How to Start a JRS/USA Action Team in your Parish
1. Inform Parish Staff of your Desire to Establish a JRS Action Team
Getting parish staff onboard from day one is essential to successfully establishing the group. Parish staff may be able to help you with anything from outreach to event coordination.
Know Your Parish's Rules: Find out what is needed to start a new ministry in the parish as well as what you can and cannot do.
2. Create a Mission Statement
Creating a mission statement is integral to the success of an organization and ensures that members maintain strong connections to the group’s overarching goals. The mission statement should reflect JRS/USA’s mission to accompany, serve, and defend refugees and vulnerable migrants worldwide (www.jrsusa.org/about). Additionally, it will help members and the general public to understand the motivation behind the creation of the Action Team and what it hopes to achieve.
Keep the mission statement broad and concise. Members and non-members alike should understand the club’s goals and purpose after reading it. Choose positive, informative words when crafting your mission statement, and keep it simple enough to communicate in a few specific words or phrases. Example: JRS seeks to accompany, defend, and serve refugees and vulnerable migrants.
Sample Mission Statement
The JRS/USA Action Team seeks to inform all parish members about JRS/USA’s position on refugees and forcibly displaced people, hold monthly awareness/advocacy activities, and support JRS/USA sponsoring fundraising activities.
3. Build Your Foundations
Form Your Core Group
Getting an Action Team off the ground takes some work, so finding a group of 3-5 committed people to the team’s mission is essential. This core group forms the heart of the team and coordinates preparation and organization of the team’s meetings and events.
Once the core is formed, it’s time to expand (ideally between 10-50 people), but how do you get those new members? In fundraising they say: “People give to people.” The same idea applies to member recruitment! Use face-to-face contact whenever possible, and try these suggested methods to get new members rolling in.
Engage fellow community members in conversation
• Set up an info table outside or in the foyer before and after mass
• Recruit highly interested parishioners to speak to other parishioners for more outreach potential
• Seek out members of the community with skills and connections that benefit the team
Make note of everyone you speak with and record contact information, skills, ideas, and level of interest.
Cura Personalis — a Jesuit term for caring for the person — important for this activity!
• Contact new volunteers within two days at most. Provide any additional information for which they ask within the same amount of time. If you don't have all the information that they want, contact them anyway. It’s important to assure them of their importance to the team and you.
• Personal contact is essential to success. Feel free to use email or texting as contact methods, but remember that phone calls are more personal, especially with people whom you wish to become more actively involved.
Spread the Word
• Use numerous methods to advertise your new Action Team. Post flyers on church bulletin boards, pass out informational handouts, and insert information in the church bulletin. Make sure advertisements are eye-catching, easy to understand, and include contact information.
• Host an informational meeting and include refreshments if possible.
• Don’t forget the power of the internet! Post the new group on the parish’s web page, and consider establishing an Action Team Facebook page
4. Get Organized
Establish Roles in the JRS/USA Action Team. From the very start of the club it is important to assign responsibility for the required tasks. The following “jobs” are most common:
• Chair to run the meeting
• Event Chair
• Publicity Chair
Regularly scheduled meetings enable members and interested parties to stay informed of the team's activities. When scheduling meetings, avoid conflicts with other ministries or common time commitments, and make sure to send people reminders of meeting times. Keep non-Action Team members informed of the team’s activities with bulletin updates, and send out emails to Team Members with brief notes from the meetings as well as any activities/events that are coming up. Don’t forget to provide time for socializing, and if possible, refreshments!
Register your Action Team with JRS/USA Officially register your Action Team with the JRS/USA coordinator. Registered action teams receive a membership kit, as well as access to nationwide Action Team Networking calls and direct support from JRS/USA staff. To register, please contact the JRS/USA Outreach Coordinator at email@example.com and provide: your contact information, your Action Team’s parish/location, your mission statement, and your current membership total.
5. Hit the Ground Running
Congratulations! You've just created a JRS Action Team in your parish. Now get out there and advocate, act, and give voice to your brothers and sisters worldwide!
Questions? —> Please contact our Outreach Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 629-5945.
Tools and Resources
JRS Action Teams will gain access to JRS Action Networking calls, bi-monthly email updates, personal support from the JRS/USA team, and opportunities to work with other teams nationwide, they will also receive a JRS Action Team Kit.
JRS Action Team Kit
A list of JRS/USA’s current advocacy priorities
Suggested Meeting Outline
Recent copies of The Refugee Voice
JRS Action Network Stickers
We encourage JRS Action Teams to provide new membership kits for all those who are new to the action team. These kits contain helpful information for the new member to understand JRS/USA and how it works, as well as the overall purpose and goals of the JRS Action Team.
New Membership Kit
Fact sheet with officers’ contacts and Action Team information
List of JRS/USA’s current advocacy priorities and the Action Team’s advocacy priorities
Recent copies of The Refugee Voice
A JRS Action Network Sticker