Shalom UCC in Richland unveiled a scroll of legislative wins during their church service May 7: left to right, Mike Stipe, Mickey Beary, John Patrick, Marsha Stipe, Pastor Stephen Gentle, and Lora Rathbone. See story below.
Protect People in Debt Ceiling Negotiations and the Farm Bill
We have two action items for you this week as we turn our attention to Congress and federal policies that impact our neighbors:
Regarding the tense debt ceiling negotiations, we need to reach out to our lawmakers to make sure any compromise does not fall hardest on people who rely on anti-poverty programs. Use your voice and leave a message for your Congressmembers at the Capitol switchboard: 202-224-3121. Ask to speak to your senator or representative to share your urgent message to prevent a harmful debt crisis deal that falls hardest on low-income Americans. You can also call the White House at 202-456-1212 to leave a comment, then share on social media your action using #CutsHurt today.
Congress is also preparing to reauthorize the Farm Bill this year. This is an opportunity to build more equitable and sustainable food systems in the US and abroad by strengthening the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other food assistance programs.
Take action for the Farm Bill today or the QR code below to ask Congress to prioritize food assistance programs in the reauthorization of the Farm Bill. Personalize your letter with a few lines about your own experience or someone you know who is affected by food insecurity.
Find more information about the Farm Bill and its impacts at our national advocacy partners’ webpages:
Faith communities and local social service organizations work with passion to meet the needs of people in their communities who struggle with food insecurity. Reauthorizing the Farm Bill is an opportunity for our federal government to advance public policy that serves the common good, especially for those who need basic nutritional support for healthy lives. We’ll keep you posted in the months ahead on specific pieces of the Farm Bill being negotiated.
Register to Attend Spring Summit June 4
Register now for our final Spring Summit on Sunday, June 4. We want to hear from every corner of our state, so we have opted for a virtual meeting. We plan to follow up with smaller, in-person cluster meetings and regional gatherings this summer and fall.
Hear the legislative session recap and strategize in small groups on the issues you care about! Meet with others in your region in breakout rooms!
Celebrating 2023 Legislative Successes
Shalom United Church of Christ in Richland and their Mission and Social Action (MSA) committee support justice and compassion work by raising awareness of current issues, providing opportunities to respond as a congregation, and connecting the congregation with broader networks working for a common cause. We sign petitions, write and call our legislators, and promote advocacy of social justice issues.
Each legislative session, our elected officials in Washington State read through and vote on thousands of bills with the hope that some will make it to the governor’s desk and be signed into law. For faith communities like Shalom, we partner with the Faith Action Network to advocate for bills that promote justice, equity, and care for our neighbors and creation. During the church service when we shared our Joys and Concerns, the Mission and Social Action committee rolled out a 20 foot scroll with the names and numbers of the favorable House and Senate Bills that were passed. Then a few words were said about bills that our congregation was especially interested in. The Mission and Social Action Committee was delighted to present some incredible wins this legislative session. You can watch the video clip here.
Learning from Each Other: Public Witness
Eleven red dresses fluttered in the breeze coming off Puget Sound. They formed an art installation on the grounds of Edmonds United Methodist Church, May 5-22, in recognition of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. This is the second annual Red Dress Installation at Edmonds UMC (EUMC); the idea was introduced to them by an installation and ceremony at Edmonds Lutheran Church organized by Kira Issac.
FAN Partnership Coordinator Elizabeth Dickinson met with Beth Lanie and Diana Nielsen to view the installation. Both are members of the Racial Justice Team at EUMC which was born in 2020, “out of the realization that we have been silent about racism in our world and in the church far too long. Speaking out and acting out against racism (in ourselves and in others) is a necessary part of living out our Christian faith.”
The Racial Justice Team has been educating themselves through book studies and trips to the Hibulb Cultural Center, anti-racism vigils, a Totem Pole Journey ceremony, and more. They have been reflecting on and seeking ways to listen and show solidarity with people of color, and spoke of learning from a therapist with the Tulalip Tribes about healing intergenerational trauma. Last year the church youth went on a SLAM mission trip to learn about decolonization from the Yakama Nation; in return, this past Sunday youth from Yakama Mending Wings project came to EUMC and led a Dancing our Prayers worship service.
The Red Dress Project, originally the ReDress Project, was conceived by Metis artist Jaime Black to, “evoke a presence through the marking of absence.” Now sponsors of community art installations around Canada and parts of the US hope to grow awareness of the shocking violence faced by Indigenous women, as well as men and children. As Cherrah Giles, Board Chair of the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center and member of the Muscogee Nation notes, “While history cannot be undone, changes to current federal policies can increase the safety of Native women to save lives. Before the MMIWG crisis can be fully addressed, it must first be acknowledged.”
The Urban Indian Health Institute in 2018 estimated that the rate for missing American Indian/Alaska Native women in Washington State is 4.2 times higher than that for White women and similar to that of African American women. Murder is the third leading cause of death for indigenous women.
This poignant installation illustrates how we can creatively use our faith community land and buildings to educate and witness for justice in our wider communities. Banners, ribbons, peace poles, solar panels, photography exhibits, art installations, reader boards, peace flags. What else can you think of? Let’s bring our creativity to communicate our anger, our solidarity and our hope with our Beloved Community.
Share your stories of learning, advocacy, and public witness with FAN Partnership Coordinator Elizabeth at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, May 25-Friday, May 26, in-person, Marriott, Tacoma Downtown, 1538 Commerce St, Tacoma. Together We End Gun Violence Conference. This two-day conference will highlight survivors, thought leaders, community leaders, health professionals, young leaders, local officials, and national experts leading the way in ending the gun violence epidemic. Register here.
Sunday, May 28, 11:00am-12:30pm, in person and online, Rainier Arts Center, 3515 S Alaska Street, Seattle. Dr. Cornel West: The Prophetic Tradition in the Time of Neofascism. Valley and Mountain Fellowship will be joined by academic, activist, leader and friend Dr. Cornel West, who will be giving a sermon, “The Prophetic Tradition in the Face of Neofascism” during Sunday morning Celebration as part of Set Us Free From Fear speaker series. Learn more here.
Friday-Sunday, June 2-4, in-person and online, National Gun Violence Awareness Day and Wear Orange Weekend. People around the country are coming together with a simple message: there’s more we can do to end gun violence. Find out where to get involved here.
Monday, June 5, 5:00pm, online. Pulling Back the Curtain: Lies, Fraud, and Naked Profiteering in Medicare Privatization Schemes. Join Wendall Potter, advocate for universal healthcare and founder of the Center for Health & Democracy to discuss how to expand and protect Medicare. Sponsored by PSARA. Register here.
Sunday, June 18, 7:00pm, in-person, Paramount Theatre 911 Pine Street, Seattle. Songs of Black Folk. SBF is a world-class fine arts musical production that features African American talent. Purchase tickets here.