OGR Blog

July 18, 2019

As Christians, we have a responsibility to care for the earth and all of the living things that dwell on it. Scientific research clearly shows that climate change, one of the greatest dangers to creation, is caused, in part, by carbon emissions from human industrialization. Longstanding Episcopal Church policy acknowledges the reality of climate change and urges action to address it at local, regional and state levels. While environmental action at every level is important, addressing climate change requires the United States, a leading contributor of carbon emissions, to be a part of international efforts to reduce harmful emissions and advance to cleaner energy sources.

The U.S. must take steps to lower carbon emissions and expand renewable energy, and the Church recognizes an effective way to accelerate the transition is through market forces. At the 79th General Convention, the Episcopal Church adopted a resolution to support a carbon fee and dividend model or another carbon pricing system. A carbon pricing system would increase the cost of fossil fuels to reflect their full societal costs. Various legislative and policy proposals would create various flat-rate prices that companies would pay by the ton of CO2 emissions released, with exceptions for different industries such as agriculture or the armed forces.

The Episcopal Church, recognizing the effect that an inevitably higher energy cost could have on lower-income individuals, has also resolved to advocate for appropriate measures to reduce the economic impacts on those of poor and modest income, which might include the use of a trust fund paid for with the carbon fees, distributed to the poorest people first. Some current policy proposals also include a dividend model so that the money collected from a carbon fee would be paid in dividends to American citizens and permanent residents to offset the higher cost of energy. Some proposals would phase in pricing, others would start at higher levels, while some would also include provisions that provide immunity from lawsuits over climate change to companies in an effort to win their support. Some proposals also debate the prioritization of helping the domestically vulnerable or the globally vulnerable, or to focus funding on infrastructure to prevent damage.

While there is a diversity of ideas about how a price on carbon could or should be implemented and funding allocated, the scientific community has strongly supported pricing as a method to incentivize change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a group of dozens of scientists and researchers from around the world, issued a study in the fall of 2018 that anticipates negative impacts of climate change to occur sooner than previously thought. The same day that the IPCC issued their report, the Noble Prize for Economics was awarded to Professor William Nordhaus for his work on calculating the economic impact of climate change and devising a way to put a price on carbon to change behavior and prevent catastrophic damage.

It is our duty to create incremental change in our energy system in order to be true stewards of creation. A carbon fee is a market-based solution that will create jobs, boost our economy, and reduce the risks associated with climate change by lowering our CO2 emissions. While there are many different proposals for a carbon fee policy, The Office of Government Relations has been charged to support legislative efforts that include a carbon fee or other means of accounting for greenhouse gas emissions, recognizing the need for sound policy, but also the need for timely action in our first step towards reclaiming our call to care for God’s creation.

For the Beauty of the Earth

We give you thanks, most gracious God, for the beauty of
earth and sky and sea; for the richness of mountains, plains,
and rivers; for the songs of birds and the loveliness of flowers.
We praise you for these good gifts, and pray that we may
safeguard them for our posterity. Grant that we may continue
to grow in our grateful enjoyment of your abundant creation,
to the honor and glory of your Name, now and for ever. Amen.

-Book of Common Prayer, pg 840

Take Action

3 Ways to Take Action: Respond to us on Twitter, Facebook or by email to the following question:

How can we balance need for timely energy transition with the reality that such a transition would have adverse economic side effects?  

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Additional Resources

Don't miss the Creation Care homepage filled with more opportunities for individual and collective action and learning.

H.R. 763 - Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019

S. 1128 - American Opportunity Carbon Fee Act of 2019

2018 IPPC Report

William D. Nordhaus Nobel Price Page

Baker-Shulz Plan for Conservative Carbon Pricing

As Christians, we have a responsibility to care for the earth and all of the living things that dwell on it. Scientific research clearly shows that climate change, one of the greatest dangers to creation, is caused, in part, by carbon emissions...
July 17, 2019

This introduction begins a series of articles addressing different parts of the enviro-political movement and how we, as the Office of Government Relations and Episcopalians engaged in advocacy, have been charged to tackle some of the issues facing our environment through better policy.

When we are surrounded by the abundance and wealth of the natural world, in awe of all that God has given us, we must also recognize that humans have changed earth cycles, surface, creatures and climate. As Christians, we are called to be stewards of creation as a way of respecting our God, its creator. Through the General Convention, The Episcopal Church has remained committed to addressing environmental issues through policy, charging the Office of Government Relations to take on significant issues pertaining to energy reform and environmental justice.

In addressing these topics through policy, success is co-dependent on our recognition that many of the adverse effects of our current energy system disproportionately affect minority populations in the United States and those in the global south. Recent policy introductions have been bold and compelling, proposing fundamental changes in the U.S. energy system and addressing the environmental and social implications of our economic reliance on fossil fuels.

