letter writing instructions

Letter writing for Peace and Social Concerns: This is what the person handling letter writing for the month does.  As of October 2016, letter writing is on the third Sunday of the month, the day of Fellowship Lunch.

  1. The topic: You get to decide on the topic, though it may have come up in a P&SC meeting. Often but not always it is a topic suggested by FCNL. For this, go tohttp://www. fcnl.org, and click on the “Take Action” button near the top of the page. Then choose “Latest Action Alert.” If that topic doesn’t seem appropriate for some reason, there are typically half a dozen or so actions on their website, so you can choose a different one.
  2. Background info for letter-writers: FCNL provides info/talking points on each of their issues. Select and print out some information for letter-writers to look over so that they feel at least a little informed. Not too much, or it will be ignored – half a page or less. I suggest printing a number of copies so that you can spread them out along the length of the table and everyone isn’t attempting to look at one piece of paper. Then make sure you remember to bring these half-pages on Sunday. 🙂  Some Friends may choose to take the half-sheet home to write from there.
  3. Prepare information showing the website URL or email address of the recipient of the letter, and make that available to Friends who don’t get a letter written at the meetinghouse but who think they might compose and send an email message from home.  This information should be added to the half-sheet described in step 2.
  4. Occasionally we experiment with on-the-spot electronic submissions, since many legislators and the President provide forms on their websites for people to use to send in opinions.  If this applies, be sure to get the URLs of these forms so that people can use an online form rather than paper if they wish.  Put these on the half-page of background information available on the table.
  1. Announcement: You announce (during announcement time) that it is letter-writing Sunday, and give a thumbnail sketch of the topic. Make it brief but compelling.
  2. Physical set-up: Set up a table. The folding tables are stored under the counter by the kitchen window in the fellowship room. Since it is Fellowship Lunch day, set the table up oriented like other lunch tables. Another person will materialize and help you (or you can directly ask someone to do so). Set up folding chairs around the table. Get out letter-writing materials, which are stored in the small cupboard that is underneath the Peace and Social Concerns bulletin board. There are pens, postcards, blank paper, envelopes, and sheets with the mailing addresses of Congresspeople. Have the owners of computers set them up, connect them to the internet, and open up a browser, pointed at the website of a congressional representative or senator, and to his/her “contact me” page.
  3. Even though you have printed out info, people may ask, “What’s the topic?” and then “What do we say?” Try to answer both questions briefly and then refer them to the printed info page for more info. You may have to do this over and over (for different people). Encourage people to sign their letters with their address in addition to their name so that the recipient can reply to them.
  4. Put paper, pens, envelopes, information sheets, etc. away again.

9.  Formerly Roger faxed in the letters.  However, now most US and Massachusetts legislators and the President do not make their fax numbers public, so the letters have to be mailed in.  You have to do this unless the letter writer is willing to mail it him/herself.  For Washington legislators, mail the letters to the local office to avoid the Washington anthrax delay.  Keep track of expenses (stamps etc) since our P&SC committee has a budget to pay you back.

  1. Remember those info sheets you prepared? (step 2 above)
    a. Send an electronic copy to Roger, for posting on Mt. Toby’s website.
    b. Post a paper copy on the P&SC bulletin board, under the letter-writing header (replacing the previous topic)

[updated September 2018.]