Friday, March 31, 2017

A Script to Encourage Congregants to Write Letters (2017 Version)

All Saints Lutheran Church in Albuquerque is scheduled to hold its Offering of Letters on Sunday, May 7. The congregation is one of six churches that had scheduled a letter-writing Sunday as of the end of March.

Bread for the World's 2017 Offering of Letters is focused on urging members of Congress to make funding decisions that put our country and the world on track toward ending hunger. We want Congress to fund and protect programs such as SNAP, WIC, international poverty focused development assistance, and tax credits for low-income workers.

Every year, Lucretia Tippit and her organizing team use a handy tool to introduce the Offering of Letters to the congregation: reader's theater.  Last year's script produced 84 letters to Congress

Lucretia and her team are hoping for similar results with this year's script.

A: You know today is the day we are asked to write letters to our congressional representatives and senators.
B: (sigh) I know. I write every year. But sometimes I wonder if it does any good. People seem to get poorer and poorer and hungrier and hungrier.
A: Well. Not really. It seems that way, but for the first time since the 2007 recession, U.S. poverty and food insecurity have actually declined. But you’re right, especially here in New Mexico the poverty rate is still too high. We are the second worst state for childhood hunger and the overall hunger rate is 17.2%--that translates to 358, 770 people.
B: I can believe it. My neighbor is a single mother with 2 children. She works 2 jobs, but still doesn’t earn enough to put food on the table plus pay her rent and utilities. She gets food stamps and is eligible for WIC, but the money never seems to stretch to the end of the month. I help her whenever I can, but she doesn’t like to accept hand-outs. Sometimes I insist or let her know where a food bank is that I hear about.
Lucretia Tippit (right) attended the 2017 OL workshop
A: That’s understandable What she needs is a hand up. That’s why we need to write to Congress and urge them to fight to preserve the anti- hunger programs like SNAP, WIC and EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT.
B: And I know military families and veterans are suffering also. Not only are they suffering unemployment but many of them are getting poor health care. 
A: Yes, Senator Heinrich is on the committee for veterans and the military, so you can mention that when you write him.
B: But with the cutbacks that President Trump and the Republicans are considering, is there any hope that these programs will be saved? And what about hunger and poverty world-wide? I hear programs that have been successful globally are on the chopping block also.
A That’s why we have to write our letters. Remember, international assistance for hunger and poverty makes up less than 1% of our national budget. A budget is a moral document as well as a financial one. Our federal budget should be measured on how it treats the most vulnerable people among us.
B: But do you think we can ever end hunger and poverty by the year 2030? Won’t the poor always be with us?

A: We’ve made great strides already. Since 1990, global hunger has decreased by nearly half. Pope Francis, Bill Gates and the World Bank have presented convincing evidence that ending hunger and extreme poverty by 2030 is within reach and most U.S. pastors agree. It’s a matter of cooperation between churches, non-governmental organizations plus government programs. The U.S. needs to do its part and maintain, not cut the programs that have been so successful around the world.
B: (sigh)How many letters do I have to write? Frankly, I don’t understand all these programs and their initials. What’s the “down to the nitty gritty” message I need to include?

Children helped bless letters written in 2016
A: We’d like you to write at least 2 letters—one to your representative and 1 to a senator. All the instructions and materials are on the tables in Fellowship Hall. And there is a sample letter. We are asking Congress to make funding decisions that put us on track to end hunger by 2030.
B: I hate to admit it, but my hand gets tired writing. Can I take the information home with me and type out a letter? What about e-mailing? That’d be even easier.
A: Hand written letters are still the most effective, especially when they are delivered in bulk. But yes, you can type them and bring them back next Sunday when we dedicate the letters. Also, this year you can also e-mail. I can give you more information on that after the service. There is a sample letter in your bulletin today that you can use to help you at home.
B: Well you made it pretty easy. I’ll definitely participate. It is extremely important that Congress gets the message. I can see that.

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