In order to make an impact at the magnitude required to slow the damage humans are doing, action is required on a larger scale than what we can achieve on our own. Sound policy can make the large-scale impact required. In the weeks to come, we will share educational pieces that outline evolving policy, from various proposals on carbon pricing to focusing on renewable energy. We will also provide an action item to add to your efforts, for while it is important to minimize your individual environmental impact, we must also make sure we collectively take care of our natural resources that our lives depend on.

This series will also highlight some ways to address social disparities from environmental racism to the just transitions of communities affected by decline of the fossil fuel industry. Justice is a crucial part of the Church’s environmental mission, and integral components to international conversations to address environmental degradation. Justice is a critical aspect for our reflection because the challenges we face have no clear or easy answers. Faster transition to renewable energy will leave millions in the fossil fuel industry unemployed. There are many different proposals for how and when a price on carbon would achieve its goals, and just what that goal should be is also debated. Restoring wetlands can help reduce the impact of extreme storms, but in recent decades communities have been built on those wetlands.

While the questions and challenges surrounding a changing climate are truly global, and generally more severe in the global south and in island nations, this series will focus on domestic U.S. policies. Our hope is that this series, however limited, will help spur a movement for greater study, reflection and conversation across the Church.

The series that follows each Thursday for the rest of the summer is neither a comprehensive list of all issues, nor is it a full explanation of each individual issue. Join us each week to learn more about our call to seek holistic set of policies to solve our environmental crisis.

Creation Care Prayer

God, maker of marvels,
you weave the planet and all its creatures together in kinship;
your unifying love is revealed
in the interdependence of relationships
in the complex world that you have made.
Save us from the illusion that humankind is separate and alone,
and join us in communion with all inhabitants of the universe;
through Jesus Christ, our Redeemer,
who topples the dividing walls by the power of your Holy Spirit,
and who loves and reigns with you, for ever and ever. Amen.

-Liturgical Materials for Honoring God in Creation
Reported to the 78th General Convention

Additional Resources 

Don't miss the Creation Care homepage filled with more opportunities for individual and collective action and learning.

Check out the Policy for Action document that has summaries of Episcopal Church resolutions on the environment from before General Convention 2018. We're working with The Archives of the Episcopal Church to update this resource with resolutions from General Convention 2018. 

This introduction begins a series of articles addressing different parts of the enviro-political movement and how we, as the Office of Government Relations and Episcopalians engaged in advocacy, have been charged to tackle some of the issues facing...
July 17, 2019

The Episcopal Church is deeply concerned with the recently released Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) interim final rule on asylum. The United States is obliged by international and domestic law to provide protection to people fleeing persecution, including asylum seekers. This rule wholly upends our current asylum system and will leave vulnerable people in further danger. 

As Presiding Bishop Michael Curry recently said, “When you welcome the stranger, you welcome Jesus. The book of Hebrews in the New Testament says those who have welcomed the strangers have sometimes welcomed angels unawares.” The men, women, and children fleeing their country and seeking asylum in the U.S. are not only exercising a legal right to do so, but are also deserving of our care and compassion. Rather than prevent those persons from seeking the protection they need, the U.S. should respond by improving our existing system and investing in efforts to address root causes of migration in the first place.
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Learn and Act: Resources from the Office of Government Relations

Watch: Presiding Bishop Michael Curry "Who is my neighbor?"

The Episcopal Church is deeply concerned with the recently released Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) interim final rule on asylum. The United States is obliged by international and domestic law to provide...
July 11, 2019

The Episcopal Church remains concerned about the reports of upcoming large-scale raids in communities around the U.S. These reports are already creating fear and uncertainty in the lives of people in our churches and in our communities. If these raids are carried out, it will cause long-term and devastating impacts for family units and communities. 

As followers of Jesus, we are committed to supporting policies that are humane, sensible, and that uplift our communities, rather than creating chaos and division. The Episcopal Church urges that Congress pass long term immigration reform that offers undocumented persons a pathway to citizenship and would be a real and humane solution for immigrant families. 

