Sunday, May 21, 2017

An Offering of Letters, Step by Step

Bread for the World provides a useful set of resources to individual members and congregations with each year's Offering of Letters.  One resource that is always found in the resource packet is called  Conducting an Offering of Letters. "Whether you are new to letter-writing or are experienced in organizing people to speak out to our leaders in Washington, this 'how-to' section of the toolkit will help you prepare for an Offering of Letters," says Bread for the World. (Note: There are great tips for incorporating social media into a letter-writing campaign)

 All Saints Lutheran Church in Albuquerque would like to share the three-step process that organizers used to produce 66 letters to our congressional delegation for this year's campaign, entitled Doing Our Part to End Hunger.

Step 1 Promoting Your Event
Bread for the World: If a pulpit announcement is part of the worship service, it should reflect the experience of worship—encouraging faith and understanding of God’s message. Don’t just tell worshippers the details of the Offering of Letters. Tell them why this is important, grounding your words in your faith experience. Ultimately, you best know your faith community and what speaks to their hearts,

Every year, Lucretia Tippit and her organizing team write a skit to introduce the Offering of Letters to the congregation via a reader's theater.  Below is an excerpt, and here is the link to the full script for this year.

Lillian Edwards and Patty Fertig 
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

Gwenyeth Lewis, Pat Phaklides, George Holly, Lucy Archamboult
Step 2 Writing the Letters
Bread for the World: Identify a space for participants to write letters or send emails. Have available sample letters, paper, envelopes, pens, stamps, and names and addresses of members of Congress

All Saints Lutheran Church set up several tables for members of the congregation to write letters.  Church members wrote 23 letters to Sen. Tom Udall, 16 letters to Sen. Martin Heinrich, 10 letters to Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, 13 letters to Rep. Ben Ray Lujan and four letters to Rep. Steve Pearce.

Sunday School Class
Step 3  Blessing the Letters
Bread for the World: Gather the letters and bless them, and then thank people for participating. Count the total letters for each member of Congress, and then mail the individual letters to Capitol Hill.

On the Sunday after the actual Offering of Letters, the Sunday school children processed with the letters to the altar. Rev. Kristin Schultz then said a blessing over the letters before they were sent on to Congress. 

(Photos courtesy of Karen Hyde)

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