Thursday, March 25, 2010

Congratulations on Health Care Reform!

Congratulations on Health Care Reform Passing!

Thank you for your hard work! IWJ- NE is proud to have been part of the passing of health care reform for America. Our organizing and advocacy from the faith perspective helped turn the tide to get all sixty votes for the Senate Bill that was passed by the house on Sunday evening and signed into law by President Obama. Although it is not as comprehensive on affordability as we would like, it still makes historic progress in fixing our health care system to serve the people instead of insurance companies profit margins. The bill will provide coverage to 32 million uninsured, eliminate exclusion for pre-existing conditions, reducing drug costs for Seniors, and allow young people until the age of twenty six to stay on their parent’s plan.

IWJ-NE recently coordinated with Nebraska Appleseed on an action in Lincoln with our mask project that Rev. Debra McKnight help put together. Channel 7 Picked up the action

IWJ-NE in Washington DC

At the same time as the Interfaith Vigil, a small group of IWJ-NE leaders joined a larger group of Nebraskan delegates to Washington DC for Ecumenical Advocacy Days which focused on immigration issues. The conference was full of educational workshops and it was a great opportunity to network with other key national leaders.

On Sunday evening IWJ-NE joined the march for immigration reform on the National Mall with over 250,000 people. What an impressive sight to see people busing in from across the country to join this cause for just reform for those who have so often been place on the Margins. On Monday, IWJ-NE joined other Nebraskan leaders in lobbying for reform to our congress people and our Senators.

Stations of the Cross: A Migrant's Journey

On March 21 at First United Methodist Church in Omaha, over 140 individuals joined together to show support for immigrants and to call for immigration reform this year. Luis Marcos (Guatemala), Renata Palmer (Czech Republic) and Rage Mohamed (Somalia) shared their stories of migration explaining the journey each took to arrive in the United States. Their stories represent just a narrow slice of the multitude of roads that migrants travel to come to the U.S.

The event featured photography by Michael Hyatt who has shared many powerful images of migration on the U.S./Mexican border. Participants were given opportunities for advocacy and made pledges to call legislators during the upcoming recess to discuss the importance of immigration reform this year.

Please check out these links to see a clip of the event from KMTV Channel 3 News and from the Omaha World Herald:

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Still Working for Health Care Reform!

Although the situation has continued to be a struggle to get health care reform. Interfaith Worker Justice has continued to be involved and to put pressure on our representatives to make the right decision. The day before Senator Nelson made the historic decision to be the 60th vote to stop debate and vote for the health care reform, the Interfaith Worker Justice sent a letter with 24 signatories of faith leaders in support of the Casey Amendment, since Nelson's version of the house's Stupak did not get enough votes to pass in the Senate. The Casey Amendment still segregated public funds from being used from abortions, but also provided funding for low-income pregnant women. In those two essential days we let Senator Nelson know that there are progressive faith leaders that care about health care reform. We got an Op-Ed in the Omaha World Herald and an article in the Lincoln Journal Star providing our support as shown below.

Some of our faith leaders, Fr. Jack McCaslin (below) and Rev. Frederick McCullough, AME, (soon to be released) were willing to support Senator Nelson's decision by being part of a TV ad from the Nebraskan Democratic Party in support of Nelson's vote.

We must keep up the work for Health Care Reform. Call your Representatives today!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Nebraska Interfaith Forum for Health Care Reform Brings Together Diverse Group for Common Cause

On November 21 at St. John AME Church, faith leaders, clergy and members from over twenty congregations gathered to share their moral and conscious conviction to support health care reform that is affordable and
provides ample access to low-wage workers and low-income families.
( Photos: Fr. Thelen and Rev. McCullough taking a lead on health care reform)