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Please review these additional resources:

 

The Episcopal Church remains concerned about the reports of upcoming large-scale raids in communities around the U.S. These reports are already creating fear and uncertainty in the lives of people in our churches and in our communities. If these...
July 5, 2019

In times of conflict, The Episcopal Church, as community of followers of Jesus Christ, is called back to His words, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Tensions have risen between the United States and Iran over attacks on shipping vessels, the shooting down of a U.S. surveillance drone, and the threat of air strikes in retaliation. Tensions have escalated following the U.S. withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (also known as the Iran Nuclear Deal) in May of 2018. The U.S. withdrawal undermined an international agreement that was designed to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and threatened prospects for peace and international cooperation. Increased sanctions have led to increased economic hardship of the Iranian people, including Christians and other religious minorities. It is crucial in this time of instability and threat of violence that our government and our neighbors seek diplomatic and humanitarian solutions rather than violence. We recognize the need for all parties to work towards peace in the region, rather than fighting proxy wars. Together, we can work to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

The Episcopal Church urges the United States government to re-join to the Iran Nuclear Deal and to pursue a multilateral and international agreement to work towards regional security and denuclearization. We further hope that the United States will end sanctions on Iran that do not target armed militancy and weapons proliferation, recognizing the effect of broad sanctions of the Iranian economy and, in turn, the Iranian people.

General Convention Resolutions

2018-D051: Support Recommitment to the Iran Nuclear Deal
1997-D022: Support the Goal of Total Nuclear Disarmament
1976-D052: Commend Efforts to Control Nuclear Weapons
2019-MB 009:  Support for Multilateralism and the Work of the United Nations: 
"Resolved, That the Executive Council hereby expresses the Church’s continued support for the principles of multilateralism that underpin global dialogue and concerted action in the world; and be it further,
Resolved, That the Executive Council encourages all member states of the United Nations to continue to support and engage in its work and functioning, including through timely payment of their dues." 

In times of conflict, The Episcopal Church, as community of followers of Jesus Christ, is called back to His words, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Tensions have risen between the United States and Iran over attacks on shipping vessels, the shooting...
July 3, 2019

One year ago, thousands of Episcopalians gathered in Austin, Texas for the 79th General Convention. Since that time, the Office of Government Relations (OGR) has continued its work representing The Episcopal Church’s official policies to Congress and the Administration. We are eager to share a few updates on this work to give members of the Episcopal Public Policy Network a sense of how we are going about representing these policies.

Emerging from General Convention, OGR was given a mandate to expand our advocacy work into areas where new resolutions passed. Read below to learn how we have been working on several of these resolutions! 

Building the Foundation

Last July, General Convention passed a Civil Discourse resolution, which reaffirmed the foundation and intention for our work. Resolution B009 directed OGR to work with bipartisan efforts in Congress, when possible, and intentionally engage with elected and career government officials from all political parties. In the past year, we have met or arranged meetings with Congressional offices in a near-even distribution of Democrats and Republicans. OGR maintains the same standard in our liturgical outreach as well. OGR hosts Morning Prayers on Capitol Hill, where Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and other Church leadership, Republican, Democrat, and Independent members of Congress join for worship and fellowship together. We're continuing to work with the Formation Department and other partners (to be announced!) on additional civil discourse material to release this fall.


Presiding Bishop Curry with Morning Prayer Hosts Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Senator Angus King (I-ME) in April, 2019.

Human Rights and Peacebuilding

As assigned by resolutions B021: Support Aid to Palestinian Refugees and C038: Safeguard the Rights of Palestinian Children, and alongside Global Partnerships and Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, OGR has been working to ensure that the U.S. government continues to provide funding to support critical humanitarian needs for Palestinians, especially given recent cuts in U.S. funding. In September of 2018, we asked the EPPN to call on the U.S. government to reinstate funding for the UN refugee agency (UNRWA) which addresses Palestinian refugee issues, as well as other U.S. government funds that provided lifesaving care to Palestinians. In particular, we continue to call on Congress to find a way for U.S. funds to support the East Jerusalem Hospital Network, which includes Episcopal institutions.

Presiding Bishop Joint Statement on East Jerusalem Hospital

In February 2019, we also asked the members of the EPPN to call on Congress to amend the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act (ATCA), which prevents Palestinians from receiving U.S. government assistance, including humanitarian aid. In May of this year, OGR sent letters to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, the Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo communicating the request to protect the rights of Palestinian children as tasked by C038. Furthermore, OGR has been advocating directly to Congress in support of legislation that will strengthen our government’s ability to prevent conflicts globally. In April this year, OGR sent an action call through the EPPN asking members of Congress to pass the Global Fragility Act.
 
In an effort increase focus and engagement in Latin America and the Caribbean (D098), working with Global Partnerships, we have looked for opportunities for partnership to advance our mutual goals and mission. In addition to meeting with policymakers, OGR has been working in partnership with The Episcopal Church in Cuba, the Anglican Church in Central America (IARCA), and others in Province IX to release a series of statements in response to emerging issues in the region. See here our statements on the crisis in Venezuela and on new U.S. policies in Cuba and Central America. Later this month, OGR will be supporting the Formation Department at Evento de Jóvenes Episcopales (EJE) in Panama, alongside Global Partnerships and representing Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs!
 
