/mlm/signup/?ignore_cookie=1"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">join other Lutheran advocates</span></a> who are working together to fight systems that perpetuate poverty. </p><p>I end my reflection today with an offer of a familiar prayer&#58;</p><p><em>&quot;Gracious God, loving all your family with a mother's tender care&#58; As you sent the angel to feed Elijah with heavenly bread, assist us in this ministry on which we are sent forth.&#160;In your love and care, nourish and strengthen those to whom we bring this sacrament, that through the body and blood of your Son we may know the comfort of your abiding</em><em> presence.&quot; </em>Evangelical Lutheran Worship, Leaders Edition Pg. 140</p><p>&#160;</p></div>03/11/2015ELCA State Advocacy Update: March 2015ELCA Advocacyhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/122http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/122<div class="ExternalClass951F569705BE40B8970A12AA73525F0A"><p>​<span style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;, segoe, tahoma, helvetica, arial, sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;float&#58;none;display&#58;inline !important;white-space&#58;normal;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><em>Lutherans are taking action across the country! Below you will find our monthy State Advocacy Newsletter. Share with your friends!</em></span></p><p class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/20px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;margin&#58;0px 0px 10px;padding&#58;0px;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;vertical-align&#58;top;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-size&#58;13px;font-weight&#58;bold;"><span style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-family&#58;verdana, geneva, sans-serif;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;float&#58;none;display&#58;inline !important;white-space&#58;normal;font-stretch&#58;normal;">---------------------------------------------</span></strong></p><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/19.6px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;comic sans&quot;, &quot;comic sans ms&quot;, cursive;font-size&#58;13px;font-weight&#58;bold;">Washington, D.C.</strong></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/19.6px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;comic sans&quot;, &quot;comic sans ms&quot;, cursive;font-size&#58;13px;font-weight&#58;bold;">Advocacy Director, Stacy Martin</strong></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/19.6px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="color&#58;#569bbe;font-family&#58;&quot;comic sans&quot;, &quot;comic sans ms&quot;, cursive;font-size&#58;13px;font-weight&#58;bold;"><a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/advocacy" style="color&#58;#569bbe;text-decoration&#58;none;">www.elca.org/advocacy</a></strong></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;left;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-family&#58;verdana, geneva, sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><p class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="margin&#58;0px 0px 10px;padding&#58;0px;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;20px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-family&#58;verdana, geneva, sans-serif;font-size&#58;14px;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;vertical-align&#58;top;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-size&#58;13px;"><span style="color&#58;#181818;font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;11pt;"><img alt="LOGUM.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/LOGUM.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;border&#58;0px currentcolor;width&#58;100px;line-height&#58;20px;vertical-align&#58;middle;float&#58;left;" /></span></span>&#160;</p><p><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;"><strong>Visits with Lutheran members of Congress&#58;</strong> </span></p></div><p>This year, ELCA Advocacy policy directors continue to work on building connections with Lutheran lawmakers and their staff in Congress. Since the beginning of March, we have had productive conversations with nearly 20 congressional offices&#160;from both sides of the aisle and are working to highlight Lutheran policy values and reaffirm the significance of faith-based advocacy. </p><p><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;"><strong>50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, the Selma-to-Montgomery march and the Voting Rights Act of 1965</strong>&#58; This weekend, thousands from across the United States and around the world will gather in Alabama for the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, the Selma-to-Montgomery march and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.&#160; Along with civil rights activists, elected officials and faith leaders, some of our ELCA &#160;churchwide staff and young adult leaders will travel from various parts of the country to bear witness to &#160;this historic event. <a href="http&#58;//elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/121"><span lang="X-NONE" style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;">Visit our ELCA Advocacy blog</span></a> to read reflections from these Lutheran leaders as they prepare to make the journey to Selma, including why they feel called to attend and what they hope to gain from this experience. Be sure to <a href="https&#58;//www.facebook.com/elcaadvocacy?ref=hl"><span lang="X-NONE" style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;">follow this event on ELCA Advocacy social media</span></a>!</span></p><p><span style="font-size&#58;13px;"><strong>Visit to Central America</strong>&#58; In February, staff from our office joined other ELCA churchwide leaders on a trip to El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala to understand the factors behind increased migration of children and families and to learn about their repatriation process. The trip reaffirmed our commitment to raise our voices together to ensure the stories we heard are not forgotten. Follow our action alerts to learn more about our advocacy efforts for migrants and new initiatives as a result of this trip.</span></p><p><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;"><strong>Lenten Reflections</strong>&#58; As we journey through this season of Lent, ELCA Advocacy policy staff continues to share weekly reflections on ways in which we can act together to affect long-lasting changes in our communities through self-reflection, forgiveness and reconciliation. Follow our Lenten series by <a href="http&#58;//www.capwiz.com/elca/mlm/signup/?ignore_cookie=1">signing up for ELCA Advocacy alerts</a> or by <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/121">following our Advocacy blog</a>.