For Immediate Release

May 6, 2020 

Contact: Nikki Paschal, 916.444.7170

Progressive Organizations Outline Sweeping Agenda to 
Achieve a “Recovery for All” in California that is Equitable and Green

 Sacramento, CA –  The Building the California Dream Alliance, a broad coalition of more than 55 progressive organizations, today unveiled a sweeping set of policy proposals aimed at eliminating injustices in health care, economic opportunity, education and environmental quality that have been exposed and amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

In a letter to Governor Newsom, the organizations’ leaders emphasized the opportunity before California now to re-shape a broken economic system that left millions of Californians and their families unable to withstand any level of economic downturn, and to make a sizeable investment in safety net programs needed to ensure a Recovery for All. They also underscored the unacceptable structural racism in our health care system and in the determinants of health – reinforced by economic and environmental injustice – that have resulted in COVID-19’s staggering death toll for people of color. 

“This pandemic is a clarion call for transformation across our economic and social systems,” said Regina Banks, Director, Lutheran Office of Public Policy – California.  “Within the first few weeks of California’s effort to slow the virus’ spread, millions of Californians were unable to pay for rent or food – illustrating just how many Californians were living on razor thin margins even in a ‘growing’ economy.  While we give attention to their most immediate needs, California must commit to support their recovery over the long haul and implement the sweeping reforms needed to deliver justice in economic opportunity, education, health care, and the environment.” 

Each year the coalition outlines an ambitious agenda to uplift families, empower workers and communities, and expand opportunities for all Californians to take part in the California Dream.  This year’s coalition agenda was released today as state legislators have begun to hold policy hearings on bills and the week before Governor Newsom is set to release a May budget revision transformed significantly by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The disproportionate loss of life in California’s communities of color is devastating and unacceptable — and it was preventable,” said Nourbese Flint, Executive Director of the Black Women for Wellness Action Project. “Systemic racism has persisted in health care access and delivery because we have failed to prioritize eliminating it.  We will not allow inequities to be forgotten when the immediate threat of COVID-19 is behind us, and we will not relent from our fight for health care equity until every Californian has the opportunity to be healthy.”  

“Too many workers whom we recognize now as essential have always been treated as if they are expendable,” said Amber Baur, Executive Director UFCW Western States Council. “Now is the time for us to start treating every single Californian as essential, valuable, and worthy of dignity and a voice both at work and in their communities.”

Healthcare and Housing for all people, with no exceptions.

Health Care: Expand Medi-Cal for all eligible seniors, regardless of immigration status.

Health Care:  Increase state subsidies for Covered California.

Health Care: Enact AB 1611(Chiu) which would ban surprise emergency room billing by preventing surprise bills for out-of-network hospital ER visits so consumers are only billed for their in-network co-pay or deductible, and setting a fair provider payment standard.

Healthcare: Clarify that reproductive and sexual health services including abortion, gender-affirming care, sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment, and family planning are essential healthcare that cannot be delayed. In addition, remove cost-sharing for these essential services.

Healthcare: Remove physician supervision for certified nurse midwives to increase access to high-quality, high-value maternity care, reduce race-based disparities in maternal outcomes, and bring California in line with the 46 other states that all do not require physician supervision for certified nurse midwives.

Housing: Forgive unpaid rent accrued by low income households during the crisis. Establish a relief fund for nonprofit housing developers and needy landlords who’s lost rental incomes would otherwise put their business at risk. Eligible landlords shall meet a set of tenant protection criteria. State government should recoup these funds with a temporary or permanent fee on the largest landlords.

Unhoused: Set aside 20% of the total 2020-21 homelessness budget to combat youth homelessness.

Housing: Dedicate significant funding and deploy a set of strategies to reign in speculation in the housing market.

Housing: End predatory displacement financing by requiring state chartered banks and state licensed lenders to develop an anti-displacement financing policy.

A government focused on care and inclusion that lifts all people out of poverty allowing us to live full and happy lives.

Immigration: Direct local jails and prisons to suspend the transfer of individuals from California’s custody to ICE in order to protect Californians from being subjected to inhumane and unsanitary conditions in immigration detention where the COVID-19 virus has been rapidly spreading.

Immigration: Expand EITC for ITIN workers and allow it to go into effect retroactively.

Expand Aid Programs: Implement a public education program to get people to file federal tax returns so that they can receive the $1,200 federal stimulus checks.         

Nonprofits: Direct departments to continue paying contractors who are underperforming due to temporary closures and suspension or reduction of services associated with COVID-19 and provide expedited or automatic approval process for budget modifications that do not increase the contract.

