Justice We Pursue

Advocacy On a Stick

I have to admit, I LOVE the Minnesota State Fair. If you try calling me at the office over the next 12 days and hear that I’m out for the day, it’s safe to assume that I’m off enjoying Mediterranean lemonade, llama costume contests, live music, elk burgers, DNR K-9 officer demonstrations, butter sculptures, horse shows, crop art, and all the wonderful things that truly make it the GREAT Minnesota Get Together.

Whether or not you’ve been there, I’m sure you’ve heard about the midway rides, the vast array of foods on a stick, and the entertainment. What you mFair Goers Riding the Skyride at the MN State Fairay not know is that the MN State Fair is also a great place to learn more about our state government and engage with policy makers.  Here are a few of the many opportunities you have to engage with policy makers, learn about government, and take home resources that will serve you well during the coming legislative session.



Minnesota State Legislature

As an organizer for a legislative advocacy group, the first opportunities I want you to know about are how to connect with the MN Legislature at the Fair. The House and Senate have neighboring booths in the Education Building with a variety of information and resources. Be sure to pick up a green book or red book (or both!) The green book is a guide to who serves in the MN legislature while the red book is a more extensive resource that includes legislative rules.  You can also look up who represents you, get more information about the legislative process, and find fun legislative themed activity books for kids.

MN House

  • Meet Representatives daily (schedule here)
  • Opinion poll on legislative issues being considered (questions this year include minimum wage exemptions and drivers licenses for all, among others)
  • Replica Speaker's podium for photo ops
  • Capitol dome hats


MN Senate

  • Meet Senators daily (schedule here)
  • Public opinion poll on legislative issues being considered
  • Display on the new Senate office building scheduled to open in early 2016


State Offices/Agencies

Office of MN Secretary of State – Lower Grandstand Building South center section – Secretary will make appearances, Voter registration, Request absentee ballot, Find your polling place, Information about 50th anniversary of Voting Rights Act

MN Attorney General’s Office – Education Building Southeast Section
Lots of information available about landlord & tenant rights, foreclosures, avoiding scams, Senior Citizen rights, debt collection, medical billing, identity theft, and more.

Numerous State Departments-  Throughout Education Building & a couple in the Eco Experience building. Dept of Ag is in Horticulture Buildling & Department of Natural Resources has their own building.


Political Parties/Politicians

Many political parties have space at the State Fair. They may have some type of photo op, politician appearances, merchandise for sale, and information on candidates, party platforms, and caucuses. New this year, the Constitution Party also has a self serve cell phone charging station. Here are those I know of at the Fair. (Apologies if I missed anyone.)


Democratic Farmer Labor Party (DFL) – Corner of Cooper St. & Dan Patch Ave.

Republican Party – South side of Carnes Ave between Nelson & Underwood

Independence Party- South side of Dan Patch Ave between Nelson & Underwood
Green Party
- Upper Grandstand Buildlng Southeast wall
Constitution Party
- West side of Underwood St between Carnes & Judson
Libertarian Party
- West side of Nelson St between Carnes & Judson


Senator Klobuchar – North side of Judson between Underwood & Nelson

Senator Franken- West side of Underwood between Judson & Carnes





Governor Dayton-

Thursday, August 27 – 11am – Live Broadcast – MPR Booth

Friday, August 28 - Governor’s Fire Prevention Day. The Governor’s Council Fire Fighter Flag Raising is at 10:15am. I expect he will be there.

Last year Gov. Dayton, a known dog lover, also gave the introduction to the DNR’s K-9 Officer demonstration, so if that’s on the daily schedule, he may be there as well.

State Capitol Restoration Project Information-

Saturday, August 29 – All day – Education Building

The Department of Administration will have a booth providing information, photos, and updates on the current State Capitol Restoration Project.


Senator Klobuchar-

Friday, September 4 – Noon –Live Broadcast- Carousel Park

Sen. Klobuchar will be interviewd as part of MPR Day at the Fair. Afterwards, at 1pm she will be signing copies of her new book at the nearby Hospitality Tent


Mayor Coleman (St. Paul) & Mayor Hodges (Minneapolis)-

Thursday September 3 – 11am – Live Broadcast – MPR Booth

So head out and enjoy the Fair! Eat your food on a stick, see the animals, catch some live music, but also take the time to connect with lawmakers, thanking them for their service, and letting them know what you want them to accomplish next session. Learn more about how our government works and grab some resources to help to you be an even stronger advocate for justice in 2016.

