The annual Ecumenical Advocacy Conference for Global Peace and Justice in Washington D.C. was well attended this year with over one thousand participants from many faith traditions and interested participants. The theme “A World Uprooted: Responding to Migrants, Refugees and Displaced People” contributed to the outpouring of voices across communities and religious organizations. It is no wonder for we live in a time of “upheaval and uprootedness,” a time of the largest refugee crisis since World War II. Across the board, there is so much need within our world today. Each year, millions of people cross the borders in search of a better life.
This year was different for it focused on a theme that has been silent for years, “white supremacy ideologies,” which in turn continue to impede the fight for justice and peace. As a result, one can also note the increase levels of racism, sexism, Islamophobia, and other forms of discrimination in our communities. This theme carried voice throughout the conference.
The workshops were plentiful and dynamic focusing on a variety of important issues confronting our world of today. This provided opportunities to learn, gather information, and respond to the particular needs. These sessions covered important issues within a vast number of countries including Africa, Middle East, Asia, Philippines, and the U.S. Examples included testimonies from survivors of torture in Asia; Raising Voices against Human Trafficking; the plight of Sudanese migrants forced into slavery in Libya; as well as the ongoing situation of Syrian refugees; the Palestinian Refugee Crisis; Domestic problems within the United States from Charlottesville to Charleston; and the Climate Witness Project.
The conference concluded with a Sunday evening gathering remembering the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King.
Monday was the time for participants to travel to Capitol Hill and meet with their congressional leaders. The statement presented was “We calling on Congress to act with compassion and exercise fiscal responsibility by redirecting funding used for deportations, detention and border militarization, and invest instead in our communities and support for refugees while increasing poverty-focused and peacebuilding international assistance to address the root causes of forced migration.”
Honorably Retired Rev. Dr. Barbara Floryshak served as a called pastor at Tribes Hill Presbyterian Church and currently serves part-time as Chaplain at the Albany VA. Barbara likes to “keep going” and welcomes opportunities to serve and stay active. She hopes to never have to “retire.”
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