Through Bishop-level advocacy and partnership with the Anglican Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf as well as the organization Stand with Iraqi Christians, OGR has been meaningfully engaging with Congress and the Department of State on issues related to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. We have also advocated to protect religious minorities, such as Iraqi Christians, Yezidis, and other religious minorities, from persecution. For the second year in a row, OGR will be attending the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, hosted by the U.S. Department of State, later this month.

Related Resolutions: B013: Addressing the Yemen Humanitarian Crisis, D050: Solidarity with Victims of Religious Persecution, D063: Supporting Christians in Iraq

Creation Care

As affirmed in A011 Oppose Enviromental Racism, working with the Reconciliation, Justice and Creation Care team led by Rev. Melanie Mullen, OGR has continued to advocate for and support policies that protect the sanctity of communities who bear a disproportionate risk of environmental pollution or degradation. The Episcopal Church has long stood by the Gwich’in, a native community in Alaska, defending their right to existence and sustainability as their sacred land is under threat from oil exploration in the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Most recently, OGR supported H.R.1146, the Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act by hosting Bishop Mark Lattime of the Diocese of Alaska and facilitating his testimony in front of the House Natural Resource Committee. Bernadette Demientieff, member of the General Convention Task Force on Care of Creation and Environmental Racism, also testified.

In response to proposals to weaken the Mercury and Air Toxic Standards, OGR joined ecumenical partners in writing to and meeting personally with the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Mercury pollution disproportionately impacts people of color and lower income families and has devastating impacts on children and pregnant women, including damage to developing lungs, kidneys, heart and brain. Because of mercury pollution’s impact to human health and especially vulnerable populations, the current standards have been instrumental in reducing dangerous mercury and other toxic air pollutants released from coal and oil burning power plants.

As natural disasters are becoming more severe and communities still face significant barriers to recovery, we follow Resolution D007: Disaster Resilience Policy and have continued to mobilize the EPPN to urge the U.S. federal government to fund and support not only immediate, but also long-term community and economic recovery from human-caused and natural disasters. The supplemental disaster relief bill, which passed in June and included funding for a wide range of states and Puerto Rico, has been an important source advocacy for our office and the EPPN over the past year. 

Coming up: The EPPN will be disseminating a multi-week environmental policy and reflection series.

Immigration

The resolutions A178: Halt the Intensification and Implementation of Immigration Policies and Practices that are Harmful to Migrant Women, Parents and Children and C033: Respecting the Dignity of Immigrants have reinforced our work to protect the dignity and humanity of Dreamers, TPS recipients, and asylum seekers.

Faith leaders issue statement on children in detention

In reaffirmation of our commitment to advocating for comprehensive immigration reform, OGR submitted a statement to the House Judiciary Committee on the need to protect Dreamers and TPS and DED recipients in the Dream and Promise Act of 2019. The bill has passed the House, and our advocacy continues as we await action in the Senate. See our action alert here!
 
A member of OGR staff recently participated in the Walk in Love Border tour, learning about the current situation of asylum seekers and the responses of local governments and the various ministries in the Diocese of West Texas. With this information, we plan to further enrich our advocacy on for humane and just treatment of women, parents, and children.
 
A webinar entitled “Listen & Learn: Border Advocacy and Ministry” was hosted July 2nd by the EPPN and Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM) with Bishop Michael Hunn from the Diocese of the Rio Grande. In case you missed the webinar, watch it here and share it with others!

Ten Actions You Can Take to Accompany Undocumented Immigrants

Refugees

Using the holistic approach outlined in resolution D009: Christian Principles for Responding to Human Migration, OGR has been working on issues related to addressing root causes, advocating for robust refugee resettlement and appropriations, and fostering a culture of hospitality and welcome.Through a series of Congressional meetings, action alerts, sign-on letters, and advocacy days with coalition partners and with Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM), OGR is committed more than ever to advancing policies that welcome refugees. Last week, EMM and OGR organized Love God, Love Neighbor: Advocacy in Action training and advocacy day in Washington, DC for 30 Episcopalians interested and involved in advocating for the ministry of refugee resettlement and care of asylum seekers.  Earlier this year, EMM launched Partners in Welcome, an online learning community and ministry network dedicated to welcoming newcomers, empowering advocates, and supporting local ministries. Partners in Welcome offers an e-newsletter, weekly news digest, webinars, digital workshops, learning modules, a book club, and an online forum.

Anti-Poverty

OGR has been working independently and through ecumenical partnerships like the Circle of Protection to advocate directly to Members of Congress and Congressional Leadership in support of programs relevant to C041: Repair America’s Safety Net. These programs include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, development and humanitarian assistance, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the broader federal budget spending limits, which tightly control whether programs that benefit low-income families at home and around the world can increase or decrease funding. Additionally, work has focused on articulating the damage proposed changes to how the federal government calculates poverty levels and adjusts them year to year for inflation would cause to low-income working families over time.
 
