Tag Archives: national/global advocacy

My Daughter’s Inheritance

Reflections on “Public Witnessing” with your children

by Phoebe Morad, Lutherans Restoring Creation

As someone who has worked in some facet of environmental action for over 20 years, you’d think that fear, guilt, and longing would consume my anticipation of what world I leave for my children. Fortunately, since I found my place among faith-based communities looking for solutions through eco-justice minefields, I’ve been able to see past the numbness of daunting objectives. I’ve also been able to bring my kids along for the journey.

Earth Day 2016, my daughter was 8, armed with her stuffed animal tree frog and outfitted in her hand-written “end plastic pollution” t-shirt and in silent (yet fervent) agreement with the small cohort who gathered at Senator Ed Markey’s office. We came as representatives from area houses of worship who wanted to emphasize the moral imperative to protect a special part of the Atlantic Ocean habitat. Months later, these advocates, and thousands of their peers, were grateful to hear that the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts area was declared a Marine National Monument by President Obama as part of the Antiquities Act.

Thea’s patience was tried when waiting from April to September to hear the results from the petition she took part in – but what a result! The first marine monument on our eastern shores made into a sanctuary to act as a nursery for more fish to feed people and an undisturbed ocean bed as researchers only just began to explore the gifts in this underwater Eden. I wanted to grab this 4th grader by the shoulders before she went into school shouting triumph and warn her: “It isn’t that simple: just because we talked with our representatives, stated our case, and joined others in laying out the importance of this matter – that doesn’t usually result in seeing anything actually changing.” But I bit my tongue and hoped that this would mean exactly that.

Then 2017 happened. The Antiquities Act being used as a tool for upholding Theodore Roosevelt’s intentions to preserve natural treasures is up for debate as the tide of leadership shifts. Was Thea paying attention to my one-way conversation with the news on the radio as Sec. Zinke re-assessed the validity of “our victory”? I decided to keep her on the roller coaster for the rest of the ride. Off we went again to the JFK Federal Building in October to Senator Elizabeth Warren’s office to speak with her staff alongside the Creation Justice Ministries team and others who had worked with local fishing coalitions and marine biologists.  Our appeal was to hold firm to conserving the area:  an investment in the future of our fishing industry and the collective impact of ocean care as a climate change mitigation had to trump the short-term worry over economic impacts.

I’m so glad Thea brought her sketchpad to take notes as we spoke with the voice on the speaker from Warren’s DC office; “…fisher people did not feel invited,” she notes alongside drawings of happy fish. That particular point was certainly contended, but the feelings remain. Everyone knows how it feels to not be invited to something, not to be heard. The conversation emerged from our hour in Warren’s office that faith-based groups are uniquely situated to bring together disparate factions and help foster healing interactions. Our next twist on this roller coaster is going to be a long climb: encouraging relationship building between a broader faction of the fishing economy and the faith leaders in their midst to consider how to provide for their loved ones while acting as stewards of the natural gifts meant to share with other generations.

 

As we left Warren’s office Thea and I were excited to see some of her “adornments” on the shelves. She has a rock collection too! There are a few stuffed animals among her books. Being able to relate to Senator Warren’s gender and interests may be the first hook to my daughter’s aspirations, but I hope that isn’t the part that lasts longest. I’m grateful that she gets to see that progress is no straight road. She’s just had a glimpse as to all the diverse interests we need to consider in discovering “justice”. The Elizabeth Warren she will see on campaign ads soon, is not the one and only person to look for all our answers. That is not a true leader’s role. So many, many people are part of the efforts to make a better common home for all. I pray that we can all find a unique role in serving our neighbors needs as St. Paul refers to in his letter to the Corinthians:

 

If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.  If all were a single member, where would the body be?  As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.   (1 Corinthians 17-20)

 

 

Living the Change: A Tool Connected to Many Faiths

GreenFaith has helped pull together leaders from various religions across the globe to recognize our common concern for the planet and life on it. In doing this they have created a tool that can be customized to each tradition and helps us focus on the major activities which we can alter to mitigate a changing climate. Please use this link to sign up (either solo or as a whole team… youth group, Bible Study Class, family, etc.) we want to know of your efforts and celebrate together!