Small business: Invest in a $100 million grant program for small businesses with 1-25 employees and under $1 million in revenue disseminated by CDFIs and economic development community based organizations to ensure that hard to reach and historically marginalized small businesses and sole proprietors benefit from the program.

SEED Initiative: Maintain the $10 million SEED Initiative currently in the proposed budget.

 Policies and Programs that prioritize workers and communities over corporate executives.

Worker Protections:  Ensure that  workers receive the benefits they deserve by mandating a presumption that contracting COVID-19 or exposure to and physician ordered quarantine due to COVID-19 is conclusively determined to arise out of and in the course of employment for all essential workers.

Worker protections: Require California and its healthcare system to have a long term plan for ensuring we have an adequate supply of PPE.

Worker Protections: Expand California leave laws to ensure coverage for all workers not covered by the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act including amending the California Family Rights Act to ensure that workers can take time off to care for themselves or their loved ones without losing their jobs.

Worker Protections:  Create an “Emergency Fund” for workers that cannot access unemployment insurance and other safety because they are excluded by law such as garment workers, childcare workers and undocumented workers

Worker Protections:  Enact, SB 1257 (Durazo) which would eliminate the “household domestic service” exclusion in Cal/OSHA, which sets standards for employers to provide a safe working environment for workers.

Worker Protections: Enact SB 1399 (Durazo) which would put a stop to the most egregious exploitation of garment workers by ensuring that they are fairly compensated for their work and keep the wages they earn.

Payday Lenders: Issue comprehensive guidance to keep payday lenders and Merchant Cash Advance shops from increasing interest rates.

Childcare: Invest $200 million from the CARES Act into the creation of a child care fund to support essential workers child care needs. This investment would fund approximately 80,000 childcare slots.

Safety Net for All: Create a temporary, partial income replacement program for excluded workers who are not eligible for the state or federal benefits administered by EDD and who are unemployed or underemployed as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

A just transition to a green, regenerative economy that ensures all Californians have a clean and safe environment where they live, work, play and pray.

Utilities & Water Service: Prohibit utility shutoffs and restore service for any essential service, including but not limited to: broadband, mobile phones, electricity, natural gas, water for those with combined water/sewer utility. In addition, waive all liens, late fees, and penalties on such utilities. This includes implementation of EO N-42-20, immediately ending all disconnections of water service for nonpayment, and restoring service to all those who had water service disconnected since March 4, 2020.

Environment: Implement health-protective regulations that impact clean air, clean water, and environmental health must not be delayed or rolled back, especially not during a health crisis.

Environment: Retain the use of Greenhouse Gas Reduction Funds for incentives that reduce greenhouse gases and localized air pollution from vehicles.

Environment: Develop an economic stimulus package that aligns spending with good job creation with benefits to public health, the environment, and climate resiliency. Any such plan must be informed by impacted communities.

Environment: Enact AB 345 (Muratsuchi) to ensure that CalGEM finishes the public health and safety rulemaking currently underway, provides resources for impacted communities to participate, and establishes a health and safety buffer zone between oil extraction and communities. As the link between exposure to air pollution and susceptibility to COVID-19 has emerged, CalGEM has the responsibility to establish a setback and any other measures that will help improve public health coming out of this crisis.

 Expand and Protect our democratic process, ensuring robust, accessible opportunities for all Californians to determine the future of our government and economy.

Voting: Mail every voter a ballot, require robust in-person voting options and early voting, ensure additional resources for a massive public education and outreach campaign so every voter understands their options to vote safely, and provide poll workers with protective gear and “hazard pay”.

 Public Access: Continue to ensure that the public, and especially those most impacted by decisions, both locally and state-wide, can participate remotely in decision making. 


The Building the California Dream Alliance includes: ACCE, Advancement Project, American Civil Liberties Union of CA, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN), Black Women for Wellness, Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, California Attorneys For Criminal Justice (CACJ), California Calls, California Donor Table, California Low Income Consumers Coalition, California Domestic Workers Coalition, California Employment Lawyers Association (CELA), California Environmental Justice Alliance, California Food & Farming Network, California Labor Federation, California Immigrant Policy Center, California League of Conservation Voters, California NOW, California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, California Reinvestment Coalition, Center for Responsible Lending, Child Care Law Center, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), Consumer Attorneys of California, Council on American-Islamic Relations, California Chapter (CAIR-CA), Courage California, Disability Rights California, Drug Policy Alliance, Earthjustice, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Environment California, Equality California, Equal Rights Advocates, Friends Committee on Legislation of California, Health Access, Latino Coalition For A Healthy California, Lutheran office of Public Policy, MALDEF, Mobilize the Immigrant Vote, Mujeres Unidas, NARAL Pro-Choice California, NextGen California, PICO California, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of CA, PolicyLink, Public Advocates, SEIU California, Sierra Club California, Smart Justice California, UFCW, Voices for Progress, Young Invincibles, Western Center on Law & Poverty


Lutheran office of Public Policy has an opportunity for our members to meet virtually with federal California lawmakers about immigrant rights and COVID-19 relief. Details will be discussed in a training on April 24, 2020. Meetings with members will take place over April 27-May 1, depending on scheduling. We are partnering with the Dolores Huerta Foundation and GRACE to conduct these trainings with the support of ELCA Advocacy.

