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Conference engages faith community in issues and advocacy

The annual Eastern Washington Legislative Conference offers faith community information on issues, advocacy tools and inspiration as it gathers people from 8:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 2, at the Cathedral of St. John, 127 E. 12th Ave.

Keynote speakers Spokane attorney Breean Beggs and Tia Griffin of the Washington Community Action Network (CAN) Spokane leadership team will address the event's theme, “Money: Grace and Justice.”

Beggs, who will discuss "Lobbying for Justice: Toughness of a Serpent and Softness of a Dove," is an attorney advocating for disadvantaged people and for community reconciliation.  For more than 20 years, he has presented cases to juries, judges, arbitrators, mediators, community groups and media.  He advocates for police reform, national reform on oil pipeline safety and jail reform. 

Griffin will speak on Washington CAN's Racial Justice Report Card on state legislators.

The legislative priorities of Faith Action Network of Washington (FAN)—wage theft, criminal justice reform, death penalty abolition, human services, immigration reform and environment—are topics for issue-information sessions, which will be repeated three times from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

• Paul Benz, director of the FAN, a co-sponsor of the event with The Fig Tree, will discuss wage theft.

• Breen and others from the Smart Justice Campaign will report on their efforts to reduce incarcaration and crime rates. 

• Shar Lichty of the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane (PJALS) will discuss the death penalty.

• Greg Cunningham of Catholic Charities Immigration and Refugee Services will discuss immigration reform.

• Tom Soeldner of the Faith and Environment Network will review environmental issues.

• Scott Cooper, director of Parish Social Ministry with Catholic Charities of Spokane, will speak on human services.

There will be workshops on various tools for advocacy:

• Liz Moore, director of PJALS, will discuss “Motivating People to Act: 4 Key Ingredients."

• United Methodist pastor Deb Conklin will present “Missional Church/Community Organizing Tools.”

• Benz, who spoke on wage theft, will review FAN’s “Advocacy Opportunities in Congregations.”

• James Wilburn, Jr., the new local president of the Spokane NAACP, will share tools the NAACP uses.

• Ben Stuckart, Spokane City Council president, and Sue Lani Madsen, architect, rancher, writer and political activist from Edwall, will lead a workshop on "Effective Campaigning."

Participants will engage in discussion on motivation for involvement, facilitated by Episcopal Bishop Jim Waggoner, Jr., United Methodist District Superintendent Dale Cockrum and political science professor Kathy Lee from Whitworth University.

After lunch and speakers, Benz and Cooper will offer a Legislative Briefing session, an overview issues and "What's Going on in Olympia: Faith Advocates as Effective Change Agents."

Participants come as individuals, as teams from congregations and as representatives of nonprofits and human service agencies, trained to share the information for common action.

Those interested in attending may mail the suggested donation of $20 per person or $15 each per person for groups of four or more to The Fig Tree, 1323 S. Perry St., Spokane, WA 99202.  Advance reservations are requested for a count for the lunch.

For more information, call 535-4112 or email

Copyright © January 2013 - The Fig Tree