How One Person Can Make a difference by Beth Reilly, member of Aldersgate United Methodist Church Fort Wayne, Indiana



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How One Person Can Make A Difference...


by Beth Reilly, member of Aldersgate United Methodist Church

Fort Wayne, Indiana


Whether Working Individually, Building a Coalition, or Working Within a Coalition -- You Can Make a Difference

How One Person Can Make A Difference...

by Beth Reilly, member of Aldersgate United Methodist Church

Fort Wayne, Indiana
Whether Working Individually, Building a Coalition, or Working Within a Coalition -- You Can Make a Difference
Working Individually
Examples of what you can do include:
Write letters to your Congress Member

http://www.house.gov/zip/ZIP2Rep.html or Senator http://www.opencongress.org/person/senators 

Write letters to the editor and calling the newspaper to ask for more coverage

Write in your church/conference newsletter

Speak to groups about Darfur & encourage additional letter-writing

Participate in online advocacy with organizations like Save Darfur      

                                

Building a Community/Coalition
As the Companion stated:

"To keep us in the fight we need a culture of active discipleship, a community that nourishes sustained engagement with the world around us."


That was very true for me.  I knew I needed a community for support and sustained engagement, so connecting with others became very important to me as I was working individually.  
I also knew that a community would be able to send a stronger message.  I knew that one letter to Senator Lugar (R-IN) was good; 100 would be better; 1000 would be best, so building a coalition became a priority.  
Examples of what one person can do to begin building a coalition:   

1. Talk about Darfur, ask questions about what is being done/what can be done

2. Push open doors to see which ones will lead somewhere

3. Send letters, contact state religious leaders, call other congregations

4. Begin connecting interested individuals & initiate planning 

5. Keep up with the latest information about news from Sudan and advocacy

6. Commit to getting it done (stuffing envelopes, calling the media, meeting with 

a staffer)

7. be persistent, to continue setting goals and working towards them

8. be persistent to continue connecting and building the coalition, so that the message to help Sudan will become stronger and stronger

My initial connection was with my pastor, then with several other ministers, including the Methodist Communications Person in Indiana.  These connections led to connecting with the Jewish community, the Darfurians, students… and we became a diverse coalition.                 
Working Within a Coalition
1. Started small and local, and as the coalition grew, our goals grew. 

   


Examples of what we did as a coalition included:
ACTION-Worship service for Darfur with petition

RESULT-Local Representative in Congress became very supportive at that point
ACTION-Prayer vigil concluding with a visit to Senators' offices

RESULT-This got Senator Lugar’s attention
ACTION-We had a phone conference with Senator Lugar's expert on African affairs  

RESULT-got his contact info and was able to continue dialogue with him

   


One of the biggest challenges for me, because I wasn’t comfortable taking on this role as the Companion states:

"Must become a willing spokesperson, trusting God that you will find the self-confidence to rise to the occasion to speak up confidently, sincerely and persuasively."   


Hosted speakers to raise awareness / participated in the Million Postcards campaign

Coordinated State-wide call-ins in favor of national legislation for Darfur. Senator Lugar was Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and the coalition was able to work together to move legislation

Organized phone conference with Sudanese Ambassador and religious leaders about concern for Darfur and the will to divest

Worked with state legislators to move divestment through the General Assembly



Held a State-wide rally in Indianapolis at the State House (800) with speakers and petition-signing and press
RESULT-Created pressure to pass divestment legislation

RESULT-Organized a Face to Face meeting between Senator Lugar and state religious/community leaders in Indiana

RESULT-Clear message to Senator Lugar that Darfur is an important issue for religious leaders in his state.
So whether you are working as an individual, or you are building a coalition, or you are working with a coalition, hopefully this will give you some ideas about what you can do, because one person can make a difference.


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