&#160;&#160;</span></p><p class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/20px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;margin&#58;0px 0px 10px;padding&#58;0px;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;vertical-align&#58;top;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;, segoe, tahoma, helvetica, arial, sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;"></span>&#160;<strong style="font-size&#58;13px;font-weight&#58;bold;"><span style="color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-family&#58;verdana, geneva, sans-serif;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;float&#58;none;display&#58;inline !important;white-space&#58;normal;font-stretch&#58;normal;">---------------------------------------------</span></strong></p><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/19.6px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;comic sans&quot;, &quot;comic sans ms&quot;, cursive;font-size&#58;13px;font-weight&#58;bold;">New York, NY</strong></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/19.6px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;comic sans&quot;, &quot;comic sans ms&quot;, cursive;font-size&#58;13px;font-weight&#58;bold;">Advocacy Director, Dennis Frado</strong></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/19.6px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;comic sans&quot;, &quot;comic sans ms&quot;, cursive;font-size&#58;13px;font-weight&#58;bold;"></strong>&#160;</div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-size&#58;13px;"><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;"><strong>United Nations</strong>&#58; The 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women will take place at United Nations Headquarters in New York March 9-20, 2015. This is the 20<sup>th</sup> anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action. The theme will focus on current challenges that affect its implementation and the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of women. LOWC is expecting to host 31 Lutheran delegates (six international and 25 ELCA members) and two side events. </span></p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><span style="font-size&#58;13px;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;">Augusta Victoria Hospital</strong><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;">&#58; LOWC staff has been working with </span><a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/Our-Work/Publicly-Engaged-Church/Peace-Not-Walls"><span lang="EN" style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;text-decoration&#58;underline;">ELCA Peace Not Walls</span></a><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;"> on various advocacy actions related to the financial (cash flow) crisis being faced by The Lutheran World Federation operated Augusta Victoria Hospital. </span><a href="http&#58;//www.capwiz.com/elca/home/"><span lang="EN" style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;text-decoration&#58;underline;">Visit the ELCA Advocacy Action Center to learn how you can take action</span></a><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;">!&#160;</span><strong style="color&#58;#569bbe;font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-weight&#58;bold;"><a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/advocacy" style="color&#58;#569bbe;text-decoration&#58;none;">&#160;</a></strong><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;">&#160;</span></span></p></span></div><p class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/20px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;margin&#58;0px 0px 10px;padding&#58;0px;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;vertical-align&#58;top;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font&#58;13px/19.6px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;float&#58;none;display&#58;inline !important;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">---------------------------------------------</span></p><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/19.6px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;comic sans&quot;, &quot;comic sans ms&quot;, cursive;font-size&#58;13px;font-weight&#58;bold;">California</strong></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/19.6px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;comic sans&quot;, &quot;comic sans ms&quot;, cursive;font-size&#58;13px;font-weight&#58;bold;">Mark Carlson, Lutheran Office of Public Policy- CA&#160;​</strong></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/19.6px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="color&#58;#569bbe;font-family&#58;&quot;comic sans&quot;, &quot;comic sans ms&quot;, cursive;font-size&#58;13px;font-weight&#58;bold;"><a href="http&#58;//www.loppca.org/" style="color&#58;#569bbe;text-decoration&#58;none;">www.loppca.org</a></strong></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/19.6px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-size&#58;13px;font-weight&#58;bold;"><font color="#569bbe" face="Comic Sans MS"></font></strong>&#160;</div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-family&#58;verdana, geneva, sans-serif;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-size&#58;13px;"><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;"><strong>Valentine's Lobby Day</strong>&#58; LOPP-CA participated in a Health and Human Services Coalition&quot;Break Up with Poverty&quot; Lobby Day on Feb. 14th, along with a Lutheran lay leader with a chronic diseaseand &#160;limited mobility.&#160; The agenda included increasing the minimum wage and allowing undocumented immigrants to participate in the Covered California health plans.</span></p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;"><strong><img alt="CA1.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/CA1.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;200px;height&#58;150px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;left;" />Climate Change</strong>&#58; 25% of California's carbon cap-and-trade funds are allocated to High Speed Rail (HSR). Although it has become politicized, LOPP-CA supported the original HSR bond financing measure approved by voters, a part of California's climate action plan.&#160; (See photo to the right.)