Living the Change as Lutherans Restoring Creation 

What does church have to do with it?

As many faith-based organizations are struggling with their place in relation to people’s daily lives, so does the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America look for ways the world can use what we offer.  As part of an appeal for our churches to take on the uncomfortable challenge of being engaged in the public sphere, let’s take stock of how other sectors of our society ask the church for help.  If you have articles or stories to share please submit them to info at lutheransrestoringcreation dot org.

Comments from BBC’s NewsHour Jan 22, 2019 Davos, Switzerland as Global Business leaders meet at World Economic  Forum:

Listen in to this conversation from global leaders and their call to us all to act as leaders.

What does a “moral and empathic revolution” look like?

When are you tempted to make villains out of your neighbors?

How can prayer offer a way out of habits that take us further away from our goals?

Make Memorials to Churchwide Assembly ASAP

Our list of synod/church-wide resolutions re: eco-justice are still listed on our “archived” site here.  For the upcoming Churchwide Assembly in Milwaukee this August the initiative with the most ground support thus far is detailed below, but if your synod has other ideas please let us know so we can share your goals.

*** UPDATE as of June 4, 2019****

Colleagues, I write to inform you that this past Thursday evening the Upstate New York Synod approved the memorial requesting that the Churchwide Assembly endorse The Earth Charter by a vote of 192-13.  No one spoke in opposition.   So as of now we have four synods that are sending this memorial to Churchwide–New England, Southeast Pennsylvania, Gulf, and Upstate New York.  I think there may be one other synod considering this.

Congratulations on your good work!
Peace,
W. Merle Longwood, PhD
Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies
Siena College
********************************************

Thanks to a passionate group of Lutherans from across the country there is momentum to request that our ELCA Churchwide Assembly agrees to be an institutional endorser of the Earth Charter.  See note below and follow links to discover how you can bring this to your next Synod Assembly!

From: Merle Longwood

Here is the final version of the resolution submitted to the Reference and Counsel Committee of the Upstate New York Synod, along with the cover letter that I sent accompanying that. It has some editorial corrections that I think may be helpful if others of you are still working on getting something to your own Reference and Counsel Committees.

Let’s hope it really becomes possible for this to come to the 2019 Churchwide Assembly for its endorsement.

To Download a PDF copy Click here: EarthCharterMemorial2019

For a Word document to be sent to you for editing to customize for your synod please write or call Phoebe ASAP at info at lutheransrestoringcreation dot org or call 617-599-2722

The New England Synod also submitted a Memorial to sign the Earth Charter. The HOW – TO submit a Memorial is outlined in this document from Sec. Chris Boerger: Memorial Resolutions Memorandum 2018

Prayers for Leadership on Climate Change

Representative, Ruth Ivory-Moore (Advocacy Energy & Environment) from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America joined the COP24 (the 24th Conference of the Parties) in Katowice, Poland. 

Light For Katowice 2018 >> Click here to download an easy-to-use copy of the prayer booklet.

Thanks to Lisa Brenskelle from the Christ the King Church in Houston Texas for assembling this resource!

Synod Resolutions: Synod Actions

Resolution to become an LRC Synod
Central States Synod
Approved June 2015

Resolution to become a Green Synod
Northern Illinois Synod Assembly
Approved April 2008

Resolution on Establishing an Environmental Stewardship Committee
Metropolitan New York Synod, 2009

 

Synod Resolutions: Divestment from Fossil Fuels

Transition to Cleaner Energy Memorial
Upper Susquehanna (PA) Synod June 2015

Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod’s Creation Care Task Force pledges to investigate what divestment would mean for the synod and the world. June 2015

Metro New York Synod
Approved May 29, 2015
News Release 

Saint Paul, MN Area Synod
Approved April 24-25, 2015
Oregon Synod
Approved May 18, 2013.
New England Synod
Approved June 7-9, 2013

FAQs from the Coalition to Divest

Regarding the “divestment vs shareholder advocacy” discussion underway at the assembly:

See position paper which has some great information in the section titled “What effect would our divestment have on the fossil fuel companies? Wouldn’t shareholder activism be more effective?”.

