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10 ways to support Advocacy Day

Semicolon butterflies

Here are 10 practical things you can do to support Advocacy Day and champion mental health care access, all from home or among friends at church.

Content Editor

On March 13, 2024, United Methodists and friends from all over the state will meet with state lawmakers at the State Capitol to advocate for better mental health care access for all Michiganders. It takes a village to make Advocacy Day happen, and there are practical things each of us can do to prepare for and promote this important day for the Michigan Conference.

Review this list with your family and friends. They don’t have to be United Methodist to join in. Advocacy Day is open to everyone! Share these ideas with your church and get them involved. You can make this day a success, even if you can’t be in Lansing in person on March 13.

If you have ideas that aren’t on this list, the planning team for Advocacy Day would love to hear from you. Email them at [email protected].


Include Advocacy Day in your regular prayer time, whether alone, with a partner, or in worship.

    • Remember those planning to attend in person and pray for courage, clarity in purpose, and peace of mind.
    • Pray for legislators and all those in authority, as 1 Timothy 2:1-2 directs, so that we may lead a “peaceable life in all godliness and dignity” (NRSVue).
    • Pray for churches that want to have conversations about mental illness and do more for their community.
    • Surround all those challenged by mental illness with loving prayers. Use scriptures such as Isaiah 40:28-31, Psalm 46:1-3, and Romans 8:26 in your prayers.
    • Offer petitions for those who cannot afford health care, those who have been denied coverage, and those living in isolation and shame because of mental illness. God loves every person and knows their story.

Invite friends and spread the word.

Advocacy Day is being organized by the Michigan Conference of The United Methodist Church, but any Michigander who is passionate about this topic can participate.

    • Invite people to come to Lansing on March 13. Register by February 25 to reserve a spot to meet with your senator and representative. This will ensure appointments are made.
    • Tell others you’re participating in Advocacy Day. Don’t be shy. Share this good news! The Michigan Conference’s Facebook page and Instagram feed regularly publish posts, so share them on your feed or your church’s page.
    • Churches can include announcements and images created for Advocacy Day in print and digital communications. Remember to put them in your worship bulletins and notices to homebound members. Everyone can pray, contact lawmakers, and make semicolon butterflies.

Educate yourself and your congregation.

Even though mental illness affects every family in Michigan, the laws that we hope legislators will pass to improve access to health care are complex.

    • The United Methodist Church has spoken out on mental illness and the need for fair and just health care practices. Read this resolution, these items from our Social Principles, and this article published by the General Board of Church and Society. Lead a group study at church.
    • Read this blog and this informative article, which have links to the bills and legislative matters that Advocacy Day is focused on this year.
    • Register for Advocacy Day, and you will automatically be signed up for the two online trainings on February 20 and 26. These will provide more details on the state laws and teach you how to talk about them confidently and clearly.
    • Watch this informative series of webinars on “Holding Sacred Space: Mental Health & Faith,” created by the General Board of Church and Society.
    • Invite a guest speaker to preach or lead a workshop on mental illness, mental health care access, or how faith informs our response to these matters. Email the Advocacy Day planning team, and they will gladly assist you in finding someone: [email protected].

Get to know your state lawmakers and write to them.

Building relationships with your state representatives and senators is crucial to moving hearts and minds, and doing this before March 13 is helpful.

    • Find your state representative on this web page. Find your state senator on this web page. You’ll obtain their contact information, including addresses and phone numbers. Visit their website and learn about their background and what they are passionate about. Pay attention to how they’ve voted on previous legislation.
    • Follow them via social media. Attend coffee hours or other meet-and-greet events they host in your area. Listen intently. Learn what issues matter to them. Pay attention to what they say and prepare your thoughts beforehand if you introduce yourself to them.
    • Write to them. Tell them you’re coming and why (if you plan to be in Lansing), and then ask for their support for increasing mental health care access. This blog has information about the bills. Before you contact them, research their position. Here are some guidelines for writing to legislators: give your mailing address so they know you’re a constituent, address them formally, share why this issue is important to you, and ask them to support it. This article from Michigan State University has some helpful guidelines, too, when contacting legislators.

Ask your church to receive an offering of letters.

Even if you cannot come to Advocacy Day, writing letters in support of improving mental health care access is something everyone can do.

    • Set aside time before, during, or after worship for members to write letters to their state lawmakers. Provide writing materials—writing utensils, paper, and envelopes.
    • Collect the letters during a designated worship service where they are blessed and dedicated in prayer.
    • Send the letters along with someone attending Advocacy Day on March 13, or mail them ahead of time to Central UMC, 215 North Capital Ave, Lansing, MI 48933. Please mark them: “Attn: UM Advocacy Day.”

Set aside time in worship for education and support.

During worship and special services, churches can weave in themes related to advocacy for mental health services and love and care for those suffering from mental illness.

    • Hold a worship service focused on mental health awareness. Include this insert and Faith & Facts card in worship bulletins.
    • Use these worship and study resources curated by the Disability Ministries Committee of The United Methodist Church.
    • Commission those attending Advocacy Day from your church during worship leading up to the March 13 event at the State Capitol.

Make and send semicolon butterflies.

Semicolons are used in writing when an author could have ended a sentence but chose not to. Butterflies are symbolic of transformation, resurrection, and growth. Combining these two symbols has become a powerful image representing strength, perseverance, and hope for those struggling with mental illness. Learn more about semicolon butterflies on this web page.

    • Help the Michigan Conference make 600 butterflies. On Advocacy Day, 421 semicolon butterflies will be displayed on the Capitol lawn, each representing 1,000 Michiganders in 2020 who did not receive the mental health treatment they needed. Each elected official will receive a semicolon butterfly, letters from constituents, and a FAQ sheet detailing specific legislative asks.
    • Be as creative as you want. All craft mediums are welcome! Since most of these will be displayed outside and hung on a string, please make them weather-resistant if possible (for example, laminate paper butterflies or send knitted or beaded ones). This web page has more ideas and links to patterns.
    • Send the butterflies along with someone going to Advocacy Day, or mail them ahead of time to Central UMC, 215 North Capital Ave, Lansing, MI 48933. Please mark them: “Attn: UM Advocacy Day.”

Make advocacy posters.

Posters with positive messages will increase our visibility and witness.

    • Design and make posters for participants to hold during the press conference on the Capitol steps. Use thick poster board or foam core to ensure they’re sturdy in case it’s windy.
    • Use life-affirming sentiments, scriptures, aphorisms, concise statements. The semicolon butterfly is a perfect image to draw on posters.
    • Make the posters colorful, and ensure the print is large enough and legible.
    • Including statistics from the National Alliance on Mental Health related to the state of mental health care here in Michigan is an option.

Donate money to help cover the costs of Advocacy Day.

Advocacy Day 2024 is possible thanks to the Michigan Conference and generous support from people like you.

    • Click this link to donate to help make this year’s Advocacy Day possible.
    • When you register for Advocacy Day, you will also have the opportunity to pay more than the suggested $30 fee. The additional funds will be used for future Advocacy Days.

Donate money to one of our ministry partners.

Advocacy Day 2024 is highlighting the ministry of Samaritan Counseling Center of Southeastern Michigan, an EngageMI project here in Michigan (CCMM #3050). Samaritan Counseling Center provides therapeutic counseling and educational services to all God’s people seeking wholeness through emotional and spiritual growth.

    • When you register for Advocacy Day, you will also have the opportunity to donate to this ministry.
    • If you cannot attend Advocacy Day in person, you can give online through the Michigan Conference’s secure giving link.

Last Updated on February 6, 2024

The Michigan Conference