Chapters & Churches: It's September Already!
Get on Track for a Spirit-Filled Fall
By Holly Miller
NRLC Field Coordinator
Next month is Respect Life month in the Catholic Church and that makes October a great month to boost your chapter's ties to local churches of all denominations.
Since churches are fertile ground for identifying pro-lifers and drawing them into the movement, by working closely with area churches, your message will be heard by a responsive audience often anxious to do more.
Churches will also be one of the best sources to collect signatures on petitions such as the Unborn Victims of Violence Act petition.
But how do you reach them? Community priests and pastors are your first points of contact. Approaching your own pastor and having other chapter members do the same is a good start.
Another idea would be to send a letter to every church in the community with your chapter's mission, goals, contact information, and upcoming events along with an invitation for them to contact you for more information or to get more involved. Be sure to place follow-up calls to the churches as well to make certain the pastor read the letter and to answer any questions he may have.
The religious leaders in many communities meet weekly or monthly. Speak with your own pastor about making a presentation to this group or having a flier distributed at its next meeting. Ask area pastors if they would recommend or appoint a member of their churches to serve as a liaison to the local chapter. This will facilitate church involvement with the chapter without creating additional obligations for the pastors.
Understanding that the schedules for pastors and priests are generally pretty full, accommodate them by making your requests easy to meet. For instance, many pastors intend to make pro-life information available in the church library "when they get around to it." Bring it around to them by creating kits of educational materials with videos, books, pamphlets, and local pregnancy resources.
And start small: Washington County Right to Life (WCRTL) in northwest Arkansas has been profiled in NRL News for its innovative program, Project S.O.U.L. (Save Our Unborn Lives). Wayne Mays, president of WCRTL and Arkansas Right to Life, explained, "Our leadership team of four agreed we could make the project work, and each committed to contact their own church, visit with their pastor or priest and get their commitment for prayer and financial and physical support of our chapter."
Regular reports and expanding the program by first involving the rest of the chapter's members, then other individuals in the community has led to relationships with and support from nearly 20 churches, a doubling of the chapter budget, and greater active participation in the organization.
In addition, participation in Life Chains, a "Spiritual Adoption" project is a wonderful program to coordinate with private Christian and parochial schools or Sunday schools and CCD classes. Encourage students and their families to "spiritually adopt" one unborn baby who is in danger of being aborted at the beginning of the school year. The family then prays daily for this unknown baby and that her parents will choose life.
Once a month, someone from your chapter should go to these classes and explain the child's development over the course of the past month to help the children understand the humanity of the unborn child. Nine months later, in May or June, teachers can hold baby showers for the spiritual adoptees in their classrooms and students can bring baby clothes and toys to donate to your crisis pregnancy center.
With the attention on the life issues next month, seize the opportunity to get churches more actively involved. Whether performing any of the above activities or working with pastors, collecting petition signatures after Sunday services, or getting youth groups involved in the Teens for Life group, churches are the natural place to find pro-lifers to form the base of support for your local chapter.
With the holidays and the 31st anniversary of Roe v. Wade just around the corner, there's no time like the present!