Civic Participation Tools for Faith Communities

By Keisha E. McKenzie, PhD, and Sabrina E. Dent, DMin

The Center for Faith, Justice, and Reconciliation (CFJR) and Union Presbyterian Seminary’s Center for Social Justice and Reconciliation recently partnered to offer a civic literacy-policy advocacy training for faith communities.

Civic literacy is about learning to engage the leaders, representatives, and administrators who run our communities, governments, and public services. It includes activities that each of us can do regardless of our citizenship status.

Part of being engaged community members, especially in these times, is learning more about the tools and resources that are available to us and that allow us to act for justice on issues that shape how we can live and thrive together. This training was introduced by Dr. Sabrina E. Dent, CFJR president, and facilitated by Andrea Miller, founding board member and policy strategist at the Center for Common Ground.

In this 90-minute presentation, they introduced participants to how to engage in digital advocacy, create a social media kit, prepare for a press conference, how to meet with legislators, and more.

Watch the video to see which new tools you might be able to put into practice in your own community.

[Civic Literacy – Policy Advocacy Slides from the Center for Common Ground – PDF]

In February 2022, the Center for Faith, Justice, and Reconciliation used these digital advocacy tools, partnering with Faithful America, Clergy Action RVA, and over 200 faith leaders to urge Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin “to protect our children by understanding the moral implications of your recent executive orders which cause harm to the communities we serve.”

Dr. Dent explained why she felt compelled to advocate.

As a parent of a school-aged child, the health and well-being of our children and public school educators remain a priority. The decision to remove mask mandates put children with compromised immune systems at risk even more: not every child was eligible for the vaccination at the time. Personally, I was disgusted that the Governor would recognize frontline workers at his inauguration only to sign an executive order that put them in danger. The COVID rates were still high.”

Leaders of faith and moral courage can use these simple digital advocacy tools to engage local and state decision-makers on the issues that affect their communities.

Check out the press release and letter [PDF] and see these engagement tools in action.


Dr. Sabrina E. Dent is the president of the Center for Faith, Justice, and Reconciliation (Richmond, VA) and cohost of Sister Act, a podcast on interfaith solidarity, resilience, and gender. Dr. Keisha E. McKenzie is Auburn’s Senior Vice President of Programs and a board member at CFJR.

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