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Ten "Commandments" for Writing Better Letters

All Purpose Letter Writing Outline

Tips For Using This Book

Table of Contents

Chapter 1
Letters to Members of All Ages

Chapter 2
Letters to Other Members

Chapter 3
Letters to Nonmembers

Chapter 4
Letters to Church Staff

Chapter 5
Letters to the Community

Chapter 6
Letters to the Media

Chapter 7
Letters to Vendors

Chapter 8
Letters for Special Occasions

Chapter 9
Letters of Acceptance, Confirmation, Invitations, & Refusal

Chapter 10
Letters to Raise Funds

Chapter 11
Letters to Colleagues

Chapter 12
Letters of Policy & Doctrine

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Chapter 5 ē Letters to the Community

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An important part of a churchís community outreach revolves around the pastorís involvement in various community organizations, the churchís dealings with local government and with business, and the use of the churchís facilities by responsible community groups.

The effective minister is careful to be a good steward of the church property and resources, and will want to communicate a positive and responsible image to government, civic, and business personnel.

The letters in this chapter deal with zoning and building permits, rules for building use, notification of services available to the community, and more. This section will prove invaluable to the responsible ministerís role as business administrator.

5-1 / To Business Leaders about Inquiries & Requests: Information

As the holiday season again approaches, we were wondering if this year the Businessmenísí Association is going to hold a contest for the best outdoor Christmas decorations on homes and businesses. The contest last year was certainly well received, and an asset for the community.

Hopefully you will be sponsoring the contest. If so, we would like to remind you to have the judges drive down our road, STREET NAME. Because it is a dead-end street with few buildings on it, it was passed by last time. Since St. Michaelís very much wants to be part of the festivities, please make sure we are included! Christmas is an important occasion for us, and we make every effort to make the outside of our church reflect our celebratory spirit.

Thank you, and we applaud you for the good work the Businessmenísí Association is doing.

5-2 / To Business Leaders about Public Availability of Church Facilities

In light of the recent earthquake in Mexico, a number of people in our community have indicated an interest in donating nonperishable food, clothing, household items, etc. to help those in need. This is certainly a valid concern.

As I understand it, the Businessmenís Association is also organizing a campaign to collect necessities for this cause wanted to make sure you knew that Community Church has already begun such a drive; supplies are being stored in the church basement until there are enough to send to Mexico.

It has occurred to me that combining the resources of the church, local businesses, and concerned individuals might be in the best interests of all involved. Therefore, I would like to extend our facilities to you as a location to gather the donations and prepare them for shipping. We have a great deal of space, and someone is around the church during the day and most evenings.

If this is agreeable to you, please be in touch. Thank you.

5-3 / To Business Leaders about School Policies: Concerning Students Off Campus

It has recently come to my attention that some students from St. Michaelís School have been leaving our grounds during the lunch hour to walk downtown. I have not heard of any problems that these young people are causing to local businesses; however, our policy has always been that students are not permitted to leave the school grounds at any time during the day. The only exception to this rule is if they are in the company of their parent or guardian and have a written pass from the school office.

Therefore, I would ask for your cooperation. Please inform your employees that if they see any of our students in or near your business location during school hours, they should call our office, 000-0000. If possible, they should be able to supply the names of the students observed. Thank you very much for your help in this matter.

5-4 / To City Officials about Building Code Regulations

Temple Bet-Herut is in the process of planning to build a new synagogue at ADDRESS, CITY, STATE, of approximately 0000 square feet. Please advise us on the new building code regulations which recently were passed by the state. Our architect is COMPANY NAME. Naturally, we are committed to following the building code in its entirety. Thank You.

5-5 / To City Officials about Extending Help: In Time of Local Emergency

In light of the tornado last month which damaged a number of residences in CITY, STATE, we at Community Church would like to inform you about ways in which we can aid the victims currently being resettled in their homes.

We operate a food pantry and a clothes bank, both of which are available to those who need assistance at this time. In addition, several members of our congregation have used furniture which they would like to donate, including some large appliances.

We would greatly appreciate it if you could inform the victims of these resources available to them. We have notified the newspaper about them, but some people may not have seen the announcement there.

If anyone is interested, have him/her contact the church office, which will have the specifics of the services we can offer.

Thank you very much, and donít hesitate to call me if I can be of any other help to you or to the victims of the recent tragedy. I am confident that our city will soon be restored to the place of beauty and tranquility which it has always been.

5-6 / To City Officials about Inquiries & Requests: For Assistance

When asking for the cooperation of those in positions of responsibility, be clear as to what is wanted and be specific. In addition, keep the letter brief.

