Transitions in our Oregon and Washington Advocacy Partnerships

Since the mid-1990’s Lutheran Community Services Northwest has been one of the five partners in sponsoring the ELCA’s Lutheran Advocacy Ministry of Oregon and Lutheran Public Policy Office of Washington State. We’ve donated the administrative services for these two ministries and have been proud to have the staff as employees of our organization.

Two transitions have occurred which changes our role but not our commitment to these advocacy ministries.

The first transition came early in 2011 when the ELCA at the national level could no longer provide funding to several of the Public Policy Offices.  Unfortunately, Oregon was one of them.  Since Norene Goplen has been an employee of our agency even prior to her role as Director of Advocacy, we were very sorry to see her employment with us end.  However, the Oregon Synod remains committed to Advocacy and Norene has no plans to stop being an Advocate.  Anyone who knows Norene has heard her claim that she will never retire and thank goodness for that!  She may be the best-known Lutheran in all of Oregon.  Last year she was awarded Ecumenist of the Year by Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon.  For many years she also coordinated Disaster Relief along with Lutheran Advocacy Ministries of Oregon.  She is a dynamo and a blessing to all.

The second transition is more recent.  On June 11th, the statewide Advisory Council of the Lutheran Public Policy Office of Washington (LPPO) and the Board of Directors of the Washington Association of Churches (WAC) met and gave birth to a new organization. The Faith Action Network: A Partnership for the Common Good, or FAN for short, is the name of this new organization and broadly defined as “a statewide partnership of faith communities striving for a just and sustainable world through community building, education, and courageous public action.”  As LPPO Director Paul Benz said, “It was a decision that we believe was called forth from us by the power of the Spirit as well as by thoughtful reflection. LPPO and the WAC have shared a common public policy agenda for years; both organizations have a commitment to being statewide; and both work ecumenically.”  I’ve been a member of the Advisory Council since its inception and seen it evolve and expand.  Council Chair Rev. Carol Jensen is devoted to this ministry and exemplifies the exceptional commitment of the Council members.  Paul is tireless in his advocacy - reaching out to legislators, churches, and community partners.  We look forward to new possibilities for advocacy through FAN. 

Although the more formal role of LCS is winding down in relation to the Lutheran Public Policy Offices, advocacy remains a high priority for us. To promote Health, Justice, and Hope, we must all be courageous advocates for a just and compassionate society. It’s a Jesus thing.

For more information and updates on advocacy activities in Washington click here; for those in Oregon click here

Roberta Nestaas