</span></p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><span style="font-size&#58;13px;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;"><strong>Child Care&#58;</strong> Director Mark Carlson participated in a child care rally and a lecture by the author of an </span><a href="http&#58;//uccs.ucdavis.edu/"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;">award-winning study</span></a><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;"> on the difference between informal and formal child care for children of immigrant families (formal care makes a big difference in school readiness and avoiding an achievement gap). </span></span></p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;"><strong>Looking Ahead&#58;</strong> Plans are in the works for a conference of the California Budget Project and the annual in-person meeting of the steering committee for California Interfaith Power &amp; Light.</span></p></span></div><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;, segoe, tahoma, helvetica, arial, sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;"><p class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/20px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;margin&#58;0px 0px 10px;padding&#58;0px;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;vertical-align&#58;top;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;, segoe, tahoma, helvetica, arial, sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;">---------------------------------------------</span></p><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/19.6px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;comic sans&quot;, &quot;comic sans ms&quot;, cursive;font-size&#58;13px;font-weight&#58;bold;">Colorado</strong></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/19.6px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;comic sans&quot;, &quot;comic sans ms&quot;, cursive;font-size&#58;13px;font-weight&#58;bold;">Peter Severson, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry – Colorado&#160;</strong></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/19.6px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-size&#58;13px;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;comic sans&quot;, &quot;comic sans ms&quot;, cursive;font-weight&#58;bold;"></strong><a href="http&#58;//www.lam-co.org/" style="color&#58;#569bbe;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;comic sans&quot;, &quot;comic sans ms&quot;, cursive;font-size&#58;13px;font-weight&#58;bold;"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">www.lam-co.org</span></strong></a></span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/19.6px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-size&#58;13px;"></span>&#160;</div><p><span style="font-size&#58;13px;"><strong><img alt="CO1.png" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/CO1.png" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;200px;height&#58;150px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;right;" />Faith Advocacy Day</strong>&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.lam-co.org/">Colorado Faith Advocacy Day 2015 </a>took place on Monday, Feb. 16. Nearly 100 advocates gathered to hear keynoter Tom Luehrs (pictured right), executive director of the St. Francis Center, and panelists B.J. Iacino from the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless and Keith Singer with Family Tree House of Hope, a shelter for women and children. Thanks to all who attended for a powerful witness of the Church’s call to advocacy. </span></p><p><span style="font-size&#58;13px;"><strong>Legislation</strong>&#58; Several notable hunger and poverty bills have emerged in both chambers. SB 12, which would allow child support payments to be received by families on Colorado Works instead of by county governments, is in Senate Appropriations. SB 79, which would use a county clerk document fee to fund a new Affordable Housing Investment Fund, is awaiting an initial committee hearing. HB 1080, which would have reduced participation in the school breakfast program and was opposed by Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-Colorado and many other hunger groups, was defeated in committee. </span></p><p><span style="font-size&#58;13px;"><strong><img alt="Co2.png" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/Co2.png" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;200px;height&#58;150px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;right;" />Other issues&#58;</strong> Gov. John Hickenlooper’s special task force on oil and gas sent nine recommendations to the governor’s desk. Urban and suburban communities on the Front Range have been battling oil and gas companies over development near homes and schools. Recommendations include incentivizing mediation between the two sides to avert costly legal battles, increasing state health department staff to monitor air quality compliance, and encouraging the Legislature to approve new pollution control measures.&#160;</span></p><p class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/20px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;margin&#58;0px 0px 10px;padding&#58;0px;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;vertical-align&#58;top;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;, segoe, tahoma, helvetica, arial, sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;">---------------------------------------------</span></p><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/19.6px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;comic sans&quot;, &quot;comic sans ms&quot;, cursive;font-size&#58;13px;font-weight&#58;bold;">Minnesota</strong></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/19.6px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;comic sans&quot;, &quot;comic sans ms&quot;, cursive;font-size&#58;13px;font-weight&#58;bold;">Tammy Walhof, Lutheran Advocacy – Minnesota&#160;</strong></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/19.6px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><a style="color&#58;#569bbe;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;comic sans&quot;, &quot;comic sans ms&quot;, cursive;font-size&#58;13px;font-weight&#58;bold;"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">tammy@lcppm.org</span></strong></a></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/19.6px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;text-align&#58;left;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">&#160;</div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="text-align&#58;left;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-family&#58;verdana, geneva, sans-serif;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-size&#58;13px;"><p><span style="font-size&#58;13px;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;"><strong><img alt="Mn1.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/Mn1.