I am enjoying every aspect of this course on Faith & Public Policy. The United Methodist Church’s Washington, DC, office staff are our official hosts and facilitators. The UMC building is located directly across from the Supreme Court building and within walking distance of the United States Capital and a number of Senate and congressional office buildings. One can sense and feel electricity in the air as political activist and social justice change agents, congressional staffers, community grassroots organizations and everyday citizens continue to work on political issues and concerns that are of utmost important to all Americans. I was particularly struck by the sheer amount of young professionals working in every conceivable areas of federal government. In spite of the 2016, election results, it was apparent that the work of the country, continues at a fast pace.
As mentioned, I have experienced many memorable learning experiences in this Faith & Public Policy Washington, DC, Immersion class. I have also had a feeling of being profoundly grateful for this very significant, sacred, and enriching opportunity for growth and personal perspective in so many ways. Some of the highlights include the following:
- Our class met with our Congresswoman Barbara Lee and got a chance to thank her personally for the awesome work that she continues to do for the 13th Congressional District. Specifically, we thanked her for her advocacy work regarding healthcare for all people, and further solicited her support, on stopping the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. We also asked the Congresswoman for her advice and support with respect to obtaining Block Grants and other urban revitalization funds to explore the possibility of using the funds to rehab and rebuild unused or boarded up properties along larges segments of International Blvd, located in East Oakland for the express purpose of housing a variety of social service programs.
- Another important highlight was sitting in on a meeting of the PICO National Network along with members of the Black and Hispanic Caucus. PNC advances a multiracial agenda on myriad issues with a moral focus as its centerpiece. PNC’s theology states “when you help the most marginalized in our society everyone thrives.” I had the privilege of hearing from a number of community based activists that work and pour their hearts into bringing attention to such disparities as healthcare, criminal justice reform, issues surrounding immigration, ICE, heartless deportations experienced by hardworking and law abiding undocumented immigrants, voter registration drives, and a variety of grass roots inspired ballot initiatives on the local, state, and federal levels of government. The PICO National Network represents over 1500 Interfaith congregations. I will definitely explore the possibility of joining our local Bay Area Chapter.