In the midst of this Advent season, even as we move through our days in hope-filled expectation of Emmanuel, God-With-Us, we pause to look back over the road we have traveled this past year. It has been a challenging, chaotic, heart-breaking and exhausting year in so many ways. Still, my heart overflows with gratitude for your tireless, faithful justice witness.
Although threats to justice and human dignity have been unrelenting, you have continued to engage and stand with the most vulnerable. You have shown love of creation, neighbor and children in your advocacy for a just world for all. Through calls, emails and visits to members of Congress, marches, public witnesses and border vigils, nonpartisan election engagement, letters to the editor and op-eds, study and theological reflection, you have broken through the false narrative of hatred, fear and scarcity.
The UCC Justice and Peace Action Network continues to grow, with over 18,000 members. UCC advocates have contacted their elected officials using our digital advocacy tools more than 58,545 times in 2018. Our collective rate of engagement continues to grow. This rise in denominational digital advocacy is unprecedented.
And you have made a difference. Just last week, Congress approved a bipartisan farm bill that protects the Supplemental Assistance Program (SNAP) and makes improvements to international food programs. You have helped to advance the conversation on gun violence prevention. You have re-energized the effort to restore and protect voting rights. You and your congregations have offered sanctuary, stood in solidarity with migrants and refugees, and helped to reweave the torn fabric of our common life. You have advocated for a just peace in conflict-torn regions around the world.
Your work brings new hope and possibility as we move into 2019 and a new Congress, one more diverse than ever. We will resume our Justice and Peace Action Network messaging in the new year. Along with heartfelt thanks, I pray that you find restoration in the holiday season, and enter January with renewed passion for justice advocacy. It is a blessing to be a partner with you in this work.
Continued courage in the struggle,
United Church of Christ Washington Office