SALEM — Despite a downpour, marchers took to the state Capitol steps as part of the 2017 Interfaith Advocacy Day Feb 7.
The crowd of more than 450 was welcomed to the building by state lawmakers Sen. Jackie Winters (R-Salem) and Sen. Sara Gelser (D-Corvallis).
The gathering kicked off the second half of the advocacy day at which point attendees went on to meet with their state legislators.
The event was sponsored by religious groups from across the state including the Archdiocese of Portland, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, the Islamic Society of Greater Portland, the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland, and the Oregon Center for Christian Voices, among others.
Attendees didn’t go into their legislative meetings empty-handed. Rather, they’d spent the morning learning about policy issues and collecting advocacy tips at St. Mark Lutheran Church, just blocks from the Capitol building.
Following a morning keynote address by Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, the group broke off into specific issue briefings which included housing, hunger, wage theft, health care, gun violence prevention and climate justice.
“Regardless of our individual beliefs or secular beliefs, we must ascribe to a higher standard of moral and ethical values that are often found in the tenants of faith,” said Rosenblum in her keynote address to the crowd.
For many in the group, the advocacy day was their first time participating in advocacy. Mesheal Heyman hadn’t done any advocacy work since she was in college two decades ago. But she was motivated to get involved.
“I feel like I need to take some action, given the current political environment we’re, in,” says Heyman, a first time attendee of the Interfaith Advocacy Day. “I thought this was a good place to start with my faith and the social justice issues that we have going on.”
Fourteen Catholic parishes were represented at the event: St. André Bessette Parish in Portland, St. Ignatius Parish in Portland, St. Juan Diego Parish in Portland, St. Henry Parish in Portland, Ascension Parish in Portland, St. Rose of Lima in Portland, St. Francis Parish in Sherwood, St. Pius Parish in Portland, Holy Trinity Parish in Beaverton, St. Frederic Parish in St. Helens, St. Anthony Parish in Tigard, Queen of Peace Parish in Salem, St. Andrew Parish in Portland and St. Paul Parish in Silverton
“We are of this world,” says Matt Cato, director of Life, Justice and Peace ministry for the Archdiocese of Portland, who helped to organize the day’s event. He urges advocacy and voting to help shape the world and create God’s kingdom of heaven on Earth.
“We need to be a voice for the voiceless,” he continues.
“We’re all here, no matter what faith, to articulate these positions, to help the poor and the vulnerable.”