Easter Ė for us at Community Church, this holiday is the remembrance of the glorious victory over death of our Lord Jesus Christ.

This year, as part of our celebration, we would like to lead a live donkey, escorted by members of the congregation waving palm branches, through several streets near the church. This recreation of Jesusí entry to Jerusalem nearly 2,000 years ago would take place on Sunday, MONTH XX, beginning at the church at 8:30 AM Approximately 00 worshippers would be involved.

I enclose a map marked with the proposed route of the participants. Would it be possible for the streets to be closed to traffic until the march is completed (about one-half hour)?

We are anticipating a great amount of excitement at this novel way to observe Palm Sunday and are hopeful that you will be able to cooperate with our efforts. Thank you very much, and may God bless you.

5-7 / To Community Leaders about Extending Help: During Local Emergency

In the aftermath of the recent tragic train wreck in our area, many people are dealing with feelings of grief, guilt, and shock. If not dealt with, these emotions can have far-reaching consequences such as depression, substance abuse, and suicide. Therefore, how the survivors and families of victims cope concerns all of us in this locality.

We at Community Church would like to extend a caring arm to those in need of help in handling potentially harmful feelings. For those who want it, a support group has been formed under my leadership. It will meet on DAY evenings from 7:00 to 9:00 PM and is open to the community. In this group we will discuss the tragedy and the emotions generated by it, as well as how to cope with them. It will continue for as many weeks as there is interest.

In addition, for those who are experiencing severe difficulties, personal counseling is available from trained workers, including myself and two members of our congregation who are licensed social workers. Persons interested should call the church for appointments. There is no charge for this service.

We would appreciate it if you could help get the word out about these programs. Having been a part of a tragedy like what happened in our area is something one will never forget, but we want to do our part to help people be able to live with it. Thank you.

5-8 / To Community Leaders about Public Availability of Church Facilities

Thank you for your recent letter concerning the community summer concert series to be held on the second Saturday of the month beginning MONTH XX. We would be delighted to have our facilities as a back up location in case bad weather makes the outside park site unavailable.

Hopefully our sanctuary will not be needed, but we will set it aside, just in case, for the dates of MONTH XX, MONTH XX, and MONTH XX.

We appreciate your thinking of us and we are glad to be able to help.

5-9 / To Community Leaders about Zoning Laws: Request for Help in Opposing Change

This rather lengthy letter explains not only the proposed zoning change, but exactly why the church is opposed and how the recipient can help. Before writing such a letter, the clergy needs a good understanding of how the zoning board operates.

I recently heard that an individual in our community has applied to the zoning board to change the area of the ADDRESS / LOCATION, from residential to commercial zoning. From what I understand, he plans to open a drive-through which would sell, among other things, beer and wine.

Since Community Church is located in this area, we are very concerned about this matter. We do not feel this is in the best interests of our neighborhood. Greater ease in obtaining alcoholic beverages would only lead to more problems with teenage substance abuse, drunk driving, violence, etc., none of which we desire to have in any larger numbers. In addition, if the zoning was changed to commercial, any other business, however unsavory, could also come into the area.

If you agree, please plan on attending the Zoning Board meeting on DAY, MONTH XX, at 7:30 PM. This is an open forum in which the individual wanting the drive through, and anyone else, can voice their opinions.

After the open meeting, the Zoning Board considers the opinions aired in making its recommendation, which is then sent to the City Council for a final decision.

Let me assure you that the Board is heavily influenced by the publicís desires, and that the Council almost always follows the recommendation of the Board. Therefore it is extremely important that the meeting have a good showing of people opposed to this zoning change, if we are to stop it.

I very much hope that you will join us in fighting to keep our locality what it is now a decent, family oriented area of residences that is a good place to bring up children. See you on the 16th!

5-10 / To County Officials about Building Code Regulations

Thank you for the information you sent us concerning local building code regulations. At this point, we are ready to set up an appointment with you to discuss the materials, needed to begin construction of our new addition. Our blueprints have been approved by the state and returned to our architects, COMPANY NAME, and we are anxious to begin work.

Our building committee would be free to meet with you DAY afternoons, DAY mornings, or DAY or DAY evenings. Please contact us with your preference.

Again, we appreciate your cooperation.

5-11 / To County Officials about Licenses: Request for Information

Now that Temple Bet-Herut has moved into our new location at ADDRESS, we find ourselves with a kitchen for the first time. Please advise us of the procedure to obtain a food handlerís license for this year. Naturally, we have every intention of abiding with county health department standards for our facility. We look forward to hearing from you.

