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Eastern Washington Legislative Conference to be held on Jan. 22

Eastern Washington Legislative Conference to be held on Jan. 22

The 2022 Eastern Washington Legislative Conference will explore some of the issues coming to the 2022 Washington State Legislature. It will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 22, on Zoom. Virtual displays by nonprofit groups will begin at 8 a.m. before the conference and are open at 1:30 p.m. after the conference.

Rev. Pat Conroy

The keynote speaker, the Rev. Pat Conroy recently retired as chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives and now serves as campus minister at Gonzaga University. He will speak on the theme, “Mobilizing for Our Future,” looking at the political divisiveness of these times and offering words of hope based on his experiences in Congress and previous work teaching and serving with the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus.

According to a press release, an interfaith panel with representatives of four faiths will discuss how their faith communities mobilize people to act on issues, current priorities, blocks to mobilizing and where they need solidarity. Anastasia Wendlinder of the Gonzaga University Religious Studies Department will moderate the panel. Panelists are Melissa Opel of the Spokane Buddhist Temple, Jeremy Press Taylor of the Spokane Jewish community, Naghmana Sherazi of Muslims for Community Action and Support, and Benjamin Watson, pastor of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Two workshops on the climate crisis will include one led by Jerry White, Spokane Riverkeeper, Larry Luton, 350 Spokane, and Rowena Pineda, Washington State Department of Health environmental advisor. The afternoon session on environmental legislation will be led by Jessica Zimmerle of Earth Ministry/Washington Interfaith Power and Light.

A workshop repeated on affordable housing and homelessness will be led by Ben Stuckart of the Spokane Low Income Housing Consortium, Terri Anderson of the Tenants Union of Washington and Julia Garcia of Jewels Helping Hands.

For a Food Security workshop, Eric Williams of Second Harvest and Jon Edmundson of Northwest Harvest will lead two sessions.

Workshops on refugees and immigration, include Kevin Benson of World Relief who will discuss Afghani refugees in Spokane in the morning, and a session on advocacy and issues at the border with Mexico.

In a morning session on human trafficking, Erin Williams of Lutheran Community Services Northwest will discuss her agency’s work on trafficking, and in the afternoon, Margo Hill of the Spokane Tribe and Eastern Washington University will share on issues of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.

To discuss “Securing our Democracy,” Kristine Hoover of the Gonzaga University Institute for Hate Studies will offer a morning presentation. On schools and racism, Nikki Lockwood of the Spokane School Board and Oscar Harris of the Family and Community Engagement Office for Spokane Public Schools will give the afternoon session on the board’s equity resolution, community engagement to create it and other work.

Mid-day, there will be a “Legislative Briefing” on bills that are priorities for the faith communities in the 2022 Washington State Legislature. Presenters are Kristin Ang, the Faith Action Network’s new policy engagement director; Mario Villanueva and Donna Christensen of the Washington State Catholic Conference and Jessica Zimmerle of Earth Ministry/WAIPL

The event is organized and sponsored this year by The Fig Tree, Catholic Charities Eastern Washington, Faith Action Network, Earth Ministry, Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, Sisters of Providence and the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane.

With the event online, participants must register ahead for the link.

To register, call 509-535-1813, email event@thefigtree.org or visit https://secure.givelively.org/event/the-fig-tree/mobilizing-for-our-future/2022-legislative-conference.

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