Faith Action Network works in solidarity across state
Across the state, Faith Action Network (FAN) works to build just what its name says, multi-faith communities acting together through networks of solidarity, people uniting to have a positive impact on people's lives across the state.
As faith communities welcome immigrants, serve people food, help people find housing, visit people in hospitals and prisons, they not only express their faith's mandates to care, but also learn what's happening in people's lives and the societal and political inequities and injustices that impact their opportunities.
Over 11 years since the Faith Action Network formed, bringing together the Washington Association of Churches and Lutheran Public Policy Office as an interfaith advocacy movement, more than 160 congregations have become part of its Network of Advocating Faith Communities in 52 communities, including 10 in Central and Eastern Washington.
The faith communities are Baptist, Buddhist, Disciples of Christ, Episcopal, Friends, Jesuit, Jewish, Lutheran, Mennonite, Presbyterian, Sikh, Unitarian Universalist, United Church of Christ and United Methodist. They include people of African, Asian, European, Indigenous, Latin American, Middle Eastern and Pacific Island descent.
Although they are from diverse races, cultures, faith expressions and life experiences, they collaborate to bring their voices in solidarity to advocate for the common good, not just for themselves, but for people in their communities who face poverty, food and housing insecurity, gun violence, unequal opportunities and environmental injustice.
Throughout the year, staff and teams related to FAN hold Summit Meetings and Cluster Meetings to hear stories and gather information on issues to decide priorities to address.
In 2022, FAN advocated for free lunches for all students, a statewide multilingual tool for low-income students, sustained and expanded safety net supports, working family tax credit fixes, digital equity and racial equity in community and technical colleges. FAN continues calls for reforming the state policing and criminal justice systems, creating housing opportunities to prevent homelessness, promoting environmental justice, protecting immigrant rights and expanding health care access.
As one of 22 regional faith bodies in the Interfaith Network for Indigenous Communities, FAN seeks to create greater understanding to strengthen common action to confront injustices and uphold the rights of tribal communities.
At its Annual Dinner on Nov. 20, FAN executive director Elise DeGooyer spoke on the theme, "Pathways if Solidarity," reflecting on the power of acting together and of seeing solidarity as a process, recognizing that there are many ways to work in solidarity in a multi-faith movement.
Kristin Ang, the policy engagement director, spoke of sharing values and looking out "not just for ourselves" but for everyone. The economy, environment, housing, criminal justice, transportation and health care are all related, she pointed out. Quoting Martin Luther King, Jr., that "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere," Kristin affirmed, "We are stronger together."
Board member Aneelah Afzali of the Muslim Association of Puget Sound said solidarity is about pooling resources, raising voices and transforming communities. She also knows the value of solidarity in face of recent incidents of racism, Islamophobia, antisemitism and xenophobia.
Each year, the Fig Tree partners with FAN, Catholic Charities, Earth Ministry and others to share information, hear voices and build solidarity at the Eastern Washington Legislative Conference. For details on the 2023 gathering, see page 1.
Mary Stamp - Editor