On Saturday, April 10, the Legislative Policy Collaborative of PYM sponsored a virtual workshop on Pathways to Ending Gun Violence: Legislative Solutions. Nearly 120 people registered for this event – clearly, this is a topic of great concern to F/friends, as representatives from more than 30 meetings tuned in to get informed and to get involved.
Legislative Policy Collaborative
The Runway to Annual Sessions 2021 begins on Tuesday, May 4, and runs through July 24. The Runway to Annual Sessions are the weeks that lead up to Annual Sessions week (July 27 – August 1) and is filled with workshops, gatherings, youth programs, a multigenerational documentary viewing and discussion, a Young Adult Friend retreat, a Collaborative Fair, Q&As, and reports from PYM representatives to other Quaker organizations.
A Member Reflects on Her Experience
Linda Clark is a member of Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting. As a whole meeting, Chestnut Hill Friends has joined an organization called POWER. In this article, Linda reflects on her experiences working with POWER and why it’s important for meetings across PA to join. If you have questions if your meeting is interested, please contact Linda at email@example.com. [Read more…] about Calling All PA Meetings: Consider Joining POWER
Quaker Voluntary Service (QVS) was founded in 2011 and though young in years, QVS sees itself as “a modern expression of a long-standing tradition of Spirit-grounded service and witness in the Quaker tradition.” The first QVS house was piloted in 2012 in Atlanta, GA. It was soon followed by others in Philadelphia and Portland, OR, Boston, and finally Minneapolis. [Read more…] about Quaker Voluntary Service – Reflecting on a Life Changing Work Experience
On January 23, 2021, 126 people devoted six hours on a Saturday to attend PYM’s Addressing anti-Blackness Thread Gathering. Organized by Community Engagement Coordinator, Olivia Brangan and Events and Resources Coordinator, T.J. Jourian, the event featured Sarah Willie-LeBreton, Provost and Dean of the Faculty at Swarthmore College and Oskar Castro, Director of HR and Inclusion at Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. Tenaja Henson, NC Campaign Coordinator for Reproaction, while unable to attend, was also to be featured and contributed to the planning and visioning of the event, along with Sarah and Oskar. [Read more…] about Anti-Blackness Thread Gathering: Change Happens When A Thought Becomes An Action
Deb Hejl, co-clerk of the Legislative Policy Collaborative, submitted the story below about healing circles at the Youth Sentencing and Reentry Project (YSOP). February is a good month to focus on our nation’s problems with incarceration, because there is still time to get informed and ready for FCNL’s Spring Lobbying Sessions.
The school to prison pipeline, and ongoing inequalities faced by persons of color within the policing and judicial systems are things our society must face. Behind the large problems, though, are human hearts and minds that bear witness to the impact on children who have been sentenced to prison for a ‘lifetime of punishment.’ [Read more…] about Life in Prison as a Juvenile: Post Incarceration Stories Shared at Gwynedd
The following story was submitted by Lehigh Valley Meeting member John Marquette. He attended the Zoom talk with Andrea Seabrook on January 6th. As a former NPR National Political Correspondent, Andrea created the event in response to the January 6th storming of the capital by Trump supporters. The Zoom was attended by more than 20 Quakers and friends, and served as a window into the soul of politics as seen by Andrea and others. [Read more…] about Zoom with former NPR Correspondent, Andrea Seabrook
On Friday, November 15th, about 40 Friends from the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (PYM) area joined 438 other Friends from 43 states across the United States for meetings on Capitol Hill, in Washington, DC.
They came together for a day of FCNL-orchestrated meetings with congressional representatives. Conversations centered on the authorization of open-ended war and were supported by the year-round work done by a small group of Quakers in the Philadelphia area. These Friends work with FCNL to impact global and national issues through political processes open to all members of the American electorate.
Joining that many Quakers on Capitol Hill is an exhilarating feeling. Friends, whether from California, Iowa, or North Carolina, entered the office of their representatives with tools to help shape positive discussions on legislation designed to support a more peaceful world.
Lynn Oberfield (Providence Meeting) reports; “we used FCNL’s lobbying process—which sets out one particular ‘ask’ around a standing Bill.” FCNL organizes lobbying only for legislation that has support from both political parties. It also shapes its targeted lobbying to be aligned with feedback previously collected from meetings across the country. FCNL staff then spend Thursday educating the volunteer lobbyists in advocacy best practices.
