Setting a Welcome Table with Neighbors of Other Religious and Worldviews

In today’s rapidly changing ecclesial, ecumenical, and multi-religious context, it is tempting to be paralyzed by all of the uncertainties of the future, on the one hand, or to depend too heavily on models of the past, on the other. Our work, as advocates for God’s greater vision of unity, justice, and peace for all people, and for all of creation, requires us to reconsider our core inter-religious commitments. When we do so, we will find ourselves setting a welcome table with our neighbors, rather than for them, as people who are both welcomed and welcoming. We will find ourselves simultaneously seeking mutual understanding, and cooperation for the common good. Most importantly, we will find our own self-understanding and religious commitments strengthened through our engagement at the welcome table, as we witness to Christ through our ministries of presence, service, advocacy, and accompaniment, and receive the unique gifts of our neighbors made in the image of God.

Kathryn Lohre serves as the Assistant to the Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and Executive for Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations & Theological Discernment.



10:25-11:25 a.m.


A Declaration of Inter-Religious Commitment: A policy statement of the Evangelical Church in America 

This year, the ELCA Churchwide Assembly will consider the unanimous recommendation of the Church Council to adopt, “A Declaration of Inter-Religious Commitment: A policy statement of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.” This new policy statement was developed by a task force of inter-religious activists, scholars, and practitioners appointed by Bishop Eaton in 2016, and has been improved by the input and feedback shared through consultations across the church and with ecumenical and inter-religious partners. This workshop will explore the contents and implications of the policy statement, especially as they pertain to advocacy. Participants will be invited to share best practices and to think together about new possibilities. The 12 commitments that form the core of the policy statement will serve as a guide for our work. You can find the full document, as well as additional background information, at

Presenter: Kathryn Lohre, Assistant to the Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and Executive for Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations & Theological Discernment


Combatting Human Trafficking in PA 

At the close of last session, after many years of work by advocates, the Safe Harbor bill to protect child victims of sex trafficking passed unanimously and was signed into law by Gov. Wolf.  Now, state Rep. Seth Grove has introduced HB12 to take the battle against trafficking further.  In this workshop, Rep. Grove will explain his bill and companion Senate legislation to toughen penalties against traffickers and those who solicit trafficking victims.  Presenter: Representative Seth Grove, District 96

Hunger in Pennsylvania 

An estimated 1.6 million Pennsylvanians — 450,000 of them children — struggle with hunger. Despite good economic numbers in the news, our hunger ministries report growing need in every synod, and the state’s funding for its major anti-hunger programs is not keeping up. Learn about progress toward making Pennsylvania hunger-free and how to advocate for adequate funding for the State Food Purchase Program and the Pa. Agricultural Surplus System. Also, find out how your school is doing when it comes to reaching at-risk students with a healthy breakfast and if your congregation may be just the place for a summer feeding program because even when school’s out, hunger doesn’t take a vacation.  Presenter: Dave Lloyd, Central Pennsylvania Food Bank Youth Programs Manager and Amy Hill, Central Pennsylvania Food Bank Director of Advocacy & Public Policy


Renewable Energy — Making a Covenant with the Future 

Learn about legislation that looks to the future by promoting more renewable energy and climate action in Pennsylvania. Topics of discussion will include Rep. Rabb and Sen. Killion’s bipartisan 100 percent renewable energy legislation and Rep. Aaron D. Kaufer, Rep. Donna Bullock, Rep. Peter Schweyer and Rep. David R. Millard’s bipartisan Community Solar legislation. Presenter: Kelly Flanigan, Global Warming Solutions Associate, PennEnvironment


 Prescription Drugs Don’t Work if People Can’t Afford Them: How PA can Act to Achieve Fairer, Lower Drug Prices

Rapidly rising drug prices hurt our families and communities by preventing them from getting the care they need. Over 1 in 5 adult Pennsylvanians in the past year alone did not fill a prescription due to cost. New grassroots and coalition efforts are working to change this in Pennsylvania by pushing for commonsense legislation that would make drug pricing fair and sustainable for everyone. Learn about these efforts and how local communities can be involved. Understand the political and legislative landscape in Pennsylvania, and how we can help those struggling with rising costs in our communities. Presenter:Patrick Keenan, Director of Consumer Protections & Policy, Pennsylvania Health Access Network