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Presbyterian Week of Action embraces digital engagement

Social media events bring Presbyterians together over the topic of dismantling systemic racism

by Melody K. Smith | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE – How do you gather and engage people into action during a pandemic and time of social distancing? The organizers of the Presbyterian Week of Action looked to digital online options to make the events accessible, informative and inspiring.

If the statistics gathered from the variety of online events held during the Week of Action mean anything, they are on to something.

“Our engagement rate across all the events was astounding,” said DeEtte Decker, social media strategist for the Presbyterian Mission Agency. “We averaged a 15.6% engagement rate with a range of 9.3-19.9% across social media channels, reaching over 83,000 viewers.”

To give reference, for nonprofits of similar size and number of followers, a 2-5% engagement is considered good.

On Saturday, the Justice Rally & March was based in Louisville with over 150 local Presbyterians gathering to hearing church leaders speak to the need for action. With everyone masked and hydrated, they marched down to Jefferson Square, a downtown square honoring Breonna Taylor, where they held an 8 minute 46 second period of silence in honor of George Floyd. The entire event was streamed live for anyone to watch on Facebook and the Week of Action web page.

Simultaneously in other cities like Detroit, San Jose, Atlanta, New York, San Francisco and Baltimore, events were taking place as part of the Week of Action and being streamed live into the events in Louisville.

“This week would not have been possible without the efforts of so many. The tech team who were responsible for making sure our social media and connections were exceptional deserve a tremendous amount of credit,” said Rev. Shanea D. Leonard, the lead organizer of the Week of Action. “The reach to those who could not be in person or who wanted to interact in various media outlets helped us engage with far more than we could have ever alone. This was a global movement and the digital efforts made sure the collective voices of marginalized populations were uplifted, seen and heard.”

Presbyterian Week of Action marchers hiked a total of 16 blocks in downtown Louisville Saturday behind this banner. (Photo by Rich Copley)

In total, the Week of Action offered virtual town halls, Twitter chats, online Bible studies,  COVID-19 memorial services, film premieres and the Justice Rally & March in multiple locations.

“All the events were recorded and are still available to view on the Week of Action web page for continued engagement,” Decker said.

The work didn’t stop at the end of the week. People are encouraged to continue advocating for policies that affect marginalized communities. Some of those suggested actions can be found here.


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