Looking Forward, LEAN-ing Forward

Bishop Deborah Hutterer of the Grand Canyon Synod.

Advent is a time of looking forward, of waiting, in hope and joyful preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. Lutheran Engagement and Advocacy in Nevada (LEAN) is looking forward, too, with two important upcoming events.

Pencils For Pupils

In January, LEAN is sponsoring a fund raising effort called Pencils for Pupils. Former LEAN advocate and current board member, Rev. Mike Patterson, was for many years a public school teacher. Low income students were and are a special concern of his. Every parish in Nevada has members who are teachers, active and retired. They and parents know that schools do not provide all the supplies needed for classroom work, and that parents are expected to fill these needs. For a family struggling to pay the rent or buy necessities, this can be a real barrier to their children’s education. As we go into the spring semester, budgets for supplies, both at home and at school, are often exhausted. The donations that often come in for the fall are not repeated for spring. LEAN has an arrangement with Office Depot that enables us to buy at a significant discount. LEAN is asking for parishioners to make small donations to fund Pencils for Pupils. Please mail your donation direct to LEAN c/o Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, 357 Clay St., Reno NV 89501, before January 15, 2019. Please put “Pencils for Pupils” on the memo line of your check, and note which congregation you are part of. Once the supplies are purchased, each congregation will be able to choose a school to receive them. The ELCA Social Statement on Education calls us to strive with others to ensure that all have access to high-quality education. This is one small way we can do that.

Legislative Forum

As the 2019 Legislative Session gets underway in February, LEAN invites all parishioners to attend a special Legislative Forum on Thursday, February 7  at 10 a.m. in the Legislature building. Discussion will center on issues that will be addressed in upcoming legislation.  Featured speaker Rev. Deborah K. Hutterer, Bishop of the Grand Canyon Synod. Bishop Hutterer was  installed in September 2018 and because Grand Canyon Synod covers Las Vegas, she is the Bishop for most of the Lutherans in Nevada. Bishop Hutterer is a lifelong Lutheran who grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota. As a young woman she felt called to ministry, but that was before Lutherans ordained women. After starting two businesses, and working in the insurance industry and in administration for Lutheran colleges, she came back to ministry. She was ordained in 2004, and was pastor to a church in Illinois. Most of Bishop Hutterer’s career has been in faith based social services. Before being elected Bishop, Rev. Hutterer was Chief Development Officer for Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest. In that role she traveled extensively throughout Arizona, preaching, presiding, and presenting at congregations and ministry groups on such topics as refugee resettlement, child abuse prevention, and aging. Her work enabled her to connect and collaborate with colleagues, congregations, ecumenical and interfaith partners.

LEAN is excited to be able to work with Bishop Hutterer, since she clearly shares a passion for social justice. All Nevada Lutherans should be eager to learn what she would like to see the Legislature pass in the coming session.

A luncheon will be served at no charge in connection with the event. There will also be opportunities to meet with Legislators. To RSVP, please email LEAN legislative advocate Bill Ledford. Lutherans from Southern Nevada are encouraged to attend as well.

LEAN Advocates Become ‘Legislators’

By Sheila Freed

On August 7, Lutheran Engagement and Advocacy in Nevada met at the Nevada State Senate for a role-play called ULegislate.  It was great fun, and in typical Lutheran fashion, the group questioned authority.

ULegislate is a learning experience in which participants play the roles of Senators and have floor debate on actual bills that passed in the 2017 Session.  On two of the three bills that were up for debate, LEAN voted the same way that the Legislature did.  However LEAN voted down the third, and the reason was quite Lutheran.  The bill, Senate Bill 322, requires every pupil in Nevada to pass a civics test before graduating high school.  This is a concept we can all support, and LEAN did.  However the bill has several exceptions, and the group did not like that.  We Lutherans embrace the “priesthood of all believers,” and take seriously the notion that all believers are equal before God.   So the majority voted no, in hopes that the bill would return in a more acceptable form.

Participants learned the rigid protocol of Senate business, and that much of the legislative process happens not on the chamber floors, but in committee meetings and legislators’ offices.  Here is where advocacy comes in.  Our paid Advocate meets with legislators individually to present the moral arguments on selected bills, with particular reference to the ELCA Social Statements.  Individual parishioners can do the same, either in person or by email, phone call, or letter.  The LEAN Advocate also testifies at committee hearings on selected bills.

The Senate staff was helpful and accommodating. They even made a video for us!

It’s great fun to watch, for several reasons.  First, you will learn some facts you may not know, and hear some arguments for and against the bills that you might not have thought of.  You will hear a bit of Bob Marley quoted! You will see people you know and those you don’t, so a roster of participants is included here.  LEAN is excited that people came from Las Vegas to participate, and that new people from both north and south were there.

“Senators” participating in ULegislate were:  Chad Adamik, Pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Family, Carson City; John Biggs, Pastor of Saved by Grace, Pahrump; Veralyn Combs, member of Holy Cross, Reno; Ed Cotton, member of Community Lutheran, Las Vegas; Diane Drach-Meinel, Pastor of Christ the Servant, Las Vegas; Sonja Dresbach, member of Faith, Reno; Sheila Freed, member of Good Shepherd, Reno; Timothy Johnson, member of Lord of Mercy, Sparks; Bill Ledford, LEAN Advocate; Diane Ludlow, member of Holy Cross, Reno; Shaun O’Reilly, pastoral intern at Lord of Mercy, Sparks, Mike Patterson, retired pastor, Gift of Grace, Fernley; Barbara Peterson, member of Holy Cross, Sparks; Thomas Rasmussen, member of Saved by Grace, Pahrump; Pennie Sheaffer, member of Lord of Mercy, Sparks; Scott Trevithick, Pastor, Holy Cross, Reno; Ashlynne Valdez, member of Lord of Mercy, Sparks; Vic Williams, member of Good Shepherd, Reno.  “Secretary” of the Senate was Allan Smith, former LEAN Advocate.  If you want to learn more about LEAN, please connect with one of these folks.

ULegislate was just the first in a line-up of events designed to engage parishioners as LEAN moves into the 120-day 2019 Legislative Session.  Watch for “Pencils for Pupils” in January, followed by the LEAN kickoff lunch on February 4, the session’s first day.