St. Paul, MN – On February 12th, Speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives Paul Thissen and Governor Dayton’s Chief of Staff Tina Smith joined 600 clergy, faith leaders and key legislators at Christ Lutheran Church on Capitol Hill to launch 40 Days of Prophetic Vigil. They also discussed working together during the legislative session to achieve an equitable budget.
Religious leaders announced their commitment to mobilize people of faith to engage legislators around shared values and to urge them to connect those values to effective long-term policy solutions that address racial and economic inequities through real structural reform.
“We need to consciously choose to put people first and we need to decide now to make this happen,” said Rev. Laurie Eaton, pastor at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in Minneapolis.
Pastor Paul Slack, President of ISAIAH, reminded the gathering of the values that convinced them, against all odds, to defeat the voter suppression amendment. “We believed that despite what it was polling at, that if we had faith-to-faith conversations and believed that people were at the center of what we were doing – that we could win. Now, we are announcing that we have the same commitment to change the course of our state.”
Speaker Thissen told the crowd, “What we really need is for our faith leaders to walk together with us and work with us to get beyond inequality. We are going to need you to show up at the Capitol every
day.” He also spoke of what legislators must consider to ensure a more equitable future, “We are stewards and custodians of this moment for the next generation. It can’t just be about now.”
Laying out the Governor’s vision for his budget, Tina Smith called for bold and courageous action, “It’s not a question of whether we can afford to do these things, but whether we can afford not to do them.”
Faith leaders gave testimonies on issues they face in in their daily lives around education equity, quality healthcare, financial justice and transit opportunities. Elder James Alberts, Pastor at Higher Ground Church of God in Christ in St. Cloud, spoke of the need for a more robust transit system, “Don’t forget us. We are greater Minnesota, and if you help us, we can help you become greater still.”
For the 40 days following the Launch, people of faith will go door to door at the Capitol to visit with their legislators and ask them to make choices that put thriving children, families and communities at the center of Minnesota’s public policies. Throughout the state, they will also participate in engaging their elected officials through phone programs, direct mailings and town hall meetings.