Team Governs for the Common Good

Governing for the common good is a phrase we toss around a lot at JRLC. It is often used as a standard that we use to measure our elected officials. But we also use the term as a standard for active citizens – members of the public who step up to govern in many places, both formal and informal.

We govern for the common good when we serve on neighborhood or congregation committees. We govern inside our families, workplaces, associations, and governments. We govern anywhere we make decisions on “How are we to live together?”

A wonderful group of eight people have just stepped forward to govern by leading the transition process at JRLC and guide us into a new era of powerful social justice work. This, too, is the work of governing and I'm sure it will sometimes be lofty, sometimes mundane, sometimes frustrating, sometimes joyous. Isn’t that the way with active citizenship and public life? JRLC’s Transition Team is just another example of justice-minded Minnesota folks giving of their time, energy, and expertise in order to govern for the common good.Group photo of Transition Team

Please hold this Team in your prayers as they work hard for the next several months!

Patrice Critchley-Menor, Chair, Minnesota Catholic Conference
Owais Bayunus, Islamic Center of Minnesota
George Burbie, Minnesota Council of Churches
Sally Lorberbaum, Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas
Doug Mitchell, Minnesota Council of Churches
Bob Rubinyi, Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas
Ashraf Siddiqui, Islamic Center of Minnesota
Jessica Zittlow, Minnesota Catholic Conference

The Joint Religious Legislative Coalition has been an effective interfaith public policy organization for 43 years. This Transition Team now takes up the task of insuring that, for many years to come, JRLC speaks to essential public questions: What is a good society? What makes for a healthy community? What is my obligation to my neighbors? How do we govern ourselves for the common good?

Brian Rusche, executive director

Rusche Leaving JRLC

Brian Rusche announced his decision to leave the position of Executive Director of the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition in the Spring of 2016.  His letter to us is below. While we are sad to see him go, we will use this transition time to move forward and search for a new leader for the JRLC.  Brian Rusche at podium at 2015 Day on the HillUnder Brian's leadership, we have built a wonderfully diverse, powerful, and well-respected voice at the Minnesota Capitol.  Our new leader will have a great foundation on which to advance our interfaith social justice agenda.

God willing, before the end of June, I will be naming a Transition Team made up of two representatives from each of JRLC’s Sponsors. You will receive regular progress reports from this Team and, after some time for a formal organizational assessment process, a Job Announcement for our Executive Director position will be made public in early Fall, and then we will be ready to receive applications.

We will have an opportunity to thank Brian and welcome a new leader over the course of the next 9 months or so. Everyone of us has a role to play in this transition. It is a time to be grateful, hopeful, and supportive. I encourage you to include JRLC in your prayers and to help us remind the people of Minnesota of the indispensable work of the unique coalition that is JRLC.

Fatma Reda, M.D.
Chair, JRLC Board



Dear Friends,

This Fall I will have served as Executive Director of JRLC for 27 years! It is time for me to move on — I will be leaving in the Spring of 2016. I’m incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity to give staff leadership to JRLC, and to have worked with you and justice-minded people in faith communities across the State.  

Each and every year, JRLC has made an impact on Minnesota laws and policies in areas ranging from income assistance to hate crimes, from tax policy to affordable housing, from affordable health care to ending human trafficking, from a higher minimum wage to lower child care costs, from gun safety to restorative justice — the list goes on and on. Though social justice is an elusive goal, we have moved Minnesota ever-closer, and we’ve done it working side-by-side. It has been a joyful journey dating all the way back to 1988.

It is hard to leave an organization and mission that I love, but it is time for me to seek new challenges and it is time for JRLC to bring in a new leader with fresh ideas.

As I prepare to leave, I want you to know that I am incredibly proud of the leadership shown by our Board Members, District Leaders, our staff, our Legislative Network, and iCAN sponsors, all of whom give vision and energy to the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition. JRLC is a beacon of hope. JRLC is one of the reasons Minnesota remains above average!  I am 100% confident in our Coalition’s ability to gain strength during this transition and in the years ahead — and I look forward to working with all of you to make this transition a success.

Dr. Fatma Reda will soon announce an eight-member Transition Team to guide an organizational assessment and search process, and you will receive regular progress reports from this Team.

On a personal note, I'm not sure what's next for me.  Right now my focus is on preparing for the 2016 legislative session, and for a healthy transition for JRLC.  Then my plan is to take a little time off to enjoy a blank slate and see what God calls me to do next — it’s a scary and exciting prospect.