The Episcopal Church also supports the Raise the Wage Act and submitted a statement to Congressional Record for the hearing on the bill. By gradually raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, the bill would help reduce income inequality and workplace harassment for tipped workers, a provision accounted for in resolution D017: Reducing Sexual Harassment, Assault and Exploitation in the Workplace. According to the Economic Policy Institute, women make up almost 56% of workers who would benefit from the increase in wages. In addition to helping address the gender wage gap, the bill would provide a more just compensation to 40% of African American workers and 34% of Latino workers, who would see increased wages when the law is fully implemented.
 
OGR has also partnered with historically black churches, evangelicals, and the Roman Catholic bishops to oppose the repeal of payday lending rules that would protect the poor from predatory and unpayable loans. A regulation introduced in the previous Administration but prevented from coming into effect and now facing repeal by the Trump Administration, would require lenders to only give loans that borrowers were able to repay in addition to maintaining their cost of living and eating. To complement an alert sent to the EPPN, OGR and ecumenical partners met with the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to share borrowers’ stories and articulate why current pay day lending practices violate Christian teachings.

Ongoing work

We continue to expand our work on a variety of important issues according to resolutions from last year’s General Convention.

C022: Supporting Transgender Access - In affirming the Church’s support for the full civil rights of the LGBTQ community, we advocate the enactment of laws that prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or the expression of one’s gender identity. OGR sent out an EPPN action alert in support of the Equality Act in March.
 
B005: Gun Violence as a Public Health Issue - In February, OGR hosted and coordinated an advocacy day on Capitol Hill for bishops from Bishops United Against Gun Violence. Check out our recent action alert supporting funding gun violence research too.
 
D004: Addressing Mass incarceration - Criminal justice reform has long been a priority of The Episcopal Church as we continue to support legislation that addresses mass incarceration such as the First Step Act and appropriations to fund the programs authorized in it.

One year ago, thousands of Episcopalians gathered in Austin, Texas for the 79th General Convention. Since that time, the Office of Government Relations (OGR) has continued its work representing The Episcopal Church’s official policies to Congress...
June 25, 2019

This backgrounder provides suggested actions that you can take to support undocumented immigrants in your community. Included are links to further information, which will assist your effort to launch some of the suggested initiatives or connect with groups already doing this work in your area.

1. Share Know Your Rights (KYR) Information.

Disseminate critical KYR information about legal rights during encounters with enforcement. Information is available in English and Spanish. You can find videos for individuals and families here. You can download printable cards to post in your church and carry at all times in Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, and English here.
ACTION: Share these KYR resources on social media and within your parish.

2. Accompany Individuals to ICE CheckIns

Some undocumented immigrants have ankle monitors that require an appointment or are scheduled to check in with ICE on a semiregular basis. Attempting to accompany an individual through this process can provide comfort and may be helpful for the immediate outcome of the check-in. Volunteers who are neither lawyers nor legal representatives can appear at the ICE check-in as “reputable individuals.” Urge willing parishioners to submit the necessary information (as listed in G-28 Instructions and in 8 CFR 292.1(a)(3)) to appear at appointments.
ACTION: Ask local ICE offices to allow you to accompany immigrants to their check-in appointments. Create a small ready-team that can attend check-in appointments with undocumented individuals in your community or church as requested.

3. Build Relationships with Local Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Offices

It is important that U.S. citizens nurture relationships with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Field Offices and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) community relations officers. Engaging local ICE and USCIS offices could help provide immediate points of contact when there is a need to engage in individual case advocacy, a long-term benefit for your work with undocumented immigrants. Please find contact information for and the location of your local offices on the ICE and USCIS websites.
ACTION: If you are a U.S. Citizen, look to attend ICE or USCIS community relations meetings in your area and set up meetings with local DHS Field Office leadership.

4. Provide Transport for Individuals to Immigration Court

It is crucial that undocumented individuals who have pending immigration court proceedings consistently attend any legal appearances for which they are scheduled to appear.
ACTION: Organize a transportation ride-sharing network in your parish to assist individuals who need a ride to their court proceedings.

5. Facilitate Legal Screenings

Roughly one million undocumented immigrants living in the United States are potentially eligible for an immigration benefit or relief. Unfortunately, many of these individuals are unaware that they qualify or are unable to pursue such options due to financial limitations. Facilitating access to a reputable immigration legal services provider could help eligible individuals access the benefit or relief for which they qualify.
ACTION: Organize information sessions at your parish with reputable local immigration services providers. Discuss the availability of legal screenings.

