Youth Experience Advocacy at Gathering in Houston
More than 30,000 youth and their adult leaders attending the 2018 ELCA National Youth Gathering in Houston Texas, June 27-July 1, had the opportunity to learn about and engage in advocacy on issues from hunger to immigration to environmental justice and human trafficking.
ELCA Advocacy staff, including LAMPa director Tracey DePasquale, worked with partners such as ELCA World Hunger, Lutheran Outdoor Ministries and AMMPARO (Accompanying Migrant Minors with Protection, Advocacy, Representation and Opportunities) to help participants live into the theme: This Changes Everything!
Among the advocacy opportunities, visitors to the interactive exhibit area signed letters to Congress about the 2018 Farm Bill that will be hand-delivered by advocacy staff in Washington, D.C. :
“As a person of faith and your constituent, I urge you to support funding for a strong 2018 Farm Bill that not only prioritizes reducing hunger and poverty in the U.S. and around the world but encourages sustainable stewardship of our land and resources. I believe God calls us to care for and to protect all of creation. We need a Farm Bill that reduces hunger and poverty; provides safety nets for farmers; that is protective of our environment; promotes energy efficiency and fosters rural development to strengthen our communities.”
Pennsylvania youth were highlighted in a Houston newscast about their time at the gathering as they created hygiene kits to help victims of human trafficking. Returning to Pennsylvania, they and their congregations can take that a step further by contacting lawmakers to urge passage of the Safe Harbor bill, which would divert child sex trafficking victims away from the criminal justice system and into appropriate services. Although the bill passed the state Senate unanimously, it has been stalled in the House of Representatives. With only a few legislative working days left before this session expires in the fall, it is critical to act now so that the legislation does not die once again. If you know someone who attended the gathering, please share this link to act.
Pennsylvania youth and their leaders who visited the interactive center titled “Be the Change! Means of Grace, Scenes of Grace” will be receiving information about how to add advocacy to their day of service in September, as well as information about becoming citizen scientists and environmental volunteers through our state environmental agencies and parks across the commonwealth. If you are interested in such opportunities, which can include training for collecting soil and water samples and other data to better inform policy-making, contact LAMPa here.