Thank you for your support and friendship. Thank you for raising up your voice on behalf of justice. Onward!

With immense gratitude,

Brian Rusche

Over 100 Clergy Sign MFIP Letter

This letter, signed by 127 religious leaders, was delivered to Governor Dayton and all Minnesota Legislators on May 12th in the midst of budget and conference committee negotiations. The letter was drafted in cooperation with Catholic Charities, Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless, and the Prosperity for All Campaign. Over 100 signatories were obtained in 3 days.

May 12, 2015

Dear Governor Dayton, Speaker Daudt, Leader Bakk and all Minnesota Lawmakers,

First, thank you for your efforts to protect the dignity of all Minnesotans. This principle is central to our public life and in the work of Minnesota’s faith communities. We stand with you to accomplish even more, so that every Minnesotan feels the effect of justice-inspired public policies and a true prosperity for all.

With some urgency, we are writing because we sense there may be a “parting of the Red Sea” with respect to raising the basic cash assistance level for poor families participating in the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP). As you know, and as anti-poverty advocates and those experiencing poverty are acutely aware, the basic MFIP cash assistance has not been raised since 1986, and has been stuck at $532 for a family of three despite nearly thirty years of rising costs for housing, food, transportation, and other basic needs.

We are encouraged that both the Governor’s Supplemental Budget and the Senate’s Omnibus Health and Human Services Finance Bill include a $100 per month increase in the basic MFIP cash assistance.

As leaders in the faith community, we work every day with our congregations responding to Minnesotans in need who are looking for pathways out of poverty. We see heroic efforts on the part of families to secure work and to provide for their children. To maximize all of our efforts, we strongly urge you to act this year and pass a $100 per month increase in the MFIP basic cash assistance. Please remember, about 70 percent of MFIP recipients are children.

Our support for a cash assistance increase recalls the early creation of MFIP and the social contract that we Minnesotans laid forth: expect work, support work, and reward work. It simply is no longer possible to support or reward work with an ever-shrinking 30 year-old cash assistance amount that serves to trap families in deep poverty.

Please seize this historic opportunity to raise the MFIP cash assistance level by $100 per month this year. Together, let us protect human dignity, fight poverty, reward work, and build prosperity for all.


Judicatory, Statewide, and Regional Leadership

Mr. Jason Adkins, Minnesota Catholic Conference

Bishop Jon Anderson, Southwestern Minnesota Synod - ELCA

Mr. Owais Bayunus, Islamic Center of Minnesota

Rev. Canon Peg Chemberlin, Minnesota Council of Churches

Ms. Patrice Critchley-Menor Diocese of Duluth, Duluth

Rev. Robert T Cuthill, Presbytery of Twin Cities Area

Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner, Diocese of Crookston

Mr. Steve Hunegs, Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas

Bishop John M. LeVoir, Diocese of New Ulm

Archbishop John C. Nienstedt, Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis

Bishop Bruce R. Ough, Minnesota Conference - United Methodist Church

Rev. Sharon Prestemon, Minnesota Conference United Church of Christ

Bishop John M. Quinn, Diocese of Winona

Mr. Brian Rusche, Joint Religious Legislative Coalition

Ms. Lee Stuart, CHUM, Duluth

President Noya Woodrich, Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches


Congregation and Faith Community Leadership

Dr. Larry J Alderink, St Luke Presbyterian Church, Wayzata

Rabbi Morris J. Allen, Beth Jacob Congregation, Mendota Heights

Rev. Laurie Boche, Hope United Methodist Church, Duluth

Ms. Nancy Bratrud, Minnesota Friends, Preston

Rev. Richard Buller, Valley Community Presbyterian Church, Golden Valley

Rev. Sarah Campbell, Mayflower United Church of Christ, Minneapolis

Rev. David Carlson, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, Duluth

Rev. David E. Cobb, Spirit of Joy Christian Church, Lakeville

Ms. Courtney Mae Cochran,Duluth-Superior Friends Meeting, Duluth

Rev. Dr. James E. Cook, Valley Community Presbyterian Church, Golden Valley

Rev. Anita Cummings Presbyterian Church of the Way, Shoreview

Rabbi Alexander Davis, Beth El Synagogue, St. Louis Park

Rev. Michael A DeKraai, Holy Cross Evangelical Lutheran Church, Duluth

Pastor Doug Donley, University Baptist Church, Minneapolis

Rev. Dave Donnay, OSC, Crosier Community, Onamia

Pastor Laurie Eaton, Our Saviour's Lutheran Church, Minneapolis

Pastor Jerome Evavold, Trinity Lutheran Church, Duluth

Rabbi Jeremy Fine, Temple of Aaron, St. Paul

Rev. Meghan K. Gage-Finn, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Minneapolis