More on the topic:

From the Saint Paul Area Synod’s resolution: “WHEREAS despite decades of shareholder engagement with fossil fuel companies, the industry continues to spend nearly $2 billion dollars a day searching for additional fossil fuel reserves and over half a million dollars a day lobbying governments for subsidies and support for further extraction”
https://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/file_attachments/bp191-fossil-fuels-finance-climate-change-171014-en.pdf

From a reaction to recent shareholder resolutions (nearly all rejected): “There’s a certain point at which noble failure turns into moral cover – by continuing this process past the point where any reasonable person can see it’s a failure, shareholder “activists” actually help the company they’re targeting”
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/may/20/exxon-shareholders-climate-change-reform-divest

NOTE re: Portico’s wish to engage with companies: Portico will continue to be invested fossil fuel companies through the non-social-purpose funds. They can continue shareholder engagement there if they wish.

From some information provided by Portico: “Portico has filed 84 company resolutions in the last 8 years on a variety of topics, and 56% have been withdrawn due to constructive dialogue/positive company action including adoption of emission reduction plans, increased transparency and disclosure on risk management and best practices, and publishing sustainability reports. For example, in 2015, we withdrew a shareholder resolution on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction at Costco because they agreed to commit to keeping the growth of their GHG emissions to less than sales growth over the next five years.

[That is, 0 resolutions have been approved, not clear what happened as a result of these conversations. The success that is lifted up (Costco) is notably not a fossil fuel company.]

 

Resolution on Caring for Creation: North/West Lower MI Synod in Assembly 2004

WHEREAS, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America adopted the social statement “Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope, and Justice” by a more than two-thirds majority at its third Churchwide Assembly on August 28, 1993 in Kansas City, Missouri; and

WHEREAS, the 1993 Social Statement:

1) Offers a vision of God’s intention for creation and for humanity as creation’s caregivers;

2) Provides a solid biblical, ethical, and theological rationale for caring for God’s creation;

3) Acknowledges humanity’s separation from God and from the rest of creation as the central cause of environmental crises;

4) Recognizes the severity of current environmental crises; and

5) Expresses hope while calling the church to effective action on behalf of restoring and protecting the integrity of creation; and

WHEREAS, there is currently only one churchwide full-time staff person to address both environmental education and advocacy; and

WHEREAS, a Churchwide consultation, convened in November 2003 on the tenth anniversary of the “Caring for Creation” social statement, urged the ELCA through its congregations, synods, Churchwide organization, and institutions to strengthen its resolve to implement faithfully the commitments that it made in the social statement in 1993;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the North/West Lower Michigan Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in Assembly commends the “Caring for Creation” social statement and its subsequent implementation strategies recommended by the 2003 consultation, available on the ELCA’s Division for Church in Society website, to our congregations for prayerful review, study, and action;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this Synod memorialize the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Assembly 2005 to offer increased attention and support to both churchwide and synodical programs and ministries for environmental education and advocacy, so that this church might more faithfully carry out the vision, hope, and justice goals of the 1993 statement.

