When I first learned that the ELCA includes an advocacy office, my reaction was ‘What? Wait – I thought Christians aren’t supposed to be political!’ I decided to look for the biblical underpinnings of advocacy, and investigate further as to what the Advocacy Office does.
Advocacy can be defined as ‘public support for or recommendation of a particular cause or policy’, or (and this is my favorite definition), ‘the act of pleading for, supporting, or recommending; active espousal’. So advocacy is standing up for something you feel strongly about.
In the Bible, there are numerous examples of people of faith standing up for others – here are just a few. Moses heard God’s call and faced Pharaoh, demanded the release of his people, and eventually led them out of Egypt. (Exodus 5-12). Queen Esther stood up and bravely pled with King Xerxes on behalf of her people, the Jews (Esther 3:8–4:17, 7:1–8:8, 8:11–13). Nehemiah lobbied King Artaxerxes and his officials, to seek permission to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. He also confronted high-ranking Jews who were profiting from unfair lending practices (Nehemiah 1:2–4, 2:1–20, 5:1–13). Of course, Jesus is the ultimate Advocate. In addition to sacrificing himself for our sins (1 John 2:1-2), he modeled servant leadership (John 13:14-15), gave dignity to the marginalized (Luke 7:36-50, Luke 18:16), and challenged corruption (Mark 11:15-17), among other acts.
What does advocacy look like today? Today, we can advance the dignity of all people by advocating for racial and gender justice, accessibility to food, adequate housing accommodations, immigration policy, environmental sustainability, and much more. Advocacy actions can include: exercising your right to vote, speaking out when you witness injustice, writing or calling your elected officials to express your viewpoint, or volunteering nationally or internationally to share God’s love and serve your neighbor.
The ELCA maintains an advocacy action center, found online at https://www.elca.org/Our-Work/Publicly-Engaged-Church/Advocacy ELCA advocacy “works for change in public policy based on the experience of Lutheran ministries, programs and projects around the world and in communities across the United States. We work through political channels on behalf of the following biblical values: peacemaking, hospitality to strangers, care for creation, and concern for people living in poverty and struggling with hunger and disease.”
At the ELCA Advocacy action center, there are links to resources for getting involved with causes such as: AMMPARO Migrant Children, Congregation-based Community Organizing; Corporate Social Responsibility; ELCAvotes!; Faith, Science and Technology; Lutheran Office for World Community; Justice for Women; Peace Not Walls; Racial Justice Ministries; and Social Issues. You can sign up to receive ELCA Advocacy News and Alerts. There is also a section on Volunteer Opportunities. If you are looking to become an advocate, or just want to learn more about these timely issues, check out the website.
Advocacy for Christians is an outworking of obedience to God, a desire for justice and compassion for others (particularly people who are poor, marginalized and vulnerable) and it is a way of pointing people towards Jesus. As Paul reminds us in Galatians chapter 6: “Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
This blog is run by the council members of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Logan, UT. For more information, check out our church's website at princeopeace.org.