Every year in February and March, Seattle University?s School of Theology and Ministry participates in three advocacy days in the Washington State capitol of Olympia and at the district level. Housing & Homelessness Advocacy Day, Interfaith Advocacy Day, and Catholic Advocacy Day are opportunities for people of faith and conviction to work with legislators on laws and systemic changes for social justice, equity, and environmental concerns--among other relevant issues. Thanks to all of our faculty, staff, students, alumni, partners and friends that participate!
We asked both a staff and alumni participant to share a few words about their experiences this year.
From Hannah Hunthausen | Program Assistant, Faith & Family Homelessness Project
?In the midst of Search for Meaning Book Festival fervor and a high-stakes legislative session, Lisa Gustaveson and I had the opportunity to represent the school at two important advocacy days in Olympia: Housing & Homelessness Advocacy Day on February 17, and Interfaith Advocacy Day on February 19. The energy at both of these events is palpable. We loved seeing other school alumni and partners at both events, and meeting new friends and colleagues.
Housing & Homelessness Advocacy Day is one of the largest advocacy days in Washington state (with 660 attendees this year), and is focused on urging our law makers to support legislation that ensures that everyone in Washington has the opportunity to live in a safe, healthy, and affordable home. Seattle University?s undergraduate and graduate students participated remotely, with a photo booth in the Pigott atrium for students to participate in the day?s social media advocacy in partnership with the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance.
Interfaith Advocacy Day, which I attended for the first time this year, has a broader focus with legislative agenda items ranging from wealth inequality and affordable housing to criminal justice reforms, environmental protections and state budget issues. It was incredibly powerful to join a diverse group of people from faith communities to make our collective voice heard on these important issues. A group of about 15 from my district, the 37th district (roughly Rainier Valley to Renton), had the opportunity to be in a room with two of our representatives, Senator Pramila Jayapal and Representatives Eric Pettrigrew, and give voice to the needs and concerns of our community, and in particular, those of people of faith. We were joined by such faith leaders as Rev. Pat Simpson, Seattle District Superintendent of the Pacific Northwest United Methodist Church, and Michael Ramos, Executive Director of The Church Council of Greater Seattle and Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry alum. Check out the photos below of our awesome group!?
If you?ve never attended an advocacy day, consider doing so next year? it?s absolutely worth the trek to Olympia! If you?re Catholic, Catholic Advocacy Day is coming up on Thursday, March 26! Remember that if you can?t attend an advocacy day, the next best thing is to write a letter to your legislator or call the legislative hotline at 1.800.562.6000. Our legislators need to hear from us! The Washington Low Income Housing Alliance (WLIHA) and the Faith Action Network (FAN) are both great resources if you want to learn more about advocacy.?
From Chelsea Globe, MDiv ?14 ?| ?Alumna & Pastor at Christ Lutheran Church
?I participated in Interfaith Advocacy Day for the second time this year, along with members and partners of the Seattle-based nonprofit: Faith Action Network. This event is just awesome. You are able to meet other people of faith from your neighborhood, and from all different religious communities. In my group, there were Lutherans (from two different Lutheran denominations), members of a United Church of Christ church, members of a progressive Jewish community, a Methodist, and others. We were able to meet our state legislators face to face, ask about their work, and share with them our concerns from a faith perspective. The legislators were all attentive, insightful, and eager to share their favorite causes. The reason I participate in this day at the capitol is because I want our elected leaders to know that people of faith care about our society and our world. Despite our differences, we can come together around issues that are important to us--hunger, education, housing, civil rights, etc.--and proclaim our shared values. I believe that it is important for our leaders to hear from religious voices that provide a different perspective than the judgmental religious groups that are usually highlighted in the media. As a pastor, I consider the entire community to be under my care, not just those who sit in the pews of my church. Because so many Christians are hesitant to become politically engaged, I urge my congregation to speak out on behalf of the many who cannot speak for themselves, and to bridge the gap between faith and the world. I encourage anyone who is interested in learning about the legislative process, and how you can be a part of it, to attend this excellent event!?