On Friday the volunteers launch themselves into the corridors of Capital Hill for a full day of face-to-face meetings with Senators and congress persons.
“This year,” Lynn says, “our FCNL-supported ask was to repeal the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). The Authorization, with its unbridled, blanket permission, has been used to continue, or begin, new wars in the Middle East and around the globe. As a result of repeated authorizations, the United States now has active troops in about 40 countries around the world.” Lynn notes that US service persons are not deployed as “peacemakers, but (are) men and women (being placed) in harm’s way.”
The delegations from the PYM region secured an in-person meeting with Senators Toomey and Casey. This, Lynn notes, “was due to the (prior) building of relationship … by reasoned, and reasonable, Quakers who worked over three years. Because the Constitution places the power to declare and wage war with Congress, and this 2002 Authorization gave away that power to the Executive branch, it is not aligned with the (original) intent of the writers of the Constitution.”
In fact, Lynn, says, “the waging of war now rests potentially in the hands of one person in the Executive branch” and for some Friends, that does not feel “consistent with the world we seek.” Friends testimonies are naturally focused on using peaceful means, not conflictual ones, to solve problems and “we Quakers, striding across Capitol Hill, were animated by our faith to represent our viewpoint, tell stories about militarism gone awry, and ally with our representatives in common purpose to seek an end to endless war.”
To learn more about FCNL’s process for lobbying, on poverty, mass incarceration, and the environment or become more informed about what is happening in Congress, contact Deb Hejl or Mary Lou Hatcher at the Legislative Policy Collaborative.
Collaboratives are groups of Friends in the PYM region who join together to respond to shared interests in the areas of worship, Native Peoples, ministry, the environment and civic concerns. A full list of engagement opportunities is found at https://www.pym.org/working-together/
In these politically charged and challenging times, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and fall into despair or indifference. Hope for a better future, “the world we seek” comes with the actions we take together on issues we care about. Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) provides the tools we need to take effective, strategic action on national policies.
FCNL has made it a priority to engage Young Adults from diverse communities across the US in five separate programs designed specifically for Young Adults. Three of FCNL’s committees are now clerked by Young Adult Friends. Indeed, two of them are members here at PYM: Emily Temple, Downingtown Meeting and second from left in photo, serves as clerk of the Annual Meeting Planning Committee and Alex Stark, Moorestown Meeting, serves as clerk of the Policy Committee. Zoe Laky, Haverford Meeting, also serves as member of the Policy Committee.
Led by three Young Adults on FCNL staff, this workshop offers all Friends an opportunity to learn first hand about their experiences at FCNL and FCNL’s inspiring work bringing Friends’ values to Congress.
Judith Pilla of Radnor Monthly Meeting has published a letter to the editor in the December 23 Philadelphia Inquirer following a trip to Washington, DC, to lobby lawmakers on the importance of preserving the supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP) benefits. The lobby visit was part of Friends Committee on National Legislation’s recent Annual Meeting and Lobby Day a few weeks ago. The Farm Bill, which included language preserving a more comprehensive set of SNAP benefits, passed both the Senate and the House of Representatives following lobby efforts by Friends and other like-minded folks. Philadelphia Yearly Meeting had one of the very largest delegations to FCNL’s lobby day and Annual Meeting. For more information on FCNL, please visit fcnl.org. The text of Judith’s letter to the editor is below:
“One of the most effective U.S. anti-poverty programs is now on its way to the president’s desk for signature, partly due to efforts of more than 400 Quakers, many from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. Through the Friends Committee on National Legislation, Washington’s oldest faith-based lobby, Quakers recently traveled to Capitol Hill to convince Congress that SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) must remain intact, without harsh provisions in the House version that would have cut out people struggling to find or keep work.
SNAP feeds 2,750,000 residents of the three states; 38 percent are children. SNAP improves work and school performance, helps prevent childhood developmental delays, and keeps many out of poverty. SNAP enabled one Philadelphia mother to replace the pictures of food she showed her children to quell their hunger with real food. Protecting SNAP is a national victory and a gift long after the holidays for all who live in our region.”