More than 200 Pennsylvania Lutherans, ELCA Presiding Bishop Eaton and leadership from the ELCA Service and Justice home area helped LAMPa celebrate 45 years of advocacy ministry on May 9.  Marking the milestone and  50 years of ELCA World Hunger, LAMPa hosted its annual day in the Capitol and an evening celebration of advocates centered on being  “Church together for the sake of the world God loves.” 

Advocates gathered in the morning at Trinity Lutheran Church in Camp Hill. The day opened with a call to action from LAMPa partners Christine Moffett of ELCA Witness in Society, Giovana Oaxaca of AMMPARO and Witness in Society, and Naomi Mbise of Lutheran Office for World Community (LOWC), reflecting on how what Lutherans in Pennsylvania do resonates across the work of the church around the globe.  

Each participant joined two workshops put on by LAMPa advocacy partners such as the Pennsylvania Hunger Action Coalition (PHAC), PennEnvironment, and CeaseFirePA. Participants were appreciative of the knowledge and expertise the workshops presenters had and were excited to take their learning into legislative visits and deeper action.  

After a lunch that included preparation for legislative visits, participants shared in a worship service at Trinity that included preaching by ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton on the Ascension Day texts. Bishop Eaton called on the Church to stop asking old questions and seek together new ways of being in the world. The Rev. Erin Jones was installed as LAMPa’s communications and advocacy engagement manager. 

Advocates were sent from worship to the Capitol, where many had meetings or dropped off materials with the offices of their state senators and representatives. Legislative visits focused on hunger and climate policies as a reflection of our call to care for our neighbor and God’s creation.  One participant commented the day left him feeling inspired and filled, “seeing that the church is active in the world for the sake of the Gospel.”

The evening gala included an auction and sale of prints of the piece The Table by artist Freiman Stoltzfus and music by ARTolerance with Udi Bar David and Shinjoo Cho. The arts were lifted up as a way to inspire and renew our spirits when the work of justice becomes overwhelming. They are also a way to build relationships and connections across differences, as embodied when the Rev. Khader El-Yateem, Executive Director of the Service and Justice home area of the ELCA, delivered the keynote address during dinner. El-Yateem is a Palestinian American pastor, and he called up Bar David, an Israeli American musician as a sign of the power of the arts to help us in our work for peace. Advocacy honorees were then recognized from each of Pennsylvania’s seven synods. The “Church Together” Award was awarded to Union Evangelical Lutheran Church in York and its pastor, the Rev. Joel Folkemer.  

The Rev. Amy Reumann, former LAMPa director and current senior director of ELCA Witness in Society, took the stage with Jackie Maddox, former staff member in the ELCA Washington, D.C., office, to speak to the impact of LAMPa’s advocacy, past and present.  Maddox spoke to the importance of racial justice in Lutheran advocacy and the grant established in her name. Reumann announced LAMPa as one of the inaugural recipients of that grant for the Isaiah 58:12 Fellowship, empowering Lutheran youth in Pennsylvania for racial reconciliation. 

Many advocates found the day meaningful. After meeting with lawmakers’ offices, many noted the need to keep showing up—with a legislator or with staff, in district or in the Capitol, with one lawmaker or with another—in continuing advocacy for a more just world for all our neighbors. 

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