Resolution on Caring for Creation

Approved – North/West Lower MI Synod in Assembly

May 14-16, 2004

Synod Resolutions: Eco-Reformation (2015 and 2016)

Northwest Synod of Wisconsin 
Approved May 2016
Submitted/approved by the Upper Susquehanna (PA) Synod
June 2015 Workshop Power Point Presentation
 
Submitted/approved by the Northeastern Iowa Synod June 2015
Approved by New England Synod June 2015
 
Adopted by Northeastern Minnesota Synod May 2015
(forwarded to conference deans for consideration) 
Eastern WA/ID Synod
Approved April 25, 2015

ELCA Churchwide Pledges to Move Towards a Sustainable Energy Future

August 13th, after days of conversation, discernment and prayer the 2016 churchwide voting assembly voted to pass the Memorial: Towards a Responsible Energy Future. After a grassroots divestment coalition brought together various synodical divestment memorials and the proper parliamentary protocol into one statement, the church is now called to act on the amended version you can read here. [Watch recording of vote here minute 47]

 

Sample resolutions to edit and submit at your next synod assembly

Sample Transition to Clean, Renewable Energy Resolution

Sample Fossil Fuels Divestment Resolution

Sample Synod Resolution on Eco-Reformation

Sample Resolution Regarding Inclusion of Stewardship of Creation in Worship

Sample Resolution to Become a Lutherans Restoring Creation Synod

 

 

2017 Synod Assemblies Pass More Eco-Justice Resolutions!

South Central Wisconsin passed their Carbon Fee & Dividend Resolution!
MD/DE Synod Assembly for approving a Resolution on Ecological Justice (read here).

Creation Care Congregation: Public Witness/Policy Advocacy Ideas

Public Witness/Policy Advocacy: “Church exists to serve the world”

Hands-on project. Learn what environmental projects are happening in your area and what organizations are sponsoring them. Recruit members of your congregation to partner with them in the effort. Restore a habitat, clean up trash, plant trees.

Informational forums. Learn what environmental organizations are in your community and invite a representative of one or more to present a forum on their program. Promote the ways that your congregation can support their efforts. If you feel called to speak on climate change, there are tools available to help you communicate about the issue effectively according to behavioral science studies. Go to ecoAmerica’s Blessed Tomorrow site for a Moving Forward guide and consider taking their course to train others ineffective climate communication.

Legislative forum. Invite the head of the Lutheran Public Policy office in your area to preach and present a forum at your congregation. Or invite a local official familiar with local state and regional issues around the environment. If there is a critical issue in your area, plan a forum for information and conversation about it.

Action alerts: Invite members to sign up to receive action alerts via e-mail from ELCA e-Advocacy Network: http://www.elca.org/en/Our-Work/Publicly-Engaged-Church/Advocacy/Get-Involved. The process for contacting legislators is made very simple.

Partner with other faith communities. Join with others seeking to green their congregations. If no such organization exists, start one by asking the green team of one or more other congregations to meet with you and share ideas. Or, if you have been active for several years, offer to mentor another congregation in becoming a creation-care community.

These ideas are also shared in our congregational self-organizing kit. For more details, visit this page.

ELCA Welcomes the Global Climate Agreement

On Saturday, December 12, 2015 leaders from 195 nations concluded the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris by approving a global agreement to address climate change. This agreement includes a commitment to keep global warming well below 2 degrees. The ELCA welcomes the Paris Accord, and we renew our own commitment to care for all of God’s good creation.

“We stand at a critical moment, when the world has come together to decide the framework for our shared future,” said Interim Advocacy Director Mary Minette, who traveled to Paris last week as part of a delegation representing ACT Alliance, of which the ELCA is a member.

“People of faith showed up in unprecedented numbers for the climate talks in Paris because we believe that this moment includes a moral obligation to our most vulnerable neighbors, to future generations, and to all of God’s creation to act on climate change.

The Paris agreement sets the world on a pathway to stewardship, justice and sustainability. All countries have, for the first time, agreed to take concrete steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to review and increase their commitments over time.

The Paris agreement includes financial pledges to help developing countries adopt  clean energy technologies and adapt to already-occurring impacts of climate change.  It also includes provisions that will help the most vulnerable countries avoid the worst of human suffering from irreversible climate damage in the future,  and it sets the world on a more sustainable, low carbon, development pathway.

