Hints for contributing a letter

Council debates application for gay pride parade…
Statistics show increase in abortions in health region…
More couples choose cohabitation over marriage…

These are examples of headlines that could run in any newspaper across our country.

They are headlines that as Christian, we know address not only media items, but matters of morality — matters of faith.

But could we do more than merely respond to those media items with a shake of the head or perhaps a quick comment to a family member? I’d like to challenge us to do so.

As the editor of a small daily newspaper, I am the one who sorts through the letters to the editor, prepares them for print and sees them placed on the layout.

My community, like every other Canadian city or town, has social issues that we struggle to address.

But I almost never get letters on these issues from Christians. And when I do, they are often combative, long and difficult to mold to the space we have in a newspaper.I would love to see this change — to see our positions being shared as part of the public forum.

Here are some hints for contributing a letter:• Read the newspaper’s guidelines for submissions to the editor and follow them.

• Keep your message simple. It is not likely you will be writing the definitive statement on a heated issue like gay marriage or abortion. But you can make an important contribution with a well crafted, carefully thought out statement.

• Use a kind, respectful tone. It is easy to feel outraged and to write with a quality of anger. But I have found a letter that seems to be lashing out is easily disregarded by opponents and less-convinced observers.

• Don’t assume the newspaper will not welcome your letter because it is from an Evangelical or Christian perspective. I get calls from people who make this assumption on a regular basis. Some of them are downright rude. Most editors want to run strong letters from a variety of viewpoints.

• Pray that God will guide you as you write and give you the strength and courage to speak out in this way.

There are, thankfully, some Christians who step forward to interact with my newspaper. There is one local pastor who regularly writes a column that is accessible, full of down-to-earth examples and has a clear sense of grace. And when a young columnist wrote a column about how life can feel hopeless at times, one wonderful Christian woman sent him an email inviting him to church.
These cases keep me encouraged.

It’s not easy to step forward and open ourselves — and our faith — up to scrutiny and criticism. But I believe we have an important truth to share with others in our communities in our newspapers. Don’t fear picking up a pen or sending off an e-mail.

Heather Persson is the Managing Editor of the Prince Albert Daily Herald in Saskatchewan.