5-12 / To County Officials about Zoning Laws: Expressing Disapproval of Suggested Change

In this letter, the Rabbi cites reasons having nothing to do with religion for why a zoning change should not occur. Since clergy are often expected to support or reject ideas based on their faith, it is usually more credible if other considerations can be used.

I understand that the Zoning Board recently decided to recommend that zoning be changed from residential to commercial in the area between LOCATION and LOCATION, and that this will be presented and discussed at your next meeting. May I urge you to rule against changing the zoning?

Since our synagogue is located within the area in question, we have been outspoken from the beginning in our opposition to this plan. Traffic is already too heavy on STREET, and having a drive-through there would only increase the problem. Also, there are a number of children who live on STREET; more motor vehicles would significantly heighten the amount of danger to them. This aspect was not mentioned last week at the open meeting held by the Zoning Board to get the publicís opinion.

In short, we want our neighborhood to remain residential only. As township trustees, you have an obligation to do what is best for those within your jurisdiction. Permitting a change in zoning would not fulfill this responsibility.

Please vote against the zoning change for the LOCATION area. Thank you.

5-13 / To Hospital about Extending Help: Offer of Volunteers

At Community Church, finding volunteers for positions such as Sunday school teachers and youth group leaders is not always easy. I imagine that you have the same problem.

If so, I have some good news for you. In our senior high youth group, there are four girls who have expressed an interest in doing volunteer work at the hospital on a regular basis. They are all extremely responsible young women, and Iím certain they would be a great help in what ever place you would put them. Although they are being encouraged to choose a community outreach in which to participate in their youth group curriculum, these girls want to be involved on a long term basis, not just while the group is studying this unit.

I would greatly appreciate it if you would forward to me the name of the person these girls should contact to begin the process of applying for volunteer positions.

Thank you very much.

5-14 / To Hospitals about Inquiries & Requests: To Reconsider Position on Issue

In the many times that I have visited patients in your hospital, I have been impressed by the caring attitudes of your staff, from doctors to cleaning personnel. I have always considered you to be a facility dedicated to providing quality and compassionate health care, with which I would entrust my own loved ones.

However, I have recently heard that abortions are performed routinely within your walls, something quite contrary to the high standards Iíve just expressed. I can understand that occasionally a pregnancy is a true threat to the motherís health, and that terminating it really is necessary. But the vast majority of abortions do not fit into that category, and to these others, you do a great disservice. It has been proven that abortion leads to higher incidence of miscarriage and infertility, as well as great emotional distress for the women, not to mention the very taking of life as experienced by the unborn baby.

I am sympathetic to the problems that may lead a woman to consider ending her pregnancy, but abortion is not the answer, especially when there are so many deserving couples waiting to adopt babies.

Please reconsider your position on this important issue. With your current policy, I cannot patronize your hospital, nor recommend it to my parishioners.

5-15 / To Hospitals about Visitation: Request for One: Time Change in Visitation Rules

A member of our congregation, NAME, has been a patient in your pediatric unit for several weeks now as she recovers from the injuries she received in a car accident. Might I ask for your cooperation in helping make her stay a little more pleasant?

NAMEís 00 birthday is MONTH XX, and even before the accident she had been involved in planning a birthday party, to which her Sunday school class was to be invited. I realize that she has gone through a very traumatic experience, but I feel that holding a party for her at the hospital would be therapeutic. I would like to bring the eleven other children in her class (and several parents) to the hospital with me for this purpose.

I know that this is a number of youngsters, but I assure you that they will be well behaved. Seeing her friends will be good for NAME, as well as for the other children, who need to know that she is still their classmate, in spite of the visible injuries she received. We will plan on staying for one hour so as not to tire her too much.

We can have the party either in the afternoon or evening, whichever would be more convenient for your staff. Also, it could be on DAY the XX or DAY the XX. Please let me know your preference.

Thank you for your cooperation in this matter. I look forward to hearing from you soon in order to make plans for the party.

5-16 / To Organizations about Extending Help: For Fundraiser

We were pleased to hear of your setting up a Walk-a-Thon to raise funds to open the House of Hope. Domestic violence is certainly a problem which must be dealt with, and having a shelter for abused women and their children is a step in the right direction.

Because of our concern for this issue, we at Community Church would like to help in your efforts. Several ideas of ways in which we might be able to assist you occurred to me. Since our church is located centrally, you might want to consider using it as the starting and/or ending point for the Walk. We have room for participants to rest, lavatories, a place to serve refreshments, etc. We would also be willing to contact other local churches to enlist their support, either in recruiting participants or in donating funds.