Faith leaders offered prayers and perspectives on health care reform. Stories were shared and songs were sung in solidarity with one another and those who need health care the most. Over a dozen faith leaders spoke and several elected officials came forward to share their thoughts. County Commissioner Chris Rodgers, former State Senator Lowen Kruse, and Senator Nelson's staff member Louise Latimer shared a few words with the gathering.
Rev. Frederick McCullough and his St. John AME congregation hosted the event while Rev. Brenda Hector of Bethel AME Church was the forum facilitator. Imam Muhammed Sackor of the Islamic Center of Omaha voiced his perspective as a Muslim, Fr. Bert Thelen of St. John's Catholic Church at Creighton University spoke from his Catholic faith, and several others led prayers of Unity, Justice, Peace and a Litany. Faith leaders who participated as speakers included Rev. Dr. Percel E. Hector (Bethel AME Church), Rev. Debra McKnight (First United Methodist Church), Rev. Portia Cavitt (Clair United Methodist Church), Bro. Henry Pablo (Pixan Ixim), Rev. Kate Rhode (First Unitarian Church), Rev. Dr. Selwyn Q. Bachus (Salem Baptist Church), Fr. Paul Coelho, SJ (Creighton University), and Rev. Robyn Fickes (First Christian Church). The surgical mask project was on display for folks to read stories of people from around Nebraska and write their own masks.

Together as faith leaders of Nebraska we have taken a stand for reform now, for the benefit of our communities and families. We believe it is our ethical responsibility to speak out for just reform that provides access to all, especially within marginalized communities that are struggling most. We will continue to express our support to legislators in making the right decision, to vote for reform now!

(Photo: Rev. McCullough, Rev. Dr. Bachus, Rev. Bentjen, Fr. Thelen SJ, Rev. Kruse, Rev. McKnight, Rev. Cavitt, Dr. Keasling, Imam Sackor, Rev. Hector, Commissioner Rodgers, Rev. Rhode, Rev. Fickes, Rev. Eden)

*For more photos, please see our facebook page:

IWJ of Nebraska Joins Candlelight Vigil and March for Health Care Reform in Lincoln

Thursday, Nov 19, Interfaith Worker Justice of Nebraska joined the Alliance for Health Care Reform from across the state, including Change That Works Nebraska, NAACP, Nebraska Appleseed, Nebraska HCAN, Farmers Union, Teamsters, AFSCME, Change to Win, and Justice and Advocacy Ministries (ELCA-NE) for a candlelight vigil and march in Lincoln on the steps of the capitol. Over two hundred people were present and those in favor for reform far outnumbered the counterprotestors across the street.

Faith leaders Rev. Debra McKnight from First United Methodist Church in Omaha, Rabbi Ilan Emanuel of South Street Temple, Linclon and Rev. Janet Banks with Reach Out Christian Center, Lincoln joined small business owners, farmers and doctors to speak and represent the moral and ethical responsibility to take action on reform now! The surgical mask project was on display and available for folks to contribute their stories. One poster board display was left with a collection of items at Senator Nelson's office so that the voices of many would be heard by lawmakers.

Faith Leaders Meet with Senator Nelson's Staff in Lincoln and DC

On Thursday, November 19, faith leaders with Interfaith Worker Justice of Nebraska met with Senator Nelson's staff in both Lincoln and in Washington, DC. A coalition of folks from both Lincoln and Omaha met with the Chief of Staff, Tim Becker on Thursday afternoon in Lincoln. Faith leaders shared concerns about the need for reform and for Senator Nelson's support to allow the bill to proceed to debate on the floor of the Senate. Faith leaders told stories of those without insurance and those who struggle with the insurance and costs that they do have. Although Tim Becker did not say at the time what Senator Nelson's plans for the vote for motion to proceed were, the next day it was announced that he would vote 'yes.' A letter calling for reform signed by over 50 clergy from across the state was delivered to the staff as well. In addition, faith leaders asked for a 'yes' vote for cloture and on the final bill. While Tim Becker did not make promises, he did say that Nelson would do what he thinks is right and do what he can to make the bill one that would best for all Nebraskans. Rev. Frederick J. McCullough (St. John AME Church, Omaha) and two other members of IWJ of Nebraska met with Senator Nelson's staff in Washington, DC on the same day. They too shared stories and called for the Senator's support of health care reform that is affordable and accessible for all Nebraskans, especially those whose voices are not often heard.