(To be added soon)
(To be updated soon)
Lutheran Legislative Events
Representatives of the team have participated in two Lutheran legislative events in Austin, 2015 and 2016, led by Texas Impact. Among the purposes of these events was to define the legislative emphases that the participants believe most urgently need to be addressed.
An area of focus for 2016 was:
Desire to Coach and Encourage
Members of the team are willing to help congregations that are interested in beginning their own conversations on institutional racism or any of the other topics addressed by the PWT. It is important to developing funding to reimburse team members who are willing to coach and consult for their travel expenses.
Texas Legislative Update
Texas Impact held a workshop updating participants on the activities of the Texas legislature, and how citizens could get involved
Public Witness Team Retreat
The purpose of the retreat was to define our missional foci for the next two years. The retreat was led by Pr. Deb McCann. Three emphases were affirmed:
- Confronting Racism: There was a strong consensus that the team must continue to address institutionalized racism and the injustices that result from it. A significant majority of the team members are committed to this.
- Environmental Stewardship: There was consensus around addressing issues related to care for the earth.
- Anti-poverty Training: The team affirmed the great potential of the Congregation-Initiated Community-Based Advocacy (CICBA) program that is being implemented by the Southwestern Texas Synod (SWT). The team was visited by representatives of the SWT synod in late 2014 and accepted an invitation to participate in training that is being provided to interested congregations there. If we can find adequate funding, the team believes that this approach to equipping and mobilizing congregations relief and justice advocacy is promising.
2014 Mission Area Assembly Focus on Social Justice
The PWT agreed to serve on the planning team for the 2014 NT-NL Mission Assembly. Under a program called “University of Samaria,” the assembly offered large number of mini-courses dealing with a broad range of topics related to the witness of the church in public realm were offered.
Pr. Franz Schemmel served as university dean and led efforts in developing the courses and recruiting resource leaders. Public school educators who attended were able to earn continuing education credits through the Region 10 Education Service Center.
Keynote speakers for Assembly and the University were:
- The Rev. Dr. Barbara Rossing , who helped us understand the implications of the biblical call to be witnesses among people identified with Samaria. She also explored issues related to responsible environmental stewardship.
- Ms. Joyce James, who talked about the challenge of changing a culture for the sake of greater equity. She addressed the profound and socially debilitating nature of institutionalized racism and why it must be courageously faced. Ms. James is a widely known anti-racism consultant; she helped establish and was the director of the Center for the Elimination of Disproportionality and Disparities (Texas Health and Human Services Commission).
- Mr. Jose Huerta, Principal at Garfield High School, Los Angeles, who is interrupting the infamous “school-to-prison pipeline” in part by dramatically reducing the use of suspensions and expulsions. He has successfully changed the culture of an inner city school so that it “cool” to take education seriously.
- The Hon. Charles Stenholm, former member of the US House of Representatives, who spoke about the citizen’s role in participatory government.
Trips to Israel / Peace not Walls
The team has championed the ELCA approach to dealing with the Israeli–Palestinian issue, “Peace not Walls,” which seeks to promote mutual understanding between Jews and Palestinians. Ms. Ann Hafften has been a strong advocate for this cause. She and Pr. Franz Schemmel have taken a number of groups (years 2005, 2008, 2014) from the synod to Israel for the purpose of meeting local residents and seeing conditions first-hand.
Developed anti-bullying resources in response to a resolution adopted by the synod assembly and promoted an anti-bullying program for use at Briarwood Camp.
Task Groups: Task groups continued to be used allowing the team to address several issues simultaneously.
- World Hunger Appeal – leadership provided by Pr. Bernard Kern
- Environmental Advocacy – led by Pr. Peggy Ogden Howe and Mr. David Buland
- Immigration Reform Seminar Planning – led by Ms. Gabriela Clagett
- Peace not Walls and Trip to Israel – led by Ms. Ann Hafften
- Confronting Racism – led by Pr. Doris Harris and Pr. Chuck Hubbard
- Speakers Bureau – coordinated by Pr. Ginger Georgulas
“DiscipleLife University” (Synod Assembly)
PWT identified course topics and recruited speakers. Courses included:
- “Good for the Soul-Good for the Whole”, an overview of congregational and community organizing by Pr. Terry Boggs;
- “Your Voice Matters” relating to legislative engagement, Ms. Bee Moorhead;
- “World Hunger”, Ms. Jennifer Barger and Mr. Dan Rift;
- “Muslims/Christians”, Mr. Mohamed Elibiary;
- “Peace not Walls”, Ms. Ann Hafften; and
- “Eco-Justice”, Ms. Bee Moorhead.
“Spread the Spirit’s Fire” (Levelland, TX)
Ms. Janet Follsteadt and Pr. Chuck Hubbard shared issues being considered by the Public Witness team and listened to social concerns raised by participants
“Vital Congregations—Just Communities” Workshop
This three day event focused on leadership identification and development within the congregation and organizing for the purpose of promoting issues related to justice in the broader community.
It was part of an ELCA training initiative (“Leadership Development for Public Engagement”) designed to cultivate the arts and skills of community organizing among clergy and interested lay persons. Most of the funding for the event came from the ELCA.
The primary presenters were community organizers Pr. Willie Bennett and Mr. Steve Sylvester. We hoped participants would recognize the benefits of participating in the community organizing efforts of entities such as Tarrant Churches Together or Dallas Area Interfaith.
Presenters included: Bp. Kevin Kanouse; Pr. Terry Boggs; Pr. Gordon Roesch, Pr. Mae Jean Zelle, Pr. Willie Bennett, and Mr. Steve Sylvester
Further Development of Task Groups
The team developed task groups:
- World Hunger Appeal
- Environmental Care / Lutheran Earthkeeping Network of Synods (LENS)
- “Spread the Spirit’s Fire”
- Israeli-Palestinian Awareness / Peace not Walls (Ms. Ann Hafften)