By Alicia Bateman
Over the first weekend of April, members of various Christian churches gathered in Washington, D.C., to learn about and advocate for political action. This national gathering, called Ecumenical Advocacy Days (EAD), is a three-day conference headed by leaders of many Christian denominations and attended by Christians from across the United States. This year’s theme was “Troubling the Waters for the Healing of the World,” and participants were encouraged to stir up “good trouble” to initiate positive change.
The gathering included sermons, music, panel discussions, workshops, and time to connect with organizations and working groups that are advocating for social change both nationally and globally. There was significant emphasis on cross-denominational conversations, as well as gatherings within church groups.
The conference had two main policy foci, one domestic and one international. The national agenda was for support of the “For the People Act” that focuses on voting rights, campaign finances, and ethics. The act works to protect civil rights and self-determination of American voters by removing barriers to voter participation, including increasing accessibility to polling places as well as strengthening and modernizing voter registration. It also aims to implement fair and just election oversight and restore the voting rights of returning citizens.
The international policy focus was to raise support for the “Global Fragility and Violence Reduction Act.” This act has bipartisan support and requires the federal government to work in conjunction with global civil society to develop a 10-year strategy to reduce global violence. Senate Resolution 80 also was supported, which would establish a Human Rights Commission in the Senate.
On the final day of the conference, attendees took to Capitol Hill and met with the offices of their senators and congresspeople. These meetings allowed participants to have a direct conversation with the offices that represent them on issues that they care deeply about. Members of the advocacy group were able to share stories about how each piece of legislation would create a positive impact for them, the country, and the wider world.
While not everyone in the offices held the same views regarding the policy agenda, it was important to start such conversations and let them know that these issues are important and require action. Just as members of many denominations gathered to worship, learn, and share during this conference, we must encourage similar collaboration in our government to create “good trouble” for the healing of our world.