Interfaith Advocacy Days - A Lenten Devotion
Our theological intern Jackie Celin unpacks her day of state advocacy with an interfaith community. She encourages all of us to consider how we might be able to participate in this type of advocacy at the state level.
“But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
- Amos 5:24 (NRSV)
This familiar scripture verse that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. incorporated into his famous speech reminds us that God calls us to the task of seeking justice in all areas of our society.
Earlier this month, I headed down to my state capitol, Olympia, with a few others from my local congregation, joining over 200 people from many different faith traditions to participate in Interfaith Advocacy Day. This event is hosted every year by one of our interfaith partner organizations in the State of Washington, the Faith Action Network (FAN).
It was a day full of gathering, learning, and acting. We heard reflections in the morning from key participants and an overview of FAN’s legislative agenda for the year which includes many of the same social concerns as does the General Board of Church and Society, such as: promoting economic justice, reforming the criminal justice system, providing affordable housing, addressing climate change, supporting immigrant and refugee rights, and others. These messages helped ground and inspire us in the work ahead.
Over lunch, we split into our respective districts, many of us meeting each other for the first time. We quickly learned how to collaborate with one another, determining what issues we would focus on in our short ten to fifteen minute meetings with our Legislators in the afternoon.
I stepped into this day with both excitement and nervous energy. It was my first time participating in an event like this. However, organizations like FAN help new people like me feel comfortable with the work, helping us build connections so that we can lean on the experience of others. They organized online trainings beforehand, prepared legislative issue fact sheets, and held breakout sessions on each social concern.
As we met with our Legislators, I became more comfortable with talking about the issues that were on my heart. I was reminded of why we gathered as a group for this event, because even though we may come from different denominations and faith traditions, we share common visions and goals in working towards a more just and equitable society, informed by our faith.
At the end of the day, I realized how rejuvenated I was by the experience, in part because of our commitment to set aside time for the entire day to focus our attention on the action at hand. I often consider Lent a time of personal reflection. Yet, by participating in gatherings of justice work, I’m also reminded of the ways that some of our spiritual disciplines should be practiced as a collective.
I encourage you to find similar types of organizations centered on social justice advocacy in your state or local area and remember how our individual actions in advocacy can combine with the efforts of others similarly called to act. May you discern the ways that God is calling you in this work and seek courage to take that next step.