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;200px;height&#58;133px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;left;" />Clean Energy &amp; Jobs Day at the Capitol</strong>&#58; Lutheran Advocacy – Minnesota (LA-MN) was </span><a href="https&#58;//www.facebook.com/MinnesotaCleanEnergyJobs/photos/pcb.413026118867475/413026098867477/?type=1&amp;theater"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;">host at Christ Lutheran</span></a><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;"> for the many partners and 400+ participants of our Day at the Capitol. The event included briefings, legislator visits, prayer circles, a youth meeting with Gov. Dayton, and a renewable energy study presentation. LA-MN Director Tammy was pleased with Lutheran participation. Many non-faith participants notably commented that they didn't realize church people cared for the environment. </span></span></p><p><span style="font-size&#58;13px;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;"><strong>Bishop's Breakfast with State Legislators</strong>&#58; Though primarily about meeting and relationship building, the bishops also shared Lutheran Social Service (LSS) and LA-MN overlapping concerns related to the Homeless Youth Act and the Homes for All with legislators. </span><a href="https&#58;//fbcdn-sphotos-b-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xfp1/v/t1.0-9/s720x720/10986926_773580679400180_1824636991616524694_n.jpg?oh=d38aa87858bb5dc9c5141703699c616b&amp;oe=55971715&amp;__gda__=1434691109_5a26c64b32ffe06355bd7bd076d9dbbe"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;">Each bishop</span></a><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;"> had a special role during the day, in leading prayer to open of the senate session, opening with prayer for day's different events, or speaking at a press conference. </span></span></p><p><span style="font-size&#58;13px;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;"><strong>Pastor's Day of Advocacy</strong>&#58; The </span><a href="https&#58;//www.facebook.com/100113576746897/photos/ms.c.eJw9jtsNxEAMAjuKHL~_w~_2~%3bsLma9nyPQAGBRgrdd5EU~_ICMlswyHE5OXHA6fPJdTh0OXjX2~%3bPvq3~%3b2~_Mf~%3bNiPy8HeX3Nf7H~%3bmvu6vk6FmVcc9vo4zJZnX0Vuzv~%3bri~_b~%3buMz~%3b9QPxxDqV.bps.a.773580459400202.1073741828.100113576746897/773580946066820/?type=1&amp;theater"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;">joint LSS and LA-MN event</span></a><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;"> of 30+ pastors and parishioners included briefings on housing, homelessness, youth homelessness, advocacy, a Homeless Youth Act press conference, and visits with legislators. LSS and LA-MN plan to make it an annual event. &#160;</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size&#58;13px;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;"><strong>Homeless Youth Act </strong></span><a href="https&#58;//www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbGArcxdaKY"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;"><strong>Press Conference</strong></span></a><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;">&#58; Bishop Anderson &#160;served as emcee, while Bishop Aitkenshared about the LSS Duluth Homeless Youth Project. House and senate bill authors spoke, and a pastor shared about how churches can help. LSS intern, Ebony, shared her success story of becoming homeless by age 15, landing in an LSS shelter, and now getting a Masters of Social Work. &#160;</span></span></p></span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/19.6px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">&#160;</div><div><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;, segoe, tahoma, helvetica, arial, sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;">---------------------------------------------</span><div style="text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-family&#58;verdana, geneva, sans-serif;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-stretch&#58;normal;">​<span style="font-family&#58;&quot;comic sans&quot;, &quot;comic sans ms&quot;, cursive;font-size&#58;13px;"><strong style="font-weight&#58;bold;">Nevada</strong></span></div><div style="text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-family&#58;verdana, geneva, sans-serif;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;comic sans&quot;, &quot;comic sans ms&quot;, cursive;font-size&#58;13px;"><strong style="font-weight&#58;bold;">Rev. Mike Patterson, Lutheran Episcopal Advocacy Nevada<span class="Apple-converted-space">&#160;</span><a href="https&#58;//leanforjustice.wordpress.com/" style="color&#58;#303030;text-decoration&#58;none;">https&#58;//leanforjustice.wordpress.com/</a>&#160;</strong></span></div><div style="text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-family&#58;verdana, geneva, sans-serif;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-stretch&#58;normal;">&#160;</div><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;"><strong>&quot;Ashes to Go&quot;</strong> at the Nevada Legislature&#58; The Rev. Mike Patterson offered &quot;Ashes to Go&quot; inside the legislative building. Patterson blessed about 50 legislators and legislative staff. &quot;Ashes to Go&quot; is an Ash Wednesday practice of offering in a public place a brief liturgy and the mark of the cross on the forehead with ashes that has gained popularity. &quot;Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return&quot; is the phrase with which we begin the season of Lent. Saying &quot;remember you are dust and to dust you shall return&quot; to a politician may sound like the stuff of stand-up comedy, but it is both encouraging and humbling to learn that elected officials came to be blessed.&#160; &#160;&#160;</span></p><div style="text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;line-height&#58;19.6px;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;font-family&#58;verdana, geneva, sans-serif;font-style&#58;normal;font-variant&#58;normal;font-weight&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-size&#58;13px;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;, segoe, tahoma, helvetica, arial, sans-serif;">---------------------------------------------</span><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/19.6px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">​<span style="font-family&#58;&quot;comic sans&quot;, &quot;comic sans ms&quot;, cursive;font-size&#58;13px;"><strong style="font-weight&#58;bold;">New Jersey</strong></span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/19.6px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;comic sans&quot;, &quot;comic sans ms&quot;, cursive;font-size&#58;13px;"><strong style="font-weight&#58;bold;">Sara Lilja,&#160;New Jersey Synod&#160;</strong></span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/19.6px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;comic sans&quot;, &quot;comic sans ms&quot;, cursive;font-size&#58;13px;"><strong style="font-weight&#58;bold;"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;"><a href="mailto&#58;logm@njsynod.org">logm@njsynod.org</a></span></strong></span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/19.6px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">&#160;</div><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;"><strong><img alt="Nj1.png" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/Nj1.png" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;280px;height&#58;207px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;left;" />Poverty on the rise in N.J</strong>.