ELCA NEWS SERVICE
March 15, 2007
Lutherans Advocate for Children's Issues at Ecumenical Advocacy Days
WASHINGTON, D.C. (ELCA) -- More than 1,000 U.S. church members, including more than 100 members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), participated in the Ecumenical Advocacy Days for Global Peace with Justice conference here March 9-12. Under the theme "…and How are the Children?" participants learned about issues affecting children around the world and had the opportunity to make their voices heard on Capitol Hill.
Workshop tracks covered issues affecting children domestically and internationally. Featured workshop sessions focused on unaccompanied children crossing borders; fixing the No Child Left Behind Act; the dangers of global warming on children now and in the future; the effects of the current Middle East conflict on the region's children; the impact of current U.S. security policies on children; the ill effects of free trade agreements on poor workers and families in Latin America; and escalating violence and human rights abuses in Burma and the Philippines.
Amy Santoriello, a student at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn., who served on the planning team for the event, praised the conference's focus on children's issues. "My background is in education, and I do not believe our children are our future; I believe our children are our now, and we need to take care of them now because they are paying the price already for things other generations have done," she said.
Plenary speakers for the event included the Rev. John L. McCullough, executive director and CEO, Church World Service; the Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.); the Rev. Bob Edgar, general secretary, National Council of Churches USA; Mercedes Roman, coordinator for the Global Network of Religions for Children, Latin America and the Caribbean; and Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children's Defense Fund.
"Marian Wright Edelman has been a hero of mine, probably since the age of 14, so when I found out she'd be speaking at Advocacy Days, I was quite ecstatic," said Angela Shubert, a student at Augustana College, Sioux Falls, S.D., who attended the event. "She was eloquent, she knew her stuff, and it was just really great that this conference could bring someone of that esteem here."
Participants spent the final day of the event on Capitol Hill, where they met with the staffs of their congressional representatives to press for greater U.S. support for three key domestic and international issues focused on children: reauthorization and expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP); comprehensive, mandatory and aggressive anti-global warming legislation; and calls for Congress to adopt new "Spending for Peace, Not War" priorities.
The ELCA hosted several events at the conference, including a hospitality suite during registration time and a luncheon where participants could meet staff from the ELCA churchwide office, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, and Lutheran World Relief.
Lutheran participants were also invited to a dinner, sponsored by ELCA Global Mission and held at Lutheran Church of the Reformation on Capitol Hill.
ELCA participants included several students from ELCA colleges and seminaries, including Augustana College, Luther Seminary, Lutheran Theological Seminary of Philadelphia and Lutheran School of Theology at Gettysburg, Pa. About 200 of the Advocacy Days participants were students and young adults between the ages of 18 and 30.
"As a student entering into professional ministry, I think it's important that we remember that, yes, there is a separation between church and state; but there should never be a separation between church and community," said Santoriello. "If we are taking our role seriously as Christians, we need to concentrate on Christian witness and advocating for those who have no voice."
"I think that the people from our generation are starting to realize that this is the world that we live in; and we won't be grown-ups when we graduate from college, we won't be grown-ups when we get our first job or move into our apartment," said Ellie Kunkel, a student at Augustana College, who attended the event. "We are grown-ups, or we are mature twenty-somethings, at least, when we start acting like it, and when we start taking responsibility for this world we live in," she said.
Ecumenical Advocacy Days for Global Peace with Justice began in 2003 as a gathering of 400 religious advocates concerned about U.S. foreign policy in Africa and the Middle East. Event sponsors for 2007 included the ELCA, Episcopal Church, Lutheran World Relief, National Council of Churches, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church and dozens of other faith-based organizations.
Audio of comments by Ellie Kunkel is at http://media.ELCA.org/audionews/070314a.mp3 ELCA Web site.
Audio of comments by Amy Santoriello is at http://media.ELCA.org/audionews/070314b.mp3 on the ELCA Web site.
Audio of comments by Angela Shubert is at http://media.ELCA.org/audionews/070314c.mp3 on the ELCA Web site.
Information about Ecumenical Advocacy Days is at http://www.advocacydays.org/index.php on the Web.
For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or email@example.com
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