Intersections: Where Science, Religion, and Advocacy Meet — Dr. Ann Milliken Pederson

What does geography have to do with the theology? Places are like enculturated texts that require interpretation. We shape our world as we shape our place within it, and this involves processes, people, and power. No one place has a single meaning. While that may be obvious, it needs to be formally recognized to understand the power of place. We can wipe out the identity of someone or somewhere by simply removing them from a map. The intersections between science and religion share the boundaries, borders, situations, dimensions and locations of our lives. We will ask: When and where is the complicated plot between local and global, then and now, over and under? What are the maps that we take through these journeys?  What are the cartographies of our cultures of science and religion? What are the maps that bypass the “underground” places? Who are bypassed by the main narratives and roads? Learning about my local geography has helped me to realize that like the written texts of religion and science, the geographical ones require a visual hermeneutics.



Advocating for Creation through Story & Song 

Facts and figures have an excellent way of connecting with one part of our brains. However, that which unlocks our empathy and calls us to action often lights up another. This workshop will link neuroscience and earth science — exploring different story- and music-based approaches that can connect issues with people’s hearts and their capacity for faith-filled action. We will utilize music from different parts of the globe to explore the ways in which our stories about God influence our relationship with creation. Participants will reflect concretely on the intersections between science, faith, creation, and advocacy as well as engage art’s ability to inspire openness, empathy and action even around “hot-button” issues.  Presented by the ELCA Glocal Team. 

Forget Fences: Good Trees Make Good Neighbors — Pick Up Your Spade 

Pennsylvania is a major contributor to greenhouses gases connected to climate change, and our runoff water is contributing to the pollution of the Chesapeake Bay.  Prepare to pick up your spade and speak up to make space for trees to help us clean up our act and be better neighbors. DCNR Forestry staff will share information on the state’s community tree-planting program, describe ecological and economic benefits, and hand out seedlings and planting/tree care tips.  This is a great project for “God’s work. Our hands. Our voices.”  Start planning now for the ELCA church-wide day of service, Sunday, Sept. 11.  Presented by Rachel Reyna, Section Chief, Rural and Community Forestry Section, DCNR Bureau of Forestry. 

Lutheran Environmental Witness: Long-Rooted Commitment

A primer on the roots of Lutheran public advocacy for the health of God’s creation and eco-justice. Build your confidence that Lutheran public witness in environmental issues shows the gospel of Jesus Christ for the world and expresses love for neighbors. Presented by Dr. Gilson Waldkoenig, Professor of Church in Society, Gettysburg Seminary.

Taking Climate Change Out of the Green Box: Hopeful Action All Year ‘Round

What makes climate change more than “just” an environmental issue?  Why is Pennsylvania so important?  Come explore those answers and get a taste of the many ways that your congregation can build on existing strengths to act in hope all year long…. and even have some fun! Presented by Cricket Eccleston Hunter, Director of Program and Outreach, PA Interfaith Power & Light (PA IPL).

The Neuroscience of Advocacy 

What we know about the brain can help us change minds, shape thinking AND public policy. What does neuroscience and neural patterning have to do with advocacy?  At this interactive workshop, we will explore how the brain takes in information to affect advocacy efforts.  Specifically, stories from Central America will be engaged as a case study in introducing congregation members to advocacy.  Resources will be available for congregational leaders to take back and use within a variety of contexts. Presented by Jennifer Crist, Mission Developer of Communities of Hope and co-founder of Tree4Hope. 


Providing Safe Harbor for Child Victims of Sex Trafficking in Pennsylvania — Proposed Legislation

Children who are sexually exploited can be dogged by the trauma — affecting their brains and their bodies for the rest of their lives. Why do we add to the load they carry with the burden of a criminal record? This presentation will educate participants on the various types of Safe Harbor legislation nationally and will guide participants in interpreting Pennsylvania’s pending bill –Senate Bill 851; all Safe Harbor laws provide minor victims of commercial sexual exploitation some form of protection from criminal prosecution This presentation will also analyze arguments in favor and against Safe Harbor legislation and provide advocates with the background knowledge necessary to support the bill.  Presented by Shea Rhodes, Esq., Director of the Villanova Law Institute to Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation, with Patrick Cawley, Executive Director and Counsel, PA Senate Judiciary Committee

Becoming Maya

This interactive workshop will  teach about the signs of sex trafficking through the eyes of a victim.  You will also learn how you can make this and Senate Bill 851 part of a “God’s work. Our hands. Our voices.” project for Sept. 11. Presented by Shea Rhodes, Esq., Director of the Villanova Law Institute to Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation 

Pennsylvania at the Crossroads: What’s at Stake in the 2016 Budget?