6. Help Arrange Legal Services

Immigrants are more likely to seek and prevail on claims of relief if they have the assistance of legal counsel. Encouraging attorneys to take immigration cases pro bono (free of charge) or offering a legal clinic is incredibly helpful. The Department of Justice (DOJ) provides a list of legal providers across the country, as well as a list of accredited representatives and recognized organizations, which can be used as a guide for immigrants seeking legal support. The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) also provides a searchable database of immigration attorneys.
ACTION: Distribute these lists to pertinent points of contact within your parish and diocese, as well as to local immigrant rights organizations. Help facilitate meetings with legal representatives for consultations. Host a legal clinic in your parish to allow undocumented persons to ask questions or get information.

7. Raise Awareness of Notario Fraud

Notario fraud increases when there are new or anticipated immigration policy changes. For this reason, it is vital to educate our fellow parishioners on notario fraud and advise individuals to only seek immigration advice from qualified legal services providers, such a reputable pro bono attorney from the DOJ or AILA lists. For more information visit this site.
ACTION: Hold an educational event on notario fraud and immigration scams that highlights the importance of finding legitimate legal services providers. Include awareness material about notario fraud in church bulletins and updates.

8. Start an Immigration Detention Visitation Ministry

Many immigrants in detention experience fear and isolation and pastoral care or individualized visits can provide comfort and support.
ACTION: Gather a group to create this ministry. Find out where the closest detention center to your church is using this map then work together using this resource to create a visitation ministry group.

9. Pray Together, Raise Awareness, and Provide Community Forums for Undocumented Immigrants to Share Their Stories and Needs

As always, prayer and pastoral support are vital to daily life. You can host a prayer service recognizing immigrants to help generate awareness within your local community. Consider screening an immigration documentary and invite an immigrant to tell his or her story afterwards or hosting an open forum for dialogue and listening.
ACTION: Join Episcopal Migration Ministry's online community Partners in Welcome, dedicated to welcoming newcomers, empowering advocates, and supporting local ministries. Organize a prayer service or educational event at your local parish and invite both native-born and immigrant congregants. You can find resources here.

10. Advocate for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

There is currently no established pathway for undocumented persons in this country to come forward and earn citizenship. The time is now for members of Congress to come up with a bipartisan solution for the undocumented people in our communities.
ACTION: Join the Episcopal Public Policy Network (EPPN) to raise your voice to members of Congress about the need for immigration reform. Attend a meeting with your elected officials, write an op-ed, or share on social media that you support bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform.

This backgrounder provides suggested actions that you can take to support undocumented immigrants in your community. Included are links to further information, which will assist your effort to launch some of the suggested initiatives or connect...
May 17, 2019

Clergy throughout The Episcopal Church counsel women, men, and families who must make decisions relating to pregnancy and childbirth, adoption, family planning, and who face infertility. Our ordained and lay leaders walk alongside Episcopalians and others who struggle with this intimate and challenging aspect of human life. Over the past several decades, the General Convention has addressed the topic of abortion from a position informed by this ministry and personal lived experience of clergy and laity within their own families. As a result, the General Convention of The Episcopal Church recognizes the moral, legal, personal, and societal complexity of the issue. The diversity of views within the Church represents our common struggle to understand and discern this issue.

The Episcopal Church teaches that “all human life is sacred. Hence, it is sacred from its inception until death. The Church takes seriously its obligation to help form the consciences of its members concerning this sacredness. Human life, therefore, should be initiated only advisedly and in full accord with this understanding of the power to conceive and give birth which is bestowed by God.” Our liturgical text Enriching Our Worship calls for great pastoral sensitivity to the needs of the woman and others involved in decisions relating to “abortion, or mishaps of pregnancy and infertility.” This ministry is particularly important in situations that result in the loss of a pregnancy or inability to become pregnant and as a Church, we have experienced that all of these have “a tragic dimension.”

In a series of statements over the past decades, the Church has declared that “we emphatically oppose abortion as a means of birth control, family planning, sex selection, or any reason of mere convenience.” At the same time, since 1967, The Episcopal Church has maintained its “unequivocal opposition to any legislation on the part of the national or state governments which would abridge or deny the right of individuals to reach informed decisions [about the termination of pregnancy] and to act upon them.”

The Church urges dioceses and congregations  “to give necessary aid and support to all pregnant women.” General Convention “commends the work and mission of pregnancy care centers which stress unconditional love and acceptance, for women and their unborn children.” We have urged support of “local pregnancy care centers” that “develop an outreach of love to pregnant women and to mothers and their children.”

At the General Convention in 2018, The Episcopal Church called for “women’s reproductive health and reproductive health procedures to be treated as all other medical procedures.” The Convention declared “that equitable access to women’s health care, including women’s reproductive health care, is an integral part of a woman’s struggle to assert her dignity and worth as a human being.”

