PA Lutherans Call On Congress to Act on Climate, Disaster Relief
On May 1, more than 80 ELCA bishops, ministry leaders, and advocates from Pennsylvania and across the nation visited their congressional offices, speaking about critical disaster recovery and environmental needs in our communities.
“Attending the ELCA advocacy convening was a great experience for me,” said Julia Menzo, Lutheran Disaster Response Coordinator for eastern Pennsylvania and Director of Community Outreach for Liberty Lutheran/Lutheran Congregational Services. “I had always shied away from congressional visits, too intimidating. With the preparation we did together beforehand , the experience actually ended up being exciting, as being able to share my experience responding to more disasters as climate is changing is becoming daunting. Sharing concerns with policy makers felt really empowering.”
In addition to Menzo, Pennsylvania’s delegation included Bishop Collins and Bishop Dunlop of Upper and Lower Susquehanna Synods, the Rev. Glenn Beard, Lutheran Disaster Response coordinator in south-central Pennsylvania, Lower Susquehanna Synod Treasurer and meteorologist Joe Stepansky, Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod creation care advocates Fran Ferrari and the Rev. Inge Williams as well as LAMPa staff. You can add your support by clicking here
and sharing why you are concerned about climate change and disaster with your lawmakers.
“It was a far more encouraging experience than I originally imagined,” Stepansky said. “Many in Congress, though certainly not all, are aware that climate change is happening and we’re currently the primary cause. The debate will now center on which actions to take.”
Last month, Congress failed to send a disaster aid deal to the President’s desk, delaying much-needed support for survivors and communities in desperate need of recovery funding. From wildfires and tornadoes, to hurricanes and drought, far too many U.S. low and middle-income families are still displaced from the growing number of natural disasters: living with other family members, paying expensive rents, or put at increased risk of homelessness. Globally, our warming climate is intensifying natural disasters, hunger, conflict and migration. Now that Congress has returned from Easter recess, it is a timely moment to act. Lawmakers need to hear from you about the immediate importance of supporting equitable disaster recovery, and the long-term need to structurally curb the costly effects of climate change.
“I have not done congressional visits in a long time and was apprehensive about visiting with some of them,” said Ferrari. “I appreciated the candor of most of them even when they did not hold out hope for our ask. It was an empowering experience and gives me more confidence heading into our Harrisburg visits soon.”
Churches and other houses of worship are often the first to offer critical assistance for communities in the wake of disasters and are essential partners in helping foster better stewardship and resiliency in our communities. Lutherans have a long history of responding to natural disasters and can further their impact through advocacy.