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UCC members, churches actively involved in Faith Action Network

Paul Benz and Elise Degooyer, co-directors of the Faith Action Network (FAN), recently wrote a letter to the PNC to express appreciation for the presence and support of PNC individuals and congregations in FAN work.

Paul Benz, top, and Elise DeGooyer, bottom, at 2017 Eastern Washington Legislative Conference in Spokane.

“We realize that while we are in close contact with some in the PNC, others may not receive regular updates from FAN,” Paul said.  “We hope to change that and open up greater lines of communication.”

Since FAN’s founding six years ago, PNC members have been active in shaping the work for justice, as well as being significant financial supporters.

Keystone UCC Pastor Rich Gamble co-chaired FAN’s Governing Board and inspired FAN’s vision for five years.  Recently, Jim Castrolang, pastor at First Congregational UCC in Colville, joined the FAN board to bring a UCC and Eastern Washington perspective to the statewide work.

“PNC Conference Minister Mike Denton is an important voice on our Interfaith Leaders’ Council, offering creative and faithful impetus for our public action together,” said Elise.

For each of the past three years, FAN has hosted Justice Leadership Program interns, who have contributed to the work of FAN, said Paul.

Twenty UCC churches work “hand-in-hand with FAN as members of its Network of Advocating Faith Communities in 19 geographic clusters,” he said.  “We are working with additional UCC congregations who have yet to formalize this relationship.

Mike Denton, center back, was among interfaith leaders meeting with Senator Patty Murray about the local and widespread effects of Islamophobia across our nation.

“This network now has 128 faith communities and includes 6,500 individuals, putting Christians, Jews, Muslims, Unitarians, Buddhists, Sikhs and Quakers in collaboration with each other for justice,” Paul said.

“UCC leaders abound in our work as liaisons, legislative district coordinators and workgroup facilitators, like Steve Clagett of the PNC’s Justice and Witness Ministries Committee,” Elise added.

Many in the UCC participate in such FAN events as the Interfaith Advocacy Day, Spring Summits and upcoming Fall Cluster Gatherings.  The clusters are opportunities to join other faith communities in area gatherings to build interfaith relationships and to engage in strategizing for advocacy.

Rich Gamble served as chair of the FAN Board.

There are also candidate forums, meetings with elected officials and opportunities to stand in solidarity while confronting Islamophobia, hate, racism and white supremacy.

“We don’t do this alone.  We do it in community and coalition,” said Elise.

FAN’s Annual Dinner on Sunday, Nov. 19 in Renton is a time to celebrate FAN’s efforts and gather strength for work ahead.

Paul and Elise also reported on some of the legislative victories in the 2017 session of the Washington State Legislature.

Linda and Randy Crowe, and Carol Bellinger of Westminster UCC in Spokane at the 2017 Eastern Washington Legislative Conference there.

“In a divided political climate, we have been able to celebrate 10 successful bills, most notably the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act and Higher Education in Prisons bill,” Paul said. “Both of these took many years of work with our partner coalitions to finally succeed. More information on the 10 bills is reported online on our End of Sessions Successes.

“We are grateful that an operating budget was finally passed with some additions for human services, but regret that more comprehensive tax code reforms were not implemented this session,” he said. "We await a Capital Budget agreement.”

University Congregational UCC members at the 2017 Faith Action Network Annual Dinner.

In addition to thanking those involved, FAN leaders encourage others to sign up for emails and action alerts at and follow FAN on its Facebook page.

“Most of all, we are grateful for the commitments of each individual and congregation in the PNC for their commitment to faithful justice work, within and outside of FAN,” said Elise.  “Your presence in FAN’s partnership for the common good is vital to us.”

FAN staff are available to speak at churches and offer technical support for advocacy.

For information, call 206-625-9790, email or visit

FAN shares successes, plans Fall Cluster Gatherings

The Faith Action Network offers a pdf file listing the 10 End of Session Successes in 2017.  They are in anti-human trafficking, criminal justice reform, economic justice/anti-poverty, environmental justice, gun safety and mental health.

The document is at

The Faith Action Network is also planning 20 Fall Cluster Gatherings in different geographic areas of the state. A list of those events is at  There are 20 UCC congregations participating in those interfaith gatherings with the 108 other network congregations.


Pacific Northwest United Church News © September-October 2017


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