The outcome of the Paris talks reflects momentum brought by a growing global movement of people and communities around the world, including communities of faith, who are leading the way in pushing for a better future.

As we leave Paris and return to our own communities, we must continue to act in solidarity with those who are most vulnerable to climate change, with those yet to come, and with all of God’s creation.

Along with membership in ACT Alliance, the ELCA is also a member of the Lutheran World Federation and World Council of Churches. Together these organizations had a delegation of over 100 in Paris for the summit. You can read ACT Alliance’s response to the Paris Accord here.

To learn more about the Paris summit and how the ELCA continues to be involved in caring for God’s Creation, visit http://www.elca.org/advocacy and read Mary’s updates from Paris on our ELCA Advocacy blog

ADVOCACY: national/global advocacy, public witness
Issue-based advocacy, climate change
ELCA materials/resources

ELCA Advocacy Updates

The National ELCA Office of Advocacy offers updates from what’s going on in our capital and news from various affiliate offices around the country. Be sure to stay up-to-date with your area by signing up for these – CLICK HERE.

 

 

 

 

2016 Churchwide Assembly Passes Memorial To Move Towards A Responsible Energy Future

2016 Churchwide Assembly Passes Memorial To Move Towards A Responsible Energy Future

During the months leading up to the August 2016 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, a group of people promoted memorials to suggest that the church divest from fossil fuels and/or invest in renewable energy, and worked to ensure that the issue was properly discussed by voting members.
Read their position paper and follow their efforts as reported on our Facebook page  See also information on Key differences between divestment and shareholder advocacy
We still have a ways to go – but with the advocacy office, Portico, and a handful of dedicated “restorers of creation” progress is being made.
 

From minutes of Plenary 8 session – August 13th, which can be found in full here.

MEMORIAL B3:

To receive with gratitude the memorials of the Saint Paul Area, Metropolitan New York, Northeastern Pennsylvania, Upper Susquehanna and Northwestern Pennsylvania synods related to climate change and fossil fuels;

To urge all ELCA members, congregations and synods to inform and educate themselves about the effects of climate change through the lens of the “Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope and Justice” social statement, and to advocate for policies that reduce energy use and our dependence on fossil fuels and encourage development of renewable energy sources as an expression of our commitment to address climate change and caring for God’s creation;

To affirm the action of the 2013 Churchwide Assembly and subsequent action of the Church Council in 2014 related to the development of revised or additional investment screens on fossil fuels, and to support and commend ELCA members, congregations, synods, the churchwide organization, and related institutions and agencies such as ELCA Endowment Fund and Portico Benefit Services for their leadership efforts to invest in companies that are taking steps toward a sustainable environment;

To affirm Portico’s balanced approach to supporting this church’s principles and directives as stated in the social statements — including the commitment to help transition to an economy less dependent on fossil fuels.

That approach includes has included:

1. shareholder advocacy (filing and supporting resolutions on environmental issues, including 150 resolutions in 2015),

2. focused investment screening, which has identified 113 companies screened for environmental reasons, and

3. ramping up positive social investments, such as investments in companies that develop solar, wind and water power generation systems, repurposing waste products and reducing toxic emissions;

and now:

To call upon Portico to evaluate the viability of an optional fossil -free fund for retirement plan participants; and To call upon the ELCA to heed the call of the Lutheran World Federation Council in 2015 to member churches “not to invest in fossil fuels and to support energy efficiency and renewable energy companies, and to encourage their institutions and individual members to do likewise”; and

As part of this church’s response to the Lutheran World Federation’s call, to request that the ELCA churchwide organization review the ELCA’s applicable social teachings and Corporate Social Responsibility policies and procedures, with the goal of not investing in, and removing the largest fossil fuel companies as identified by Carbon Tracker, and investing in corporations which are taking positive steps toward a sustainable environment.