Welcome to Do Justice, a semi-monthly newsletter of the Virginia Synod, lifting up God’s call and command that we, God’s people, do justice. You will find helpful info about justice ministries in congregations, around Virginia, and through the ELCA. If you have stories of justice to share from your congregation, please share those with me at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can share them with others in the synod!
The Rev. Kelly Bayer Derrick
Assistant to the Bishop
We pray for those serving in civil authority and leadership in the United States:
Almighty God, bless the public servants in the government of this of the United States of America, that they may do their work in a spirit of wisdom, charity, and justice. Help them use their authority to serve faithfully and to promote our common life; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
A Different Side of Washington
by The Rev. Amy E. Reumann for the ELCA Advocacy Blog
Before members get down to the business of government, many mark the opening of a new Congress with a bipartisan and interfaith prayer service at St. Peter’s Catholic Church on Capitol Hill. This tradition shows a different side of Washington, reflecting the rich pluralism of our elected representatives and their respective faith traditions. The bipartisan spirit was evident as Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., and Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., teamed up to lead the music and congregational singing of “Here I Am, Lord” and “Prayer of St. Francis.” They joked that they hadn’t practiced and needed us all to sing loudly to cover any mistakes.
This year, current and new members shared readings that expressed yearning for wisdom in their leadership and for their service to be a blessing to others. Selections included the Old and New Testaments (Genesis 12, Psalm 33:12-22 and James 3:13, 16-18), the Bhagavad-Gita, an Islamic Prayer, a hymn by Edna Dow Cheney and a reading from Thomas Merton. The Chaplain of the House of Representatives, the Rev. Patrick J. Conroy, S.J., encouraged new members as they leave their former positions and “start over as freshmen.” To seasoned members, he counseled that they continue to serve with honor and faithfulness. Prayer petitions were offered by members, lifting to God the work of government, the Supreme Court and work of justice, Armed Forces and veterans, and people who are displaced or facing difficulty or struggles.
As I left the church, I overheard someone joke, “We’ll see how long this bipartisan spirit lasts. I’ll give it two hours.” Yet this moment, though fleeting, encourages me as a new Congress commences. It represents a hope that when we come together in our diversity to pray together, to sing and to hear one another’s faith testimony, bonds of understanding and community are built.
Cooperation and communication across partisan lines are more common than is reported. Shared work together built on faith commitments to justice, equity and compassion doesn’t make headlines, but it can and does open doors for compromise on issues we care about. This morning’s service and prayer prepared a foundation for the work of the 116th Congress.
Lutherans in the 116th Congress
by Andrew Fuller, Advocacy Coordinator for the ELCA Advocacy Blog
The start of the 116th Congress begins this week. As five new Lutheran lawmakers are sworn into the U.S. House of Representatives, check out some of the Lutheran legislators who will serve our country in this new Congress.
Both incumbent ELCA Lutherans who ran for re-election to the U.S. Senate, Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., and Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, successfully won their respective races in November. They will rejoin their other Lutheran Senate colleagues when the new Congress starts in January 2019, including ELCA members Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa; as well as Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) member Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.; and The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS) member Cory Gardner, R-Colo.
Five new Lutheran-affiliated members will be joining the U.S. House of Representatives this year., Lutheran colleagues now include Rep. David Trone, D-Md.; Rep. Angie Craig, D-Minn.; Rep. Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D.; Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, D-N.M.; and LCMS member Rep. Jim Hagedorn, R-Minn. Two incumbent Lutheran members did not win their bids for re-election this year: self-described Lutheran member Rep. David Young, R-Iowa; and LCMS member Rep. Erik Paulsen, R-Minn.
The seven incumbent ELCA House of Representatives members who won re-election and will continue serving in the 116th Congress include Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif.; Rep. Scott Peters, D-Calif.; Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine; Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn.; Rep. Lloyd Smucker, R-Pa..; Rep. John Carter, R-Texas; and Rep. Denny Heck, D-Wash. Re-elected LCMS representatives include Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill.; Rep. Larry Bucshon, R-Ind.; and Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Wis. WELS member Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis., also will rejoin the House. Other self-described Lutherans re-elected to the House are Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Mich.; and Rep. Donald Norcross, D-N.J.
Four Lutheran members did not seek re-election last November, including ELCA Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa.; Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn.; Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn.; and LCMS member Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash. Among those not seeking re-election, former Congressman Tim Walz won the gubernatorial race in Minnesota and will be joining the state house at the start of 2019. We are grateful for their leadership in Congress and look forward to engaging with them in the future!
Make Sure Your Member of Congress Knows You!
Get a jump start on building relationships with your lawmakers with ideas from the interfaith guide below.