Monday, March 10, 188 Lutherans from all three Iowa synods converged upon the Capitol in Des Moines to advocate for children and families for “Lutheran Day on the Hill”.
This was the ninth year this event, sponsored by Lutheran Services in Iowa
with a grant from ELCA World Hunger
, took place in Iowa. It is a great way to help Christians learn how they can be an advocate for those who do not have a voice among the powerful, as well as exercising our rights and responsibilities as citizens to be part of the legislative process.
The day began at a nearby church with coffee, T-shirts and a devotion from SE Iowa Bishop Michael Burke who encouraged us to be salt and light for the world.
|Doug Johnson, LSI President & CEO |
We heard some sobering statistics about poverty among children in Iowa from Charles Bruner, executive director of the Child and Family Policy Center.
Ryan Cumming, Program Director for the ELCA Hunger Appeal was the keynote speaker, reminding us that “To be a Lutheran is to be captured by a vision of grace that calls us to speak out.”
We were briefed on the issues and given talking points sheet
we could leave with our legislator. (Even if you did not attend you can still write your legislator about these issues)
We were given clear directions as to what to expect when we got to the Capitol and how to connect with our representative.
And then off we went to talk speak on behalf of the poor. Some years are better than others when it comes to catching your representative.
This year most were able to connect with at least one representative. The Capitol was awash in blue as Lutherans in LSI T-Shirts filled the halls waiting to speak with their legislators.
So why do we do this?
As ELCA Hunger Program Director Ryan Cumming put it, it is an “important way for us to express our faith that cannot be contained in one area and to show that God is active everywhere, even the halls of State Legislature.
Northeastern Iowa Synod Bishop Ullestad asked a representative, “Why has Iowa’s Family Investment Program (FIP) basic support for families remained at $495 for 25 years?’
The answer was, “Because children living in poverty have no voice on The Hill.”
And the Bishop replied, “That is why we are here today…to speak on their
Food pantries, meals, backpack programs, charity are all vital and important, but we are also called to speak on behalf of those without a voice as well. We are called to use all of our gifts on behalf of the poor and our citizenship and participation in the democratic process is a gift we also use for the sake of justice.
|Bishops Michael Burk & Steven Ullestad |
We did not go to the Hill to speak on behalf of the ELCA or our congregation or to protect our own rights or interests, but to speak on behalf of those who have no voice on The Hill – the widow, the orphan and the refugee.
“Lutheran Services in Iowa’s Day on the Hill gives voice to those who have no other voice in the halls of power,” says Bishop Ullestad.
“We speak on behalf of the children in Iowa, those in poverty, the refugee from oppressive foreign governments, families broken by mental illness, those without homes and others pushed to the margins of society. We speak for them for in their eyes we see Jesus and remember his words,
‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ (Matthew25:40)”
By Pastor Joelle Colville-Hanson
Director for Evangelical Mission, ELCA