EPPN News: Congress Preview, Inaugural Sermons and More

January 14, 2009

I hope you had a pleasant New Year's celebration and a Joyous Epiphany! 2009 and the 111th Congress are off to a running start here in Washington, DC. We have a few announcements and updates for you before we jump into our regular schedule of action alerts. Thank you for being a part of the EPPN! -- Mary Getz

Preview of the 111th Congress
The new Congress was sworn into office last week and is already hard at work, and there are just 5 days left until our new president is sworn into office. This promises to be a very busy legislative session. The staff of the Office of Government Relations has put together a brief summary of what they expect to see. You can read that summary here.
Three of the new members sworn in last week are Episcopalians: Kurt Schrader of Oregon, Parker Griffith of Alabama, and Gary Peters of Michigan. If any of you know them, we hope you'll share that with us.

What Title/Prefix Options Are Available?
This past fall we began requiring you to fill the "Prefix" field on our action alert pages. A number of Senate offices began requiring this field for messages to be received smoothly by their constituent mail systems. Part of this requirement is that the fields be one of the standard five prefixes – Mr. Ms. Miss, Mrs., or Dr. Many of you let us know that you found this frustrating. As a result, this spring we will be editing this field to include church related titles on a trial basis. However, this may cause some quirks and challenges in the transmission of your messages to your members of congress, so please be patient as we try to remedy these technology challenges. You can update your prefix here to be ready for our next action alert.

Inaugural Week Sermons Being Collected
The Library of Congress is collecting audio and video recordings of sermons and orations that comment on the significance of the inauguration of 2009. This is similar to other projects they have done on other historic moments. To be accepted into the collection, the recordings must be of sermons and orations that were delivered to congregations and other audiences between Friday, January 16 and Sunday, January 25, 2009. This collection will become one of many oral history and spoken-word collections at the American Folklife Center that preserve American's accounts of, and reactions to, important cultural events. You can find the details for submitting your sermons here.

Interning in the Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations
We are currently accepting applications for interns for Spring 2009 and Summer 2009. Interns will have the opportunity to work closely with our grassroots coordinator and policy analysts, provide administrative support, contribute to policy research, work with ecumenical and secular coalitions, and attend Congressional committee hearings. The internship experience provides interns with a general understanding of Congressional procedure as well as how staff and members of the Episcopal Public Policy Network effectively advocate the positions of the General Convention and Executive Council of the Episcopal Church. You can check out our "Interns Have More Fun" photo album on Facebook (you will need to be a facebook member to view this). And get more information about applying here.

Upcoming Lenten Series – The Church in the World: Looking to the Future
Lent is a season of reflection and preparation. With that in mind the EPPN will again have a Lenten series focused on resources, including educational materials, around key public policy issues as they relate to the Church. During the last two years, the EPPN has targeted its Lenten education series on a single issue that we thought would both be a large advocacy effort and one on which we had done relatively little work in the past. With a new Congress in session and a new President, things in DC are moving fast and furiously, and there are many policy issues being considered. This year our series will spotlight issues following the theme The Church in the World: Looking to the Future. This series will introduce some of the key policy areas that the EPPN will focus on in the 111th Congress including health care reform, foreign aid restructuring, Native American poverty, energy and environment, and immigration reform.