A couple of years back my good friend Jose Cortes Jr organized a march against violence in New York. I always wondered what it would look like to do the same in other cities. Thanks to his template, last Sabbath afternoon the members of over 40 churches in the Atlanta area totaling close to 1,000 people gathered in Plaza Fiesta in Atlanta to walk together and align ourselves with peace and not violence. We were able to impact thousands of onlookers, get over 25k hits on social media in one day because of press coverage, and let the community know we care.
This was part of concerted effort in Atlanta where we finished a SEASON of SERVICE with thousands of acts of kindness with eternal impact. (http://www.mycitysos.com)
Here are the benefits I saw:
- Changes perceptions of the community.
The comments on the Facebook page from the news outlet reveal the positive impact that the community had towards the church. Comments like “it’s about time the church did something that matters” and “thank you Adventist church” were common. In case you had not heard, Christianity has an image problem, specifically with millennials. This helped the community see we care about what they are going through.
- Changes lives of victims.
Without revealing too much as a result of the activity a life was saved, a victim of domestic abuse was delivered from a horrible situation and when they saw hundreds marching felt empowered to say enough. I’m pretty sure they are not the only ones.
- Changes perspectives of our members.
Some members were hesitant but at the end saw the impact we did. We were able to pray, build relationships with law enforcement as well as the media and property owners of the mall we walked around. The owners which were skeptical at first, invited us back for a Christmas concert or other similar activities.
Here is the process we used in 10 steps:
- Pick a date 3-6 months in advance.
- Pick the cause. We chose End it Now campaign because its worldwide, recognizable and a felt need in our community. Here is the website for artwork, videos etc. http://www.enditnow.org/
- Secure permits. At least 3 months before. Talk to the police and if applicable the property owners of where the march will take place.
- Promote like crazy. Ask people to bring posters that say our name. The Youth Federation (UJAM) was instrumental. Check out all the pictures of the event as well as videos here https://www.facebook.com/ujam.atlanta?fref=nf
- Expect some pushback. Any idea that matters will. Don’t let it disturb you.
- Wear similar colors. (Check out the sea of white above)
- Let the media know through press release at least one month prior, then 2 weeks, then the week of.
- March. Usually 1-1.5 miles is great. Have flyers available with information of upcoming events you may want to promote that help the community.
- Have a short ceremony to end. Pray, a short speech and thanks, maybe an instrumental number.
- Clean up your area.
Any questions, please let me know.