Please email if you want to participate. 

ELCA Social Message Feedback Needed
Dear church,
The idea of government was already very much in focus because this was an election year, and the pandemic has focused it more so. But what does the ELCA teach about the nature and function of government in relation to God’s purposes? What is a faithful Lutheran response regarding citizenship and civic engagement?
To help guide our church on these questions, the 2019 Churchwide Assembly asked for the preparation of a social message. At this time, the message is in draft form. Through May 27, you are invited to provide feedback on how to strengthen the message.
I invite you to click here to read “A Draft Social Message on Government and Civic Engagement: Discipleship in a Democracy.” To offer feedback, please fill out the survey. You may also choose to email comments to The comment period ends May 27. To learn more about what social messages are, click
Take the survey here
In light of the feedback, the message will be revised and presented to the ELCA Church Council for a vote in June. Upon its adoption, the message and a study guide will be released over the summer, along with a Spanish translation.
To learn more about this social message and the process of its creation, please visit its webpage, which features “Frequently Asked Questions.
Thank you for taking the time to participate in this project—it’s through the wisdom of the full church that a strong message will be created.
God’s peace,
Rev. Roger A. Willer, Ph.D.Director for Theological EthicsOffice of the Presiding Bishop


On Wednesday, April 22, we mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Although plans for congregational projects all around the country have changed in order that we may show love for neighbor, we can still show love for the rest of God’s good creation, even while sheltering in place. 

April 2020

Sin and captivity, manifest in threats to the environment, are not the last word. God addresses our predicament with gifts of ‘forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation’ (Luther, Small Catechism). By the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God frees us from our sin and captivity, and empowers us to be loving servants to creation. 

—ELCA social statement Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope, and Justice, p. 5

As I work from home at our dining room table, I look out the front window and see the wildlife at my husband’s feeders. God created such beautiful creatures. As Christians we are guided by the promise expressed in our social statement that we are empowered “to be loving servants to creation.” It is our duty to care for God’s earth.

Established in 1970, Earth Day launched the modern environmental movement, spurring development of landmark policies for a creation in crisis and defining a path toward a more sustainable planet. In this 50th anniversary year, under the theme “Climate Action,” the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is joining the Earth Day Network as a featured faith partner. This partnership expresses our deep love for God’s creation and a Lutheran understanding of our profound responsibility for it. The social statementdescribes our commitment this way:

Humans, in service to God, have special roles on behalf of the whole of creation. Made in the image of God, we are called to care for the earth as God cares for the earth. God’s command to have dominion and subdue the earth is not a license to dominate and exploit. … [It] should reflect God’s way of ruling as a shepherd king who takes the form of a servant (Philippians 2:7), wearing a crown of thorns (Caring for Creation, pp. 2-3).

We accept that caring for and protecting creation is central to our holy calling, yet we acknowledge our shortcomings in this regard. Our action and inaction are exposed by the despoiling and degrading of the environment. Affected by human activity, our changing climate has brought more severe weather patterns and ensuing destruction. Our waters, land and air are being polluted, and we are alarmed by the devastation. Ecological systems are strained to the point where some species cannot adapt, and face extinction.

Globally, we are dealing with two interconnected crises, the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing climate change. Both demonstrate the profound consequences of our disrupted, broken relationship with the natural world. According to scientists, species disruption caused by global warming has combined with human encroachment on the natural world to drive wildlife into greater and deadlier contact with people. The COVID-19 outbreak is an urgent warning that our behavior opens the door to transmission of new diseases, with devastating consequences.

Our distorted relationship with the earth is borne most heavily by the most vulnerable and marginalized among us, who are ill-equipped to withstand the impact of climate change or implement remedies. COVID-19 and the climate crisis heighten existing racial inequity, economic disparity and social injustices. Our call to care for creation is also a call to right these wrongs.

As Earth Day partners and stewards of creation, we have many ways to lovingly serve the earth: 

Looking past this anniversary, we gladly accept the monumental assignment of refocusing, renewing and raising our efforts as we embrace our role as stewards of creation and look with hope and promise toward years to come.