&#58; New Jersey’s official poverty rate obscures the true scope of the current economic struggle in New Jersey because of the state’s cost of living. An income of 200 percent of the federal poverty level comes closer to the actual income needed to meet basic needs. One in four New Jersey residents is struggling, and this percentage of the population is rising! The governor released his 2016 budget this past week, with seemingly no new plans as to address this growing concern. </span></p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;"><strong>Income woes</strong>&#58; The state’s high long-term unemployment rate and slow job growth mean that this is still a difficult time for many middle- and low-income families. The Lutheran Office of Governmental Ministry is working to promote policies like restoration of the Earned Income Tax Credit, earned sick days, and food programs to help reduce the pain of this difficult economic situation. </span></p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;"><strong>Working for change</strong>&#58; We work diligently to change the landscape of the criminal justice system. Currently we are advocating for new regulations on the use of solitary confinement in New Jersey’s jails and prisons.&#160;</span></p></span></div></div><p class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/20px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;margin&#58;0px 0px 10px;padding&#58;0px;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;vertical-align&#58;top;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">​<span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;, segoe, tahoma, helvetica, arial, sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;">---------------------------------------------</span></p><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/19.6px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">​<span style="font-family&#58;&quot;comic sans&quot;, &quot;comic sans ms&quot;, cursive;font-size&#58;13px;"><strong style="font-weight&#58;bold;">New Mexico</strong></span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/19.6px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;comic sans&quot;, &quot;comic sans ms&quot;, cursive;font-size&#58;13px;"><strong style="font-weight&#58;bold;">Ruth Hoffman, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry – New Mexico&#160;</strong></span></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/19.6px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><a href="http&#58;//www.lutheranadvocacynm.org/" style="color&#58;#569bbe;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;comic sans&quot;, &quot;comic sans ms&quot;, cursive;font-size&#58;13px;"><strong style="font-weight&#58;bold;"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">www.lutheranadvocacynm.org</span></strong></span></a></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/19.6px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">&#160;</div><p><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;"><strong><img alt="NM1.png" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/NM1.png" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;240px;height&#58;112px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;left;" />Bishop’s Legislative Luncheon</strong>&#58; The 2015 Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-NM Bishop’s Legislative Luncheon &amp; Issues Briefing was held on Feb. 10 in Santa Fe. Advocates gathered at Christ Lutheran Church to hear more about interest rate caps for storefront loans and hunger in New Mexico. Bishop Gonia talked about advocates as “Stewards of the Divine Zoom Paradox.” At the luncheon, 150 Lutheran and ecumenical/interfaith advocates were in attendance. State Sen. Peter Wirth was recognized as “Legislator of the Year” for his many years of good work on fair tax policy. Carlos Navarro, long-time Bread for the World volunteer, received the Chris &amp; John <img alt="NM2.png" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/NM2.png" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;200px;height&#58;111px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;right;" />Haaland Advocacy Award. Following the luncheon, a number of advocates visited the state Capitol to speak with their legislators.</span></p><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/19.6px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">&#160;</div><p class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/20px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;margin&#58;0px 0px 10px;padding&#58;0px;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;vertical-align&#58;top;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">​<span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;, segoe, tahoma, helvetica, arial, sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;">---------------------------------------------</span></p><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/19.6px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;comic sans&quot;, &quot;comic sans ms&quot;, cursive;font-size&#58;13px;font-weight&#58;bold;">Pennsylvania</strong></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/19.6px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;comic sans&quot;, &quot;comic sans ms&quot;, cursive;font-size&#58;13px;font-weight&#58;bold;">Amy Reumann, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania<span class="Apple-converted-space" style="font-size&#58;13px;">&#160;</span></strong></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/19.6px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;comic sans&quot;, &quot;comic sans ms&quot;, cursive;font-size&#58;13px;font-weight&#58;bold;"><span class="Apple-converted-space"></span><a href="http&#58;//www.lutheranadvocacypa.org/" style="color&#58;#303030;text-decoration&#58;underline;"><span style="color&#58;#009ac3;font-size&#58;13px;">www.lutheranadvocacypa.org</span></a></strong></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/19.6px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;text-align&#58;left;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-weight&#58;bold;"><font