Advocates’ Corner

SAMPLE LETTER ON ISRAEL-PALESTINE

Dear Member of Congress,

I am writing to ask that you strongly support efforts to bring about a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in Israel-Palestine.

All parties should be held accountable to their previous commitments and to international law. Palestinian leaders can ensure that progress continues to be made in the areas of capacity-building and security. Israel should extend and expand its settlement freeze and immediately cease the demolition of Palestinian homes, which undercuts the prospect of peace negotiations. Israel should also grant freedom of movement for the people of Gaza, and allow full resumption of exports from the Gaza Strip.

A just, secure and peaceful future is clearly in the best interests of Israelis, Palestinians and the United States and I urge you to work toward this goal.

Sincerely,

[Name and address]

This letter is also available online at washingtonmemo.org/newsletter/fall10.

STORIES OF CONGREGATIONAL ADVOCACY

Virginia Mennonites Visit Capitol Hill

A group of seven Mennonites from the Shenandoah Valley traveled to Washington, D.C. on August 23 to share with their legislators their learnings from a trip to Israel-Palestine in May. Staff from the MCC Washington Office set up the meetings and accompanied them on their visits. One congressional staffer noted [that it is important for him to hear from groups like this.]

Advocating for the DREAM Act

Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) graduate Isabel Castillo traveled to Washington, DC in July to urge passage of the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which offers legal status to undocumented persons who were brought to the United States as children.

Isabel migrated to the United States when she was six years old along with her family. In 2007 she graduated magna cum laude from EMU with a degree in social work. The DREAM Act would grant legal status to others like Isabel who lack documentation to work in the United States.

“Two of Senator Reid’s staff cried when we told them our stories. We don’t want tears or sympathy anymore, we want action,” said Isabel to a Harrisonburg, Va. newspaper. For more information visit emu.edu/news/isabel-castillo. Resources on the DREAM Act are available at washington.mcc.org/issues/immigration/resources.

God’s Love Has No Borders

In response to the growing national and local conversation about immigration, First Mennonite Church (Lincoln, Neb.) has created banners bearing the message, “God’s Love Has No Borders: Immigration Reform Must Be Just” (based on buttons developed by the Peace and Justice Support Network of Mennonite Church USA).

First Mennonite is beginning a six-month immigration emphasis organized by the congregation’s Economic Justice Team. “Our hope is that it will remind people of their own immigrant heritage and of the Bible’s teachings which are often forgotten as this issue is debated,” said Pastor David Orr.

Banners are available in both English and Spanish. Purchase a banner from fmclincoln.org/immigrationbanner.

Staff Updates

In August Theo Sitther traveled to Haiti as part of an MCC advocacy delegation. The delegation visited with partners and communities that were affected by the January 12 earthquake. Theo is available to speak about Haiti. To request a speaker from the MCC Washington Office please contact us at mccwash@mcc.org.

This past summer we enjoyed the contributions of three interns: Grace Hercyk (Harrisonburg, Va.), Mark Massey (Columbus, Ohio) and Janelle Tupper (Cheverly, Md.).

UPCOMING EVENTS

Stand Up and Take Action Against Debt and Global Poverty

On September 17-19, Jubilee USA Network invites congregations around the United States to pray and take action for global economic justice. President Obama and other world leaders will be meeting September 20-22 at a United Nations summit to assess progress on the Millennium Development Goals. Find out more at jubileeusa.org.

Peace Sunday 2010

Mennonite Church USA, along with Mennonite World Conference, invites congregations to celebrate Peace Sunday on September 19, or another Sunday of their choosing. “Fear Not: For I Am With You” is this year’s theme. Visit mennoniteusa.org/peace for worship materials and other resources.

High School Essay Contest

The MCC Washington Office invites submissions for our 12th annual high school essay contest. This year’s grand prize is $500 with three regional winners each receiving $100. Students can choose to write on immigration, Palestine-Israel, or U.S. military spending. All essays must be submitted by December 17. More information is available at washington.mcc.org.

Upcoming Seminars

MCC Washington and MCC East Coast are sponsoring a workshop in Harrisonburg, Va. before School for Leadership Training (SLT) at Eastern Mennonite Seminary. The workshop, on Monday, January 17, is called “To See Like You See: Talking about Difficult Political Issues in Congregations,” and is open to anyone attending SLT as well as others.

Then, prior to Pastors’ Week at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Ind. the MCC Washington Office will help lead a Leadership Clinic. “Wise as Serpents, Innocent as Doves: Navigating Social Policy Issues in Our Churches,” will take place on Monday, January 24. Information about both events is at washington.mcc.org/advocate/seminars.

Upcoming Dates

Sept 17-19

Stand Up and Take Action

December 17

High school essay contest deadline

January 17

Pre-conference workshop, School for Leadership Training

January 24

Leadership clinic at AMBS

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