The keynote speaker was Mr. Rob Tasman, Director of the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops, who represents the Louisiana bishops at the State Capitol during legislative sessions focusing on bills which involve such issues as social justice and family life.
Mr. Tasman spoke of the need for advocacy and why and how the Church can and should be involved. He spoke of formerly being an "introvert" but the needs he saw necessitated his becoming an "extrovert."
Here is a link to a PDF of his power point presentation from Monday; and this link is for the PDF of his power point presentation from Tuesday.
Our keynote speaker was Mr. Rob Tasman
Director of the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops
Monday - Judicatory Panel
Bp Michael Duca (RC Diocese of Baton Rouge); Bp Cynthia F. Harvey (UMC-LA); and Rev. Dr. Timothy Jones (BM&E)
These three LIC Judicatory Leaders spoke of advocacy efforts and accomplishments in their respective denominations with discussion following afterwards. Bishop Duca stated that Advocacy is ACTION and sometimes action creates advocacy because you see the symptom is reflective of a much bigger societal need that demands to be addressed. Catholic charities and relief services work to target needs and causal issues, citing the wisdom in teaching a person to fish, rather than only giving them fish for a single meal. The Diocese of Baton Rouge includes a lot of rural areas and their needs are different from those who live in the inner city.
Dr. Jones of Shreveport spoke of the difficulties in even getting a bank to allow them to build a church in what is considered a high crime area. He noted the fact that their church community seems always to have more Faith than Money; yet God always provides (his CPA is often amazed! His church has baptized several members of the Cedar Grove Gang who because of underlying issues of poverty and racism rioted in that neighborhood of Shreveport 30 years ago. His church requires its members to be truly active. Each January they are given a form asking, “This year, how will you Grow, Serve, & Care?” and “How well did you do these things this past year?” He noted Black churches have a “gumbo of issues” to address including children born to single mothers with inadequate supports.
Bishop Harvey spoke of covering needs in multiple areas as well. She related an experience with an undocumented migrant worker like so many others who live in constant fear of being deported. This parent is concerned she will be separated from her child, family and relatives, if she comes into contact with immigration authorities. Advocacy by Faith Leaders and Church communities that have reached out to the undocumented is helping. There is much more that needs to be done to help those crossing borders to seek a better life for themselves and their families.
Tuesday - Legislative Panel
Senator Dan W. “Blade” Morrish, Representative John “Johnny” E. Guinn, and Representative Mark Abraham
Mr. Rob Tasman moderated the session, asking a few questions and allowing response time and additional commentary.
Senator Morrish said that most of the members in his District are practicing their faith, which helps in many areas of the legislative process. The faith community is very important and essential to the productivity of our country and the well-being of its citizens. He said that emails that are NOT from his District generally do not get much attention. He noted that if you want to communicate a message or a need/concern, you should start with legislators from your home area; and then you can try branching further out. He also said that FORM emails that come in from multiple persons - all saying the exact same thing-- are a waste of time. In his view petitions are generally not taken seriously. He reads individual personalized emails and letters but also listens to groups who are on the same page, speaking in one voice. As far as lobbyists, he said the 12 disciples were lobbyists – spreading the Word of the Lord, (though one turned out to be of the devil). Constituents do need to individually express their voice & opinion.
Representative Guinn said our country was founded on faith, and democracy demands faith. He said we are all Christians here and there is only One God. Your legislators need your prayers! He said that inside the legislature it is a crazy place with people demonstrating varying degrees of sanity! There are just too many bills that get filed (approx. 3k per year). It is very important that you put moral law into the equation. God’s law supersedes man’s law. The worst thing is for good people to not say or do ANYTHING. The majority of our state is not wealthy, and a lot of wisdom comes from ordinary people struggling to make a life for themselves and their families. He said that many of the lobbyists are “paid guns” – earning extraordinary sums. It is a big money game they play. You need to learn and know who is credible; you can’t trust them all. You’ve got the needy and the greedy. Representative Guinn is the father of ten children, and he has learned that you have to live on a budget; he says he may be broke but he’ll never be lonely! But at the state level, CPAs can make numbers look different and 3 different CPAs can give you three different answers on the same budget.
Representative Abraham assured everyone that many of your legislators DO PRAY. He said it is a pleasure to get off of political matters and get on faith matters. He is a part of a legislative prayer group and faith and prayer does help his decision-making processes. Many different advocacy groups put papers in front of legislators, often with decidedly personal agendas. There is a process where you can put a note with your paper & ask for your Rep. to speak with you personally about this and sometimes they can or will meet you at the back of the room for a brief minute or two, wherein you should be clear and to the point on the issue. He listens to faith groups and sometimes they sway his opinion. For instance, after Family Forum and others convinced him that it would be a great detriment to the Christian private schools to lose the tuition deduction, he introduced the Abraham amendment to a bill, to avoid the potential disallowing of the deduction for private schools. He said that you learn to pay attention to those who speak the truth.
Rep. Abraham also spoke of a program called “Impact for Positive Change” that has been in Calcasieu Parish for over 10 years. Rev. Braylon Harris of Mt. Olive Baptist Church is the Director of this program. They gather four “Influencers” out of each grade from 6th to 10th grade. 70% of these children are “negative influencers” and they are teaching them to be positive influencers instead. They can’t preach/teach religion in this program, but the children’s lives start showing the effects of moral values and principles. Rep. Abraham would like to see this program instituted all over our state.
Some of the Business Session Activities:
Dr. Cory Sparks, Chair of the Stewardship of the Environment Commission gave updates on environmental work including the Faith & Creation Care Conference held earlier this year and prayer events surrounding this 2018 Year Of Prayer For Cancer Alley. He also reminded all of the issues facing our coast and wetlands and provided a bulletin insert for St. Francis of Assisi day which could be used in church services at any time in October.) As always, we are all encouraged to protect and care for our environment in any way possible.
|Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: This is held annually on January 18th - 25th. Every church in our membership is encouraged to take the lead in planning the 2019 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity services in your respective areas. This week of January provides a wonderful opportunity to cross denominational, racial, and other divisional lines.
Fr. Dan Krutz; Mr. Samuel Rottman; and Mr. Rob Gorman -
all are leaders in the Bread or Stones Initiative
For the last two years, Mr. Samuel Rottman has been the Coordinator for the LIC's BREAD OR STONES anti-poverty initiative for children. We are sorry to report that we have not been able to obtain grants to continue the funding of his full-time employment. However, Samuel does plan to still work with the program on a limited contractual basis. The program will continue! Thank you, Samuel, for your dedicated and energetic jumpstart to this program!
Under Samuel's leadership, the Bread or Stones program has grown to a membership of 88 churches! Thanks be to God!
Read Samuel's report here.
Here is a link to the Bread or Stones website. We encourage churches to join the program as "Covenant Churches," through simple commitments to pray and seek God's will on what they can do as individuals and collectively as a united group. Our churches remain as the first and most lasting line of defense/support for these children .