AUSTIN - Advocates work for the best interest of all, the voiceless, or marginalized, Kathryn Freeman, director of public policy for the Christian Life Commission, shared with attendees at CLC Advocacy Day.
The event was hosted on April 9, at the First United Methodist Church in Austin, across the street from the State Capitol building. Listen to a review of the day here:
Executive Director David Hardage was in attendance for the day, giving a welcome to Advocacy Day attendees. Hardage was encouraged by the response for the day, noting, "Anybody who is here who isn't familiar with the CLC will learn more about who they are and what they do," he said. The day also provides opportunities for Texas Baptist representatives to be at the Capitol to meet their representatives personally and to advocate for policy issues we are passionate about.
A wide array of diverse attendees received an advocacy and policy briefing in the morning, led by Freeman and a panel of experts on policy issues such as predatory lending, vouchers and immigration.
The discussion panel featured Dr. Charles Luke, Pastors for Texas Children Director of Development/Coalition for Public Schools, addressing school vouchers; Ann Baddour, Texas Appleseed Fair Financial Services Program Director, addressing payday lending; and Brenda Kirk Evangelical Immigration Roundtable Church Mobilizer, addressing immigration.
"Today, we are kingdom representatives as we gather, build relationships and find opportunities to speak on what is good and right," Freeman said.
"We want today to be a first interaction between you and your legislators, she continued. "Let this be a long-term relationship."
Being advised on policy topics and networking together proved to be great preparation for the attendees.
"What's so great about advocacy day are the networking opportunities, to see other pastors and other churches in Texas Baptist life that are passionate about the same things we are," said Katie Murray, a Christian advocacy specialist at Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas. "Texas is a big state, so the more we will work together and collaborate with one another, the better it will be."
During lunch, a special panel spoke on the topic "Let Justice Roll Down: African-American Perspectives on Justice." Panelists included Michael Evans, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Mansfield, Delvin Atchison, pastor of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Waco and Joseph Parker, pastor of David Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Austin.
"There are several issues we can talk about as African American pastors," Evans said as he began the dialogue. "No one or two issues are similar. It's important to know that in regard to African American church, our churches have our own given issues, our own social ethos, our own stories. It colors what is important. A lot is based upon where your church is located."
Discussing current racial injustices in the U.S., Parker shared, "in my mind justice is not satisfied until there is repentance, restoration and renewal."
Listen to a podcast of the entire panel discussion here:
Attendees spent the afternoon visiting legislative offices in the Capitol and discussing topics such as predatory lending. A reception was also held with several state representatives in attendance.
CLC Advocacy Day served as an opportunity for Texas Baptists to receive education on public policy initiatives of the CLC and network with legislators to help facilitate long-term relationships. The CLC is headquartered in Austin and the staff are available to visit with Texas Baptists on policy ideas, concerns and strategies. Contact Kathryn Freeman at kathryn.freeman [at] texasbaptists.org or (512) 473-2288.