Episcopal Advocacy in Nevada (LEAN)
Advocacy in Nevada
took a historic step forward in March, 2014. That’s when LEAN,
Lutheran-Episcopal Advocacy in Nevada, was officially created. Lutherans
and Episcopalians have collaborated in many ways in the past, but this new
joint venture to do advocacy is the first of its kind anywhere. It is the
result of conversations between former Bishop Mark Hanson of the ELCA and
Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts-Schori of the Episcopal Church in
America. Many will recall that Bishop Jefferts-Schori was the Bishop of
the Episcopal Diocese of Nevada before moving up to nationwide office.
While in Nevada, Bishop Katherine learned of the work of Lutheran Advocacy
Ministry in Nevada and of the network of Lutheran State Public Policy offices
around the country. Episcopalians have a nationwide advocacy
network to address federal legislation, just as Lutherans do, but advocacy at
the state level is new to them. Bishop Katherine and Bishop Hanson were
aware of Religious Alliance in Nevada (RAIN), an entity that exists nowhere
else. This collaboration of five mainline denominations has really
amplified the voice of the faith community on behalf of those who cannot speak
for themselves. The new Lutheran Bishop, Elizabeth Eaton, is now working
with Bishop Katherine, to launch Lutheran-Episcopal Advocacy in Nevada.
It is hoped that LEAN will become a model for other states.
LEAN will base its
policy positions on church teachings, just as LAMN always did. It will
have all the position papers and declarations of the Episcopal Church, as well
as the ELCA Social Statements, to work from. LEAN will use these rich
resources in a slightly different way than LAMN did. Each Lutheran and
Episcopalian parish will have LEAN representatives, called “Communicators,” who
will listen to the concerns of the parishioners, lead discussion on issues, and
carry the concerns forward to the LEAN Board. This is a more “grass
roots” model, and it is hoped that lively discussion and greater involvement
In 2005, Bishop Mark
Hanson published a book titled, “Faithful and Courageous: Christians in
Unsettling Times.” In the book Bishop Mark talks about how the Bible’s
guidance on personal behavior is pretty understandable, but when it comes to
public life, the issues can be very complex, and today’s society has few
absolutes. We face ethical dilemmas that were unheard of by our forbears.
In this setting, we are called to be communities of ethical discernment.
This means prayerful searching for and listening to God’s direction. We
hope the Communicators will facilitate the process, and that the advocacy
agenda that comes out of it will represent both consensus and God’s will.
The need for
discernment was reiterated recently when Presiding Bishop Eaton reminded the
Conference of Bishops that it is critical for church leaders to “understand
ourselves as communities of spiritual discernment. It is not just about
The website for LEAN is still under
construction, but soon you will be able to go to www.leanforjustice.org,
for updates on this exciting new Advocacy effort.