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Ideas for Advocacy  Networking

Here are some general advocacy ideas for you to put to use.

Have a lunch and letter, or coffee and communication time. Brainstorm regarding an issue that might be included in a letter. Write and address the letter.

Designate a Sunday when letters can be given as an offering in the offering plate. Be creative. If the letter is on food policy consider writing a campaign on paper plates.

Form a telephone tree for quick communication when emergency action is needed (see below).

Form a group to study and discuss information sent on issues and/or the social statements of the church.

Form a group of persons interested in research and study of issues.

Ask to meet with your congregation's Christian Education committee in order to include advocacy issues in the adult curriculum.

Ask your Assemblymember or State Senator to speak to an adult forum. Ask him/her to express what he/she sees as the most pressing concerns in the legislature and share yours.

Develop a bulletin board to display materials and newspaper articles related to advocacy.

Invite a staff member of the New York State Council of Churches to speak to your group, congregation, forum, retreat, social ministry committee, or church leadership.

Post advocacy/justice information for others to read.

Reserve time during Social Ministry Committee meetings to discuss an issue.

Ask persons who make phone calls or write letters to either send you copies or let you know how many and on what issues during a particular time period. Send this information to the New York State Council of Churches.

Form a letter-to-the-editor writing group. Encourage church groups to write letters to the editor as part of their witness.

Building a Network in Your Congregation

Goal: To find people willing to make a commitment to affect public policy from a faith perspective.

Some ways to discover these people:

Approach individuals personally and ask them to become involved in an advocacy network. Visit with them after worship, after a meeting, or ask them to coffee or lunch.

Have the church council designate an Advocacy Sunday.

Have a place designated after worship where individuals can join the New York State Council of Churches' public policy network.

Hold an Adult Forum on Advocacy. You might even want to write letters at the close.

Give a talk on advocacy.

Lift portions of the New York State Council of Churches' web site to put in your church newsletter.

Write an article about advocacy in your church newsletter.

Have a minute for mission and explain the advocacy network, the work of the New York State Council of Churches or an issue during worship.

Have advocacy network added to the time and talent sheet for stewardship.

Include advocates in your prayers.

Creating a Telephone Network

Below are suggestions to help you create a telephone network.

How to Call

State your name and say where you live, or say: "I'm a constituent."

State your concern /State your request:

"I'm calling to encourage Senator ZZZ to vote for Senate Bill #507."

Increase Your Impact - Create a Telephone Network

Person #1 receives a message and then calls two people. Person #10 receives two calls and telephones #1 to confirm that the message has been received. If #10 hears from only one side of the network, he or she only has a few people to call to find where the message got stuck.

This design asks for a very small commitment--only one or two phone calls per person.

Note that each person on the chain is the contact for their congregation. Each person can create a network in their congregation.

Who Decides When to Send a Message?

Call your person #1 when your representative or senators are key to the vote. If a local committee takes responsibility for starting messages, call the hotline numbers every month to keep track of what issues are "hot" in Congress. Decide as a group what issues your network will act on and whether non-legislative messages can be sent through the network.

How Often Should You Use the Network?

Every 3-8 weeks. More often than this demands too much time; but without use, telephone network members are likely to forget about it.  

How to Create a Telephone Network in Your Congregation

1. Talk to clergy and lay leaders before going ahead. Do you want to use the copier, phones, or get official approval?

2. Make public announcements, put up a poster, and put a notice in the bulletin. Then talk to people personally about joining the network. Don't expect that anyone will join the network because of an announcement, but do expect that people will respond if you invite them personally and tell them how limited and simple the network is.

Responsibilities of Telephone Network Members

Person #1:

Send a copy of the telephone network to all members.

Call hotline number every week.

Call persons #2 and #6 with action message if appropriate.

Receive a call from #10. Report calls and letters written by network members to legislators.

Person #10:

Call #1 when contacted by person #5 and #9.

If you do no hear from one side of the network within two days of hearing from the other side, call up the network to find where the message broke down.

Persons #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9:

Call the next person on the network to pass on the message and say what you plan to do (write a letter, call, ask some # of other people to write or call).

Notify congregation of action requested.

Person #2 or #6:

Take the place of #1 if s/he goes out of town.

To Keep the Network Fun and Functioning...

Have a social event as soon as the network is set up and every four month thereafter. Potlucks with a speaker or film and time for socializing are fun and enable us to build friendships. It's much more fun to meet the people on the network than to call unknown persons.