face="Comic Sans MS"></font></strong>&#160;&#160;</div><p><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;"><strong>State budget</strong>&#58; In February, LAMPa staff, as part of the Coalition for Fair Education Funding, met with the governor's office and legislative leaders ahead of Gov. Tom Wolf's inaugural budget address to unveil the coalition's proposed funding formula. The student-driven formula would direct resources to students and districts with the greatest needs and calls for approximately $3.6 billion in new state investments in public education to be phased in over six to eight years. </span></p><p><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;"><strong>School breakfast</strong>&#58; LAMPa is also gearing up for National School Breakfast Week with partners in the Pa. School Breakfast Challenge. Relationships built through other work enabled us to bring the Pa. State Education Association to the table around child hunger. They have agreed to promote school breakfast through the statewide challenge and teacher training and have invited LAMPa to school breakfast participation at their annual leadership meeting. In addition, LAMPa and PSEA have both been named to the board of Hunger-Free Lancaster County, which is working through Feeding America with the goal of being the first county in the nation to end the meal gap by 2018. </span></p><p><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;"><strong>Housing</strong>&#58; Staff also met with the chairman of the House Urban Affairs Committee to encourage his support for expanding the state Housing Trust Fund. Subsequently, a favorable Senate bill was introduced in February and is expected to move out of committee the first week of March. Amy preached and taught at St. James, Gettysburg, to start a Lenten program focused on hunger.</span></p><p class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/20px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;margin&#58;0px 0px 10px;padding&#58;0px;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;vertical-align&#58;top;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;, segoe, tahoma, helvetica, arial, sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;"></span>&#160;<span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;, segoe, tahoma, helvetica, arial, sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;">---------------------------------------------</span></p><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/19.6px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;comic sans&quot;, &quot;comic sans ms&quot;, cursive;font-size&#58;13px;font-weight&#58;bold;">Virginia</strong></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/19.6px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;comic sans&quot;, &quot;comic sans ms&quot;, cursive;font-size&#58;13px;font-weight&#58;bold;">Marco Grimaldo, Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy<span class="Apple-converted-space" style="font-size&#58;13px;">&#160;</span></strong></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/19.6px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;comic sans&quot;, &quot;comic sans ms&quot;, cursive;font-size&#58;13px;font-weight&#58;bold;"><span class="Apple-converted-space"></span><a href="http&#58;//www.virginiainterfaithcenter.org/" style="color&#58;#303030;text-decoration&#58;underline;"><span style="color&#58;#009ac3;font-size&#58;13px;">www.virginiainterfaithcenter.org</span></a><span style="color&#58;#009ac3;text-decoration&#58;underline;">&#160;</span></strong></div><p class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/20px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;margin&#58;0px 0px 10px;padding&#58;0px;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;vertical-align&#58;top;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;">​</p><p><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;"><strong>40 bills in 45 days</strong>&#58; Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy worked on more than 40 bills over the course of this 45-day legislative session. All of our major legislation was killed early in the process – some never survived subcommittee. The good news is that we successfully countered anti-immigrant legislation and defeated a bill that would have made the process of executions in Virginia a secret, not even subject to discovery in a court of law. We made some modest gains on the budget, including a bill that will provide school-age children access to an additional $100 from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families for use on school supplies and clothes.</span></p><p><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;"><strong>Immigration</strong>&#58; Implementation of the DACA/DAPA program for undocumented immigrants is on hold but we are continuing to work on building a strong network to educate potential applicants. We have been working with LIRS at the request of our two bishops to help reach former Rep. Frank Wolf to help weigh in with Virginia Republicans about immigration and that work is ongoing.&#160;&#160;&#160; &#160;</span></p><p class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/20px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;margin&#58;0px 0px 10px;padding&#58;0px;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;vertical-align&#58;top;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;, segoe, tahoma, helvetica, arial, sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;">---------------------------------------------</span></p><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/19.6px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><div><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;comic sans&quot;, &quot;comic sans ms&quot;, cursive;font-size&#58;13px;font-weight&#58;bold;">​Washington</strong></div></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/19.6px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;comic sans&quot;, &quot;comic sans ms&quot;, cursive;font-size&#58;13px;font-weight&#58;bold;">Paul Benz, Faith Action Network&#160;</strong></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/19.6px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;text-decoration&#58;underline;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="color&#58;#005594;font-family&#58;&quot;comic sans&quot;, &quot;comic sans ms&quot;, cursive;font-size&#58;13px;font-weight&#58;bold;text-decoration&#58;underline;"><a href="http&#58;//www.fanwa.org/" style="color&#58;#303030;text-decoration&#58;none;"><span