Hunger Advocacy Fellow Reflects on an Historic Year — Larry Herrold Jr.
When I began at LAMPa last September, I had no idea what lay ahead. We were faced with a global pandemic, advocating for greater assistance for those suffering from the economic downtown, and on the cusp of one of the most contentious elections in our history. Though I did not anticipate working remotely for so long, and the challenges that it would bring, I’m proud of all that was accomplished during so much uncertainty. From reading the ELCA Social Statements (many for the first time), to visiting the Capitol Building, to supporting our county elections officials, I learned much about the church’s role in public policy.
As a Hunger Advocacy Fellow, I’m proud to have worked on several initiatives with partners across Pennsylvania. Senior Express is one such initiative, where LAMPa’s connections to Lutheran feeding ministries helped supply volunteers to deliver meals to senior citizens isolating due to the pandemic. LAMPa also equipped Lutherans to advocate for greater government assistance to the most vulnerable among us. Advocates helped secure additional SNAP benefits and an increase in state funding of the state’s two major anti-hunger programs – the Pa. Agricultural Surplus System and the State Food Purchase Program. These programs underwrite much of the food in our community and congregational food pantries and enabled Pennsylvania to respond more rapidly and effectively to emergency feeding needs during the pandemic. The programs had not been keeping pace with inflation prior to the pandemic, and our hunger advocates convinced lawmakers that we could not return to pre-pandemic funding levels.
The work went beyond strictly hunger, too. I enjoyed putting my historian toolbox to use in archiving LAMPa’s records upon the closing of our office. There were ample opportunities to work to address climate change, the all-encompassing issue about which I’m most concerned. Virtual advocacy days, the formation of action alerts, and most of all, the planning of statewide rogation services and equipping of green teams, were all important facets of this work. Together Lutherans held creation and its stewards in prayer and acted for a clean and green future.
Social justice has always been a passion of mine, rooted in my faith. This Hunger Advocacy Fellowship provided me with a way in which I could expand the scope and vision of how I engage in that work. This year exposed me to the complexities of the ELCA as an institution, and the incredible ways our denomination’s theological grounding equips us to love our neighbors. Now that my time at LAMPa is ending, it is time to move onto the next chapter. I will be moving to Berkeley, California, to pursue my MDiv and rostered leadership in the ELCA at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary. My passion for climate justice and faith-based advocacy drew me there. I’m excited to continue where God is calling me in the life of the church and in the world.
Larry Herrold is a native of Sunbury. He graduated from Susquehanna University in 2019 with a BA in History and Religious Studies. He received a MA in Modern History from the University of Kent in England, where he completed a Fulbright Scholarship. Herrold is deeply committed to the intersection between ecclesiastical service, social justice, and tradition. He will be attending Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary beginning Fall 2021 to earn his MDiv, pursue rostered leadership, and learn more about incorporating eco-justice into ecclesial ministry.