Prayer From Lutheran Disaster Response: 

Prepare us, Lord, for what lies ahead. Give us the strength and dedication that we will need in order to serve others unselfishly. Give us the energy we will need to follow through with the task. Give us strength to face our assignment, and put before us people who will support us. Open our ears and eyes and heart, so that we can sustain others and [help creation to recover from this crisis]. Bless those who are suffering and give them hope, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton
Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton’s Easter Message

Dear partner in ministry,

Weeks may have passed since you last walked in the doors of your congregation and worshiped, face-to-face, with your community of faith. To be sure, being the body of Christ looks and feels differently than it ever has before.

Despite all of this, we are called to be church — together. The ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) looks different now, but it has not stopped. Nor have the needs of our communities and the world. Our church and its leaders continue to minister to its members, to those who are hurting and searching for peace, and to those in need.

The congregations and ministries of this church rely on your weekly offerings and gifts. Without in-person worship services for many weeks or even months, the financial impact could be devastating.

Please continue to give to your congregation and give regularly. Your congregation and its leaders continue to minister to your community of faith. This ministry relies on your weekly offerings. Find out how you can continue your pledge or regular offering though online giving, automatic monthly giving or mail.

I know that, for many of us, this is a time of uncertainty and financial hardship. However, for those of you who are in a position to do more, the needs are great.

In the United States, unemployment has soared. We are already seeing rising demands on our food pantries, homeless shelters and social services. Around the world, millions of people living in poverty are facing this pandemic without reliable access to sanitation and health care.

With congregations and ministries across the country, and a network of companion churches and partners in over 70 countries around the world, we anticipate this crisis will affect us all. Your gifts to the ELCA’s COVID-19 Response Fund will provide funds to the ministries of the ELCA most in need and best positioned to help. This includes our congregations as well as local and churchwide ministries capable of reaching and assisting those in need. If you are able, please help with a gift today.

I have been reflecting on the words of Peter: “Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received” (1 Peter 4:10). Now is a time when we need one another. Now is a time to live and act as faithful people of God.

Be of good courage, dear church, and remember that Christ is with us now and always.

In Christ,
The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton
The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton
Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

We have received word of the death of
The Rev.Noel Estergren
on Good Friday, April 10, 2020
Please keep his wife Gretchen, daughters Laura and Sarah, and the entire family in your prayers.
Cards or notes of condolences may be sent to Gretchen Estergren18655 West Bernardo Drive #656
San Diego, CA 92127
Memorials may be designated to:Third Avenue Charitable Organization (TACO)1420 Third AvenueSan Diego, CA
The Rev. Noel C. Estergren was born on December 24, 1939 and was ordained on June 3, 1969 at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran in Orinda, California by Rev. Dr Carl Seggerhammer. He served at Shepherd of the Valley for 2 years as an Assistant Pastor. In 1971, he was called to Trinity Lutheran in Alameda, California where he served for 5 years. He then served at Mount of Olives Lutheran in Phoenix, Arizona from 1976-1988. His last call before retirement was to downtown San Diego at First Lutheran Church from 1988-2004. He received the TACO Founder’s Award, in recognition of years of service at First Lutheran Church, establishing the Third Avenue Charitable Organization (TACO) as its own nonprofit organization in 1996.

 If we live, we live to the Lord,and if we die, we die to the Lord;so then, whether we live or whether we die,we are the Lord’s.Romans 14:8

