Pray for Climate Summit/Participate in Local Events

Hello Friends –

Next week Monday, the UN Climate Summit begins and this weekend, the UN is hosting a Youth Climate Summit. Meanwhile, people from around the world are doing programs, educational events, and taking action to draw attention to climate change and the crisis that is already occurring.

 PRAY for the Summits:

Please spend a few minutes in prayer every day from now through the end of next week. Pray for the summit, the world leaders attending, the global youth attending, tremendous wisdom for those leaders, and BOTH WISDOM & COURAGE for our national, state, & local leaders as we move into situations humanity hasn’t faced previously. 

Here are some statements from the UN Summit Website to help guide your prayers:

“To boost ambition and accelerate actions to implement the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, UN Secretary-General António Guterres is asking leaders, from government, business and civil society, to come to the 2019 Climate Action Summit on 23 September with plans to address the global climate emergency.” (https://www.un.org/en/climatechange/)

“The Youth Climate Summit — the first UN climate summit for young people — will provide a platform for young leaders to showcase their solutions and meaningfully engage with decision-makers.” (https://www.un.org/en/climatechange/)

 Join Local Action or Events? Consider checking out the possibilities in your area and join a local event that seems appropriate for you. [Unfortunately, we are not able to recommend, sponsor, or endorse the specific events or actions. However, ELCA Advocacy and Lutheran Advocacy-MN creation care priorities & issues fit with general climate concerns.]

September 20, Youth Climate Strike: Young people and adults will strike all across the US and world to demand transformative action be taken to address the climate crisis. Learn about the various events here: https://strikewithus.org/

Global Climate Strike: Twin Cities, Minnesota State Capitol
(75 Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Saint Paul, MN 55155)
11:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. on September 20

For other events that are not Global Climate Strike related, Google: “climate action” + September 2019” +  “your local community” OR “a bigger nearby community

 Watch Paris to Pittsburgh Film Screening: Over 100 cities, six states and Puerto Rico have set goals to match the Paris Climate Accord, committing to 100% renewable energy. Hear their stories in a free screening of Paris to Pittsburgh, a National Geographic film. Check local event listings in your community for showings (Northfield will be showing it at the Public Library, & other communities or churches will also be showing the film). If you and your church would like to host a screening, contact screenings@paristopittsburgh.com .

In the Twin Cities, the faith communities of InterFaith Creation Care South Metro will be showing the film & hosting faith-based discussions following the screening on reducing carbon footprints and being good stewards of God’s creation. (Goodwill offerings accepted). Learn more from their flier.

Sunday, September 22 – 4:00 pm | St. John’s, Lakeville
Sunday, October 13 – 6 pm | Shepherd of the Lake, Prior Lake
Sunday, October 27 – 4 pm | The Well, Rosemount

St. Michael’s in Roseville has also received permission to screen this film on Sunday, September 22, at 6:00 pm. That congregation is providing a light meal and requests RSVPs on Facebook 

Action Alert to Protect SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)

 “When we pray in the Lord’s Prayer, ‘Give us this day our daily bread,’ we place ourselves in tension with economic assumptions of our society. Rather than being self-sufficient, we need and depend on what God gives or provides through people, practices, and systems. ’Daily bread’ is not earned by efforts of individuals alone, but is made possible through a variety of relationships and institutions [note to Martin Luther’s ‘The Large Catechism’]. God gives in ways that expand our notions of who ‘us’ includes, from people close at hand to those around the globe. In stark contrast to those who seek unchecked accumulation and profit, our attention is drawn to those who are desperate for what will sustain their lives for just this day.” – From ELCA social statement Sufficient, Sustainable Living for All

Hungry People Face Another Threat!

Please Help!

This proposed rule change will affect many low-income families in Minnesota. Please make comments for USDA and when you finish, invite your church leaders to do the same. The Administration needs to know where the faith community stands on this.

SITUATION: The Department of Agriculture (USDA) has proposed a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) rule that would eliminate an estimated 3.1 million children, families, disabled and older adults from access to SNAP benefits. The comment period ends on September 23. Time is short, and your voice is essential now!

