The Scribe asked him, "Which commandment is the first of all?" Jesus answered, "The first is, 'Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:28a-31a)
How to Get Started
We can think about the process of becoming a good advocate in three steps: Step In, Step Back, and Step Up. (Adapted from Joseph R. Campbell's TED Talk, 5 Steps to Becoming an Advocate.)
Stepping in means taking a moment to reflect on our individual motivations for advocacy. For many of us here, those motivations are faith based: we believe that advocacy is a ministry of the Church and a way of acting in our calling as Christians. Take some time to ask yourself why you believe in advocacy and what causes are most important to you. What is your personal connection to the issue?
Stepping back means taking the time to do your research. Instead of just diving in, ask yourself: do I understand the broader context of this issue? Do I know what kinds of advocacy work have been done on this issue so far? Many advocacy issues are interrelated and intersectional, meaning that healthcare advocacy may be related to housing advocacy or poverty advocacy may be related to racial justice. Stepping back also means understanding how our government and legislative branch function.
Stepping up means taking action! There are tons of ways individuals can participate in the kinds of advocacy that speak to them: you can call your representative or tag them in a tweet, you can attend a rally or start conversations with your friends and family.
Below are resources that will help you through each step of the process.
Each of us has a unique story, and we are part of a larger story that makes up the faith community. The resources below will help you connect your faith to advocacy efforts in the world.
ELCA Social Statements
ELCA social statements are teaching and policy documents that provide broad frameworks to assist us in thinking about and discussing social issues in the context of faith and life. These statements are the ones most related to LEAMNJ's issue priorities:
Take a moment to learn more about the issues you are passionate about. The resources below contain information about the purpose of advocacy, key issues facing New Jersey, and up to date details about bills currently moving in the House and Senate.
New Jersey Resources
Key New Jersey issues organized by county, including Health, Employment, Education, Housing, and more.
How much do you need to earn to afford a modest apartment in New Jersey?
ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) households are those that earn above the Federal Poverty Line, but not enough to afford basic household necessities.
Legislative bills go through a process of review and amendment that can sometimes change them completely. Advocacy groups (like us!) pay close attention to bills as they move through the House and the Senate to make sure they aren't being watered down. The two resources below can help you follow or learn more about bills on the issues that are most important to you.