Pastor Mark Fugere, Salem Evangelical Free Church, Moorhead

Rev. Buff Grace, Episcopal Church of the Ascension, Stillwater

Rev. William C. Graham, St Michael Parish, Duluth

Pastor Josias Hansen Third Way Church, St. Paul

Rev. Cheryl Harder, Trinity Episcopal, Hermantown

Rev. Dr. Timothy Hart-Andersen, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Minneapolis

Rabbi Hayim Herring, Herring Consulting Network, Minneapolis

Mr. Noah Hobbs, Our Savior's Lutheran, Duluth

Rev. T. Ewen Holmes, Plymouth Presbyterian Church, Plymouth

Rev. Alfred Joseph Hopwood, Saints Martha & Mary Episcopal Church, Eagan

Rev. Eliot N Howard, Linden Hills United Church of Christ, Minneapolis

Ms. Jane Jarnis, St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Duluth

Rev. Dr. Vaughn R. Jefferson, Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area, Maplewood

Rev. Timothy M. Johnson, Cherokee Park United Church, Saint Paul

Rev. Bruce Johnson, Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Duluth

Rev Deborah Kielsmeier, Christ Presbyterian, Edina

Rev. Judith Allen Kim, Westminster Presbyterian, Excelsior

Rev. Brian Konkol, Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter

Ms. Linda Kotschevar, First United Methodist of the St. Cloud Region, Waite Park

Rabbi Harold Kravitz, Adath Jeshurun Congregation, Minnetonka

Rev. Mark Kuether, Congregational United Church of Christ, Detroit Lakes

Rev. Mary Leisman, North Presbyterian Church, Oak Park Heights

Rev. David M Liddle, Westminster Presbyterian, Minneapolis

Rev. Robert Lundberg, Presbyterian Homes & Services, Eden Prairie

Mr. Malcolm Macaulay, St. Michaels Catholic Lakeside, Duluth

Ms. Patti Maguire, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, Duluth

Rev. Catherine Malotky, Edina Community Lutheran Church, Edina

Rev. Barbara Martin, Union Congregational UCC, St. Louis Park

Rev. Dr. Edwin Martin, Westminster Presbyterian, Burnsville

Rev. Dr. Margaret McCray, Westminster Counseling Center, Minneapolis

Ms. Lisa McDonald, St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church, Moorhead

Ms. Shivon Miller, Trinity Lutheran, Duluth

Rev. Doug Mitchell, Westminster Presbyterian, Minneapolis

Ms. Lucy Mungai, Messiah Church, Minneapolis

Rev. Jen Nagel, Salem English Lutheran Church, Minneapolis

Ms. Vivian Jenkins Nelsen, Westminster Presbyterian, Minneapolis

Rev. Kathryn Nelson, Peace United Church of Christ, Duluth

Mr. Jake Nelson, St Michael's Catholic Church, Duluth

Rev. Dr. Paula Nordhem, Spirit of Joy Disciples of Christ, Burnsville

Rev. Helen O'Brien, St. Paul Mennonite Fellowship, St. Paul

Rev. Ellen O'Neill, Peace United Church of Christ, Duluth

Rev. Clay Oglesbee, United Methodist District Superintendent, Northfield

Pastor Craig Pederson, Grace Lutheran Church, Minneapolis

Pastor Melissa Pohlman, Central Lutheran Church, Minneapolis

Rev. Riz Prakasim, New Life Presbyterian Church, Roseville

Pastor Gwin Pratt, St. Luke Presbyterian Church, Wayzata

Rev. Dr. Robyn Provis, Salem Evangelical Lutheran, Minneapolis

Rev. Ingrid Rasmussen, Holy Trinity Lutheran, Minneapolis

Ms. Linda Riddle, St. Mark AME, Duluth

Rev. Paul G. Rider, St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church, Mankato

