Best practices for bringing youth and adults to a protest or march
March For Our Lives - Planning to Engage with Youth
It is important for you to know that while many Episcopal churches are engaging with the March For Our Lives, The Episcopal Church is not organizing the march. If you are planning to take a church sponsored group to participate in the March For Our Lives you are encouraged to do so as a pilgrimage. Pilgrims are on a journey, they are not headed for a destination. On a pilgrimage you enter into someone else’s space, it is important to maintain a posture of respect.
For the latest information on March For Our Lives events in DC, other U.S. cities and around the globe check out their official website: https://marchforourlives.com/ and be sure to keep an eye on the Episcopal Diocese of Washington webpage as well: The Episcopal Diocese of Washington - March for Washington
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The list below contains many best practices. Here is another resource from The Episcopal Church to consider as you discern your involvement: When Traveling with Youth...
Before You Go
- Tell your rector, bishop, and chancellor of your plans.
- Check you church’s insurance. You may need to secure a rider for the travel.
- Assign a chaplain - someone who’s paying particular attention to emotions and energy among pilgrims.
- Divide youth into subgroups with 1 adult responsible for subgroup.
- Ensure that all forms are completed, including a medical and media release for every participant.
- Keep a copy of all forms including participant and emergency phone numbers in online platform.
- Have each participant carry a copy of their own release form on their person during the march.
- Be sure to utilize the Safeguarding God’s Children rules and trainings for your adults and youth.
- As you prepare to march engage participants in reflection around how marching is an expression of faith.
- Educate yourself and form your participants on the Episcopal stance towards gun legislation reform.
- Train yourself in civil disobedience tactics including non-violent resistance.
- Be prepared to have hard conversations about new experiences.
- Absolutely reinforce the need for flexibility and forgiveness.
- Include prayer and worship as integral part of each day’s routine.
- Your cell phone might not work in the midst of a large crowd during the march. Let parents know this.
- You may not be permitted to carry a backpack or bag during the march.
- Everyone should carry water and food.
- Access to restrooms may be limited.
- People are going to be in your personal space - do not react if you are pushed or crowded.
- If you plan to engage in acts of civil disobedience know your rights and the rights of minors.
- Clearly communicate what minors may and may not do in terms of acts of civil disobedience.
- If you make protest signs the messages need to be appropriate and grounded in our common faith.
- If you are responsible for minors, you absolutely may not risk arrest.
- That being said, consider what you might do if a member of your group, adult or minor, is placed under arrest.
- Do not engage with counter-protesters, maintain respect, and be prepared to extract yourself if necessary.
In Case of Emergency
- Have a local contact.
- Give each participant the local and trip leaders contact information to carry on their person during the march.
- Orient yourself to local emergency services including the hospital and police station.
- Make a contingency plan in case your group gets separation. When separated participants should stay where they are. Establish a meeting point as well as emergency gathering point in a separate location from the march.
- Know that media will be present.
- Other participants will be covering the march on their social media. With this in mind, train your participants on how to engage with the march on social media.
- Consider if you want your group to be available to the media and assign 2-3 point people who are prepared to speak.
- If someone’s parent did not sign a media release, it is the adult’s job to intervene between the youth and the media.
The Local Diocese
Action & Advocacy
The Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations Take action with the Episcopal Public Policy Network on an assault weapons ban here and Tell the Senate to oppose the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act here.
Bishop Steve Lane, Diocese of Maine, wrote this litany that has been used in many places across the Church in the wake of tragedies from gun violence. It was written to be shared and adapted as needed: A Vigil in Response to an Act of Mass Violence
An Abrahamic Prayer at a Time of Grieving - This resource was adapted from various interfaith prayer resources by Tony Kireopoulos, National Council of Churches.
Litany of Complaint
Each worshiper should adopt the posture most helpful to the full expression of his or her grief
- One: Hear the cries of your people, O God.
- Many: We will lament and not hold back.
- One: We will refuse to be comforted.
- Many: Until we have made known to you our sorrow.
- One: We are bereft.
- Many: Our souls cleave to the dust.
- One: Our eyes are wasted with grief.
- Many: We are drenched with tears.
- One: Our hearts melt like wax.
- Many: Our souls melt away for sorrow.
- One: We are poured out like water.
- Many: Our bodies are racked.
- One: Our eyes have failed for watching for your promise.
- Many: When will you comfort us?
- One: We open our mouths and pant in pain.
- Many: Why do you stand so far off, O God, and hide yourself in time of trouble?
- One: Our eyes shed streams of tears.
- Many: Our indignation consumes us.
- One: We cry out to you.
- Many: We grow weary with our groaning.
- One: Early in the morning we call to you.
- Many: Let our cry come before you, O God.
- One: Deliver us according to your promise of mercy.
A brief silence is kept.
- One: O God, we wait for you.
- Many: More than sentries wait for the morning, our souls wait for you alone.
From Enriching Our Worship 5: Many of these prayers and liturgies may be adapted for times like these.
Also available online The Book of Common Prayer.
May you be strengthened by God's Spirit and filled with grace as you serve God's people who grieve, struggle with loss and pain and seek action in the wake of the events at Stoneman Douglas High School.