Since 2003, people of faith from all traditions and walks of life have gathered to learn, worship, and speak out, on issues that impact us all, at Ecumenical Advocacy Days (EAD).
This year’s event is April 24-27 in Washington, DC. The theme of the gathering is “Imagine! God’s Earth and People Restored,” and will focus on the intersection of the climate crisis and economic injustice. Registration is now open.
The first two days of the conference are filled with plenary sessions, keynote speakers, and a variety of workshops. On the third day, attendees visit Capitol Hill and meet with their Members of Congress advocating for the causes discussed and championed throughout the gathering. The event ends with a shared worship service.
This structure provides a powerful experience for all participants – whether its a first step into advocacy or a supplement to decades of experience. “It can be lonely doing activism from home, like writing a letter to your Congressperson or figuring out how to take on a big issue,” explains Krista Johnson Weicksel, Associate for Global Advocacy and Education at Global Ministries and member of the EAD planning team. “But being in a room with 700 others helps you feel less isolated working for peace and justice.”
Disciples have long been active in Ecumenical Advocacy Days, and Global Ministries was an early leader in establishing the organization and annual event. At the 2019 gathering, General Minister and President Rev. Terri Hord Owens preached at the final interdenominational worship service. Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, pastor at Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, NC, and Co-Chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call For Moral Revival, was the keynote speaker in 2016.
At the 2020 event, Global Ministries will provide leadership for a plenary panel discussion on the global impacts of climate change, where conference participants will hear from local leaders around the world, including Global Ministries’ partner organizations, about the impacts of climate change in their context and creative solutions to combat climate change.
This year’s focus on climate change and economic injustice is of particular importance to Global Ministries, explains director of communications Beth Guy. “These are the things our partners care about. If they tell us these crises are urgent needs, then we should be responsive to those calls – that’s our mission to work, listen, and share in life together. Advocating for change is a way to publicly be in partnership together, to say ‘We hear you, we trust you, and we’re here to walk alongside you.’”
There’s a clear value to holding this kind of justice-oriented event ecumenically. “We couldn’t organize something like this ourselves,” explains Johnson Weicksel. “Ecumenical Advocacy Days is more powerful because we do it together…It’s powerful to hear people speak to big issues from a variety of traditions, and it creates an opportunity to focus on all we have in common, instead of divisions.”
That ecumenical focus is also a natural fit for Disciples. “If we’re going to say, ‘everyone at the table,’ we need to be at the table,” says Guy. “If everyone’s coming to this table then we need to be there.”