style="color&#58;#005594;text-decoration&#58;underline;">www.fanwa.org</span></a></strong></div><p><strong></strong>&#160;</p><p><span style="font-size&#58;13px;"><strong>Legislative session</strong>&#58; The public conversation on revenue and the state budget is just beginning. Our state Supreme Court decision, requiring full funding of K-12 public education, is hanging over the Legislature's head. In terms of Faith Action Network's (FAN) legislative agenda, some of our key policy bills are&#58; reducing wage theft, increasing our minimum wage, Breakfast After the Bell (increasing school breakfast participation), lifting the prohibition on providing post-secondary education in our state prison system, Family Unity Act (reducing ICE detainers and deportations), preventing human trafficking, and better state regulations to prevent oil train disasters</span></p><p><span style="font-size&#58;13px;"><strong>Faith-based organizing&#58; </strong>FAN just completed four legislative forums around our state with good attendance. We are pleased to announce that FAN's 2015-2016 ELCA intern has been selected and will begin her work in late August. We are also grateful to the ELCA for being approved to be a Horizon Site.<strong> </strong>FAN participated in and helped coordinate an interfaith press conference recently at a Hindu temple north of Seattle where a hate-crime occurred.</span></p><p style="text-align&#58;center;"><span style="font-size&#58;13px;"><font color="#222222"></font></span>&#160;<span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;, segoe, tahoma, helvetica, arial, sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;">---------------------------------------------</span></p><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/19.6px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;comic sans&quot;, &quot;comic sans ms&quot;, cursive;font-size&#58;13px;font-weight&#58;bold;">Wisconsin</strong></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/19.6px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;comic sans&quot;, &quot;comic sans ms&quot;, cursive;font-size&#58;13px;font-weight&#58;bold;">Cindy Crane, Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin<span class="Apple-converted-space" style="font-size&#58;13px;">&#160;</span></strong></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/19.6px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-family&#58;&quot;comic sans&quot;, &quot;comic sans ms&quot;, cursive;font-size&#58;13px;font-weight&#58;bold;"><span class="Apple-converted-space"></span><a href="http&#58;//www.loppw.org/" style="color&#58;#303030;text-decoration&#58;underline;"><span style="color&#58;#009ac3;font-size&#58;13px;text-decoration&#58;underline;">www.loppw.org</span></a></strong></div><div class="ExternalClass4F67D10A49ED4B979ED3C777FCA88FA5" style="font&#58;14px/19.6px verdana, geneva, sans-serif;text-align&#58;center;color&#58;#222222;text-transform&#58;none;text-indent&#58;0px;letter-spacing&#58;normal;word-spacing&#58;0px;white-space&#58;normal;font-size-adjust&#58;none;font-stretch&#58;normal;"><strong style="font-weight&#58;bold;"><font face="Comic Sans MS"></font></strong>&#160;</div><p><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;"><strong><img alt="WA1.png" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Advocay/AllItems/WA1.png" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;250px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;right;" />Proposed biennial budget</strong>&#58; Funding has been proposed for trafficked youth and six of our bishops sent a letter to Wisconsin legislators and the governor supporting it. Additional financial support for mental health services and transitional jobs has also been proposed. We are challenged by the enormous cuts that would impact education, seniors, people with disabilities and our environment. </span></p><p><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;"><strong>Right to work</strong>&#58; The senate passed a bill prohibiting as a condition of employment membership in labor organizations. LOPPW was quoted in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on the subject. LOPPW’s Statement on Right to Work was edited and revised by the advisory council and Wisconsin bishops. </span></p><p><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;"><strong>Safe harbor kickoff</strong>&#58; LOPPW and Cherish All Children’s kickoff event drew more than 40 people. Local police and members of our task force led the conference. We wrote letters to legislators and Bishop Richard Hoyme of the ELCA Northwest Synod of Wisconsin blessed those letters. </span></p><p><span style="font-size&#58;13px;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;"><strong>Other advocacy</strong>&#58; The director led a workshop at Midvale Community Lutheran Church in Madison. For information about our rally on human trafficking visit&#58; </span><a href="http&#58;//www.loppw.org/events/coming-soon"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size&#58;13px;">http&#58;//www.loppw.org/events/coming-soon</span></a><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;segoe ui&quot;,&quot;segoe&quot;,tahoma,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;">&#160;</span></span></p></span></div>03/06/2015Looking ahead to the 50th anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery voting-rights marchELCA Advocacyhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/121http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAAdvocay/121<div class="ExternalClass0DC26B84965648B0A87E50ADC1AB043F"><p><strong>​</strong><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;"><strong>T</strong></span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;"><strong>his weekend, thousands from across the United States and around the world will gather in Alabama for the 50</strong></span><sup><strong>th</strong></sup><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;"><strong> anniversary of </strong></span><a href="http&#58;//www.history.com/topics/black-history/selma-montgomery-march" style="line-height&#58;1.6;"><strong>Bloody Sunday, the Selma-to-Montgomery march and the Voting Rights Act of 1965</strong></a><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;"><strong>. Along with civil rights activists, elected officials and faith leaders, some of our ELCA churchwide staff and young adult leaders will travel from various parts of the country to attend events.