The rule would eliminate broad based categorical eligibility ( BBCE or “Cat El”), which is a policy that allows states to consider slightly lower income or asset tests to participate in SNAP if they have large expenses elsewhere – like high housing costs or significant child care expenses. This policy is particularly important for low-income working families that struggle to make ends meet, and helps to promote a little asset-building which has proven important to eventually getting out of poverty. It also helps states improve their administration of SNAP, while lowering administrative costs.*

This exact change was considered in the Farm Bill debate last year, but it was defeated by a broad bipartisan majority of Congress. Proposing this as an executive action in the form of a “rule change” goes against the will of Congress! Proponents of the change claim Cat El  is a “loophole” which allows ineligible people to benefit from SNAP. However, they fail to recognize that only a few states don’t use Cat El, and that states that do use it have other costs that greatly impact low-income individuals and families.

*The MN SNAP application used to be about 20 pages long and was almost more difficult to fill out than income tax forms. People had to include all kinds of information, not just about their income, but about year, make & model of their car so it could be checked against blue-book value of their car, the amount of savings in bank accounts (even if it was gifts from family for future education), their housing costs, and many other things. Some items could be deductions that made them more likely to be eligible (high housing costs), while others (like a car valued above a few thousand dollars) would make them less eligible. For instance, If a family lost a job in a recession but had a decent car from when they were still working, they’d have to get rid of the decent car (usually at a loss) to get a barely running car to be eligible for food assistance. This in turn hindered their opportunities to look for work and get a new job!]

 

ACTION NEEDED: Write a personalized “comment” in opposition to this proposed rule based on the needs you see in your community, your role as a volunteer in your community or congregation, and/or your role in your faith community (Are you ordained to ministry,  a lay volunteer, or a member of a congregation that works on hunger, poverty or housing issues? Share about that!).

Send your comment to Lutheran Advocacy-MN at 105 University Ave. W., St. Paul, MN 55103 before Sept. 15, or to ELCA Advocacy (in Washington, D.C.) before Sept. 20, and we will make sure that all comments get hand delivered to the USDA by the deadline!!

Send a copy of your comment to your members of Congress, and ask them to oppose the rule!!
Your representative is one of these:  MN01-Rep. Jim Hagedorn; MN02-Rep. Angie Craig; MN03-Rep. Dean Phillips; MN04-Rep. Betty McCollum; MN05-Rep. Ilhan Omar; MN06-Rep. Tom Emmer; MN07-Rep. Collin Peterson; MN08-Rep. Pete Stauber. Our senators are: Sen. Amy Klobuchar & Sen. Tina Smith.  Click here for the congressional districts.  Addresses: Rep. ______________, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. 20515; Sen. _______________, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C. 20510

MORE BACKGROUND: More than 40 states participate in this two-decades old policy. It was a change made after “welfare reform” turned what had been Aid to Families with Dependent Children into a work program with severe time limits. The car value for SNAP hadn’t changed for years & years, the housing deductions were out of date & made little difference, and other things hadn’t been changed. So, states were allowed to offer SNAP to people or families that are already eligible for other programs. In Minnesota, we have many families that are eligible for housing assistance or child care assistance, but can’t benefit from those programs because there isn’t enough money to serve all who are eligible.

The proposed rule is harmful because it:

  • Increases hunger for families by eliminating access to SNAP for 3.1 million vulnerable members of our community
  • Ignores the will of Congress when it addressed this issue in the 2018 Farm Bill
  • No longer allows states to consider other issues faced by low-income people or families, like high housing costs or high daycare costs
  • Harms grocery retailers and agricultural producers by reducing the amount of SNAP dollars available to spur local economic activity
  • Threatens the health outcomes and learning potential of children
  • Harms people close to retirement as it may cause them to spend down their retirement savings which makes them more vulnerable when they need the funds

From our partner on housing issues, Minnesota Housing Partnership:

Links to maps showing housing issues in Minnesota: https://www.mhponline.org/images/stories/docs/policy/state/2012/maps_all.pdf

ELCA social teaching urges Lutherans to engage in service and advocacy for our neighbor in need of daily bread. These faith practices express our relationship with Jesus Christ, rooted in baptism that sends us out for the sake of the world.

