Congratulations to Ellen Schoepf, our ONE Member of the Month for March. Since joining ONE last year, Ellen, who hails from Portland, Maine, has shown an inspiring eagerness to bring others from her church and community into the fight against global extreme poverty and to take action. Ellen attends numerous petition deliveries, hosts Advocacy in Action events at her church, and works tirelessly to get her congregation involved.
In college, I majored in organ performance and minored in piano performance. My “first career” was all about music – I was the music director in a church and worked for the symphony in Michigan as the principle keyboard player. Shortly thereafter, I made the move to Maine and pursued something that had really been in my heart since high school. I made the decision to go to seminary, graduated in 2011, and was ordained in 2012.
According to Theologian Frederick Buechner, “Vocation is where our greatest passion meets the world’s greatest need.” As a pastor, I’ve been able to combine my love of music and social justice ministry and truly feel that I’ve found my vocation.
How did you get involved with ONE?
The regional field director for my area, Brian Sweeney, recruited me last summer. At that point I knew very little about ONE, but I quickly became involved and passionate about the cause. I organized people in the congregation at my church to write letters and sign petitions.
As part of our advocacy work, we asked Congresswoman Chellie Pingree to cosponsor the Electrify Africa bill in the House of Representatives. The Congresswoman signed on as a cosponsor thanks to our meeting with her and my congregation realized how important, and effective, advocacy can be – and that they played an important part in her cosponsoring the bill in the House.
What has been your favorite experience volunteering with ONE?
Meeting with Senator Susan Collins during the Power Summit this year was an unforgettable experience. She was so approachable and open to listening to what we had to share. It really felt like our words made a difference in the way she thought about ONE’s issues.
Tell us about the ONE members in your area.
ONE members in my congregation are truly a cross-section of people – some are young and tech-savvy, others are middle-age, and we even have a good cohort of elderly people who may not have a computer but are very willing to write letters, sign postcards, and take action through other offline channels. People are so supportive of ONE’s work and so interested in advocating for justice, which is a huge part of the Lutheran faith.
What do you do in your spare time?
I work with the Portland community free clinic to secure sustainable and ongoing funding for the clinic. I also spend time helping out Bread for the World, work with an ecumenical clergy group in Portland and am currently working with members of congregation on a collaborative project to address homelessness in Portland.
Anything else you would like to share with our readers?
I truly believe in the work that ONE does. Even though I’m relatively new to the organization, I recognize that it provides us with a way to participate in shaping justice in the world. That is, after all, the reason we’re all called to live this life.
Big thank you to Ellen for all the inspiring work that she does for ONE. Want to nominate someone for the next Member of the Month? Email Malaka at email@example.com with the subject line, “Member of the Month.”