From the Bishop- Christ is With Us

But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.”  – Matthew 28: 5-7
Dear Sisters and Brothers, Siblings in Christ,
Today we enter the three days, what in Latin is called the Triduum, the three days of Jesus’ suffering and death prior to his resurrection on Easter. We begin today on Maundy Thursday. The word maundy means “commandment,” and on this day we remember Jesus gave the great commandment to love one another as Christ loves us. Jesus embodied this commandment by washing the disciples’ feet, taking the role of a servant, and calling his followers to serve others as Christ serves us. Little did the disciples know at that time how Jesus would serve them.
That night, he was arrested and prior to dawn he was tried by the religious authorities. On Good Friday, he was brought before the political authorities, before the Roman governor Pilate who sentenced him to death. He was crucified, died, and his body was placed in a tomb. On Holy Saturday, the Sabbath, the women who wished to pay him honor by anointing his body had to wait in obedience to the law until Sunday morning. Then they heard the good news that Jesus had risen, that they would see him, that death had been conquered and new life given through Christ’s death and resurrection.
Most of my ministry, I have focused on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday, giving little thought to the meaning of Holy Saturday. But I think all of us are in a Holy Saturday time. We are called to wait at home in order to protect our neighbors from possible contamination with COVID-19. Some of us wait, as the disciples did, with those closest to us, our families who similarly must stay at home. Some of us who live alone wait alone, reaching out to loved ones by telephone, social media, and other means of communication. But we wait, nonetheless. Like the disciples, we are dealing with the shock of how quickly our lives have changed. Like the disciples, we are wondering about death we did not anticipate, and may be worried that we or those we love will be next. Like the disciples, we are wondering how our lives will change, how our gatherings as followers of Jesus will be forever altered, and what the world and the church will be like for us when this is over.
The promise of Easter is that, in the midst of this worry, wondering, and waiting, Christ is with us. Whether you live with others or by yourself, you are not alone. Christ is with you. Jesus died and rose from the dead in order to take away the separation that our sin brought between us and God. Jesus is present by the power of the Holy Spirit to help us do what we are called to do now: wait. As we await our public health officials to tell us that it is safe to leave our homes, we can wait in hope, because we know we do not do so alone. Christ died and rose to be with us and will continue to be with us each day of our lives. Christ will be with us as we wait and will be with us to continue to share the good news of God’s love when our time of waiting is over.
I believe we will need to wait longer than we anticipated even a month ago. I first asked churches to abstain from meeting in person in mid-March, stating that we should stay apart at least through Palm Sunday. I amended that, following President Trump’s admonition, to the end of April. I believe we will need to wait even longer than that. Until our governor (either of Hawai’i or California, depending on where you live) and our local public health officials tell us it is safe to meet together, we must continue to practice social distancing in order to protect the lives of our neighbors. I want to encourage you in your waiting. God gives us all we need, each day, and will help us be resilient. We may even learn some things about our faith, ourselves, and our church, as we wait.
For we need not wait with nothing to do. I encourage you to take this time to deepen your personal spiritual practices. Take time for prayer, for Bible reading, for sitting in silence and listening for God. If you are unsure what can be done, contact your pastor and ask. Our congregations are so creative, and they have a variety of resources to help you take time as you wait to help you recognize that God is with you. For those with internet access, continue to worship with your congregation or, if your congregation does not have online worship, with a neighboring ELCA church, in order to nurture your connection both to God and to your siblings in Christ. Finally, while we are called to social distance, we are also called not to forget our neighbors in need. Many food banks and feeding programs need help and blood is desperately needed to aid the sick. If you can help, you are encouraged to do so. 
Always remember, you are not alone. Jesus died and rose from the dead so that nothing could ever separate you from God. And even while we have to live in physical separation from one another, we are one with Christ and one with each other through the power of the Holy Spirit.
God bless you this Easter. And God grant you all you need during this time of Holy Saturday waiting.
Yours in Christ Jesus,
Bishop Andy Taylor

Joint Easter Message from the Episcopal, Lutheran,and Roman Catholic Bishops

Our Dear Sisters and Brothers, Siblings in Christ:
As we approach the life-giving events of Holy Week our minds and hearts are drawn to the great mystery of God’s love for us. As we walk with Christ on the way to Jerusalem we are edified and united in this journey by His strength and teaching. We witness His betrayal, arrest, passion and crucifixion motivated only by His love for us. We rejoice at the hope of eternal life given to us as He overcomes all adversity and bursts forth from the tomb on Easter Morning.
During this unprecedented time in living history when the whole world is suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic we walk with you on the journey to Easter. We know of the suffering you are undergoing in so many different ways, but we urge you not to lose hope in the bright promise of tomorrow which Christ won for us by the cross and His rising from the tomb.
As your bishops we urge you to remain steadfast to the call we have all received of faithful, servant discipleship. Just as the Apostles were confused and in panic at the Lord’s passion, but restored by His living presence at the resurrection, so must all of us, fearful and perhaps doubting at this time, remain faithful to Him who is our hope and our glory.
We wish you God’s blessings for this Easter Time and assure you of our prayers for you and your families.
Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!
Most Rev. Robert W. McElroyRoman Catholic Bishop of San Diego
The Rt. Rev. Susan Brown SnookBishop, Episcopal Diocese of San Diego
Rev. Andrew A. Taylor, BishopPacifica Synod of the ELCA

COVID-19 Response from Bishop Eaton

March 28, 2020- COVID-19 Response from Bishop Eaton: The ELCA has released an announcement regarding steps they are taking to continue operations and help during the COVID-19 outbreak. Click HERE to read the full story

March 20, 2020- A Message from Hope Council regarding Hope’s response to COVID-19, including practices and worship alternatives. Click HERE to read the full release.

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