Behind the scenes: USCPR’s role in church divestment

Posted on Jul 26, 2018

Dale Loepp of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America tells of the common organizing thread connects the church divestment wins: US Campaign for Palestinian Rights.

US Campaign on Palestinian rights
Dear Supporter,

Ten days ago, my heart surged when I learned that The Episcopal Church had voted to join with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) in creating an investment screen to remove investments in companies profiting from Israel’s human rights abuses. This was the fruit of nearly a decade of work by the Episcopal Peace Fellowship Palestine Israel Network. This victory was particularly personal since I had helped lead the successful ELCA campaign two years ago.

A common organizing thread connects the church divestment wins that came before ours—Presbyterian Church (USA), United Church of Christ, and others—to those that came after ours, like the Mennonite Church (USA) in 2017 and the Episcopal Church this month. That thread is the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights.

Back in 2016, our humble ELCA group, Isaiah-58, was rich with passion and commitment but we didn’t have the capacity or organizing expertise to get an investment screen passed. A similar resolution to the one we were supporting had failed miserably three years earlier. We knew our chances of success were minimal.

An ELCA member suggested that we reach out to USCPR’s Director of Organizing & Advocacy, Anna Baltzer, for support. There was some initial skepticism over bringing in a church outsider but as it turned out, Anna’s presence, along with other allies, was the key to our success! Our resolutions for an investment screen and ending unconditional US aid to Israel both passed by more than 80 percent, something none of us could ever have dreamed of!

Supporter, I’ve seen firsthand how USCPR supports the movement for Palestinian rights and amplifies the work of groups like ours. I’d like USCPR to be able to do even more and I hope you agree. Your tax-deductible gift to USCPR today would do so much to ensure that they can continue to support church communities like ours in advancing the fight for freedom, justice and equality for Palestinians.


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Keep reading below to find out how Anna and USCPR was able to support us in our mission.

Anna did what any good organizer would do: she respected our leadership and understood that every church is different. Rather than forcing an outside agenda, Anna contributed her organizing savvy, planning skills, and cumulative lessons learned from other campaigns, while still taking the time to learn about our church culture and history. Along with other allies, she built up our own leadership and legislative strategy, and cheered us on to victory.But there’s something else: Anna also invited experienced organizers from other churches to share their knowledge. Bob Ross from the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA) generously came and heavily supported us. Then, Anna invited me to support the Mennonite Church’s successful campaign last year and The Episcopal Church assembly this year. The opportunities for ecumenical and interfaith learning, facilitated by USCPR, have been immense and rewarding.

In other words, USCPR does more than just support church divestment wins. They are instrumental in building coalitions and a movement culture of church groups supporting one another as an investment in long-term power. They know that the more we work together and help each other, the greater will be our power to effect change.

When you invest in USCPR, you invest in major victories for economic action and a long-term strategy of building collective power. In fact, when you give to the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, you get us that much closer to the next church win for freedom, justice, and equality. Supporter, can you invest in USCPR today, with the most generous gift you can, to be a part of that next victory?

I know you share my commitment to Palestinian rights. Join me in being a part of USCPR’s major contributions to our shared vision of freedom, justice, and equality with a gift today.

Towards justice,
Isaiah-58, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

P.S. Nusayba, please support this work by making a tax-deductible donation, at any amount right for you, so that we can continue to help make possible these historic victories with our partners. Your support today will lead to more wins and get us closer to our shared goal of freedom, justice, and equality for Palestinians.