Years of unbalanced budgets and chronic under-funding of education and human services have brought Pennsylvania to a fiscal cliff. We can either continue down the path of irresponsible budgeting which will lead to cuts to programs that educate our children and protect our most vulnerable residents, or we can make the investments needed to protect our commonwealth by fairly and responsibly raising the revenue needed fund these priorities. 2016 will be a pivotal year in determining which road we take. Presented by Jeff Garis, Outreach & Engagement Director, Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center.

Preaching and Teaching in “The Purple Zone”

 Addressing Controversial Justice Issues within the Red/Blue Divide

Participants will discuss the risks and opportunities of preaching and teaching about “hot-button” topics, learn strategies for dealing with push-back and conflict, and hear examples from a pastor and educator with over 15 years of experience in diverse congregations within suburban, urban and rural settings. Presented by the Rev. Dr. Leah D. Schade, PhD; Pastor of United in Christ Lutheran Church, Lewisburg, PA; Author of Creation-Crisis Preaching: Ecology, Theology and the Pulpit; adjunct professor of religion and philosophy

RiseUp Together!

From Charity to Advocacy and Accompaniment:  Mission and Intergenerational Faith Formation

The community meals, food pantries and clothing banks offered by some of our congregations and local non-profits can be a springboard for equipping volunteers to explore how we also accompany and advocate with our neighbors who are facing the daily challenges of poverty. We’ll share how our emerging ministry “Rise Up Together,” inspired by the National Youth Gathering, invites volunteers to consider what God is up to in their own neighborhoods, and examine how the gifts of their congregation may assist in meeting those needs. How can we grow in relationship with those same neighbors, meet them in the midst of their need, and accompany them as we search together for solutions?  Presented by Charlie Roberts, Director for Children, Youth & Family Ministry, Lower Susquehanna Synod, ELCA. 

Building Community:  The Importance of One-to-Ones

Community- building around an issue like hunger or criminal justice reform starts with one-to-one conversations with neighbors, civic leaders, and congregation members.  In this workshop, we’ll talk about intentional one-to-one conversations and practice them, so that you are prepared to start a movement on a critical issue in your community.  Maybe you’re still trying to figure out what the most important issue is facing your community.  One-to-ones will help you figure that out, too.  Presented by the Rev. Matthew Lenahan, Pastor/Developer, Zion/Peter’s Porch Communities, Akron. 

Inviting your Legislators to Help: Advocacy with a Moral Voice

Your voice is more powerful than you think!  The fact is, no matter how powerfully we act at home and in our congregations, if we really want a just clean energy future, we’re going to need the help of our civic leaders, and if we want them to act, we have to ask.  In this workshop you will identify and practice ways to talk about climate change and issues as a Christian in the public sphere, whether you are in a face-to-face meeting, or writing a Letter to the Editor. You’ll get a bit of background on a few current issues, and learn some techniques that can be useful anytime, and from municipal and county government up through Capitol Hill in Washington. Presented by Cricket Eccleston Hunter, Director of Program and Outreach, PA Interfaith Power & Light (PA IPL).

Sharing Your Advocacy Story

Sharing your advocacy story is an important part of any advocacy, yet there is a perception that many Lutherans just aren’t good storytellers. Let’s change that! Today’s technologies make it easier for EVERYONE to be a storyteller. In this workshop, we’ll introduce participants to a LAMPa project to create and share videos on advocacy, discuss concepts and tools people likely already have​ for telling stories using different media, and give participants a chance to consider their own topics and approach to telling stories – including a practice session. Come with your ideas and, perhaps, you’ll have the technology you need to get started with you! John Kahler and Mark Staples, Independent Producers.

Improving Elections in PA

Voter turnout in Pennsylvania is at an all-time low. Pennsylvania’s election system is outdated and inconvenient for too many voters, especially people with disabilities, working people, new voters and seniors. As people of faith, we are called to guarantee the right to vote for all people. Learn how you and your congregation can increase access to the ballot box by modernizing our state’s election system and by encouraging faithful electoral engagement using ELCAVotes resources.  Presented by Barbara Grimaldi, Director of Development & Communications, Public Interest Law Center.