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July 23, 2009
Wondering how to connect your faith, the healthcare resolution passed at Mennonite Church USA Convention 2009 and the current health care debate in our country?
Here are facts: Healing, hope and health-care reform by Tim Stoltzfus Jost
The legislative debate is at a critical point and the next few weeks will likely determine whether Congress will adopt reform legislation or not. Distribute the attached handout this Sunday (in your bulletin, in mailboxes or on a table) and encourage members of your congregation to handwrite a letter early this week to fax to their legislators. Handwritten letters 'rise to the top of the pile' but signed, printed letters are also acceptable. Children's pictures are often used during press conferences!
If you have Questions, Contact Susan Mark Landis at
Also, let Susan know about your follow-up (prayers, number of faxes to whom, etc). MCC Washington Office might make follow-up visits based on your faxes.
Ideas for connecting God's call to care for the weakest and your congregational life:
In the future:
- Pray. The last line of the resolution reads, "We will pray for healthcare access for Americans across our land, as well as those working on behalf of this issue." The sample letter states that the congregation prayed for the legislator by name.
Prayer Written by Shannon Daley-Harris, M.Div. download now (205k PDF)
- Provide materials (letterhead, pens) for writing the letters and give people time to write while in your meeting house Sunday morning.
Hints for Effective Letter Writing, Phone Calls, Faxes, E-mail and Visits (PDF)(scroll down to page 6)
- Dedicate the letters during the worship service, using Amos' compelling words in chapter 5
23 "Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not even listen to the sound of your harps.
24 "But let justice roll down like waters And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream."
- Fax the letters to your Representative early this week. Senators perhaps won't vote until September, but your letters to them also matter.
Facts to mention in your letter:
- Continue to pray.
- Continue to contact your legislators.
- Write a letter to the editor of you local newspaper. Be sure to include the names of your congress people so their staff will find the letter when doing a search. ("I call on Representative soandso to work to pass legislation so children can grow up healthy and strong and become good citizens.")
- Continue education (see websites below). PICO has a toll-free hotline set up at (866) 279-5474, where you can hear a short update on the debate and then be connected to the offices of your senators and representatives.
- Set up appointments to visit your federal legislators (both representative and senators) while they are home for the August recess. Take a group and sing for the staff!
- Join others in your community in a public candlelight vigil.
- Subscribe to MennoLink peace news for updates
- Have a Mennonite Health Care Access Educator visit your congregation
- The most recent Census data found that 45.7 million Americans (15.3% of the population) were uninsured in 2007. While 10.4% of non-Hispanic whites were uninsured, 19.5% of African-Americans and 32.1% of Hispanics were uninsured. 79% of the uninsured were U.S. citizens. 30% of the uninsured were from households with less than $25,000 in annual income, and 32% from households with between $25,000 and $50,000 in annual income. See http://www.census.gov/prod/2008pubs/p60-235.pdf
- Many more people are currently uninsured than were uninsured at the time of this report because of the economic downturn. A study released this week concluded that 2.3 million Americans are losing health insurance every year, 44,230 per week. http://www.familiesusa.org/assets/pdfs/health-reform/clock-is-ticking.pdf
- Many Americans are losing health insurance because they are being laid off from their jobs. Others are losing insurance because they or their employers can no longer afford insurance premiums. Public programs cannot fill the gap. Medicare only covers the elderly and disabled, and Medicaid only very poor people who fit certain categories (pregnant women, children and their families, the elderly and disabled)
- Although the uninsured are not necessarily denied access to all health care, many studies have shown that the uninsured get less care and get it later when it is less effective. An Institute of Medicine study reviewing research on this topic concluded that 18,000 unnecessary deaths each year could be attributed to lack of health insurance, see http://www.iom.edu/?id=19175; http://www.iom.edu/Object.File/Master/63/122/America%27s%20Uninsured%206%20pager%20FINAL%20for%20web.pdf
As the Stewardship Agency of Mennonite Church USA we are deeply concerned about the impact that healthcare access has on our members and their communities. The current debate and energy around healthcare reform demonstrates the degree to which this issue touches our lives. While we choose not to support any specific legislation until more details can be analyzed, we are fully in support of the resolution acted upon by the recent Assembly in Columbus.
These faith-based groups provide great resources including sermon helps, advocacy ideas, study guides, information and much more.
Facts about health care and health care reform
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MMA Stewardship Solutions