 

Pastor Mateo – Immigration Program at Tapestry Lutheran in Richfield

Pastor Mateo Chavez from San Juan Bautista Lutheran Church in Tucson, AZ, preaching at Tapestry Lutheran in Richford, MN on July 14, 2019. The gospel reading was Luke 10:25-37, the story of the Good Samaritan. Listen as he relates the lessons of the Bible passage to the situation of immigrants and asylum seekers at the US border. Translation for the many visitors was provided by Pastor Melissa Melnik Gonzalez of Tapestry. That same evening, Pastor Mateo, with others from his family, told stories of people arriving at the Nogales border crossing area. Many Lutheran Advocacy-MN advocates attended and appreciated the hospitality (including dinner) of the Tapestry congregants.  Click here to see the full video: 

Moving Forward – A Guide to Climate Change Webinar

WHEN:
Wednesday, June 26, 2019 12 PM – 1 PM CDT

WHAT:
Webinar opportunity with ELCA collaborators Blessed Tomorrow who will discuss content of “Moving Forward,” a recently released guide to climate action for your congregation and community

WHY:
Changes to our climate reach into communities across the U.S. and around the world. ELCA members, as individuals, congregations, and ministry groups, are responding. This webinar will share ideas to expand your response in scope and efficacy. The issues are pressing – and the solutions are within reach.

HOW:
Register at https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/4744202857618562059 . Instructions for connecting to the webinar will be sent after you register. You can register up until the time of the webinar.

Whether or not you attend the webinar, find the resource “Moving Forward A Guide to Climate Action For Your Congregation and Community” at http://elca.org/environment

We’ve Got Until Midnight for Affordable Housing & Clean Energy!

Hey Friends – We can still make a difference until midnight! Tell your legislators to push their conference committee negotiators to act for Clean Energy and Affordable Housing. The language in the previous action alerts   is  still usable.  Find the content here:

Legis-2019-Update-SPASAssembly

What are the specifics?

AFFORDABLE HOUSING: This message language is a little more specific than the action alert, but either will work. Tell, tweet, or tag legislators: “We need a bonding bill. Please support #Bonds4Housing! More than half a million Minnesota families pay more than they can afford for housing, and that number is growing. Support the Homes for All agenda including #Bonds4Housing, $1 million for the emergency services program, and $5 million for the affordable #HousingTaxCredit. We need action this session for affordable homes. Thank you!”

CLEAN ENERGY: The discussions haven’t been going well for clean energy!! We know that legislation for 100% carbon neutral energy by 2050 is not going to be included, but tell legislators: “Include policy language on clean energy to move us faster to more renewables by 2030. Xcel Energy has pledged to get to 60% renewables by 2030, and the rest of the utilities should get close to that. Also support Clean Energy First, meaning that if carbon neutral energy is less expensive, it should be used before fossil fuels. Studies have shown that renewable and battery technology can easily handle 60% of our states electrical usage by 2030. Renewable energy is already significantly less expensive and batteries are predicted within 3 years to make even new renewable infrastructure less expensive than fossil fuels.” (This should be a no-brainer, but strong interests are pushing in the opposite direction).

After midnight, the bills go to the Reviser’s Office to make sure they are all in proper legal language & the legislators come back on Thursday for a 1-day special session to pass the final versions of all those major bills.

Legis-2019-Update-SPASAssembly

Ash Wednesday Reflections

Ash Wednesday Readings: Isaiah 58:1-12; Psalm 51:1-17; 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:10; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

While learning Spanish, I was struck that the word in my Spanish bible for both righteousness and justice is the same: justicia! As it turns out, that is true in many languages, including Hebrew (tsedek). In each case, the words refer to right relationship. Right relationship with God; right relationship with our human and non-human neighbors; right relationship within and between people, communities, nations; and right relationship within and between all that God has created.

What a beautiful vision of how the world should be! Yet, we have not been faithful to God’s calls for right relationship. Where do you see the broken relationships in your community? Don’t just think about between individuals! Are all in our communities well? Do our various municipal, state, and federal government policies reflect a desire for of what is good for all, or do they only reflect the interests of a few? Where have things broken down in our nation? How have we broken relationships with God’s creation around us? Have we been eager to point out the brokenness we see elsewhere, but hypocritically neglected our own role in what is broken?

Take a moment this Ash Wednesday to reflect on all the different relationships and levels of relationships that should be “made right.” Pray for God to guide and lead you and all of us together into right relationship with God, with everyone and everything that God has created.

Advocating for Justice and Care for All of God's Creation