We continue to advocate that “legislating abortions will not address the root of the problem. We therefore express our deep conviction that any proposed legislation on the part of national or state governments regarding abortions must take special care to see that the individual conscience is respected, and that the responsibility of individuals to reach informed decisions in this matter is acknowledged and honored as the position of this Church.”

The Church also sees education as an essential component of engaging with issues relating to family planning, child spacing, adoption, infertility and abortion. The global Anglican Communion, of which The Episcopal Church is a member, first supported the use of contraceptives in 1930, and as Christians we affirm responsible family planning. General Convention policy states “it is the responsibility of our congregations to assist their members in becoming informed concerning the spiritual, physiological and psychological aspects of sex and sexuality.” The Book of Common Prayer affirms that "the birth of a child is a joyous and solemn occasion in the life of a family. It is also an occasion for rejoicing in the Christian community" (p 440).

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General Convention Resolutions

1976-D095 - Reaffirm the 1967 General Convention Statement on Abortion

1982-B009 - Reaffirm the Church's Guidelines on the Termination of Pregnancy

1982-D016 - Reaffirm the Right to the Use of Artificial Conception Control

1982-A065 - Condemn Use of Abortion for Gender Selection and Non-serious Abnormalities

1988-D124 - Condemn Acts of Violence Against Abortion Facilities and Their Clients

1988-C047 - Adopt a Statement on Childbirth and Abortion

1988-A089 - Promote Use of Materials on Human Sexuality and Abortion for All Age Groups

1991-C037 - Oppose Legislation Requiring Parental Consent for Termination of Pregnancy

1991-A096 - Continue Discussion on the Use of Fetal Tissue for Research Use

1994-D105 - Commend the Work of Pregnancy Care Centers

1994-D091 - Deplore Practice of Forced Abortions and Sterilization in China

1994-A054 - Reaffirm General Convention Statement on Childbirth and Abortion

1994-D009 - Reaffirm Family Planning and Control of Global Population Growth

1997-D065 - Express Grave Concern Over Misuse of Partial Birth Abortion

2000-D104 - Affirm Adoption and Support Legislation on Adoption Counseling

2018-D032 - Equal Access to Health Care Regardless of Gender

Resolves of the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church

Opposition to the Human Life Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, 1981

Affirmation of the International Conference on Population and Development, 2004

Support for Women's Access to Healthcare, 2014

Clergy throughout The Episcopal Church counsel women, men, and families who must make decisions relating to pregnancy and childbirth, adoption, family planning, and who face infertility. Our ordained and lay leaders walk alongside Episcopalians and...
April 18, 2019

The Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations expresses its concern about the recent decision by the Trump administration to (1) remove the waiver of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, (2) Limit the amount of remittances to Cuba to $1,000 per person per quarter, and (3) impose new restrictions on non-family travel to Cuba. The Title III Helms-Burton waiver removal, which will go into effect by the end of the month, allows for U.S. nationals to sue foreign corporations that conduct business on property that was confiscated by the Cuban regime in 1959.

Enacting Title III will cause U.S. – Cuba relations to deteriorate further, and it will hurt the Cuban people and economy. It is also likely to negatively impact U.S. relations with Canada, the European Union, Latin American and Caribbean nations. Furthermore, limiting the frequency and amount of donated remittances Americans can send to relatives and friends in Cuba will increase economic hardship to many Cuban families, including Cuban entrepreneurs who depend on the financial support of their relatives residing in the U.S. While the Administration is yet to issue details on non-family travel restrictions, we are concerned these new travel restrictions will have an impact on religious activities and further isolate the Cuban people. Overall, the impact of this new policy towards Cuba will mostly be felt by the Cuban people who have lived under the U.S. economic embargo for the last 60 years.

In July 2018, General Convention voted to re-admit the Episcopal Church of Cuba as a diocese of The Episcopal Church, but the Church has long called for an end to Cuban embargo, in particular an end to provisions that hamper the mission of the Church in Cuba and that contribute to the suffering of the Cuban people. We therefore reiterate our call for an end to the embargo and reassert our commitment to strengthening relations between the Cuban and American people.

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La Oficina de Relaciones Gubernamentales de La Iglesia Episcopal de Estados Unidos desea expresar su preocupación en cuanto a la decisión reciente de la administración Trump de (1) no renovar la suspensión del Título III de la Ley Helms-Burton, más bien ponerlo en vigencia en los próximos días, (2) limitar a $1.000 por persona el envío de las remesas cada tres meses a Cuba y (3) imponer nuevas restricciones del viaje no familiar a Cuba. Activar el Título III de la Ley Helms-Burton al final de este mes permite a los nacionales de los EE. UU. demandar a las empresas extranjeras que hacen negocios en propiedades que fueron confiscadas por el gobierno cubano en 1959.