</strong></span></p><p><strong style="line-height&#58;1.6;">Today, we share with you some reflections from these ELCA leaders as they prepare to make the journey to Selma, including why they feel called to attend and what they hope to gain from this experience&#58;</strong></p><p style="text-align&#58;center;">​---<br></p><h4><strong>Nathaniel Viets-VanLear, Chicago&#58;&#160;</strong></h4><p><strong></strong><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&quot;Selma becomes important not as an observation of a moment in history but as a reminder that the past and present are only two parts of a continuum. Already steeped in the Black-lives-matter movement in Chicago, I travel to Selma to offer testament to the fact that a movement began long before I arrived on this earth, through the work of many young men and women before me. I want these streets, these structures, this history to flow through me as I walk through Selma, acting as a life-giving force that can only add more furor to all of the work that needs to be done. Like an empty cup, I plan to go to Selma </span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160;ready to be as filled as possible. Growth is my only expectation. My biggest task will be opening my ears and mind to the lives and experiences of my elders past and present. I hope to be corrected, refined, and further ingrained as a leader toward positive change in our shared community.&quot;</span></p><p style="text-align&#58;center;"><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">---<br></span></p><h4><strong>Jackie Maddox, Washington, D.C.&#58;</strong><br></h4><p>&quot;I am attending for those who stood 50 years ago and were knocked down, beaten and humiliated because they wanted the right to have a voice. Those who were denied but never gave up. Fifty years later I want to stand for the people, including my parents, who struggled for me and are the reason why I and many others can vote today. Although the events that led up to having a right to vote were horrific, I will feel privileged to be among people who fought for justice and won.&quot;</p><p style="text-align&#58;center;">---<br></p><h4><strong>Ryan Martin-Yates, Oklahoma City, Okla.&#58;</strong><br></h4><p>&quot;This trip is an important moment in time for me. I've grown up always oriented toward seeking justice, but only recently have I found the bravery to use my voice in that. This past year has been a year of growth that has been facilitated by what has gone on in this country and how those events began to affect my daily life. I currently live in Oklahoma, a place dealing with underlying racial prejudice that's perpetuated by places of faith, and I soon realized it was time for me to step up and use my voice. Once I began to see a lack of empathy for people who were hurting, I knew I could no longer be submissive. I've been walking alongside fellow people of color here at the university who are seeking more from our school in the way of dialogue about race. I belong to a family whose struggle to survive in this country is directly tied to systematic injustice against people of color, and I'm not OK with that anymore. For me, this weekend is a moment to reflect on a powerful moment in our country's history and to engage in dialogue about how the fight for justice is to keep moving 50 years later.</p><p style="text-align&#58;center;">---<br></p><h4><strong>Mark Carlson, Sacramento, Calif.&#58;</strong></h4><p>&quot;I went to the 40th anniversary of Selma in 2005 to honor my father, a Lutheran pastor and voice for racial justice,&#160;who was not able to march in 1965 as he hoped; as well as for his clergy colleagues who did.&#160;Fascinated by the extraordinary courage of so many who were dehumanized and the objects of terror and violence, another pilgrimage was just something I had to do. I returned&#160;for the 45<sup>th</sup> and am&#160;going again to learn, to listen, to walk, worship, sing, and to be nourished and inspired as I remember the sacrifices and recommit to resist racism and violence.&#160;​This time it is more personal.&#160; My mother, Rosemary, who is now in her last days under hospice care, asked me if I had been to Selma while we were watching the Oscars performance of &quot;Glory&quot;<em> </em>from the movie &quot;Selma.&quot; Since my 2010 trip, I&#160;learned that her great-grandfather and his brother, who served in the 8<sup>th</sup> Wisconsin Infantry, had been in Montgomery and Selma 150 years ago, mustering out in nearby Demopolis in 1865.&#160;I also continue to wonder why we are not in a better place with race relations, poverty, violence, the criminal justice system,&#160;voting rights and voter participation,&#160;after my ancestors went through hell, as did those who endured and gave so much those 50 years ago.&#160; Selma 2015 will point the way to a better place, with God's help.&quot;</p><p style="text-align&#58;center;">​---<br></p><h4><strong>Natalie Young, Chicago&#58;</strong></h4><p>&quot;This trip is important to me as a person of color whose father grew up in the south (Mississippi) during the civil rights movement. I am 30 years old and identify as multiethnic and am always baffled when my peers do not show up at the polls and vote! I think that people in my generation and younger sometimes forget the struggle that our elders went through so that we could live the way we do today. I saw the movie &quot;Selma&quot; with my family and was reminded how recently these events occurred in our history. The film gave a certain humanness to the iconic civil rights leaders that we learned about in school and made me realize that great leaders have to start somewhere!&quot;</p><p style="text-align&#58;center;">---<br></p><h4><strong>&#160;Judith Roberts, Chicago&#58;</strong><br></h4><p>&quot;My grandfather, CC Bryant of McComb, Miss., testified before the U.S. Civil Rights Commission in February 1965. His testimony, along with several others, named the racial discrimination and intimidation experienced by African Americans trying to exercise their constitutional right to vote. Today, we are still facing voter disenfranchisement through public policies in the form of preserving state's rights (e.g. voter ID legislation and the criminal justice system that can temporarily or permanently deny access to the ballot).&#160;This moment in our current history is about lifting up the values of living in an electoral democracy – where every citizen should have the right to cast a ballot for the elected officials that will represent their communities. This church <a href="http&#58;//www.transformationresourcesnetwork.com/TRANSFORMATION_RESOURCES_NETWORK/Resources/Entries/2014/1/29_The_ELCA_Recently_Passed_Voting_Rights_Resolution.html">adopted a social statement policy to ensure just that.&quot;</a></p><p style="text-align&#58;center;">​---<br></p><p><strong>We pray for our ELCA leaders and all those who gather in Selma this weekend. We will continue to bring photos and stories from the events, as well as reflections after the anniversary celebration.&#160;&#160;</strong></p></div>03/06/2015