ELCA Advocacy works to connect ELCA members with advocacy initiatives and to provide opportunities for them to give voice to their faith through these initiatives. One such opportunity is the ELCA Advocacy Convening, which takes place in Washington, D.C., every 18 months.
The ELCA Advocacy Convening is a chance for bishops and ELCA members who are leaders in advocacy ministries in their communities to receive briefings from experts on issues of interest; learn about the role of the church in public life; receive training in advocacy skills; and meet with members of Congress and the administration.
Marquitta Smith, a member of Hephatha Lutheran Church in Milwaukee, attended the Advocacy Convening in 2015. When she was growing up, Smith said her family experienced periods of homelessness. One place she always felt at home was at Hephatha, where she got involved in a summer work program for kids that she now supervises.
“We do all types of things to give back to the community like serve lunches, plant flowers and give food to the homeless,” Smith said.
Homelessness is an important issue for Smith, having lived it personally and witnessing it in her community today, which is the poorest zip code in the state of Wisconsin. “My church is involved in a lot of advocacy issues in our community, but homelessness and poverty are on the top of my list.”
Smith was able to talk about homelessness and other issues concerning people in Wisconsin with members of Congress when she attended the ELCA Advocacy Convening.
“It was a dream come true,” said Smith, who is also a member of the ELCA Homeless and Justice Network. “I never thought in a million years I’d get to go to Washington, D.C., and get noticed for the work I was doing. It means the world to me to be able to be a part of this work with my church.”