Lutherans in Minnesota

LCPPM declares April 11 Lutheran Day at the Capitol

Creation care will be the theme when Lutheran Day at the Capitol is held Thursday, April 11. Events will get underway with 11 a.m. worship at Christ Lutheran Church on Capitol Hill (ELCA) in St. Paul with all six of Minnesota’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in America bishops in attendance. Inspirational music will be provided by Dakota Road.

The event’s host is Lutheran Coalition for Public Policy in Minnesota (LCPPM), which is also honoring its legacy (see “Advocacy group to mark 25th anniversary,” below). Activities are free of charge except for optional lunch and evening meals.

Preparation for legislative visits includes policy briefings and training by J. Drake Hamilton of Fresh Energy on the topic of “Building the Next Generation of Clean Energy Leaders and Policies.”

Rev. Mark Peters (left) testified March 8 before the House Energy Policy Committee in support of HF 880, a bill to increase the Renewable Energy Standard from 27.5 percent by 2025 (which Lutheran Coalition for Public Policy in Minnesota helped pass in 2007) to 40 percent by 2030. Photo provided by Lutheran Coalition for Public Policy in Minnesota

“In the culture that we live in, it becomes vital that Lutherans add a voice rooted in the biblical mandate to care for creation.”

Afterward, attendees will walk across the street to the Minnesota capitol building to meet with legislators to urge support of clean energy policies. Advance registration will allow LCPPM staff to arrange meetings with appropriate legislators. Plans include visits with Lutheran members of the legislature.

“The Lutheran Day at the Capitol has been and continues to be a time to simply be present with legislators to remind them they are prayed for and respected for the good work they do on behalf of all citizens,” observed Bishop Tom Aitken of the Northeastern Minnesota Synod. “Our purpose is to be encouragers since we know the work they do is difficult, often filled with complexity and done in an environment that can often be divisive and even toxic. We like to remind them that to serve others is an expression of what it means to be a Christian and, in particular, a Lutheran, response to the goodness and grace God has showered on us so freely.

“The work of LCPPM in our synod can be applauded, and is measurable,” Aitken continued. “In the Northeastern Minnesota Synod, LCPPM has organized public meetings in congregations where helpful information is shared and conversation takes place about our role in caring and respecting God’s creation, and in understanding the causes of hunger that diminish the lives and even take the lives of so many in our world and in our country. As a result of “Creation Care” and “Hunger 101” events sponsored by LCPPM, a growing cadre of folks in our communities have become educated and are advocates of renewed interest in the way we steward the raw resources God has provided for the good of all.

A presence at the capitol

But, some congregants wonder about the impact of Lutheran visibility at the Capitol? “In the culture that we live in, it becomes vital that Lutherans add a voice rooted in the biblical mandate to care for creation, but to do so in a way that does not mirror the polarized and often bitter and divisive nature that has come to characterize the public sphere. LCPPM has helped us live out several Care of Creation resolutions over the past several years that call for clear and faith-based thinking with regard to renewable energy; something most people already intuitively know makes sense, but they often are ‘quietists’ rather than advocates.

“Knowing that clean energy policies will not happen overnight makes it all the more important that we become intentionally informed now about the untenable costs of continuing non-renewable energy practices and advocating for renewable energy in ways that model civility and integrity. People of faith cannot in good conscience live in a self-centered way that lives only for the moment. Lutherans know that God in Christ has freed us so that we might serve our neighbor, and that includes the generations to come.”

Commenting on the importance of creation care, Bishop Jon Anderson of the Southwestern Minnesota Synod of the ELCA quoted author Henri Nouwen: “Jesus’ compassion is characterized by a downward pull. That is what disturbs us. We cannot even think about ourselves in terms other than those of an upward pull, an upward mobility in which we strive for better lives, higher salaries, and more prestigious positions. Thus, we are deeply disturbed by a God who embodies a downward movement. Instead of striving for a higher position, more power, and more influence, Jesus moves, as Karl Barth says, from ‘the heights to depths, from victory to defeat, from riches to poverty, from triumph to suffering, from life to death’.”

Advocacy group to mark 25th anniversary

Lutheran Coalition for Public Policy in Minnesota (LCPPM) will observe its 25th anniversary Thursday, April 11, with dinner and a program featuring polar explorer Will Steger. Steger’s theme will be “care for creation.”

Bishops from all six of Minnesota’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) synods are scheduled to attend the event, starting with a reception at Luther Seminary in St. Paul. In addition to Steger’s presentation, the program will focus on LCPPM’s role in developing faith-based advocacy leaders.

LCPPM seeks to engage people of faith in support of peace, justice and care for all of God’s creation, as stated in the group’s mission statement. The Rev. Mark Peters, executive director of LCPPM, traced some of its accomplishments over the years:

“When we started, we set out to overcome the farm crisis in Minnesota,” explained Peters. “There were voices that needed to be amplified. Voices of consciousness and faith needed to be heard. Our board represents all areas of the state and is diverse in makeup.

“At the 20th anniversary of passage of Minnesota Care legislation, it was noted that my predecessor James Addington played an important role in shaping and passage of that landmark policy. He was invited to the signing with then-Gov. Arne Carlson. That was the year I was serving as LCPPM’s first intern.

“In my first year, we worked on making heard the voices of immigrants who were on the short end of welfare reform as we knew it. For two years in a row, the legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee met at Christ Lutheran Church across from the capitol to hear from recent immigrants who were losing food support and SSI benefits. There was a dramatic turnaround and Minnesota became one of the leaders in assuring these benefits got to legal immigrants. Many of those folks were non-English speaking and their voice was heard.

“Back in 2007 our office and Lutherans played a key role in building remarkable consensus regarding carbon reduction goals in electricity generation. This resulted in the legislature passing the Next Generation Energy Act with 92 percent support. Now there is consideration for raising the requirement of 25 percent of electricity from renewable sources to 40 percent.”

Registrations for both events may be made at LCPPM.org or by calling 651/224-5499. A choice of box lunches will be available at noon. Evening dinner tickets are $22.50. Peters emphasized walk-ins for the day’s event will be accommodated if seating allows; registration begins at 10:30 a.m.

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