Art and Science of Letter Writing

To save the life of Jennifer Dalquez, there has been an outpouring of support through prayers, social media posts, pastoral statements, and letters from advocates around the world.

What follows are three different letters that I helped to write, in collaboration with the PCUSA Human Trafficking Roundtable, and finally sent to the Office of Stated Clerk with the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II

Joint Letter from UCCP-PCUSA for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte


Letter for Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan


Letter for all PCUSA members




Write Up Too


When I last wrote about my emotions surrounding the U.S. presidential inauguration and the Women’s March, there was one more “up” to add to the litany that closed out my previous blogpost:  write up.

Writing is more than me hunched over my laptop and tapping away in the hopes of putting some words and phrases into something meaningful.  Writing means having the strong enough muscles to sit – and to stand – and to stand up.  Yesterday I stayed home to rest strained back muscles that were more tired than I thought:  one press conference, one prayer vigil, two protest marches, and several writings later, my body was trying to tell me to rest.  These were firsts for me, which also might account for the additional energies expended for these efforts.

Here’s a peek into those writing muscles at work: In response to an advocacy campaign for an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) named Jennifer Dalquez, I have tested out some new forms of writing, mostly to lift her situation and plead for her life. She is imprisoned in the United Arab Emirates and is awaiting appeal from the death penalty, in a hearing that will take place on March 27.  She fatally wounded her former employer who was attempting to sexually assault her. She is claiming self-defense.

When Jennifer’s parents represented her at a press conference, I joined several other church advocates in their support.  I represented the PCUSA and UCCP, so they invited me to write a prayer to include in the press kit.  Around then I also prepped for an International Women’s Day Forum, which I would provide the Rationale.  Trying to make sense of a theme prepared by the United Nations, as well as another UCCP theme of “Spirituality of New Humanity in Eliminating Modern-Day Slavery,” as well as the pursuit of peace talks, I attempted to put something coherent for this forum.  PHEW!  I asked my partner church UCCP if they could provide a statement in support of Jennifer Dalquez.  This is when I learned that when you ask, be prepared to act upon it:  I drafted and crafted until General Secretary Bishop Marigza refined and approved the statement.  Thanks to one of my UCCP colleagues Pastor Nonie Aviso, he gave me the crash course version on pastoral statements:  challenge, response and call.

As if an advocacy campaign, a forum, and a pastoral statement were not enough to stretch me, I also enlisted the support of the PCUSA Human Trafficking Roundtable, to join the appeal for life for Jennifer Dalquez.  One conference call, along with more crafting and drafting letters for the Stated Clerk also built up writing muscles: a letter for PCUSA churches; a letter for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte; and a letter for United Arab Emirates Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan **If/when I receive permission, I will share those letters.

Challenge, response and call: besides pastoral statements and letter writing, could this apply to a sermon, an article, or any other written or spoken word, or song?  What else could work here?  Maybe conversations with young daughter about why we’re praying for the president or Jennifer.  Maybe other speaking engagements or upcoming blog posts.

Here’s a sampling of “write ups” from the past few weeks:

Save the Life of Jennifer Dalquez (UCCP pastoral statement)

Rationale for International Women’s Day Forum (scroll to bottom of page)