Your comments in my last post were beautiful and I thank you for them. I thank you for sharing yourselves with me and with each other, and I encourage all of you to read all the comments, as they are testimony to the pain and intensity each of us bear in the service of the ministry.
I want to shift gears to public ministry and clergy image now, but with one more transitional remark, which is to say that I received a piece of hate mail this morning for my part in a press conference yesterday in support of immigrant families in my community. The letter basically called me a despicable spotlight-seeking fraud, which was entertaining, but the best part of it was when the writer said that I should enjoy the rest of my “two-hour work week.” Isn’t that the ROFL of the day? I’m grinning widely just thinking about my two-hour work week. How’s YOUR two-hour work week going, colleagues? Chuckle, chuckle.
Here are PeaceBang’s Tips For Press Conferences
1. Are you speaking truth to power? Are you identifying as a religious leader by the wearing of a stole or clericals? Then dress at the level of power to which you are speaking. Why? Because, IMHO (ha ha, since when has PeaceBang ever had a humble opinion?), you are representing people who do not have a voice, but whose personhood is equal to that of the toppest of the top dogs in the eyes of God. Dress for them. Dress to represent the power of their life, their hopes, their experiences, their rights, their dignity.
You may disagree with me on this and I think it’s worth debating. My own personal rule is that if I am speaking truth to power, I should be dressed as though that powerful entity or person and I are at a meeting together. I would not wear a T-shirt and jeans into the State House or City Hall, so I won’t wear them while standing outside the State House or City Hall.
2. If you are wearing clericals, don’t pair them with soft clothes. Clericals are a responsibility and a burden of the “take up the Cross and follow me” variety. Since you’re not being asked to actually drag a cross around, the least you can do is wear a pair of pants or skirt that require ironing. I’m not saying PANTYHOSE or anything, as that would be a level of agony and sacrifice that I have faith Jesus would never require of us, but a nice pencil skirt or pair of slacks.
3. Talk with your community about what everyone will be wearing. They may think it’s important for you to be wearing the slogan T shirt with your collar. Do check in, and talk it out with them. Strategize. Maybe the other speakers are going to be dressed in T shirts and jeans. Do you want some variety? Yes, you want some variety. When a diverse group of allies shows up on behalf of a people or a cause, it makes a powerful statement in the news that this is obviously not one busload of people from one organization who showed up. You want the rally or press conference to look like the coalition that it is, not homogeneity.
4. If you are going to be a speaker, come prepared with copies of your statement for the press, and with business cards. What I said yesterday at the press conference was an abridged and simpler version of my written remarks, but I was able to give a reporter the whole transcript and they used it in their story. Always help the members of the press to do their job and get your accurate and complete statement into print. They appreciate it and you’ll appreciate it. Include your name, address, affiliation, and a brief sentence or two about why you’re at the event in your hand-out, eg, “I represent a congregation that is committed to divesting from fossil fuels as per our denominational action voted at our General Assembly in 2014 (provide a link to that story).” Or “I am an ordained pastor working in hospice chaplaincy and I am here to advocate for patients who have encouraged me to work toward death with dignity measures.”
5. Never assume that there will be a microphone or podium at a rally or press conference. Be prepared to speak from memory or tiny notes you can hold in one hand, and be prepared to project — even to bellow, if need be.
6. Bring business cards and network! Don’t miss an opportunity to connect with others who care about the same things you do!
7. Drink lots of water before and after. Pray before and after, breathe, and leave plenty of time to get to the event and to park.
MWAH! Kiss of peace, my darlings! Enjoy the rest of your two-hour work week!