Advocacy

Westminster provides a broad range of opportunities to serve through the contribution of time and material generosity. But coming from a prophetic tradition, we are taught that speaking-out against injustice and speaking-up for the powerless is part of our Christian walk. As such we aim to serve God and neighbor by addressing those in public office with our hopes and concerns for policy changes which impact the lives of all God’s people. Speaking-up in hope for our neighbors and God’s planet is a non-partisan service opportunity. All are invited to take part.

If you are interested in learning more about advocacy, contact Burt Rothenberger

 

Gun Violence Prevention

As Westminster continues its education and discussion on preventing gun violence, here are some upcoming events and links to resources.  Please take a look at the resources and consider joining with us at the events listed below. 

RECENT EVENTS:

Orlando Shooting: to make your voice known in Washington, click here for a sample letter which you may personalize. Click here for the addresses of representatives and senators and here for a list of representatives by municipality.

April 3rd Panel Discussion: What an amazing event!  The seven-person panel discussed a variety of issues on gun violence prevention and answered questions from the roughly 100 people who attended.  People commented most favorably on the expertise of the panel members, as well as how much they appreciated hearing different points of view.  It is our hope that by presenting different voices, listening to each other, and committing to work together for a solution, we can all become more thoughtful in discerning proper steps toward preventing fun violence in our society.  Click here to see comments on the panel discussion and suggested next steps from those attending.  Click here to view the full panel video. Add your comments and suggestions by emailing Ann Hatfield.

 

INFORMATION RESOURCES:

Everytown for Gun Safety is a movement of Americans working together to end gun violence and build safer communities. The movement includes Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

CeaseFirePA is working in communities across Pennsylvania to build support from the ground up for reforms to reduce gun violence, stop the flow of illegal guns into our communities and keep guns out of the hands of those who should not have them.

Gun Violence, Gospel Values: Mobilizing in Response to God’s Call is the 2010 resolution adopted by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly as a social witness policy statement for guiding churches as they discuss the gun violence issue.

The Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research is engaged in scholarly research, policy analysis and agenda-setting public discourse. Their goal is to bring public health expertise and perspectives to the complex policy issues related to gun violence prevention.

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia: Center for Injury Research and Prevention contains gun violence statistics from scientific literature showing the substantial risk of exposure to firearm injury and death faced by children.

Choose Welcome

A new Advocacy subcommittee first gathered in December to explore opportunities for our Westminster Presbyterian congregation to make a Christian response to both the refugee crisis that has left more than 19 million people homeless and the rise in the U.S. of xenophobia, especially against Muslims.  Our initial efforts include:

  • Providing opportunities for thoughtful consideration of the issues with speakers on such topics as the history of the current conflicts; Islam in the U.S.; and the world-wide refugee crisis.
  • Joining with other faith-based groups for respectful discussion of the issues through book groups and through activities for our youth.
  • Using the church's social media tools to help our members educate themselves on the issues.
  • Partnering with several other local faith groups and with Lutheran Children and Family Services to resettle refugees in our community.  The announcement that our family is on the way could come as little as two weeks before their arrival.  On the other hand, it may be several months before we get that notice.  We are looking for volunteers to ensure the refugee family feels safe, welcomed, and cared for in their critical early days.  Contact Ann Hatfield  or Laura Gruen to volunteer.

Information Resources about Refugee Resettlement

PCUSA Statement on Refugees 

West Chester Area Refugee Resettlement Project

Unitarian Church of West Chester

Communicating Across Boundaries Site

Lutheran Children and Family Services

Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia

Congolese Refugees Video

Video of Refugees in Lancaster

Why Jesus: Loving Presbyterians Should Care About People of Other Faiths

 

 

Human Trafficking

Following up on our education from the talks by Senator Dinniman and Delaware County A.D.A. Pearl Kim, we have gathered these links for the organizations which were mentioned during their sessions. Please take a look:

Covenant House -- This organization advocates for and helps homeless kids. In conjunction with this they understand the link human trafficking has to homelessness in youth and are working to address it.

Truckers Against Trafficking -- This group recognizes that truckers, the transportation industry and travelers are in a unique position to fight trafficking.

Dawn's Place: A Home for Dawn -- This shelter for adult women who were victims of sex trafficking works locally to provide a place for recovery.

Chester County Anti-Human Trafficking (CCAT) -- This is a local Chester County Group which together with Senator Dinniman has been advocating for laws and programs to combat human trafficking here in our corner of the world. Please note that there are groups like this in other local areas. If you are not from Chester County, you can potentially find a group local to your area by doing a google search on "local anti human trafficking coalition" along with your county and state.

Shared Hope International -- This organization fights sex trafficking of children internationally and here in the U.S., too.  Go here for more information.  

Other Human Trafficking resources worth checking out:

  • Polaris Project - A leading organization in the global fight against human trafficking and modern-day slavery. This site provides valuable and comprehensive information about domestic and international slavery issues as well as opportunities for action.
  • PCUSA Human Trafficking Round Table - Learn about the conversation happening in our denomination in regards to combating human trafficking.
  • Act 105 - This link will take you to Senator Andy Dinniman's website. It is not meant as a a political endorsement but provides valuable information about what is happening in Pennsylvania state government and how you might choose to be involved.

And, watch these YouTube videos:

  • Listen to Lisa Kristine, a photographer who documents indigenous peoples around the world.  She discusses her experiences documenting the victims of human trafficking in varied locations around the globe while she shares moving photographs of her forays into their world. This TEDx talk from 2012 gives a good overview of the worldwide problem of modern human slavery.
  • What does modern slavery look like in our own back yard and what can we do to combat it? Listen to Rachel Lloyd, an activist and advocate for victims of the sex trade in New York, talk about the experiences of young women who come through her NGO, Girls Educational and Mentoring Services.  Hear what she has done to help these women recover as well as advocate for changes in the law to both thwart this form of human trafficking and support recovery for the victims.

Here's how to identify possible victims of human trafficking that you may encounter every day without knowing it.