Poner en vigencia el Título III empeorará las relaciones EE. UU.-Cuba y damnificará o multiplicará el daño a la economía cubana, así como a sus ciudadanos. También es probable que haya impactos negativos en las relaciones entre los EE. UU. y Canadá, la Unión Europea y los países de América Latina y el Caribe. Además, el limitar la frecuencia y la cantidad de remesas que se puede enviar a sus familiares y amigos cubanos incrementará la adversidad económica de muchas familias cubanas, incluyendo a los empresarios cubanos quienes dependen del apoyo financiero de sus familiares en los EE. UU. Aunque la administración no ha comunicado todavía los detalles sobre las restricciones de viajes no familiares, nos preocupa que estas nuevas restricciones de viaje vayan a afectar las actividades religiosas y así se aísle aún más el pueblo cubano. Sobre todo, consideramos que en esta decisión, aquel que realmente será afectado es el pueblo cubano que ha vivido bajo el bloqueo económico y financiero por parte de los EE. UU. durante los últimos 60 años.

En Julio de 2018, La Iglesia Episcopal votó por readmitir a la Iglesia Episcopal de Cuba como una diócesis de la Iglesia, pero durante mucho tiempo La Iglesia Episcopal ha llamado a poner fin al bloqueo, por sus consecuencias de sufrimiento a los ciudadanos cubanos, y en particular, a las provisiones que obstaculizan la misión de la Iglesia en ese país. Por lo tanto, reiteramos nuestra llamada para poner fin al bloqueo. Y más bien se abran espacios para el compromiso que fortalezcan las relaciones entre los pueblos de EE. UU. y Cuba. Ambos pueblos desean vivir en un ambiente de respeto y paz.

The Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations expresses its concern about the recent decision by the Trump administration to (1) remove the waiver of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, (2) Limit the amount of remittances to Cuba to $1,000 per...
April 16, 2019

Last week, the Office of Government Relations had the honor of hosting Presiding Bishop Michael Curry in Washington, D.C. Bishop Curry spoke at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, sharing wisdom from his book The Power of Love. He led Morning Prayers at the U.S. Capitol, continuing a tradition of worshipping with Members of Congress and Congressional staff. Following those events, Bishop Curry met privately with policymakers and legislators, speaking about the Church’s values and bringing a new lens to his call to transformative love–the Way of Love.  

As we continue our journey towards the Cross this Holy Week, we ask you to join with Bishop Curry in recognizing, and committing to, The Episcopal Church’s Way of Love. The Way of Love seeks to provide us with disciplines to enable us to together grow more deeply with Jesus Christ at the center of our lives, so we can bear witness to his way of love in and for the world. These practices - Turn – Learn – Pray – Worship – Bless – Go – Rest – call us into deeper relationship with scripture, with our neighbors, and aim to draw us closer to God. We encourage you to make use of the resources available and apply them in a way that deepens and enriches your faith and the way you inhabit the world.

We also invite you to consider how public policy advocacy fits into the Way of Love. How can we make sure that we are keeping prayer, worship, and scripture at the center of our advocacy? How can we move beyond our own comfort, to witness to the love, justice, and truth of God as Jesus calls us to do? How can we at the same time honor God’s invitation for us to dedicate time for restoration and wholeness?

In advocacy, we strive to transform a hurting world, as we remain grounded in our values, traditions, and faith. We must do so with humility, listening and learning, ensuring that we do not become arrogant or prideful. As our Civil Discourse Curriculum explains, we must remember to learn from one another in this disagreement, for the way is not always clear, and it will take all of us working together to realize God’s dream. We must carry out our advocacy with the knowledge that Christ is Risen, not yielding to cynicism or defeatism. We must sometimes accept imperfect solutions and incremental changes, even as we yearn for the fullness of God’s justice and a reconciled world.

As a member of the Episcopal Public Policy Network, we know you are committed to carry forward your values as a Christian by engaging in the ministry of public policy advocacy. Share with us how you connect your faith to your advocacy. How does the Way of Love inform your ministry? How is your advocacy different because you are an Episcopalian and a Christian? How do you hope to deepen your commitment to advocating for laws and policies that help ‘the least of these’ and protect the widow and orphan among us? In the Office of Government Relations, we will be prayerfully considering these questions ourselves. We look forward to your responses.

With blessings and peace this Holy Week,

Office of Government Relations

Last week, the Office of Government Relations had the honor of hosting Presiding Bishop Michael Curry in Washington, D.C. Bishop Curry spoke at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, sharing wisdom from his book The Power of...