Perhaps you have other needs of which I am not aware. If so, please contact me. As I said, we are very willing to work with you in this worthwhile project.

5-17 / To Organizations about Public Availability of Church Facilities

Thank you for your letter of MONTH XX, requesting information about the possibility of your Lions Club meeting in our church. Normally, we do permit organizations such as yours to use our facilities for a minimal charge which covers the additional custodial services.

However, although we would like to grant you permission to gather here in the fall, we must refuse at this time. Your meeting nights, the first and third DAYs of the month, conflict with previously scheduled church activities which utilize the Fellowship Hall and the adjoining kitchen.

If you are willing to change to another weeknight, such as DAY or DAY, we would be happy to accommodate you. We applaud your numerous service projects which benefit the community. Again, thank you for your interest, and do contact us again if we can be of any help to you.

5-18 / To Organizations about Visitation: Acceptance of Offer to Visit

Thank you for your recent offer for our youth fellowship to attend your MONTH XX meeting. We accept. The program on domestic violence sounds excellent, and will fit right in with the current themes the youth are studying. We will be bringing approximately 25 youth and advisors, and we will plan to arrive by 6:45 PM at the school cafeteria where you meet.

Again, we appreciate your thinking of us, and we look forward to being your quests on DAY the XX.

5-19 / To Regulatory Agencies about Licenses: Request for Information

Community Church is looking into the possibility of beginning a daycare center as a service to our members and the community. Therefore, please advise us of your procedure for obtaining a license, and also inform us of the necessary requirements in order to receive one. We have in mind starting with two teachers, two teachersí aides, and approximately 25 children, ages two to five. If possible, we would like to open in the fall of 200X. Thank you for your assistance.

5-20 / To Regulatory Agencies about School Policies: Acknowledgment of New Policy

Thank you for your recent communication concerning the State Board of Educationís new policy on corporal punishment. However, for a number of years, it has been the policy of our school not to paddle students. Discipline is maintained by the use of other means, such as denial of privileges, which we have found to be very effective. In light of our current policy, there is no need to make any adjustments to comply with the new state policy.

5-21 / To Regulatory Agencies about Problems: Regarding Getting Approval from Agency

On MONTH XX, 200X, our bus successfully passed state vehicle inspection for the school year of 200X Ė XX. We were informed that we would receive our license within thirty days. However, it has now been quite a bit longer than that, and no license has arrived. Now that our old license has expired, we cannot operate the bus without going against the law, which naturally we will not do. So the bus sits unused, while our programs, particularly the youth programs, try to man age with car pools and postponements.

As you can see, it is vital that we get our license as soon as possible. Would you please look into this situation and inform us as to what steps we should now take? Has the license been lost in the mail or is there some other problem? We would like to get our bus back on the road within the next week or so. Thank you.

5-22 / To School Officials about Inquiries & Requests: Concerning Possibility of Items for Sale

I recently read in the newspaper that you have just replaced several typewriters used in your business classes with newer models, and I wondered if the old ones might be available for purchase by the public. Our secretaryís typewriter has been in the repair shop more than out of it during the past few months, and at this point it appears that it is no longer fixable. Therefore, we are in the market for another one, hopefully without a high price tag. It occurred to me that you might be able to help.

Please inform me whether any of your old typewriters are for sale and, if so, what models you have and what you are asking for them. I look forward to hearing from you.

5-23 / To School Officials about Problems: Request for Cooperation in Solving Studentsí Trespassing

It has recently come to my attention that a problem has arisen of which Iím sure you would wish to be aware. During the lunch hour, a number of our students are coming over to Community Churchís back parking lot, apparently feeling that there, they may break school rules concerning smoking, etc. Since several of our nursery school classrooms overlook the parking lot, we feel this is unacceptable.

I am certain that you share my concern for the students, and that action will be taken to work out the problem. Please contact my office if this matter needs to be discussed further; I have every desire to cooperate fully with you in any way in which I can.

5-24 / To School Officials about Public Availability of Church Facilities

Thank you for your letter of MONTH XX, 200X, asking about the possibility of renting the gymnasium of Community Church on a regular basis. We certainly understand your need to have a location easily accessible to the school in which the girlsí junior high basketball team can practice.

The boardís policy is that groups outside of the church may rent facilities for a charge of $00.00 per occasion, which covers the cost of the janitorís services. We would be happy to have you use the gymnasium under these conditions.

Please contact my office so that we may set a time to discuss the specifics, such as the days and hours in which you would be interested, which would not interfere with the programs we are operating.

Working together with the school system has always been a pleasure, and I look forward to continuing that cooperation.

Copyright © by Stephen R. Clark. All rights reserved.