What do Lutheran women say about faith and politics? Over the next three Mondays, Women of the ELCA’s blog will share the essays of Lutheran women who were asked to describe why they are politically active. These essays appear in the Women of the ELCA resource, “Called to be Political: (But I don’t want to be political!).”
by Shirley Paulson
It started with Gather magazine. A woman in my circle was moved by an article about child sex trafficking. Another had heard that a survivor of human trafficking would be talking at a church near us. Several of us attended that event and felt called by God to do something…. This is how I began being politically active—for a specific cause, connected with friends who felt like I did, praying and learning and finally acting to end human trafficking.
We co-sponsored an awareness event with our Synodical Women’s Organization; we read books and learned about other efforts in our community. We connected with people across the state by signing up for alerts with our Lutheran Office of Public Policy which led to participation in a work group for a state task force on human trafficking. We wrote resolutions to synod assemblies and the WELCA Triennial Convention. We called, along with our Catholic and Methodist sisters, for a time of prayer to end human trafficking.
I discovered that my state assembly person also cared deeply about the issue which led to me testifying in support of a bill at the state capitol.
We continued to pray, educate, connect and act.
We learned that going beyond mercy to also doing justice (Micah 6:8) isn’t so hard and that it is deeply satisfying work.
What does being politically active look like? It looks like a nervous grandmother testifying at a state assembly hearing. It looks like a busy young mom agreeing to lead a local advocacy group to connect others who care about ending gun violence. It looks like a woman in midlife using one of her vacation days to spend at the capitol talking to legislators about health care. It looks like a retiree devoting her life to learning about and teaching others about the hunger and poverty which disproportionately harm children. It looks like ordinary people reading candidates’ websites and then voting for those who pledge to work for issues they care about. It looks like love in action.
Shirley Paulson, DePere, Wisconsin, is a lifelong grace-not-works Lutheran who came of age in Minnesota during the social gospel era. She holds degrees from Concordia College (Moorhead), the University of Minnesota and the University of Connecticut. She is a retired educator who taught English at both the high school and college levels and served as an elementary school principal, a district supervisor for gifted and talented students and a district director of a college prep program for first-generation college kids for the Green Bay Area Public Schools. She is a former president of the East Central Synod of Wisconsin Women of the ELCA. She enjoys spending time with her two daughters and one amazing grandson.