Rev. Don Rudrud, Calvary Lutheran, Minneapolis

Pastor Joetta Schlabach, Faith Mennonite Church, Minneapolis

Rev. Dean Seal, Shepherd of the Hill Presbyterian Church, Chaska

Pastor Joy Smith, Presbyterian Church of the Apostles, Burnsville

Rev. Robert Smith, Spirit of Life Presbyterian, Apple Valley

Rabbi Adam Stock Spilker, Mount Zion Temple, St. Paul

Rev. Gordon C. Stewart, Shepherd of the Hill Presbyterian, Chaska

Dr. Don Streufert, First Lutheran, Duluth

Pastor Jeff Teeples, Hawley Lutheran Church, Hawley

Rabbi Adam Titcher, Adath Jeshurun Congregation, Minnetonka

Mr. Matt Traynor, Peace Church, Duluth

Ms. Shannon Wagner, CHUM, Duluth

Rev. Jason Wahlstrom, Holy Nativity Lutheran Church, New Hope

Rev. Deborah Walkes, Vineyard United Methodist Church, Hutchinson

Pastor Gary Walpole, Peace United Methodist Church, Shoreview

Rev. Wayne Walther, Woodbury-Peaceful Grove United Methodist, Red Wing

Rev. H G Wardlaw Jr, House of Hope Presbyterian, St. Paul

Rev. Suzanne Wasilczuk, Mesabi Unitarian Universalist Church, Virginia

Rev. Marilyn (Casey) Wells, Central Presbyterian, Saint Paul

Rabbi David Wirtschafter, Temple Israel, Minneapolis

Rabbi Marcia Zimmerman, Temple Israel, Minneapolis

President Renee Zurn, Holy Rosary Society St. Mary Star of the Sea, Duluth


Retired and Independent Clergy, and Lay Leaders

Rev. Lindsay Biddle, Saint Louis Park

Ms. Sharon Binger, Stillwater

Rev. Dr. John R. Buzza, Saint Paul

Ms. Joann Chesser, Duluth

Ms. Alice Delawyer, Our Saviors Lutheran, Duluth

Ms. Jean Esler, Holy Family Catholic, Duluth

Mrs. Sharon Grugel, St. Joseph’s Parish, Moorhead

Rev. Dr. Sheila Gustafson, Oak Park Heights

Rev. Robert Hamilton, Northfield

Rev. Keith Homstad, Northfield

Rev. Robert Hudnut, Cottage Grove

Ms. Charlotte Juntunen, First Lutheran, Duluth

Mr. Charles Keller, St. Joseph’s Parish, Moorhead

Ms. Lorene Liddle, Westminster Presbyterian, Minneapolis

Rev. Robert E. Lucas, Edina

Rev. Richard Lundy, Excelsior

Ms. Kim Randolph, McGregor

Rev. Dr. Mary Bigelow McMillan, Roseville

Rev. Elizabeth Raitt, Woodbury

Rev. Gale Robb, St. Paul

Justice for Mother's Day


Mother’s Day is a holiday that is rooted in justice. The idea was born of Julia Ward Howe's "Mother's Day Proclamation" which called for us to honor mothers by working for peace. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson's Mother's Day Proclamation said that the holiday should be "a public expression of love and reverence for the mothers of our country."

Julia Ward Howe

The faith traditions of JRLC hold mothers in high esteem…from the Catholic reverence of Mary as Holy Mother, to the Old Testament commandment to respect one’s parents, to the saying of the Prophet Muhammad that “Heaven lies under the feet of your mother.”

This holiday is not only a great chance for us to focus on expressions of love and gratefulness to our own mothers, but also to work towards more just policies for mothers in Minnesota, especially those who struggle mightily to nurture their families and keep them safe against tough odds presented by poverty, domestic violence, illness, and disability.

The Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) is the state workforce development program for low-income families which provides basic economic assistance for approximately 70,000 children and 28,000 parents to help them move out of poverty. Yet, as costs keep rising for families, the basic grant level for MFIP has not been increased in 29 years. An increase of the basic grant by $100/month is included in the budgets proposed by the Governor and the Minnesota Senate, but not the Minnesota House.

Join us this year, as we express our love and reverence for ALL mothers in Minnesota by raising our voices in support of policies that help ensure they can build a better future for themselves and their families.

  • Share this post and/or the image of our Mother’s Day statement posted on our Facebook & Twitter pages via your own social media pages.

  • Download and print the half page Mother’s Day MFIP statement to distribute among your faith community.

  • Request that your clergyperson or faith community leader sign this letter that will be sent to Minnesota lawmakers in support of MFIP increases, or sign yourself if you are clergy.


Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers, from the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition.