Why Is Advocacy Important?
This question is quickly answered when you consider the words of Jesus and the words for this year’s StPLC stewardship campaign, “Loving God, Loving Neighbor.” Advocacy goes beyond the important gifts of charity, such as food, clothing and money. It even goes beyond providing direct service to your neighbor, like helping to build them a Habitat home. While both of these forms of love address the recipient’s immediate needs, advocacy moves beyond the immediate need.
Advocacy addresses systemic changes that promote long-lasting improvements and dignity of all human life. Advocacy is like the Chinese proverb: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
Taking the Advocacy Calling Seriously
We are grateful to be a part of a Christian denomination that takes the advocacy calling seriously. In fact, it is the fifth promise we make during baptisms and when adults become members of our church, “to strive for justice and peace in all the world.” The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) promotes advocacy on both the national level and locally through our local Rocky Mountain Synod (RMS). Just last week, the RMS sponsored Colorado Lutheran Day at the State Legislature with Bishop Gonia offering the welcome message. He shared how our participation in advocacy not only transforms the world around us but transforms our hearts from isolation to interconnectedness as we trust God to lead us into this ministry.
As a church, we encourage one another to see that our engagement in politics is informed by the values we share as Christians. By letting our lawmakers know how Lutheran ministries help our world and urging them to advance legislation that reflects these commitments, we are creating opportunities to overcome poverty, promote peace and justice and protect God’s creation.
Should You Talk Politics?
We all know the warning that “we should never talk about religion or politics” in mixed company, but don’t people of faith have legitimate reasons to both talk about politics and be engaged in politics? If political structures are the way that people living in groups make decisions, we have to be a part of the conversation and represent what it means to Love God and Love Neighbor. We don’t have to always agree on how we accomplish this goal of loving neighbor, but we each need to be sure that our goal is grounded in our faith and the love of God.
The first piece of advocacy is education and becoming aware of what is going on with important issues. To that end, Saint Peter has two exciting educational opportunities in the coming weeks. Saint Peter will host author Helen Thorpe and Lutheran Family Services on Sunday, March 24th to discuss how we can welcome the stranger among us (more details inside). You are also invited to join me at the next “Faithful Tuesday” at the Colorado Capitol Building on March 15th (more details inside) as the RMS hosts a conversation about Financial Equity.
This article was written by Jeanne Maloney, Saint Peter Faith Formation Ministries.